Tag Archives: Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

Fishers group asked CBCP support vs. Las Vegas like casino in Manila Bay

By Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines-A militant alliance of small fishermen on Wednesday revealed a close associate and crony of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was given the franchise to develop portions of a reclaimed area in Roxas Boulevard to construct a Las Vegas type gambling complex in Manila Bay.

In a press statement, the activist Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally Anakpawis party list on Sunday appealed to the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to join the groups’ crusade against the ambitious multi-billion casino project in Manila Bay.

“To the archbishops and bishops of the CBCP, please hear and support our appeal and prayer against this giant gambling escapade of Malacanang and its cherished cronies,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Enrique Razon Jr., head of multinational port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and a known crony of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has bought a gaming company that will build a casino at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino project.

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

Hicap learned last week that Razon had acquired a controlling stake in Bloombury investment Holdings Inc from Jose Ch. Alvarez, owner of Columbian Motors Corp. The Pamalakaya leader said Alvarez sold his controlling interest in Bloombury, one of the companies tapped to develop the ambitious $ 15 billion Las Vegas casino project to be installed along the 120 reclaimed area in Manila Bay.

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

According to a news report, Bloombury is one of four companies granted a provisional license by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to set up and operate gaming and entertainment facilities at the Bay Shore Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City project at the Manila Bay reclamation area in Parañaque.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CBCP still asked to comment if GMA is principled person and deserving to run in 2010 polls

CBCP still asked to comment if GMA is principled person and deserving to run in 2010 polls

The left-wing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to comment if President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is one of the principled persons which the bishops would want to run in the 2010 presidential and general elections.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the CBCP is morally and spiritually obliged to comment whether Ms Arroyo is one of the principles persons whom the bishops want to run in the elections next year.

“Ms Arroyo’s alleged plan to represent the second district of Pampanga is a moral question. She is seeking the congressional post because she is seeking a lifetime political immunity from suits emanating from high crimes of corruption to shocking 9-year record of brutal murder of leftwing activists and ardent critics. It is easy, morally and politically correct to say that Arroyo is evil, but the CBCP is not saying it in aboveboard and straight manner,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader issued the statement, a day after the CBCP issued a pastoral statement encouraging principled persons to run for public office in next year’s presidential and national elections.

“We call upon those who are competent, persons of integrity and committed to change to get involved directly in principled partisan politics and become candidates for political election, aware of the common good is above the good of vested interests,” the CBCP pastoral statement said.

But when asked by media if Mrs. Arroyo qualifies as one of the principled persons the church wants to get involved in the 2010 polls, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo made a quick sidestepped and instead asked the media to figure it out.

“This is not a guessing game. It would be better if Bishop Pabillo speaks on his own and tell the media that Mrs. Arroyo, as far as he is concerned, is not the right person to be elected in the 2010 elections. That will settle the score,” said Hicap.

But Pamalakaya still commended the CBCP for its pastoral statement which it said registered strong criticisms on a number of issues like Charter Change and Constituent Assembly, extrajudicial killings, it’s endorsement of the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and the MILF and between the GRP and the communist led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and against 100 foreign ownership of land.

However, Pamalakaya rebuked CBCP’s statement on the recently passed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP0 extension with reforms or CARPer which the group said is nothing but a shotgun piece of legislation worse than the previous CARP. The group is backing the legislative passage of House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and other militant party list lawmakers in Congress.

Earlier, Pamalakaya challenged newly elected CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) President Tandag (Surigao del Sur) Bishop Nereo Odchimar to prove to the Roman Catholic community and the Filipino public in general that he is he is totally independent and free from the political gameplan and influence of the so-called “Archdiocese of Malacañang”.

“We welcome the election of Tandag Bishop Odchimar as the new president of the influential CBCP and we take note of his outstanding record of advocacy against mining and logging. What we want now is for him to heed to the call of the Filipino people and disassociate himself from the brutal, corrupt and criminal Archdiocese of Malacañang,” the group said.

“The big challenge to incoming CBCP President is for him to prove his independence from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the ruling gangland in the Palace. We hope the good bishop of Tandag will live up to the challenge and score a giant kill against the Arroyo presidency in the name of truth, justice and accountability,” Pamalakaya stressed.

“We are not putting Bishop Odchimar on the spot. We just want a clear score card here because some sections and sectors are casting doubts on him having been identified as highly supportive of President Arroyo along with Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos. He belongs to the pro-GMA bloc in the CBCP and that checkered past and present will always put him on the spot whether he likes or not,” the group said. #

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Newly elected CBCP President asked: Prove independence from Archdiocese of Malacañang

Newly elected CBC President asked: Prove independence from Archdiocese of Malacañang

The chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday asked newly elected CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) President Tandag (Surigao del Sur) Bishop Nereo Odchimar to prove to the Roman Catholic community and the Filipino public in general that he is he is totally independent and free from the political gameplan and influence of the so-called “Archdiocese of Malacañang”.

“We welcome the election of Tandag Bishop Odchimar as the new president of the influential CBCP and we take note of his outstanding record of advocacy against mining and logging. What we want now is for him to heed to the call of the Filipino people and disassociate himself from the brutal, corrupt and criminal Archdiocese of Malacañang,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

“The big challenge to incoming CBCP President is for him to prove his independence from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the ruling gangland in the Palace. We hope the good bishop of Tandag will live up to the challenge and score a giant kill against the Arroyo presidency in the name of truth, justice and accountability,” said Hicap.

“We are no putting Bishop Odchimar on the spot. We just want a clear score card here because some sections and sectors are casting doubts on him having been identified as highly supportive of President Arroyo along with Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos. He belongs to the pro-GMA bloc in the CBCP and that checkered past and present will always put him on the spot whether he likes or not,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

However, Pamalakaya said although Bishop Odchimar is identified with President Arroyo, such political reality will not stop them from seeking the newly elected CBCP’s support on various issues, particularly on logging and mining.

“They are many issues and advocacies we can work and cooperate particularly on anti-logging and anti-mining. But still, we are optimistic Bishop Odchimar will soon renege his friendship with GMA and make the CBCP more responsive to the collective interest and moral sentiment of the 90 million Filipinos against Ms Arroyo,” the group said.

The group said they will write the newly CBCP president and will ask his support on the fisherfolk opposition against rampant reclamation activities in Laguna Lake and Manila Bay and offshore mining activities in Central Visayas, which the group said are killing the fishing environment and the livelihood of poor fishermen.

Bishop Odchimar was overwhelmingly elected by the 86 dioceses nationwide and will succeed Jaro (Iloilo) Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, who will step down on Dec.1 as CBCP President. At the height of calls for Ms Arroyo’s impeachment, the Tandag bishop was one the seven Mindanao bishops who met Ms Arroyo behind closed doors at the Almont Inland Resort in Butuan City. #

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