Tag Archives: Charter Change

Farmers to kick off long march to foil last ditch on Chacha

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez, Sugar Hicap and Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines- Touted as the first in Philippine history and the first political blockbuster of 2010, farmers from all over Mindanao, Panay and Negros islands, Central and Eastern Visayas, Bicol and the Southern Tagalog regions in the South, and peasants from North– Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regions will march from their respective point of origins to the National Capital Region from January 12-22 to frustrate the last ditch efforts of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration to push Charter Change.

Organizers of the 10-day Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan led by the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list said thousands of farmer marchers from Mindanao, Panay, Negros, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas, representing the South wing will merge with marchers from Bicol and Southern Tagalog provinces on their way to Manila, while marchers from Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon representing the North wing will converge in Hacienda Luisita park in Tarlac City on their way to the National Capital Region.

“Chacha under a corrupt, brutal and reactionary government is extremely dangerous. We don’t need Chacha in whatever form or mode. What we want is land and justice to victims of state repression. What we want is an end to all forms of landgrabbing and land reconcentration. What we want is for the Cojuangco-Aquino landlord clan in Tarlac to give up their illegal and immoral claim on Hacienda Luisita and let the farmworkers own the land and enjoy the fruits of their labor,” the KMP and Anakpawis party list said in a joint statement.

“The Chacha which Mrs. Arroyo has in mind is meant to perpetuate herself to power either as an hold over president or Prime Minister and allow the grand sell out of Philippine patrimony through 100 percent foreign ownership of land,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP secretary general.

Early this week, President Arroyo called her staunch allies in Congress to pass House Bill No. 6975 that seeks to implement the concurrent resolutions of the House and the Senate calling for a convention to amend the 1987 Charter. But KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said a sinister agenda and a cruel intention was behind the fresh moves of Malacanang and the President’s allies in pushing for Charter Change.

Ramos supported the statement issued by Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes that President Arroyo wants Con-con to effect charter change with the election of delegates by October this year, because by that time Mrs. Arroyo, who is running unopposed in the second district of Pampanga, would be the district’s congresswoman, which would enable her to run for prime minister once her allies and other pro-Chacha congressmen decides to change the form of government from presidential to parliament.

For her part, Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said the Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para Sa Lupa at Katarungan will coincide with the 23rd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre and will expose agrarian related issues and problems nationwide involving big landlords like the Cojuangco-Aquino family in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco in Negros island and Hacienda Isabel and San Antonio in Isabela, the Calabarzon motivated -Ayala landgrabbing activities in Southern Tagalog to mention a few.

“Land monopoly in the country has further aggravated and intensified the exploitation of our farmers. Imagine, because of landlessness, they are perennially subjected to pay 50 percent, or 1/3 or 1/4 of their gross harvest as land rent. But only 19 to 21 percent of the total produce goes to farmers. This sorry state of agrarian reform in the country will be vividly depicted during the 10-day farmers’ march from all over the country,” Clemente added.

The Anakpawis official said the 10-day Lakbayan will also engage in mobile dissemination and propaganda campaign about the sorry condition of farm workers all over the country. She said daily income of rice farmers for the entire cropping season ranges from P 23 to P 40 per day.

Clemente said the family of Liberal Party presidential standard bearer Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III failed to address and improve the lives of Luisita workers over the last three to four decades. According to her, daily take home pay of every farm worker in Hacienda Luisita is P 9.50, which is not even enough to buy a half kilo of NFA rice.

On the other hand, KMP’s Ramos said in defense of their rights to land in pursuit of social justice, farmers are perpetually subjected to various forms of human rights violations, militarization and repression.

Latest data from Karapatan human rights group revealed that 561 farmers were victims of extrajudicial killings, 119 of them were leaders and members of KMP, while scores of internally displaced peasants due to all-out war, militarization and massacre; and cases of abducted farmers and falsely charged rural activists continue to flood the monitoring bulletins of human rights groups and the concerned public. #

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Obama told: Meeting with GMA is a kiss of death

Obama told: Meeting with GMA is a kiss of death

Ardent critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday warned US President Barack Obama that her scheduled meeting with Ms Arroyo is a kiss of death, adding that the meeting will spawn political protests here and in the United States.

In a press statement, the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Obama’s meeting with Ms Arroyo will put the Obama administration in the hot water because he would be rubbing elbows with GMA, who is former US President George Bush no.1 partner in global terrorism in Asian region.

