Tag Archives: global economic and financial crisis

Pamalakaya urges gov’t to set aside P 32-B production subsidy to combat oil price hikes

Pamalakaya urges gov’t to set aside P 32-B production subsidy to combat oil price hikes

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday urged the national government to set aside P 32-B worth of production subsidies to small fishermen across the country to caution the impact of successive oil price increases and the current global economic and financial crisis.

The militant group pressed the call after oil companies led by Chevron, Shell and Petron raised anew prices of petroleum products by an average of P 1 raising the prices of diesel to P 30 per liter and regular gasoline to P 40 per liter. According to Pamalakaya, small fisherfolk employing small fishing boats used regular gasoline and consumed at least 10 liters per fishing activity.

“This fighting demand of the small fisherfolk for monthly production subsidy to arrest the uncontrollable hikes in the prices of petroleum products and the global economic and financial crisis is long overdue. But this government is not taking our legitimate call seriously,” Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said in a press statement.

France recalled that the demand for production subsidy was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. “It’s been in the office of agriculture secretary, but Secretary Yap is not doing his assignment. The small fisherfolk are been kept in the dark with regards to their legitimate crusade for production subsidy,” he said.

The Pamalakaya leader said the main purpose of the P 32-billion production subsidy is to keep the wheel of production in the fisheries sector moving, because it is currently battered by high prices of oil products and skyrocketing prices of fishing gears and equipments.

Under the annual P 32-billion production subsidy for the fisheries sector proposed by Pamalakaya, all fishermen who own a small motorized banca will receive a minimum P 4,500 monthly oil subsidy, while those who operate non-motorized banca will receive P 2,000 monthly production subsidy.

According to Hicap, the P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. The Pamalakaya leader said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.

Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy for 630,000 non-motorized fishing boats operators across the country will cost the national government some of P1.3 billion per month or roughly P 15.67 billion per year. All in all, the total subsidy for a little over small fishermen will cost he government some P 32 billion in total production subsidies annually.

The group said 100 percent of the production subsidy for fisherfolk operators of small fishing boats will go to oil, while around 50 percent of the proposed subsidy for owners of non-motorized fishing boats will go to gas subsidy, while the rest will go to other production and food needs of small fishermen.

Pamalakaya said the production subsidies for small fishermen could be addressed by immediately and indefinitely suspending the annual payments of foreign and domestic debts that eats up more than one-third of the annual national budget.

“The proposed fishery production subsidy program is about 10 percent of the national government’s allotment to debt servicing. It would be better if we suspend if not totally stop paying these fraudulent loans acquired and accumulated by the previous and present administrations for their own corruption purposes,” the group said.

Pamalakaya also said the national government should also oblige commercial and aquaculture operators to give their fish workers the mandated minimum wage and the President should certify as urgent the pending bill in both houses of Congress granting private workers a P 125 across the board, across the country wage increase.

To improve the purchasing power of the Filipino fishermen, the workers and the poor, Pamalakaya said the government should scrap the 12 percent expanded Value Added Tax on all petroleum products, consumer good, utilities and services.

“These are doable items and sound economic measures to ease the burden and cushion the impact of global economic and financial crisis. But this government is not listening to the concrete and legitimate demands of the people, the group asserted. #

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Pamalakaya demands P 32-billion production subsidy

Pamalakaya demands P 32-billion production subsidy

Manila, Philippines- Members of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list on Monday fried two kilos of assorted fish at the Department of Agriculture (DA) as a symbolic gesture of presenting their demand for P 32-billion yearly production subsidy to caution the impact of global economic and financial crisis.

“This fighting demand of the small fisherfolk for monthly production subsidy to arrest the uncontrollable hikes in the prices of petroleum products was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. But nobody in this government wants to listen and our position paper was reduced into a scratch paper,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the main purpose of the P 32-billion production subsidy is to keep the wheel of production in the fisheries sector moving, because it is currently battered by high prices of oil products and skyrocketing prices of fishing gears and equipments.

Under the annual P 32-billion production subsidy for the fisheries sector proposed by Pamalakaya, all fishermen who own a small motorized banca will receive a minimum P 4,500 monthly oil subsidy, while those who operate non-motorized banca will receive P 2,000 monthly production subsidy.

According to Hicap, the P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. The Pamalakaya leader said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.

Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy for 630,000 non-motorized fishing boats operators across the country, will cost the national government some of P1.3 billion per month or roughly P 15.67 billion per year. All in all, the total subsidy for a little over small fishermen will cost he government some P 32 billion in total production subsidies annually.

For her part, Anakpawis party list secretary general Cherry Clemente said 100 percent of the production subsidy for fisherfolk operators of small fishing boats will go to oil, while around 50 percent of the proposed subsidy for owners of non-motorized fishing boats will go to gas subsidy, while the rest will go to other production and food needs of small fishermen.

Clemente said the production subsidies for small fishermen could be addressed by immediately and indefinitely suspending the annual payments of foreign and domestic debts that eats up more than one-third of the annual national budget.

“The proposed fishery production subsidy program is about 10 percent of the national government’s allotment to debt servicing. It would be better if we suspend if not totally stop paying these fraudulent loans acquired and accumulated by the previous and present administrations for their own corruption purposes,” the Anakpawis official added.

Clemente also said the national government should also oblige commercial and aquaculture operators to give their fish workers the mandated minimum wage and certify as urgent the pending bill in both houses of Congress granting private workers a P 125 across the board, across the country wage increase.

To improve the purchasing power of the Filipino fishermen, the workers and the poor, both groups said the government should scrap the 12 percent expanded Value Added Tax on all petroleum products, consumer good, utilities and services.

“These are doable items and sound economic measures to ease the burden and cushion the impact of global economic and financial crisis. But this government is not listening to the concrete and legitimate demands of the people,” Anakpawis asserted.

Pamalakaya likewise dismissed the 700 jobs being offered by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Eastern Visayas to displaced fishermen as “pittance and highly trivial”.

“The small fisherfolk in Eastern Visayas are not begging for alms nor asking for some kind of charitable escapade from the national and local governments. They are asking for decent, sustaining and life-supporting production activities not pittance and super roadshow charity work from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, “ lamented Pamalakaya.

The fisherfolk group was referring to the P 4-million livelihood and emergency employment assistance fund released by DOLE-Region 8, which Forter Pugon, regional director of the employment department said would benefit about 700 marginal fishermen and displaced workers in the region.

Of the P 4-million, P 1.468 million was alloted by the DOLE Region 8 to employment generation projects billed as Integrated Services for Livelihood of the Fisherfolk (ISLA) and the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD), which are currently being implemented in Lapinig town in Northern Samar.

Under the ISLA project of the labor department, the beneficiaries would undertake a small-scale fishing project in Lapinig town, using fish cage and other fishing methods. The project for small fisherfolk will also include enhancement trainings to prepare fisherfolk for another employment once the project is completed by concerned local government units. #

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Anti-FTA group sees 10-million European food aid to Manila as grease money for rapid OK of RP-EU pact

Anti-FTA group sees 10-million European food aid to Manila as grease money for rapid OK of RP-EU pact

Manila, Philippines—An anti free trade agreement (FTA) group in Manila on Sunday said the 10 million Euros or roughly P 640 million worth of food aid granted by the European Commission to the Philippine government was a form of grease money to fast-track the approval of the RP-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which the group asserted has been kept from public scrutiny since 2004.

The Office of the Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines in a press statement said the P 640 million grant was part of the first package of projects to support agriculture and improve food security in the country.

It said the projects will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture and co-financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will help to assure supply of rice seed and increase rice production to prevent the repeat of last year’s rice crisis.

But Fernando Hicap, national chair of the fisherfolk group PAMALAKAYA asserted the 10 million Euro food aid as oil money to facilitate the rapid approval of RP-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Manila and the European member states.

“The granting of the P 640 million food grant is highly questionable since it was timed when the Manila government and the European Union are negotiating on a bilateral pact which was authored, written and pursued by the EU giants”, the Pamalakaya leader said.

According to Pamalakaya, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her top economic and diplomatic officials never facilitated in the drafting of the RP-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and were reduced as mere audience as they European Union counterparts proceeded in writing the bilateral which is supposed to be a joint partnership agreement.

“The RP-EU is supposed to be a bilateral agreement to be drafted by the two parties involved. But the Arroyo presidency never participated in the drafting and was only made to wait for the final version of the pact that would be finalized by their EU counterparts. On the other hand, the P 640 million food grant looked like a prize for the Arroyo government for performing its role to the hilt as willing lapdog of the EU transnational giants,” the militant group said.

