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Suspension of Manila fisheries law proposed

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Rey Manangan and Billy Javier Reyes

MANILA, Philippines-Some 50 fisherfolk leaders and environmental activists today urged President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy Aquino III to indefinitely suspend the implementation of the Fisheries Code of 1998 otherwise known as Republic Act No. 8550 for the law’s failure to protect the livelihood and marine environment all over the country.

At the launching of the first National Fisherfolk Conference on Fisheries Code of 1998 and Marine Resources held at the conference room of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) in Quezon City , leaders of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) from the provinces of La Union, Rizal, Batangas, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate in Luzon, Samar and Leyte in Eastern Visayas, Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas and Sarangani in Mindanao and environmental experts from Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Philippines), Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (Fidec) and Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment said President Aquino can suspend RA 8550 by issuing an executive order.

“We strongly urge President Aquino to call on Congress to stop the implementation of RA 8550 and task both Houses of chambers to undertake impact assessment and performance evaluation of the 12-year old fisheries law. The reports from the grassroots concerning the impact of the law on small fisherfolk is highly alarming and life threatening,” conference organizersFernando Hicap of Pamalakaya and CEC-Philippines executive director Ces Quimpo said in a joint statement.

Based on the preliminary assessment conducted by Pamalakaya and CEC-Philippines, the 12-year old was a comprehensive failure, asserting further that RA 8550 failed to meet its objectives in uplifting the lives of small fishermen, promote food security for 94 million Filipinos and protect the environment from internal and external factors.

Pamalakaya, CEC-Philippines, Kalikasan-PNE and Fidec raised the following conclusions why Fisheries Code failed to provide meaningful reforms in local fisheries and should be repealed if not indefinitely suspended while Congress is studying what to do either to amend the law or have it replaced with a progressive fisheries law.

1. RA 8550 failed to raise the standard of living among fisherfolk. Before the law was enacted average fish harvest and average fish income prior to the enactment of RA 8550 was 10-15 kilos per day and about P 200- P 300 per day. Under the fish code regime, average catch and income dropped to 3kilos -5 kilos per day or P 50-P 75 per day.

2. The 12-year old law fisheries law led to massive privatization of communal fishing grounds. The national government and local government units to transact business with private groups to establish hectares of beach resorts, fish pens and fish cages biased to finance and export capital at the expense of Filipino fisherfolk, the local environment and national patrimony.

3. The law is extremely biased to big business. Commercial fishing vessels are allowed to enter even in the 15-kilometer municipal fishing waters which are reserved to small fishermen. Large scale aquaculture activities are also set up in the 15-km municipal fishing waters further delimiting access of small fisherfolk to the marine resources reserved to them within the municipal fishing water territories.

4. The proliferation of fish sanctuaries all over the country was not meant for marine environmental protection and resource regeneration but for profit motivated activities like eco-tourism. Fish sanctuaries have become synonymous with tourism and water-based rest and recreation activities.

5. The Fisheries Code of 1998 further reduced the scope and coverage of fishing activities among small fisherfolk. Ordinances such as zoning ordinance and color coding prevent fisherfolk from exercising their communal rights to the country’s archipelagic waters

6. RA 8550 is not a fisherfolk empowerment piece of legislation. It is actually a money making scheme. Since 1998, fisherfolk caught for minor offenses in violations of the 12-year fisheries law are fined with exorbitant fees ranging from P 1,500 to a high of P 60,000 per offense, while big players in the industry which committed high crimes in fisheries managed to escape by bribing officials and law enforcers all over the country.

Pamalakaya also noted that the Fisheries code of 1998 also failed to uphold the country’s national sovereignty and patrimony. The militant group said the fisheries law was never ranged nor cited in the country’s negotiations of various government treaties entered by the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Pamalakaya said RA 8550 was never referred during the Arroyo government’s negotiations on the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) and the recently concluded RP-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), where a number of provisions have something to do with production and mobilization of fishery resources.

The militant group also said RA 8550 was never treated as reference in allowing foreign companies to conduct offshore mining activities in the country referring to the oil and gas hunts in Tanon Strait in Cebu and Bohol, in Cebu-Bohol Strait, in Palawan and Spratly areas and recently ExxonMobil’s one hundred million offshore stunt in Sulu Sea.

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Aquino told: Submit RP-EU trade pact to Senate

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Handog Malaya Vera

MANILA, Philippines- The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged soon to be proclaimed President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to submit the approved RP-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) to the Philippine Senate for deliberation either for rejection or ratification after officials of the Philippine government and European Union yesterday finalized the content the content of the bilateral trade agreement.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said the Aquino administration should follow the legal and constitutional processes required in sealing bilateral treaties with other nations such as the free trade agreement with EU.

“The treaty requires the full-blown deliberation and the concurrence of 16 senators of the incoming Philippine Senate. Mr. Aquino should not misrepresent the RP-EU bilateral pact as an executive agreement to escape Senate debate, approval or rejection,”
said France.

EU delegation to RP Ambassador Alistair MacDonald said the new trade agreement is expected to be initialed within this month of June and the official signing will be on September or October this year once the PCA text is translated into 22 other languages of EU.