“Obama’s meeting with President Arroyo is one of the most shocking political scandals in the 21st century. Here is an American president who won the presidency courtesy of people’s resistance against Bush war on terror now hosting and paying Bush’s chief partner in crime in Southeast Asia,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

“The meeting would be a kiss of death for Obama, unless Obama comes to his senses and rebuke GMA in front of the American public and the international community. The US President has no option but to reject and embarrass Ms Arroyo for her crimes against the Filipino people,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Hicap said the meeting with GMA will put Obama on the spotlight, adding the Filipino people and anti-Bush global community will certainly dislike a Bush protégée in Southeast Asia exchanging pleasantries with Obama.

“That tin cup diplomacy will not yield positive results for the Obama administration, in fact, that will put more questions and doubts as to the real agenda and motive of Mr. Obama,” he added.

Pamalakaya sensed that President Arroyo will offer a number of exchange deals with the White House in exchange for Obama’s support on her bid to extend her term and perpetuate herself to power beyond 2010.

Among the “offers” Ms Arroyo will lodge to Obama in exchange for term extension and White House support to Arroyo administration are the continuation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the railroading of Charter Change that will allow US business groups to acquire 100 foreign ownership of land in the Philippines and eventual return of US military bases in the country and ratification of the proposed RP-US Free Trade Agreement.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya is set to reproduce and distribute copies and discuss the controversial Washington Times editorial last July 26 castigating Obama for entertaining President Arroyo at the White House.

Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz said the editorial entitled Obama: The Sanitizer will be reproduced by their group and will be discussed to leaders and members of the fisherfolk alliance. “This is to show that even conservatives in the US are not in favor of Ms Arroyo and highly critical of Obama’s scheduled meeting with GMA,” he said.

The editorial which came a day ahead of President Arroyo’s 9th and supposedly last State of the Nation Address said Obama committed a mistake when it invited the Philippine President to the White House on the premise that the Philippine top elected official is using Obama to give political cover for her troubles back home.

The Washington Times said Ms Arroyo’s domestic political position was precarious citing the Philippine President’s low approval rating and the growing anti-administration street protests in response to a dubious mandate following the fraud-rigged presidential elections in 2004 and scores of allegations of corruption against her husband First Gentleman Atty Jose Miguel Arroyo and members of her family and close political associates in and out of Malacañang Palace.

The editorial also scored Manila’s poor performance in upholding human rights in the Philippines. Quoting several reports and studies, Washington Times took note of the Arroyo administration’s failures to address and stop the killings of journalists and political activists in the country over the last 9 years.

The Washington Times also took a swipe on President Arroyo’s gameplan to perpetuate herself to power either through revision of the 1987 Constitution to allow her to extend her term or through the declaration of Martial Law.

“President Arroyo and her close political associates were extremely rattled by the editorial of the Washington Times, asserting that the Manila government’s irresponsible reaction to the editorial further confirmed that the Manila government is always in the state of denial and state of political panic,” Corpuz said.

“The shockwaves sent by the Washington Times editorial caused irreparable damage to the Arroyo administration as shown by President Arroyo response which is dismissed by critics as plain rumor mongering and patently name calling to down play the political impact of the editorial criticizing Obama for entertaining President Arroyo at the White House,” he added.

Corpuz said Washington Times merely reiterated the objective political condition in Manila and the crimes of President Arroyo ranging from grand scale corruption to election fraud to killings of political opponents and critics are all known to the international community and the Filipino public.

“The Washington Times editorial is a friendly reminder and a good political advice to President Obama. It just cautioned Obama and the American people on the serious implications of hosting a Southeast Asian leader notorious for denying the Filipino people of their electoral mandate and hated by the 90 million Filipinos for high crimes of corruption and extreme brutality,” the group said.

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GMA will ask US nod on term extension during meet with Obama, critics predict

GMA will ask US nod on term extension during meet with Obama, critics predict

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will ask the blessings of the United States government to extend her term either through Charter Change or the imposition of Martial Law all over the country in exchange for more Washington’s aggressive and unrestricted economic, political and military intervention in the country.

“This will be GMA’s rallying point when she comes face-to-face with US President Barack Obama on their scheduled July 30 meeting in Washington D.C,” the rabid anti-Arroyo group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a press statement.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said “an undesirable political animal like President Arroyo fighting for survival and immunity will do practically anything, everything to the extent of selling her soul to the devil to keep her way from any kind of political harm in the near future.”

The Pamalakaya leader said President Arroyo will offer the approval of Charter Change that will allow US transnational corporations to acquire lands through 100 percent foreign ownership and control other vital sections of the economy like education, health, public utilities, mass media, social services and advertising in exchange for Arroyo’s term extension.

