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Air Force accused of harassing clients of arrested 43 health workers

By Bb. Joyce Cabral and Sarsi Pimentel

Manila, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) accused on Saturday intelligence elements identified with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) based in Batangas of harassing clients of 43 health doctors and health workers arrested by the military in Morong, Rizal four weeks ago.

Quoting a report filed by its regional chapter Pamalakaya-Timog Katagalugan (Pamalakaya-TK) and staunch ally the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the intelligence unit of PAF were trying to implicate Kasama-TK chairperson Guillermo Bautista and Pamalakaya-TK Southern Tagalog secretary general Isabelo Alicaya to the so-called Morong 43.

“According to the report, the air force intelligence group branded Bautista and Alicaya as comrades and members of New People’s Army in Batangas and they name dropped one of the arrested health workers as source of information,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Bautista and Alicaya are indigent clients of doctors and health workers arrested by the Philippine Army about a month ago while conducting a health seminar inside a resort in Morong, Rizal. “They are not NPAs. They are regular clients of the arrested 43 health workers, nothing more, nothing less,” stressed Hicap.

In the same report, the regional offices of Kasama-TK and Pamalakaya-TK said on Feb.21, two PAF men escorted by a local village councilor Aquilino Limeta along with Oscar Derain and an unidentified male, believed to be working with intelligence unit of PAF went to Barangay Calayo, Nasugbu and subjected Bautista’s wife about her husband’s whereabouts.

The report also said the three men persistently asked the peasant leader’s location. When his wife refused to divulge Bautista’s whereabouts, Derain bluntly declared that he is the “Supremo” of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Batangas. The intelligence officer claimed that the information directly came from the confession of the health workers who belonged to the so-called “Morong 43”.

Derain visited the house of village councilor Roniel Asahan the next day and declared the same statement to Asahan’s mother. On a separate incident, Mandy Limeta, a resident of the village was asked “what was he up to” and was accused of being a “comrade of the 43” by Derain.

“This long running criminal monster known as PAF is again on the loose to attack the indigent clients and poor people’s communities serviced for free by the 43 health workers the military had illegally arrested and detained and perennially tortured since day 1 of the political and military kidnapping of these 43 noble people,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group said the Commission on Human Rights should also investigate the PAF in Batangas for sowing state terror and unbridled violations of human rights of poor farmers and fisherfolk who are all-season clients of 43 health workers. “The CHR should also look dispatch a probe team to undertake an investigation about this broad daylight terror by the PAF,” added Pamalakaya.

Meanwhile, the head of the European Union delegation to the Philippines assured the group that is following the case of 43 arrested doctors and health workers attentively and closely to make sure the human rights of detainees are fully respected in accordance with the law.

EU ambassador to the Philippines Alistair Macdonald in a letter dated March 2, 2010 and addressed to Pamalakaya leaders Hicap and Salvador France said few days after the arrest of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal, the EU Commission to the Philippines immediately raised human rights issue to CHR chair Leila de Lima.

MacDonald’s letter was in response to the February 13 letter of appeal by Pamalakaya sent on February 13 urging EU to withdraw the P 270 million human rights grant to the Philippine government with respect to combating extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country.

But the head of the EU delegation clarified that the EU-Philippine Justice Support Programme (EPJUST) was not a financial grant to the Philippine government but a technical assistance program, providing expert advice and training with a view to assisting Philippine society including civil society groups and the CHR and address the long standing scourge of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. MacDonald said the funding which covers the costs of the technical assistance is managed by the EU Delegation in Manila.

“I do believe that this programme has very important contribution to make, in helping all stakeholders in the Philippines, including civil society and the CHR to bring an end to this grave problem,” the EU delegation chief said.

Pamalakaya said the EU delegation at least recognized that the issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance of political activists are major human rights concerns in the country.

