Tag Archives: calamity

Critics cry direct bribe in aid of calamity declaration

By Sugar Hicap

MANILA, Philippines-The decision of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave to the discretion of local government officials where the funds freed by her declaration of a state of calamity in Mindanao constitutes a direct bribe for whatever sinister political purpose she has in mind less than two months before the May 2010 elections.

“It is direct bribe, a form of political investment on whatever sinister agenda she is plotting against the more than 90 million Filipinos on or before the May 2010 elections,” the rabid anti-Arroyo group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a press statement.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, President Arroyo is into wholesale buying of political patronage of local government officials to justify the possible declaration of either failure of elections in Mindanao, which could be used by the administration as a major political leverage to declare a national failure of elections in 2010.

“The war room in Malacanang says GMA should still be the president beyond June 30, 2010. In it is not written in any official memo, but it is in the mindset of President Arroyo and her political associates running the affairs of this country like an Italian or Japanese mafia,” the Pamalakaya official said.

The militant leader said the calamity funds should be spent to address the impact of El Nino phenomenon to food producers like farmers and fisherfolk, but the order of President Arroyo negates the very essence of how calamity fund should be spent.

“It is like President Arroyo telling local government officials to enjoy their calamity funds for whatever purpose they have in mind but at the same time reminding them that these calamity funds have political tag prices and strings are attached on these calamity funds in the name of Mrs. Arroyo,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya noted that President Arroyo is concentrating the mobilization of resources in Mindanao while the impact of El Nino is notoriously felt in the majority regions of Luzon Island and other parts of Western Visayas and Negros Island.
Pamalakaya said the government should instead order the local government officials in El Nino stricken areas like Isabela and Cagayan, Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija provinces to employ their calamity funds to address the devastating impact of El Nino and refrain from making scenarios in Mindanao that would justify the near future declaration of state of emergency or island wide crisis.

“Why in Mindanao? What is so special about Mindanao? What she is up to in Mindanao? Corruption is just a sideline issue here. Something big is being planned here with the administration using Mindanao as a laboratory for political purposes,” the group said.

Pamalakaya also theorized that the declaration of state of calamity in Mindanao had something to do with the P 10-billion power deal which Malacanang wants to accomplish before the May 2010 elections. The group said the situation empowers the national government and the LGUs to enter into midnight deals with power groups obsessed in conducting power business in Mindanao.

The group said while Mrs. Arroyo has yet to declare a state of power crisis in Mindanao, the declaration of state of calamity effectively granted the government powers to pursue power deals with private groups in Mindanao.

Pamalakaya said the Arroyo had instructed the National Power Corporation (Napocor) to resolve the issue of how can it get the 5.5 megawatts excess capacity of the Southern Philippines Power Corporation plant in Sarangani province.

Her order for the government to enter into contract for additional power generation within the franchise area and the resumption of the operations of the 100MW power diesel in Iligan City are concrete manifestations that Malacanang are ready to enter into midnight deals with power groups.

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Calamity stricken farmers burned 1,000 photos of surfing Gloria

By Lollipop de los Reyes and Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines-Some 1,000 reproduced photos of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo showing her surfing in Argao Island in Mindanao will be burned by calamity affected farmers in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog in today’s rally set at the footbridge of Mendiola in Manila.

Rally organizers led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and Anakpawis party list said the mass burning of the presidential photo taken during a surfing event in Mindanao is a collective display of rural people’s outrage against the Arroyo government.

“Arroyo’s land reform remains anti-farmer and super reactionary. The recently passed agrarian reform law known as Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms is a land reform for big landlords and big business,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos in a press statement.

The KMP leader added: “Complicating and exacerbating this long running nightmare is the seemingly endless episode of calamity and disaster perpetrated by the transnational clients of Malacanang and the unbridled greed of Arroyo and her gang for fat kickbacks.”

Ramos complained government relief and rehabilitation efforts for calamity devastated farmers and fisherfolk in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog were not that substantial to cause significant impact on the lives of calamity stricken people in the countryside. “President Arroyo is exploiting the sorry situation of the people for political makeover and image building purposes. That is catastrophe by itself,” he said.