Earlier, Pamalakaya urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alberto Romulo to make available the content of the RP-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which was initially drafted by EU a few years ago, and a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine government on Feb.1 2006.

The militant group also learned that Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo requested the office of Secretary Romulo to furnish him documents regarding the ongoing negotiations between the Macapagal-Arroyo government and the European Commission but what was given to activist lawmaker was the statement of the DFA on the RP-EU ongoing negotiations on the partnership and cooperation agreement.

“Why this agreement is being processed through the syndicate way? What is the big secret being concealed by the Philippine government and the European Commission from the Filipino people? If there is nothing wrong or sinister about the PCA, then both governments, by all means, should reveal the content and let the Filipino people judge according to their collective interest,” said Pamalakaya.

Likewise, Pamalakaya urged Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile and 22 other senators to compel the DFA Secretary Romulo to furnish the Senate all the important and vital documents concerning the PCA that involves issues such as trade and investment cooperation, economic and development cooperation, political cooperation and institutional framework.

“While the executive department’s job is to negotiate, the Philippine Senate which is the sole ratifying body should not be kept in the dark. The senators are constitutionally bound, legally mandated, politically and morally obliged to look into the impact and consequences of the PCA is which is currently being syndicated among top officials of Malacañang and the European Commission,” the fisherfolk group stressed.

Pamalakaya further asserted that the Senate should not be caught flat footed like in the case of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) where the Senate, the ratifying body were kept in the dark in the early stages of the negotiations and was compelled to seal the agreement despite Jpepa’s all-out violation of national interest and the 1987 Constitution.

“If Jpepa is nightmare, the RP-EU partnership and cooperation pact is an across-the-nation tragedy that will soon hit this nation of impoverished and starving people. The real agenda of EU in orchestrating this biggest sell-out of the century is to pass the burden of their economic and global crisis to the downtrodden people of the Third World like RP,” the militant group said.

DFA undersecretary Edsel Custodio on Feb.19 released a foreign affairs statement on Feb.9, 2009 on the draft RP-EU PCA which was submitted by the European Commission on Nov.21 2006.

Usec. Custodio said the Philippines had received from the EC the initial draft of the PCA on 1 February 2006. At that time, the PCA consisted of two separate Framework Agreements: the first refers to the main PCA, while the second refers to the political elements on WMD, Terrorism, and the ICC.
In May 2006, President Macapagal-Arroyo had met with then-EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, and expressed the Philippines’ keenness on pursuing negotiations after thorough evaluation by the agencies of the Philippine government. In accordance with this directive, the DFA established the Inter-Agency process on the PCA.

According to Custodio, since then, the initial draft underwent further revisions by the EC. The second revised PCA draft dated 21 November 2006 merged the two separate Agreements of 1 February 2006 into one omnibus PCA. It is this version that has undergone a lengthy but thorough Inter-Agency process, spanning a period of over two years and involving around 30 agencies and offices of the Philippine government.

Inter-Agency deliberation continued throughout much of 2007. Some issues—particularly the nature and rationale behind the PCA and its relation to the regional FTA—emerged that required further discussion. For this reason, the DFA and the EC held the first informal consultations on the draft PCA on 24 September 2007. There we discussed the draft PCA with the EC in order to arrive at some clarity on the nature and rationale of the PCA and how to proceed further with a view to engaging in more substantive discussions.
Inter-agency discussion intensified in frequency and deepened in analysis in 2008. The number of agencies involved in the PCA increased, while some sub-clusters consolidated due to the inter-relatedness and cross-cutting nature of certain provisions.

The Philippine response to the PCA—the Counter-Draft—was now taking shape.
On 6 October 2008, a second informal consultation was held with the EC. By this time, our agencies have thoroughly deliberated on the PCA, with some changing positions reflecting the changing times and the complexity of the issues.

A Philippine Counter-Draft was almost substantially complete. Both sides tackled the issue of how to proceed further towards actually commencing formal talks and some institutional matters regarding possible structure and modalities of the impending bilateral negotiations.
On 24 October 2008, at the fringes of the ASEM Leaders Summit in Beijing, our Leaders, President Macapagal-Arroyo and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso, had made the announcement that both sides have agreed to commence negotiations. With the political mandate clear, and with no foreseeable legal or substantive impediment to negotiations, the only question left unanswered is when.