Hicap said aside from the economic provisions, the Arroyo Chacha project will also allow the US reconstruct and rebuild American military bases and permit the entry of US nuclear weapons and toxic materials in Philippine territory.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde on Sunday confirmed the schedule between the two leaders, adding that the official invitation came from White House and was relayed to Malacañang by the US Embassy in Manila.

The press secretary said US President Obama initiated the meeting, as top officials of the Arroyo administration revealed that Ms Arroyo will discuss with Obama her administration efforts to alleviate poverty, ensure good governance, as well as the Arroyo administration campaign on counter terrorism and its contributions to peace and security in Southeast Asian region.

Pamalakaya also hinted that the Arroyo meeting with Obama might also deal with the long overdue RP-US Free Trade Agreement, which the White House wants the Philippine Senate to ratify on or before the May 2010 elections.

According to Pamalakaya, the RP-US Free Trade Agreement that will allow American corporations to buy lands and control other profitable sections of the domestic economy should have been approved this July.

However, because of the derail in the passage of Chacha, the agreement has been temporarily sidelined, because it needs first the revision of nationalist economic provisions of the 1987 Charter before the Senate—the ratifying authority approves the bilateral pact. #

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“Hello Garci” whistle blower asked: “Who order the bombings before?”

“Hello Garci” whistle blower asked: “Who order the bombings before?”

The leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged controversial Hello Garci whistle blower Vidal Doble to identify government and military officials who ordered them to stage previous bombing incidents in the country.

“In the name of national interest, Mr. Vidal Doble is hereby asked by the 90 million Filipinos to identify the government and military officials who ordered them to perform the previous bombings at the time he was still in the military service,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said Doble should go all-out in his expose and ready himself once the Senate or the House of Representatives decides to conduct an inquiry on the past bombings where he and his colleagues were involved. “The truth will set him free and he is obliged to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. We hope the lawmakers in both chambers of Congress will put premium to Doble’s bombshell and cross party lines in the name of public interest,” said Hicap.

The Hello Garci whistleblower on Wednesday theorized the recent bombings including the incident in the Office of the Ombudsman this week were the handiwork of state security forces, recalling his ordeal while working with the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp), where he and other military intelligence officers did the bombings themselves to create a political scenario that will justify the moves of Malacañang and the AFP.

“Who ordered Mr. Doble to perform the bombing incidents in the previous years of the Arroyo administration? Is it President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself? Is it the National Security Adviser in the person of Secretary Norberto Gonzalez? Is it the Defense Secretary or is it the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Mr. Doble has to identify or name names and go all-out,” added Hicap.

Doble said he was incline to believe that “Oplan August Moon”, an alleged administration backed coup plot that sees the installation of administration friendly military and police officials to sensitive government posts to allow Charter Change and extension of President Arroyo’s stay in power.

The Hello Garci whistle blower in 2005 said the Arroyo administration wants to control the entire AFP in case the Constituent Assembly pushes ahead. Pamalakaya said “Oplan August Moon” cannot be discounted as a political fiction, saying Arroyo’s last option to remain in power is declare Martial Law and justify its imposition by creating all out trouble and by terrorizing the Filipino public. #

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Bahrain business execs here to scout for RP lands—groups

Bahrain business execs here to scout for RP lands—groups

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Friday revealed that Bahrain’s business delegation will be in Manila to scout for lands available for production of rice, fruit and vegetable for the consumption of the growing population of Persian Gulf state.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the business delegation left Bahrain yesterday and will embark on a week long trip to the Philippines and Thailand to look for available lands for rice, fruit and vegetable plantations.

According to Ramos, despite the advise of United Nation’s Food Security expert Olivier de Schutter to call for a code of conduct to regulate the purchase of farmland across Africa, Asia and Latin America by Gulf states and private business, the Bahrain business delegation pursued the trip to acquire if not lease lands abroad.

The KMP leader said Bahrain businessmen will stay in Manila until June 28; however Malacañang still refuse to reveal the details of the trip and the detailed agenda accompanying the week long business trip in the country.

“Malacañang continues to treat its business talk with Bahraini investors as top secret confined to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and to the national security syndicate, despite mounting calls from all affected sectors for the administration to disclose the agenda and come aboveboard with this highly secretive agreement,” Ramos said.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap saidthe initial agreement between the Philippines and Bahrain was signed in May 2008 after Bahrain trade minister Hassan Fakhro visited Manila to secure vast plots of land to grow Basmati rice for Bahrain’s consumption.