The 1,000 farmers will be joined by another 1,000 Manila based activists mostly urban poor, workers and students during the scheduled long march from Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) national office in Quezon City to Don Chino bridge in Manila. The marchers will include activists from the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya, Amihan peasant women federation, Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, the support group Nnara-Youth and member organizations of the umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

KMP and allied groups the rural people’s 10-pt demand to address current rural crisis across the country

1. The junking of Carper law and the free distribution of land to landless and land lacking farmers all over the country. In particular, farmers from Central Luzon represented by AMGL demanded the immediate and unconditional free distribution of 375 hectares of land in San Miguel, Bulacan allegedly landgrabbed by Rep. Luis Villafuerte, the 3,100 hectares of prime agricultural lands inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation and the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino in Tarlac province.

In Southern Tagalog, peasant groups demanded the free distribution of all agricultural lands owned and controlled by rich families like the Ayalas and the Yulos in the region. Kasama-TK also pressed the government to stop all Calabarzon bred projects in Southern Tagalog, including the controversial Laiban dam project.

2. Support repair and construction of homes of farmers and rural people destroyed or uprooted at the height of tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.
3. Rehabilitation of farms and granting of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and other farm crops
4. Financial grant of about P 10,000 to P 15,000 per hectare
5. Zero interest credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P 10,000 to
P 15,000 per hectare
6. Provisions for farm implements such as tractors, hand tractors and carabaos for free.
7. Setting up of potable water supply.
8. A halt if not moratorium on irrigation fees imposed by the National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems.
9. Livelihood to rural people
10. Automatic repudiation of farm debts, if not moratorium in payment of principals and interests on acquired loans from landlords and local financial institutions

The KMP official said they will campaign the 10-point omnibus demands by pursuing aggressive lobby work in concerned government agencies, including the Senate and the House of Representatives and mass mobilizations in the streets, asserting the immediate and long term demands are matters of life and death to farmers and the rest of the rural people.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported that damage to property brought by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng reached the P 16-billion mark. The disaster agency said P 11. 68 billion of the damage or 72% represents total damage to local agriculture, while P 4.68 billion or 28 percent represents damage to infrastructure. #

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Lake groups launch 10k signature drive vs. NCHS

By Ms Sugar Hicap and Billy Javier Reyes

Lakeshore groups in Rizal and Laguna provinces belonging to the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), its regional chapter Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and the multi-sectoral environmental group Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) has launched a signature drive seeking the immediate and conditional dismantling of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS), which the groups blamed the massive flooding of lake towns around Laguna Lake.

In a joint press statement, Pamalakaya and SLMM said the Laguna Lake and its people will always be in state of across-the-lake flooding and constant danger, unless, the national government and lake authorities decide the dismantling of the structure, which it said is the biggest obstruction to the smooth and logical flow of flood waters to Manila Bay.

Pamalakaya national chair and SLLM convener Fernando Hicap said anti-NCHS groups hope to gather at least 10,000 signatures and will submit these to Senate and the House of Representatives once Congress resumes session next month.

“10,000 signatures will be enough to convince lawmakers about the necessity of removing this structure from Laguna Lake. If that is not enough, then we will gather more and engage in pound-for-pound fight for the dismantling of Napindan hydraulic monster,” Hicap added.

The Pamalakaya leader said signatures for the dismantling of NCHS will come from several towns of Rizal, Laguna and on the part of the National Capital Region, the signatures will come from Taguig, Pateros and Muntinlupa.

The signature campaign will also ask the national government and the local government units to put an end to all reclamation and road dike projects along Laguna Lake, which Hicap said is also one of the factors why Laguna Lake swallowed 30 towns in the lake , because these projects also prevented the smooth flow of waters in the 90,000 hectare-lake on its way to Pasig River and then to Manila Bay.

The 10,000 signature campaign will also demand the formation of independent body that will investigate and will look into the current state of Laguna Lake. The groups suggested that the body shall be composed of representatives from the Philippine Senate, the House of Representatives, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the other church organizations, environmental groups and experts, representatives from people’s organizations. Leaders of Pamalakaya and SLLM eye Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno to head the probe body.

Pamalakaya and SLLM asserted that towns surrounding Laguna Lake were already submerged in waters ahead of the arrival of tropical storm Ondoy.