According to Usec. Custodio, this question was taken up during the 6th RP-EU Senior Officials Meeting, the official bilateral dialogue of the Philippines and the EU. There both sides agreed to start the first round of negotiations on the PCA on 9-10 February 2008, in Manila.

The EC also announced formally that an updated PCA draft, with new sections on labor and employment, justice, governance, and climate change, was to be transmitted to the Philippines by the end of 2008.

“This new EC draft, dated 22 December 2008, is still being considered by the Inter-Agency. Notwithstanding this development, the Philippines stands ready to discuss in more substantive detail its counter-proposal in this first Round of Negotiations on the PCA,” the DFA official added..#

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Palace P 5.3 B rural roads project, a farm to pocket roads project,

Palace P 5.3 B rural roads project, a farm to pocket roads project,
says Pamalakaya

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday said the P 5.3 billion rural roads project of the Macapagal-Arroyo government is more of a farm-to-pocket roads project, rather than a genuine development blue print to arrest the current economic and financial crisis.

“The government will exploit the most-abused financial escapade “farm-to-market roads project” to pursue its farm-to-pocket roads project at the expense of the Filipino taxpaying public,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

“The people of this country are suffering from extreme economic and political crisis. But this government solution to the crisis is to build roads identical to President Diosdado Macapagal-Boulevard to ensure fat kickbacks. The regime of greed must be buried six feet under,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Hicap said high crime of corruption is the real agenda of Malacañang in pursuing the 2,000 kilometers of farm-to-market roads nationwide. “What roads will the government build this time? Roads to perdition? Roads to destruction? Or roads to hell? Or all of the above?” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the projects, which will start this week, would benefit 212,000 farmers in food-producing and hunger-prone areas, and would create 53,000 new jobs this year.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Cabinet coordinator for the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) in Northern Luzon and Bohol said more than half of the total length of the farm-to-market-roads would be built in Central Philippines and the Mindanao super region where major food production sites are located.

In a statement sent to media, Secretary Yap said the national government under CLEEP will build 567.6 kilometers of roads will be built in Central Philippines and are expected to benefit 56,760 workers and create 14,190 new jobs, while 536.94 kilometers of roads in Mindanao will benefit 53,694 hectares of farmers and will employ 13,294 workers.

The North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle, where Secretary Yap was designated by the President as its development coordinator will have 420.8 kilometers of farm-to-market roads which the DA said will benefit 42,080 farmers and will require 10,520 jobs, while 366.8 kilometers of farm-to-market roads will be constructed in the Metro Manila Urban Railway, which include Central Luzon to help 36,680 farmers and create 9,170 jobs.

Yap said another 230.8 kilometers of farm-to-market roads which will benefit 23,080 farmers and will provide 5,770 fresh jobs will be constructed in other priority areas identified by the national government.

But Pamalakaya said the P 53.B rural roads project of Malacañang wants to accomplish several objectives like corruption for pro-Arroyo officials in different branches of government and local government units, and at the same time, an early electoral campaign for Palace favored bets in 2010 national and local elections, that’s why the projects are placed in vote-rich regions and provinces all over the country. #

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Militants asked GMA to foot the bill on latest trip

Latest trip cost taxpayers P 123 million
Militants asked GMA to foot the bill on latest trip

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to
shoulder the expenses of her latest trip to Switzerland,Italy, Saudia Arabia, Bahrain and the United States.

“We strongly suggest President Arroyo to shoulder the expenses of her latest trip to Europe, Middle East and the United States. Her trip last week is not in the interest of the Filipino people, therefore she should
foot the bill and source the money from her own hidden wealth,” Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz said in a press statement.

Corpuz said: ” President Arroyo spent P 123 million for her five-day travel escapade crossing the continents of Europe, the Middle East and North
America in a record-breaking run. She should pay for her own trip, the Filipino taxpayers should be
liberated from paying Arroyo’s around the world in 80-day drama.”

Pamalakaya said the P 123 million is enough to build 2,640 modest homes for urban poor, or 2,640 new
classroons at a modest price of P 50,000 per unit, or could provide immediate relief of P 50,000 per
overseas Filipino worker for 2,640 returning OFWs in the country who are displaced by the current economic and financial crisis.