According to Hicap, details of the agreement was finally clinched on June last year, and it was signed by the minister of agriculture of Bahrain and agriculture secretary Arthur Yap for the Philippines, but the two agriculture officials agreed not to release the details of the agreement. However, according to Hicap, Fakhro was quoted as saying that several Bahrain companies will come in the Philippines to invest in rice production and livestock processing.

“While 70 percent of the peasant and fisherfolk population is still landless, Ms Arroyo entered into a secret, unlawful and immoral deal with Bahrain that will offer the country’s agricultural lands at bargain prices to foreign investors. Now, we have the business delegation from Bahrain coming in to formally scout for the country’s agricultural lands. This is treason to the highest order,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

KMP and Pamalakaya said, aside from the Philippines, the Manama-based General Trading and Food Processing Company, one of Bahrain’s largest public trading corporation is also interested in securing lands in Australia, India and Sudan to develop supplies of Bahraini market, which is composed of not less than 750,000 people.

“Secretary Yap and his lady boss in Malacañang have a lot of explaining to do over this highly secret agricultural deal with Bahrain. No official statements from the government side have been issued to the public and the entire Filipino people are kept in total dark about this escapade of President Arroyo and her agriculture secretary,” both groups added.

Pamalakaya noted that in 2007, the Bahraini food giant set up a $ 2.7 million joint venture food processing venture in Qatar with the Qatar Company for Meat and Livestock Trading, which is expanding its overseas operation.

The group said aside from the Philippines, the Bahraini government has also secured an agreement with the Thai government for the production of Jasmine rice for direct export to Bahrain. Hicap said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Bahrain and Thailand in May 2008, simultaneously with the visit of Fakhro in the Manila.

“Is this country for sale? Does President Arroyo maintain and execute a policy of selling the country’s agricultural lands to those who want to come to invest for agri-business undertakings? Is there such a policy? This seems to be the trend now with foreign groups coming in either to secure lease arrangements or buy lands in the country for production of agricultural products for super profits,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya noted that a Japanese holding company based in United Kingdom and its’ local subsidiary have been allowed by the national government to reforest 400,000 hectares in Northern Luzon with coconut trees for production of biodiesel products. The agreement between the United Kingdom based firm- the Pacific Bio-Fields Holding Plc. and its local counterpart the Northern Luzon based—Bio-Energy NL to utilize some 400,000 hectares of forest areas for coconut plantation was sanctioned by Malacañang, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) for 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.

Pamalakaya lamented that the incident involving the free use of 400,000 hectares of lands for the production of bio-diesel for the use of Japanese users is a clear proof that the Japan-Philippines Economic and Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) is really anti-Filipino and merely intended to address the need of Japanese transnational corporations.

“In exchange for 400 nursing and caregiving jobs in Japan, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will allow the corporate exploitation of 400,000 hectares of Philippine agricultural lands to foreign groups identified with and serving at the pleasure of Japanese car makers. No Filipino can stomach this kind of across-the-nation betrayal of national interest,” it said.

In an announcement in Tokyo which coincided with the state visit of President Arroyo, the Pacific Bio-Fields Holding Plc. said the project would make alternative auto fuel which it plans to sell to Japanese users in five years. Its counterpart the Bio-Energy NL headed by company president Salacnib Baterina denied that the government will allow the use of 400,00 hectares for the production of bio-diesel for free.

Earlier, Pamalakaya and KMP questioned the intervention made by the European Union (EU) pressuring the Manila government from pursuing Charter Change to lift ban on foreign ownership of lands in the country.

“The European Union is committing a national political foul play in lobbying for the passage of Chacha that would lift the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of land. This country is not for sale; its lands are reserved for public ownership and for the common good of every hardworking Filipino. Please don’t touch our lands and quit from conspiring with the government over the national auction of Philippine lands to European business giants,” they said.

“This diabolical economic agenda of the European Union will further exacerbate, complicate and worsen the problem of landlessness and agrarian injustice in the country. Are they trying to colonize this country through economic means under this era of globalization-led modern day slavery?” the groups added.

Former foreign affairs undersecretary Merlin Magallona warned lawmakers calling for the removal of nationalist economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution could be playing into the hands of the European Union.

Magallona, also former dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law said that the 27-member of the European Union had formally requested the Macapagal-Arroyo government under the World Trade Organization (WTO) to remove the ban on foreign land ownership.