In its letter to MacDonald dated February 13, Pamalakaya said, “Honorable MacDonald, late last year the European Union granted the Philippine government a total of P 270 million in total aid to improve its human rights record and make progress in the campaign to end the political culture of state repression prevailing under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But the noble purpose of the grant courtesy of European taxpaying public is blatantly violated by the Manila government and the Philippine military with the fresh wave of attacks against political activists, human rights defenders and people centered advocacy groups”.

The group added: “Sir, the unlawful and brutal arrest and detention and torture of 43 doctors and medical volunteers who conducted a health training seminar last week aimed at improving their free services to indigent and poor Filipinos by state security forces is enough ground for EU to suspend if not withdraw the human rights aid given to the Philippine government. The situation merits the immediate and unconditional suspension if not total withdrawal of the P 270 million human rights aid to the Arroyo government.”

Pamalakaya noted that despite a Supreme Court order compelling the Philippine Army to produce and present the 43 arrested doctors and health personnel, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) refused to yield the live bodies of the arrested doctors and health workers. This is not only a direct of contempt, but a complete disregard of justice system in the country; with that chilling message that one is above the military as if a de facto military junta exists over and above the Supreme Court and the justice system in general.

“The tales of horror and stories of extreme state terror and brutality as collectively and individually recalled by doctors and medical personnel are sufficient enough to convince the European Union not only to recall the P 270 million human rights aid to Manila, but also to censure or reprimand the Philippine government for reneging its promise to make the country a better place for human rights advocacy,” the group said.

Pamalakaya told the EU delegation chief the 300 Army and their superiors who ordered the illegal arrest and detention and serious infliction of mental and physical pain to 43 health workers are ruthless, insane and blood hungry people, and awarding this republic of torturers and human rights violators millions of pesos worth of grant is like endorsing their passion for all-out violations of human rights and civil liberties.

The group asserted the Philippine government did not use the EU money to improve and defend human rights. On the contrary it spent the money to continue its perpetual violation of guaranteed constitutional rights and civil liberties with impunity. “The EU taxpayers’ money is spent by the national security gangland for the legal offensive of Malacanang against political activists and members of opposition groups exposing and opposing the crimes of the de facto military junta in Malacanang”, said Pamalakaya. #

Police conducting checkpoint in broad daylight

Police still conduct checkpoint even in broad daylight as the PNP intensify campaign against illegal carrying of firearms

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Rich nations behind RP tuna crisis— Pamalakaya

By Queen Shawn Dok

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said on Thursday powerful nations led by the United States (US), Japan and influential members of the European Union were the masterminds of the current tuna crisis in the country that sent hundreds of tuna fishing boats idled, and caused thousands of lost jobs in the $ 1 billion industry.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said poor member states of Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) were coerced by the US, Japan , the EU, Australia, China , New Zealand, South Korea and Canada to close the fishing areas of Micronesia, Indonesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

He said the tuna monopolies in these rich nations want to protect their own tuna industries by blocking the tuna from Western and Central Pacific countries like the Philippines under the guise of environmental protection and tuna resource generation.

The Pamalakaya leader recalled the fishing ban was raised by EU, the world’s biggest market for canned tuna. Hicap said annexed to the issue raised by the EU, directs all tuna sales to continental Europe market now need a “catch certificate” in lieu of the old requirement that only dealt on the physical condition of the fish through a “health certificate.”

“ To set the record straight, industry sources in the tuna industry agreed that the fishing ban under the camouflage of environmental concern. The cruel intention is clear—the tuna ban was meant to decrease tuna coming from the Philippines and neighboring countries to stop them from hurting the sales of EU and US tuna producing companies currently confronted with crisis of overproduced tuna in their respective territories,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya lamented that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, who have seen the predictable disastrous impact of closing the Western and Central Pacific fishing areas to local tuna industry and tuna workers in General Santos City failed to institute contingency plans how to address the loss of 150,000 jobs among tuna fishermen in Far South Mindanao with the two-year tuna fishing ban.