Reports from field coordinators of Pamalakaya and SLMM in Rizal and Laguna provinces said fisherfolk and lakeshore residents had already noticed the rising water level in Laguna Lake and excess waters had spilled along in 30 towns in Rizal and Laguna provinces, and in the National Capital Region before Ondoy pounded heavy rains on September 26.

“The disaster is bound to happen. It is a perfect storm in the making because the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) refuses to open the NCHS that will dispose excess waters in the lake. Tropical storm Ondoy only fast tracked the commencement of the super calamity,” they said.

Hicap lamented: “We have been sending hundreds of notices to LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda that the lake authority should open NCHS to prevent the happening of a Great Flood all over the lake and in Metro Manila, but Mr. Manda is either not listening to this fearless forecast, or he is not doing his assignment or he is ignorant of the issue and its consequences to more than 6 million lakeshore people.”

“Where will Mrs. Arroyo and Mr. Manda relocate the people of Laguna Lake? In the moon? In the purgatory? ” the Pamalakaya leader asked.

The NHCS was built in 1983 to prevent or lessen the increase of salinity from Manila Bay and pollution from the Pasig River from entering Laguna de Bay during times of reverse flow. The NHCS is found on the confluence of Marikina and Pateros-Taguig rivers with Pasig River. This confluence is also the downstream endpoint of the Napindan Channel, which is the upper part of Pasig River that connects to Laguna de Bay.

Aside from preventing the reverse flow of Pasig River, the NHCS is also used for flood control. During the rainy season, most of the flooding along the Pasig River area is due to the increased water flow coming from Marikina River.

The Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City was constructed to divert much of this water from Marikina River directly into Laguna de Bay. By also closing the NHCS during times of rain, the water is effectively dammed in Laguna de Bay preventing it from flooding the downstream portions of Pasig River (with reports from Lollipop de los Reyes and Gerry Albert Corpuz). #

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Rural groups kicked off own relief caravan to Central Luzon

By Roy Morilla, Mama Mila Liguasan and TC Concepcion

Quezon City- Rural based groups headed by the farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list today kicked off a three-day, four-vehicle relief caravan in Central Luzon provinces billed as Peasant Caravan for Land and Justice.

Organizers of the 3-day caravan led by KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said the relief operations to be conducted in the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac is just part of the comprehensive political program to be carried by caravan protesters.

“The relief operation is just a segment of the entire political program. The main content of the 3-day peasant caravan is the peasant call and solidarity for genuine land reform and social justice and the presentation of the farmers’ 9-point omnibus demands for calamity victims in countryside,” KMP’s Ramos and Anakpawis’ Clemente said in a joint statement.

“Our demands clearly include about support in housing, rehabilitation of farms, grant of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and other farmers’ crops, financial assistance of about P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare, a credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P10,000 to P15,000 per hectare, tractors, hand-tractors and carabao, setting-up of potable water supply, one year or equivalent to the value of two successive croppings moratorium on irrigation fees to National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems and livelihood to seasonal farmworkers, ” the caravan leaders said.

As this developed, the relief caravan to be undertaken by Malacanang and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Monday, where a hundred of truckloads of relief goods will be make their way to Northern Luzon to aid victims of typhoon Pepeng was postponed due to typhoon Ramil. The government’s own relief drive is supposed to benefit 500,000 affected families.

Social welfare secretary Esperanza Cabral said the relief goods will be distributed to victims of Pepeng in 19 provinces in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), but because of typhoon Ramil which is expected to hit Northern Luzon this week, the department decided to cancel Monday’s relief caravan to Northern Luzon.

KMP and Anakpawis in cooperation with allied groups Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan peasant women federation, Nnara-Youth, Migrante International, All UP Workers Union and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines will only distribute a little over 400 relief packs for the same number of families in San Miguel, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Our modest relief efforts for our members in Central Luzon, particularly in San Miguel town in Bulacan, for Fort Magsaysay and southern towns of Nueva Ecija, and for the agricultural workers of Hacienda Luisita is one way of expressing our irrevocable concern for the peasants and the rural people devastated by the state and profit driven escapades. The political message is the more important thing which is genuine land reform, the solution to current predicament confronted by landless farmers,” the peasant caravan organizers added.