The European Union also requested the government to allow foreign nationals, particularly lawyers to be allowed to practice in the Philippines, according to Magallona who was a guest speaker at a forum on Charter Change in UP College of Law on Wednesday.

Pamalakaya and KMP also accused the Macapagal-Arroyo government of keeping the details of the EU-RP Partnership and Cooperation Pact, which was done as early as 2002, like what the government did to the RP-Bahrain agricultural pact.

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Militant groups expose RP-Bahrain secret pact on agriculture

Militant groups expose RP-Bahrain secret pact on agriculture

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Thursday exposed what they called a secret agricultural pact between the Philippines and Bahrain.

In a joint press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the agreement was signed in May 2008 after Bahrain trade minister Hassan Fakhro visited Manila to secure vast plots of land to grow Basmati rice for Bahrain’s consumption.

Both leaders bared the agreement was finally clinched on June last year, and it was signed by the minister of agriculture of Bahrain and agriculture secretary Arthur Yap for the Philippines, but the two agriculture officials agreed not to release the details of the agreement. However, according to KMP and Pamalakaya leaders, Fakhro was quoted as saying that several Bahrain companies will come in the Philippines to invest in rice production and livestock processing.

“While 80 percent of the 90 million Filipinos are landless, and 70 percent of the peasant population is still landless, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo entered into a secret, unlawful and immoral deal with Bahrain that will offer the country’s agricultural lands at bargain prices to foreign investors. This is treason,” KMP’s Ramos said.

According to Ramos, aside from the Philippines, the Manama-based General Trading and Food Processing Company, one of Bahrain’s largest public trading corporation is also interested in securing lands in Australia, India and Sudan to develop supplies of Bahraini market, which is composed of not less than 750,000 people.

“Secretary Yap and his lady boss in Malacañang have a lot of explaining to do over this highly secret agricultural deal with Bahrain. No official statements from the government side have been issued to the public and the entire Filipino people are kept in total dark about this escapade of President Arroyo and her agriculture secretary,” the KMP said.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap noted that in 2007, the Bahraini food giant set up a $ 2.7 million joint venture food processing venture in Qatar with the Qatar Company for Meat and Livestock Trading, which is expanding its overseas operation.

The Pamalakaya leader said aside from the Philippines, the Bahraini government has also secured an agreement with the Thai government for the production of Jasmine rice for direct export to Bahrain. Hicap said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Bahrain and Thailand in May 2008, simultaneously with the visit of Fakhro in the Manila.

“Is this country for sale? Does President Arroyo maintain and execute a policy of selling the country’s agricultural lands to those who want to come to invest for agri-business undertakings? Is there such a policy? This seems to be the trend now with foreign groups coming in either to secure lease arrangements or buy lands in the country for production of agricultural products for super profits,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya noted that a Japanese holding company based in United Kingdom and its’ local subsidiary have been allowed by the national government to reforest 400,000 hectares in Northern Luzon with coconut trees for production of biodiesel products. The agreement between the United Kingdom based firm- the Pacific Bio-Fields Holding Plc. and its local counterpart the Northern Luzon based—Bio-Energy NL to utilize some 400,000 hectares of forest areas for coconut plantation was sanctioned by Malacañang, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) for 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.

Pamalakaya put to task Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles to immediately calendar the investigation of the highly treacherous pact between Pacific-Bio Fields Holding Plc. and Bio-Energy NL and perform acts of legislation that will invalidate the contract, which Hicap further described as “one-sided and an act of modern-day treason”.

“The Senate President and the Speaker of the House must rally the lawmakers in declaring the agreement illegal, immoral and unconstitutional,” the group said.

Pamalakaya lamented that the incident involving the free use of 400,000 hectares of lands for the production of bio-diesel for the use of Japanese users is a clear proof that the Japan-Philippines Economic and Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) is really anti-Filipino and merely intended to address the need of Japanese transnational corporations.

“In exchange for 400 nursing and caregiving jobs in Japan, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will allow the corporate exploitation of 400,000 hectares of Philippine agricultural lands to foreign groups identified with and serving at the pleasure of Japanese car makers. No Filipino can stomach this kind of across-the-nation betrayal of national interest,” it said.

In an announcement in Tokyo which coincided with the state visit of President Arroyo, the Pacific Bio-Fields Holding Plc. said the project would make alternative auto fuel which it plans to sell to Japanese users in five years. Its counterpart the Bio-Energy NL headed by company president Salacnib Baterina denied that the government will allow the use of 400,00 hectares for the production of bio-diesel for free.