“The government has no contingency plans to address “the Great Tuna Crisis” of 2010. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her economic advisers are well informed that this job crisis in the tuna industry is in the offing with the imposed two-year ban, but nothing has been done to arrest the issue of labor woes and loss of economic means for tuna fish workers” said Pamalakaya.

“150,000 tuna fishermen will lose their jobs, and around 750,000 people indirectly dependent on the country’s backward tuna fishing industry will also feel the economic disaster of this 2-year tuna ban. So what would be the next move of this government? Tell the poor tuna fishing people to wait for two years for the lifting of the ban?” the group added.

Big players in the tuna industry including corporations in canning of tuna said the closure of high seas for tuna fishing will render idle some 200 fishing boats for the next two years, predicting a 20 percent drop in the supply of tuna in the local and world markets. The tuna industry in General Santos is currently valued at $ 380 million based on annual export figures of 400 metric tons per year.

Pamalakaya noted that while the US, the EU and Japan strongly lobbied for the closure of Western and Central Pacific areas for tuna fish ban, they have their respective free trade agreements with the Philippines urging the country to open up its own tuna fishing territory to tuna fishing vessels of these powerful countries.

The group noted that Japan is gearing to invade the Philippine waters for tuna fishing under the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), while EU and the US also want a share of the country’s territorial waters for tuna under the proposed RP-EU free trade pact and RP-US Free Trade Agreement respectively.

The militant group said under Jpepa, the Philippine government is obliged to allow Japanese tuna factory ships to explore the country’s tuna resources in exchange for taxes derive from the value of harvested tuna from the country’s territorial waters.

Pamalakaya projected that the local tuna industry concentrated in General Santos port city stands to lose P18 billion in profits yearly once Japan tuna fishing fleets start their tuna exploration this year.

On the other hand, Japanese investors are expected to gain at least P43 billion annual profits in tuna trading, he said.

“The devastating impact of JPEPA to the local tuna industry includes the loss of 100,000 jobs provided by the local tuna fishing companies in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City and the Davao regions,” Pamalakaya said.

According to Pamalakaya, a single 3,000-gross ton Japanese factory ship is capable of harvesting 50,000 metric tons of tuna a year or 150 metric tons of tuna per day. Based on industry standards, a single factory ship could earn as much as $32.5 million in gross profits from the sale of skipjack tuna.

Pamalakaya said the bulk of the profit will come from the remaining 35 percent of the 50,000 metric ton tuna catch, which is $210 million. “A single medium size factory ship thus will earn $242.5 million a year, and since Japan at the very least, employs four factory ships in its regular tuna fishing expedition per country, we expect them to earn a total of $ 970 million or P43.5 B per year,” the group said.

At present the local tuna industry yearly produces 400,000 metric tons of tuna, with 15 percent of the production going to domestic market and 85 percent for exports.

The European Union accounts for 40 percent of the country’s fresh and canned tuna exports or roughly 64,000 metric tons per year. The rest of the exports are shipped to tuna markets of Japan and the United States..

Pamalakaya said the government should indefinitely suspend if not abrogate the Jpepa treaty with Japan if it wants the local tuna fishing industry to survive.

“The most logical and objective solution to current predicament of tuna fish workers in Southern Philippines is to abrogate Jpepa and pursue the nationalization of tuna fishing industry by investing finance capital and technology for the inward development of the tuna sector, and this will arrest the rising tide of job loss among tuna fish workers and tuna fishermen,” the group said. #

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Joma thanked supporters over major legal victory in EU

Joma thanked supporters over major legal victory in EU court

by Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times

Manila, Philippines- Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Prof. Jose Maria Sison thanked members of his legal counsel and support groups for his major legal victory concerning his inclusion in the terrorist listing of the European Union.

“I thank all the people and organized forces in various countries for standing in solidarity with me in the struggle for my rights against blacklist since 2002. I thank my international battery of lawyers for providing excellent legal assistance. I thank the International DEFEND Committee for rallying support for me beyond the confines of the court,” Sison said in a press statement furnished to the Pamalakaya Times.