Today, KMP and Anakpawis caravan participants will stay in a peasant community in San Miguel, Bulacan and will have a solidarity night with farmers facing land dispute with Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, whom they accused of landgrabbing some 375 hectares of land in the area. They will also distribute 200 packs of relief goods to 200 farmer families.

Tomorrow the caravan will traverse the municipality of Gapan and the rest of the southern towns of Nueva Ecija on their way to Cabanatuan City to protest landgrabbing activities of big landlords inside the 7,100 Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Laur. Nueva Ecija. They will also hand out some 62 relief packs to the KMP chapter in Nueva Ecija. From Cabanatuan City, the caravan protesters will proceed to Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac and they are expected to be at the sugar hacienda owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino by late afternoon.

KMP and Anakpawis said they will distribute some 158 relief packs to affected sugar workers in Hacienda Luisita.

On October 20, the caravan protesters will travel back to Manila, and will pass through several towns of Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan provinces namely Bamban and Concepcion in Tarlac, Magalang, Mabalacat and San Fernando in Pampanga, and Calumpit, Malolos and Bocaue in Bulacan on their way back to Manila.

On the same day, the caravan protesters will meet peasant protesters at the Department of Agrarian Reform for a solidarity night, and on October 21, they will march from DAR to Mendiola in Manila. #

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Think tank to PGMA: Cancel debt payment to free up funds for calamity relief

By Billy Javier Reyes, Bb. Joyce Cabral,Gerry Albert Corpuz and Viva Regala-Alonzo

Manila, Philippines–The independent think tank and research group IBON on Thursday urged the Macapagal-Arroyo government to cancel debt payments and free up resources for relief and rehabilitation, instead of seeking financial loans from foreign donors.

In a press statement sent to The Pamalakaya Times, IBON senior researcher and economic expert Sonny Africa said the environmental shifts mean that extreme weather events will become more frequent and there must be much greater investments in the country’s disaster preparedness.”

“Extreme weather conditions are beyond government’s control, debt payments are not,” he added. “It is the height of insensitivity of the country’s leaders if they dogmatically insist on repaying debt in the face of the multiple crises facing the country,” Africa explained.

IBON’s Africa said the Arroyo administration paid P1.52 trillion in foreign debt service, interest and principal, from 2001-2008. It is scheduled to pay a further P224 billion in 2009 and P253.5 billion in 2010. In contrast, the programmed calamity fund for 2009 and 2010 were just P2 billion annually.

This unceasing debt service, according to IBON, is undermining the government’s capacity not just to prepare for disasters, give relief and support rehabilitation after calamities, but also to meet the people’s basic needs for health, education and housing—which could have ensured their adaptability to extreme weather changes and resilience to calamities.

IBON asserted that the government has a range of options for debt cancellation, said Africa . It can start from identifying a target overall percentage of debt stock and corresponding payments to cancel. It can identify particularly loans such as any still left over from the Marco s dictatorship or others funding particularly onerous or anti-developmental projects.

The research advocacy and polling group likewise stressed that government can prioritize loans from multilateral development banks such as the World Bank or Asian Development Bank which, unlike commercial creditors, purportedly extend loans for developmental purposes.

IBON said: “The drastic economic slowdown especially with the onset of the global crisis, the looming fiscal crisis with deficits rising rapidly and now the calamities due to tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng are enough justification to call for emergency cutbacks in foreign debt payments. More than trickles of foreign aid, debt cancellation would free up resources for relief and rehabilitation and for overall economic development”.

“This is an opportunity for the government to exert political will and cease being a mendicant in its dealings with foreign governments and creditors,” said Africa . “We Filipinos are fully capable of helping ourselves if only the government stops its self-destructive debt policy”, it added..

IBON reiterates successive governments including the Arroyo administration have vigorously opposed any debt moratorium, cancellation or repudiation on the grounds of protecting creditworthiness. However, this long-standing lack of vision in the government’s debt management policy has proven to be extremely burdensome for the people.

The position of IBON on debt cancelation was supported by the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

It pressed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately stop paying the country’s debts to foreign and domestic creditors and re-channel the annual budget to debt servicing to massive relief and reconstruction efforts of all areas devastated by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng from South to North of Luzon.