The militant group said the P 123 million could be used to put up 1,320 water pumps all over the country
at the price of P 100,000 per water pump, or 2,640 new jobs at a rate of P 50,000 per job.

Pamalakaya said the P 123 million spent by Mrs. Arroyo could have been used to production subsidies of rural
producers like farmers and fisherfolk, and could buy 8,200,000 kilos of locally produced palay from
Filipino farmers at the rate of P 15 per kilo.

“Mrs. Arroyo is wasting the people’s money for her global moonlighting. This is very unfair to me, to you
and to all of us,” the Pamalakaya information chief added.

But Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita defended the President asserting that the bill was “worth it” since the President secured “pledges” for multi-million dollar investments, including $200 million for agriculture from Saudi Arabia, $300 million for
agriculture and between $350-$400 million for a Makati City hotel from Bahrain, and $1.2 billion for textile
exports to the US.

President Arroyo was criticized for making a side-trip to Washington to attend the National Prayer Breakfast,
in what her critics called was an attempt to secure a meeting with US President Barack Obama.

Arroyo failed to meet Obama, but she was able to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and a group of
Senators to press for the passage of a bill that will increase the benefits of Filipino World War II veterans.

Ermita said 61 people were on the President’s official party, excluding security personnel, of which, only 20
went with her to Washington from Manama, Bahrain. #

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Militants pooh-pooh Agriculture Secretary Yap’s 130,000 jobs target vs. crisis

Militants pooh-pooh Agriculture Secretary Yap’s 130,000 jobs target vs. crisis

The ambitious 130,000 job creation project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to cushion the impact of current global economic and financial crisis failed to impress the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya)—-an ardent critic of the President and agriculture secretary Arthur Yap.

“This pump-priming escapade will only last for six months. After six months, what’s next? People don’t live and work for six months, they live and work for job security, decent and high paying jobs. Please allow us to tell Secretary Yap and her boss in Malacañang they are not really doing substantial and meaningful here,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap clarified that while they are demanding the government to actively engage in job creation program, the quality of jobs his group is demanding is stable, long-term and productive that will allow urban and rural workers to reap the gains of their hard labor.

The Pamalakaya leader said the pump-priming projects envisioned by Malacañang and the agriculture department were not really meant to create jobs. On the contrary, the Hicap said, the projects were meant to bail out construction firms close to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other Palace officials and allow them to get the lion’s shares of the national budget allocated for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the agriculture department.

“Malacañang and Secretary Yap will move heaven and earth to pursue these corruption-ridden pump-priming projects to address Palace top concerns like bailouts for profit-starved foreign corporations, crony firms and all-time corrupt allies. They are exploiting the extreme crisis to advance their own narrow and sinister agenda,” added Hicap.

Secretary Yap last week announced that the DA will kick off with the rehabilitation and restoration of irrigation systems all over the country covering 148,040 hectares, and such undertaking is expected to employ some 131,679 jobs at least for six months or roughly 13.7 percent of the one million jobs targeted by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration this year.

Aside from rehabilitation of irrigation systems, the DA will also engage in construction of flatbed dryers, irrigation projects and agro-forestry in Cagayan Valley, production of organic fertilizers and vegetable planting programs in the Cordillera Administrative Region, livestock production and irrigation construction in Central Luzon.

The DA also planned this year the setting up of more Tindahan Natin branches in Metro Manila, irrigation projects in Bicol, swine livelihood, Bantay Dagat program in Central Visayas, construction of roads and flatbed dryers and employment of Bantay Dagat in Eastern Visayas.

The agriculture department will also promote livestock production, coconut-corn intercropping and agro-forestry in Zamboanga Peninsula, irrigation and repair and production of organic fertilizer in Northern Mindanao, agribusiness, irrigation projects and fisherfolk livelihood program in the Davao region, marine resource management in South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and General Santos, and fisherfolk livelihood programs for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Earlier, Pamalakaya pressed the demand for a P 32- billion production subsidies for small fishermen to cushion the impact of global economic crisis. The group suggested a minimum P 4,500 oil subsidy for all small fishermen operating small fishing boats and P 2,000 for non-motorized small fishing boat owners across-the-country.

The P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by marginalized fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. Hicap said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.