Sison, chief political consultant to the peace talks of the communist led National Democratic Front of the Philippines said he is happy that the European Court of First Instance (ECFI) has annulled all the decisions and the regulation of the Council of the European Union (EU) that has kept my name in its so-called terrorist blacklist.

The 70-year old Sison said the ECFI has ruled that the judgments of the Dutch State Council and the Legal Uniformity Chamber about my asylum case and those of The Hague District Court Appellate Court about the false charge of murder, do not relate to the instigation of investigations or prosecution or to a conviction for terrorist activity, contrary to the requirements of European Community Law. Said court judgments in The Netherlands are in fact favorable to me but have been maliciously misinterpreted by the Council.

The main point in the ECFI judgment on Sison’s case T-341/07 against the Council of EU is the removal of his name from the blacklist. As a consequence, his small bank account is unfrozen and he was allowed to engage in financial dealings like anyone else normally does.

The ECFI judgment opens the way for me to exercise and enjoy the rights that have been curtailed and suppressed due to the false charge of terrorism.

As Sison’s lawyers and the International DEFEND Committee have pointed out, the CPP founding chair is now in the position of being able to do the following: 1) to claim back the social payments for living allowance, housing, health insurance and old age pension which have been withdrawn from me since 2002; 2) render professional services with remuneration or seek gainful employment; 3) to secure legal admission as a refugee and a residence permit; 4) to travel freely without restrictions; 5) to be free from being demonized and stigmatized as a terrorist; and 6) to claim moral and material damages for what I have suffered since 2002.

Sison agreed with and endorsed the call of the International DEFEND Committee to all its adherents, supporters and friends to celebrate his legal victory in the European Court and at the same time to become more determined than ever before in demanding that the Dutch government, Council of the EU and certain other governments to change their hostile policy towards the NDFP chief political consultant to the peace talks with the Philippine government.

He said the Dutch government and the Council of the EU must cease and desist from being the vehicles of false charges and tools of persecution of the US and Philippine governments against me.

“It is a matter of justice that my rights are fully respected and I am allowed to act freely and fruitfully as the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and not be persecuted and placed under duress,” Sison’s statement read.

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EU court removes Joma from terrorist blacklist

EU court removes Joma from terrorist blacklist
by Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times

Manila, Philippines- Professor Jose Maria Sison and his legal counsels scored a major legal victory after the European Court of First Instance (ECFI) annulled yesterday all decisions and a regulation of the Council of the European Union (EU) that had maintained Prof. Jose Maria Sison in its so-called terrorist blacklist.

In a statement furnished by the The Netherlands based DEFEND Committee, the group said the removal of the name of Prof. Sison from the blacklist is the essence or main point of the ECFI judgment on Case T-341/07 of Prof. Sison against the Council of EU. “It directly unfreezes Sison’s funds in his small bank account and allows him to engage in financial dealings like any ordinary person,” it said.

To annul the acts of the Council in blacklisting Prof. Sison and
freezing his account, the ECFI ruled that the national decisions done in
The Netherlands and relied upon by the Council did not relate to the
instigation of investigations or prosecution or to a conviction for
terrorist activity, contrary to the requirements of European Community Law.

Aside from unfreezing the funds of Prof. Sison, the ECFI judgment opens the way for him to assert and enjoy all his rights that have been
restricted or suppressed due to the false charge of terrorism. He can
benefit from the judgment in the following ways:

1. To claim back the social payments for living allowance, housing,
health insurance and old age pension which have been withdrawn from him since 2002;
2. To seek gainful employment or render professional services with
remuneration;
3. To secure legal admission as a refugee and a residence permit;
4. To travel freely without restrictions;
5. To be free from being labelled and stigmatized as a terrorist; and
6. To claim moral and material damages for what he has suffered since 2002.