“Immediately suspending debt payment and by re-channeling these funds for all-out relief and reconstruction will definitely make sense, but our problem here is Mrs. Arroyo who has no sense of genuine public service, lacks political will and undeniably defiant in correcting fatal mistakes,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said if the government will stop paying these debt burdens at the maximum or impose debt moratorium for a significant number of years at the minimum to rebuild the country it would be able to make a big difference for Filipino public, especially those affected by Ondoy and Pepeng.

Hicap said the government has been honoring fraudulent debts at an average of P 450 billion per year or almost 33 percent of the annual national budget.

“Imagine the big push this amount would bring only if this government knows its priorities and has this great sense of serving people. But this government is the partner in crime of transnational interests whose business escapades and super profiteering ideology is behind this humanitarian crisis and across-the-nation corporate-driven calamities,” he stressed.

Pamalakaya rejected the proposal of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda for the government to seek at least $ 1 billion in foreign grants and concessional loans to be administered by a special reconstruction commission composed of the government, big business and civil society group.

Salceda, the former economic manager of the Arroyo administration said it is time for the government to admit that it needs help in a big way beyond the exigency of disaster response, saying the country can no longer opt to raise taxes or slash other priorities. The Albay Gov. said the country needs new external resources to address the situation.

Under Salceda’s proposed 1 billion US dollar aid, the government would cover the estimated P 46 billion in damage wrought by Ondoy, P 12 billion by Pepeng and P 7 billion by typhoon Frank that devastated Panay island last year.

The proposal also covers P 20 billion for relocation, P 21 billion for infrastructure rehabilitation and P 5 billion for livelihood . But Pamalakaya said if the government suspends if not erases its debt servicing policy and budget allocations for such purpose, the country can afford to finance rural and reconstruction projects, including a comprehensive disaster management programs all over the country. #

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Expert wants San Roque dam operators, gov’t held accountable for Northern Luzon disaster

Expert wants San Roque dam operators, gov’t held accountable for Northern Luzon disaster

by Viva Regala-Alonzo.

Manila, Philippines- University of the Philippines (UP)-based expert and scientist Dr. Giovanni Tapang said the Philippine government, including private groups and operators of San Roque Dam in Pangasinan province should be held accountable for the massive flooding in the province and other parts of Northern Luzon.

Tapang and scores of scientists, environmentalists and social activists presented a study on the structural and managerial flaws of San Roque dam, that caused the severe flooding in several areas in Northern Luzon.

They also accounted for the country’s continuing disasters and the Arroyo government’s failure to provide a comprehensive, effective and adequate disaster response and prevention plan.

“The dams, particularly San Roque Dam, are supposedly designed and used to control floods. However, the floodings these infrastructures have brought us prove that they were not really designed for that function. These dams just brought profits for its proponents and more harm than benefit to the people,” said Tapang.

According to Dr. Tapang, the most devastated provinces of typhoon Pepeng are Pangasinan and Benguet provinces, as these are the areas where the large dams, that worsened the flooding, are situated. “Pangasinan is the catch basin of water coming from the series of large dams in the Agno River.

“Massive flooding in Pangasinan is caused and aggravated by the release of voluminous water from these dams,” explained Dr. Tapang.

Tapang asserted the three dams located along the Agno River are the Ambuklao Dam, Binga Dam and San Roque Dam. Based on National Power Corporation report a total maximum 6,000 cubic meters per second were being released by three dams as October 9 and is still continuing to release water today.

“The operators and owner of the dams should be held accountable. They have allowed the water to reach dangerously high levels and not acted on it sooner. Instead of releasing the waters earlier, gradually and in lesser volumes, they did it suddenly without adequate warning to the communities,” said Dr. Tapang.

Tapang theorized that the operators are probably thinking more of generating power and profits, they most likely have kept the water level as high as possible and have have not placed primary importance to their duty to give attention to the safety of the nearby communities.

San Roque Dam is the biggest of the three dams and designed as to produce energy, supply water and control flood. It is supposed to have a flood maximum design of 13,000 cubic centimetre or equivalent to floods occurring every 10,000 years. Despite protest in local and international level, San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam was approved in 1998. The dam construction was completed in March 2003 and became operational in May.