Based on Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy, for non-motorized fishing boats operators, the government will spend monthly subsidy of P1.3 billion or roughly P 15.67 billion per year. All in all, the total subsidy for a little over small fishermen will cost he government some P 32 billion in total production subsidies annually.

The Pamalakaya leader said 100 percent of the production subsidy for fisherfolk operators of small fishing boats will go to oil, while around 50 percent of the proposed subsidy for owners of non-motorized fishing boats will go to gas subsidy, while the rest will go to other production and food needs of small fishermen.

Pamalakaya said the production subsidies for small fishermen could be addressed by immediately and indefinitely suspending the annual payments of foreign and domestic debts that eats up more than one-third of the annual national budget.

“The proposed fishery production subsidy program is about 10 percent of the national government’s allotment to debt servicing. It would be better if we suspend if not totally stop paying these fraudulent loans acquired and accumulated by the previous and present administrations for their own corruption purposes,” he added.

Pamalakaya said the national government should also oblige commercial and aquaculture operators to give their fish workers the mandated minimum wage and certify as urgent the pending bill in both houses of Congress granting private workers a P 125 across the board, across the country wage increase.

Pamalakaya said the government should scrap the 12 percent expanded Value Added Tax on all petroleum products, consumer good, utilities and services to improve the purchasing power of the poor workers, farmers and fisherfolk.

“These are doable items and sound economic measures to ease the burden and cushion the impact of global economic crisis. What this government need is a strong political will. But the trouble is the will of this government is only meant for big time ticket for corruption and unstoppable subservience to transnational interest and class interest of the elite,” added Pamalakaya. #

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Palace warned: French like general strike in RP, possible, says leftist group

Palace warned: French like general strike in RP, possible, says leftist group

A militant group warned Malacañang of a scenario of an across-the-nation general strike similar to that was launched by France’s 1.9 million-strong workers is not a remote possibility in the country, given the extreme degree of crisis confronting the country’s 37 million labor force.

The fearless forecast was raised by the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) after Labor secretary Marianito Roque announced that the government maybe looking at 200,000 jobless workers in six months if companies continue to shed jobs at present rate.

“A general strike across-all-sectors and across-the-archipelago is not a remote possibility given the extreme impact of the global financial crisis and the government’s continued implementation of neo-liberal economic impositions despite its adverse and devastating effects to 90 million Filipinos. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her top economic officials are facing a social volcano here,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Records of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) show that 18,641 workers lost their jobs as of last week and that 33, 548 were working on reduced hours since companies in economic zones felt the brunt of the global economic crisis and financial crunch late last 2008.

“The scenario of general strike that would include factories, schools, government agencies, transport and farm and fish strikes is not a remote possibility. The current turn of events is pushing and driving the people to stage a general strike that would lead to the crowding of the National Capital Region and other key urban centers and cities nationwide. Mrs. Arroyo is really in big trouble,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Hicap said to cushion the impact of the global economic crisis, the Macapagal-Arroyo government should impose a number of mitigating measures including a stop to mass lay off, moratorium on withholding tax, refrain from imposing new taxes, stop retrenchment of workers, spare the P 12.5 billion SSS funds from corruption, stop water and electricity rate hikes among others.

The Pamalakaya leader added that the government should allow the passage of House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) to ensure genuine land reform to rev up agricultural production in the countryside that will absorb jobless and job-lacking Filipinos all over the country.

Hicap said if passed into law, GARB will lead the national economy to absorb job losses in the National Capital Region and other urban centers, including displaced overseas Filipino workers abroad.

“Free land distribution with guaranteed strong subsidy and support mechanism is the most effective and far-reaching economic measure that would shield the country from the devastating impact and global menace of economic and financial meltdown across the globe,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap insisted.

For the fisheries sector, Pamalakaya demanded a P 32-billion production subsidy to enable the not less than 1 million small fisherfolk and fish workers to continue production and cushion the impact of the worldwide economic and financial crisis.

The group suggested a minimum P 4,500 oil subsidy for all small fishermen operating small fishing boats and P 2,000 for non-motorized small fishing boat owners across-the-country.

The P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by marginalized fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. Hicap said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.

As for the P 2,000 production subsidy to non-motorized boats, the proposed production subsidy measure will benefit more than 600,000 small fishermen all over the country. #

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