“The International DEFEND Committee is calling on all its adherents,
supporters and friends to celebrate the legal victory of Prof. Jose
Maria Sison in the European Court and at the same time to become more determined than ever before in demanding that the Dutch government and Council of the EU change their hostile policy towards him,” the statement said.

The European court decision ordered the Dutch government and the Council of the EU to cease and desist from being the vehicles of false charges and tools of persecution of the US and Philippine governments against Prof. Jose Maria Sison.

The decision should now allow and encourage Sison to act freely and fruitfully as the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

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Donor countries on storm Ondoy victims told: No strings attach please

Donor countries on storm Ondoy victims told: No strings attach please

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said donor countries who gave financial assistance to the Philippine government for the victims of tropical storm Ondoy should not ask something in return for their cash donations, saying the situation should not be used as an opportunity and occasion to advance any kind of agenda.

“If donor countries want to help and they are sincere, that is very much welcome to the Filipino people and we will regard their respective efforts as expression of international solidarity. But if they are up for something big, let’s say big favors from the corrupt government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then forget it. No strings attach please,” said Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz in a press statement.

“We have to be brutally frank here and we believe it is a politically correct attitude in dealing with these cash aids foreign donors. These powerful foreign economies will not give cash without getting something big for their investments. That is the history of our master-slave relationship with the world’s economic giants,” added Corpuz.

The Pamalakaya information officer said most of the donor countries have anti-Filipino agenda like the European Union, the United States, Japan, Australia and China.

Corpuz said the US, which donated $ 100,000 or roughly P 47 million to flood victims, is hell bent in keeping the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and is strongly opposed to moves of the Philippine Senate to renegotiate or terminate the military pact. He said the US is also eyeing a bilateral free trade agreement with the Philippines similar to or even bigger in scope compared to the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or Jpepa, which was approved by the Senate last year.

Corpuz said the European Union, which promised 2 million euro humanitarian assistance or P 140 million in total relief aid wants to enter a bilateral economic pact with the Philippines through the RP-EU Free Trade Agreement and is said to be interested in owning vast tracts of prime agricultural lands in the country and is reportedly urging lawmakers to purse Charter Change to eliminate the constitutional ban on 100 percent foreign ownership of land.

Pamalakaya said aside from Jpepa, Japan, which donated $ 220,000 for typhoon victims, is asking Malacanang’s permission to use 600,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Northern Luzon for bio-fuel production, while Australia, which promised 1 million Australian dollars or P 40 million in total relief aid, wants to clinch a bilateral economic and military agreement with the Philippines.

The group said China, which P 6.6 million in total donations given to Ondoy victims, is still pursuing the RP-China agreement which entails 13 sub agreements in agriculture and 6 sub-agreements in fisheries, aside from the continuation of the stalled NBN-ZTE deal and the $ 546 million North Rail Project.

On Tuesday, the massive flooding triggered by tropical storm “Ondoy” (international codename: Ketsana) has inflicted over P4.6 billion in damage, the National Disaster Coordinating Council in its partial damage assessment said. Infrastructure losses reached more than P1.5 billion while damage to agriculture amounted to about P882.525 million, the NDCC said in its latest situation report.

“It is a partial damage assessment definitely, even loss to, or opportunity loss of revenues for establishments you know, I mean, that alone would amount to hundreds of millions at the least a day,” Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. said in a briefing after the Cabinet Meeting at the NDCC headquarters.

A total of 1,872,036 persons or 319,881 families have been affected by the flooding, the NDCC said.Of this number, 74,695 families or 374,890 persons have taken refuge in 607 evacuation centers.

The death toll of 240 was 100 more than Monday’s assessment. Thirty seven people remained missing. “I think for casualties the increase will be not as great but the damage figures may increase,” Teodoro said.

“The difficulty is, let’s say in a province you can very well judge a totally or partially damaged house, the problem in Metro Manila is if you have to inventory the appliances and articles inside the house, that poses some difficulty so an accurate picture of damages cannot be had easily,” the defense chief said.#

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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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