Earlier, Pamalakaya and KMP questioned the intervention made by the European Union (EU) pressuring the Manila government from pursuing Charter Change to lift ban on foreign ownership of lands in the country.

“The European Union is committing a national political foul play in lobbying for the passage of Chacha that would lift the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of land. This country is not for sale; its lands are reserved for public ownership and for the common good of every hardworking Filipino. Please don’t touch our lands and quit from conspiring with the government over the national auction of Philippine lands to European business giants,” they said.

“This diabolical economic agenda of the European Union will further exacerbate, complicate and worsen the problem of landlessness and agrarian injustice in the country. Are they trying to colonize this country through economic means under this era of globalization-led modern day slavery?” the groups added.

Former foreign affairs undersecretary Merlin Magallona warned lawmakers calling for the removal of nationalist economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution could be playing into the hands of the European Union.

Magallona, also former dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law said that the 27-member of the European Union had formally requested the Macapagal-Arroyo government under the World Trade Organization (WTO) to remove the ban on foreign land ownership.

The European Union also requested the government to allow foreign nationals, particularly lawyers to be allowed to practice in the Philippines, according to Magallona who was a guest speaker at a forum on Charter Change in UP College of Law on Wednesday.

Pamalakaya and KMP also accused the Macapagal-Arroyo government of keeping the details of the EU-RP Partnership and Cooperation Pact, which was done as early as 2002, like what the government did to the RP-Bahrain agricultural pact.

“To set the record straight, the Philippine government is set to lease or sell some 1.5 million hectares of prime agricultural lands to foreign countries who have entered a bilateral economic and trade agreement with the Malacañang, whether these are aboveboard or discreet agreements,” the groups added. #

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Militants bring anti-Con-Ass, anti-Chacha fight to Pasig River

Militants bring anti-Con-Ass, anti-Chacha fight to Pasig River

From Ayala financial district in Makati City to the murky waters of Pasig River.

Members of the anti-Charter Change (Chacha) fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas who took part in the big rally against Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) and anti-Chacha rally in Makati last June 10, this time went back to Pasig River in Guadalupe and sailed away towards Malacañang Palace a 2 meter by 3 meter bamboo raft filled with anti-Con-Ass and anti-Chacha placards

“We want to send this message to Malacañang and inform President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her rabid loyalists that the fight against Con-Ass and Chacha will continue until Ms Arroyo comes to her senses and drops her immoral plans to perpetuate herself to power through any available means aside from prostituting and cannibalizing the 1987 Constitution,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

“This is just the beginning of more water-based actions against Con-Ass and Chacha. We intend to do more. We are prepare to brave the murky waters of Pasig River and Manila Bay just to show Ms Arroyo and her ruling Mafia that her days in Malacañang are numbered,” the fisherfolk leader said.

Hicap said another water-based protest is set on June 29 along the river bank of Pasig River in Manila, where another “balsa” (bamboo raft) filled with anti-Con-Ass and anti-Chacha placards will be sailed away towards Malacañang Palace.

The Pamalakaya leader said, the group is also planning to conduct a community swimming against Chacha on July 13, and a swim protest in Manila Bay few days before President Arroyo delivers her State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

The militant group said Malacañang is not only pushing Chacha for the political survival of President Arroyo, but as well to honor its commitments to foreign companies which want to avail of Philippine agricultural lands either for free or at bargain prices by lifting the nationalist provision in the 1987 Constitution banning 100 foreign ownership of land.

Pamalakaya said the European Union is now pressuring the Macapagal-Arroyo government to execute Chacha to lift the ban against foreign ownership of land under the RP-EU Cooperation and Partnership Act which was signed in 2002 but was kept from public scrutiny.

Another controversy, the group said, is the agreement between the Philippines and Japan, where the Macapagal-Arroyo government will allow the United Kingdom based Japanese firm–Pacific Bio-Fields Holding Plc. and its local counterpart the Northern Luzon based—Bio-Energy NL to utilize some 400,000 hectares of forest areas for coconut plantation for free provided that 60 percent of biodiesel products will be acquired by the Philippine government, and the remaining 40 percent would supply bio-diesel fuel to Japan for Japanese users in five years.

“This is the biggest sell out of national patrimony in recent years. The senators and the congressmen must do something to invalidate and stop this triple platinum betrayal. While 7 out of 10 Filipino farmers are landless, the Philippine government is giving away 400,000 hectares of land which is equivalent to the total land area of Masbate or Abra. This is condemnable to the highest order,” the group said. #

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