“If the dams were designed for flood control, then there should have been an alarm system in place or a protocol to warn the agencies and communities of impending disaster. However, the testimonies of the victims and the calamity that has occurred prove that the system was ineffective, if there was any,” he added.

“Communities and areas near large dam usually experience increase in frequency and more damages from flooding than other areas which are far from dams. After San Roque Dam operated in May 2003, 90% of Pangasinan were submerged in water in September 2004 and after that local communities frequently experienced flooding whenever there is a typhoon,” expressed Tapang.

“The extent of devastation that was caused by the presence of the dams and the deliberate disregard of the operators and owners to the communities in the area calls should lead to the decommisioning of the dams. Because as long as the dams remain, it is likely that the similar tragedies will occur in the future as it has done so in the past,” called Dr. Tapang.

For his part, Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) said the proponents of the dam itself, headed by the government should also answer to the millions of victims that were affected by the floods.

“The hundreds of lives lost, millions of families affected and billions of pesos worth of damages show the absence of planning and infrastructure of the government to address disasters. President Arroyo and the National Disaster Coordinating Council have blamed mother nature and climate change, the unprecedented rainfall, squatters, garbage and lack of budget but will not admit its fault and ineptness in handling and preventing the disasters,” claimed Bautista.

“In addition, to lack of disaster preparedness, the Arroyo government still pursues policies and destructive projects such as large-scale mining and large dams that destroy our environment and make communities more vulnerable and at higher risk to floods, landslides and other disasters,” cited Bautista.

“Again, we appeal to our countrymen and the international community to extend the bayanihan spirit that we exhibited in the face of disasters, in addition to joining relief operations, we should link arms to demand and push for a government that will perform its mandate to truly serve, protect and answer to the needs of the people and denounce the current one who only aggravates the suffering of our people, “ ended Bautista.

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SC chief Justice Puno urged to lead proposed national inquiry on Ondoy and Pepeng

SC chief Justice Puno urged to lead proposed national inquiry on Ondoy and Pepeng

By Billy Javier Reyes and Maria Stella Recuerdo del Carriedo

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing activists identified with the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said a independent investigating body should be formed to find out the roots of the humanitarian crisis and all-out disaster caused by tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the probe body, which his group proposed should be headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, and shall be composed of representatives from the Philippine Senate, the House of Representatives, environmental groups and experts, people’s organizations, the church community represented by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)and the protestant National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

“The proposed national indepent inquiry should be deputized by the Senate and the House of Representatives in aid of legislation,” the Pamalakaya leader said. According to Hicap, the results of the national inquiry shall be presented to the Filipino public.

Hicap said the inquiry can focus on the impact of large-scale mining and logging operations and other mega infrastructure activities in Bicol Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and other parts of Northern Luzon, the operations of major dams and lakes in Luzon island like the San Roque Dam, Angat Dam, Pantabangan Dam, Caliraya Dam, Laguna Lake, as well as Manila Bay to mention a few.

“This national inquiry is necessary move. Malacanang should not prevent or spoil it and let it happen in accordance with national interest and collective will of the Filipino people,” said Hicap.

Pamalakaya criticized moves of Malacanang and the Department of National Defense(DND)requesting the US embassy in Manila to re-deploy US troops in calamity stricken areas in Northern Luzon due to typhoon Pepeng.

Aside from US troops re-deployment Malacanang and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro had also asked the US embassy to deploy its amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry to help rescue residents isolated by the heavy flooding in Pangasinan province.

“President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Secretary Teodoro are white elephants and hopeless puppets of the United States. They are hopeless cases. Instead of agitating the Filipino people and relying on their collective strength and political determination, Mrs. Arroyo and her presidential wannabe played their true-to-life puppet card to the hilt. This is a preview of what kind of presidency we have under Teodoro’s command in case he is elected as president,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said the gestures displayed by Mrs. Arroyo and Sec. Teodoro in seeking US help were overwhelmingly irrational and grossly insulting to the collective intelligence and political determination of the Filipino people.

“Instead of rallying the Filipinos to rise above the occasion and ask for their tested collective action, Mrs. Arroyo and Secretary Teodoro begged the US government for help and made our Filipinos appeared like hopeless people and or a nation of people under an across-the-country state of paranoia,” the group said.

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