The negotiations for the RP-EU trade pact which lasted about 18 months, seeks to further advance the bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and EU in many of issues, including but not limited to
political, security, counter-terrorism, trade and investment, development cooperation, education and culture, energy, transport, migration, and human rights.

The Philippines is only the second Southeast Asian country to complete negotiations on an updated PCA with the EU. The EU last year clinched a bilateral trade pact with Indonesia and was signed in November 2009. The EU is also in the process of clinching negotiations with Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore

But Pamalakaya’s France said the 94 million Filipinos were all kept in the dark because the content of the RP-EU trade pact was concealed by the Arroyo administration from the public.

According to Pamalakaya, it was the EU which initially drafted the agreement and the Philippine government merely obtained a copy of the PCA on February 1, 2006 obtained a copy.

“If this is a joint partnership agreement, how come the content of the agreement is made and decided by only one party to the agreement which is the EU. Is this really a partnership agreement or an imposition from the powerful EU bloc,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said efforts to secure a copy of the partnership agreement but these efforts proved futile. “If our memory serves us right, Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna requested the office of Secretary Alberto Romulo for documents regarding the ongoing negotiations between the Arroyo government and the European Commission (EC) but his request was denied,” the group said.

“The Aquino administration and the 23 senators are constitutionally bound, legally mandated, politically and morally obliged to look into the impact and consequences of the PCA, which is currently being syndicated among top officials of Malacañang and the European Commission,” the fisherfolk group stressed.

Pamalakaya further asserted the Senate should not be caught flat- footed as in the case of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, or Jpepa, where the Senate, the ratifying body, was 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,” Pamalakaya said.
“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 group added.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Edsel Custodio on February 19 released a foreign affairs statement dated February 9, 2009, on the draft RP-EU PCA, which was submitted by the European Commission on November 21, 2006.

Custodio said the Philippines had received from the EC the initial draft of the PCA on February 1, 2006. At that time, the PCA, consisted of two separate framework agreements: the main PCA document and the political elements on weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and the ICC.

In May 2006 President 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 interagency process on the PCA.

Since then, according to Custodio, the draft underwent further revisions by the EC. The second revised PCA draft dated November 21, 2006, merged the two separate agreements of February 1, 2006, into one omnibus PCA. This version underwent a lengthy but thorough interagency process of over two years and involved around 30 agencies and offices of the Philippine government.

Interagency deliberations continued throughout much of 2007. Some issues-particularly the nature and rationale behind the PCA and its relation to the regional free-trade agreement-emerged that required further discussion. For this reason, the DFA and the EC held the first informal consultations on the draft PCA on September 24, 2007.

Interagency discussions intensified in frequency and deepened in analysis in 2008. The number of agencies involved in the PCA increased, while some sub-clusters were consolidated due to the interrelatedness and cross-cutting nature of certain provisions.

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Aquino pressed to review Manila-Tokyo trade deal

By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila, Philippines and Tomada Sakaguchi in Tokyo City, Japan

Via-PLDT-The leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday urged leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to immediately review the controversial Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement(Jpepa) which was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2008.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap the review and possible abrogation of the bilateral trade pact between the Philippines and Japan could happen in the first 100 days of the Aquino administration.

“This is a make or break for Aquino and his Yellow Republic. We are giving him 100 days to serve the death sentence to this one-sided agreement whose only claim to fame is the awarding of 30 caregiving jobs to 30 Filipino nurses in 2009,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the Japanese government and the Japanese corporations are engaged in indirect bribe to ensure the incoming Aquino administration will continue to uphold and support the anti-Filipino economic and partnership treaty.

Citing a recent report of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Hicap said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently renewed its offer to provide at least $ 700 million in aid to the Aquino administration.

NEDA said the JICA country assistance to the Philippines is meant for the country to achieve its next Medium Term Philippine Development Plan that involves support programs and projects in the areas of capacity building, operation and maintenance and climate change. But Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the money was meant to fast track the implementation of Jpepa.

“This seven hundred million US dollar economic aid to RP is part of the pro-Jpepa offensive of Japan. If this is not a direct or indirect bribe, then what is it? A charity work from Japanese corporate syndicates? We don’t think so,” Hicap added.

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 profitsfrom the sale of skipjack tuna.

Pamalakaya said the bulk of the profit will come from the remaining 35 percent of the 50,000metric 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 recalled that during the Senate deliberation of Jpepa, Sen. Aquino voted against the controversial treaty. The group said Aquino can challenge anew the treaty by calling the Philippine Senate to review Jpepa and compel the 23-member of the August chamber to recall its ratification in 2008. #

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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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Gov’t no contingency plans on tuna job crisis, says fishers group

By Sugar Hicap and Billy Javier-Reyes in General Santos City
and Bb. Joyce Cabral and Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila

Manila, Philippines- The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday lamented that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration failed to come up with a contingency plan on how to address the loss of 150,000 jobs among tuna fishermen in Far South Mindanao with the two-year tuna fishing ban executed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

“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 national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

“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 Pamalakaya leader 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.

Hicap agreed with the observation raised by Martin Tan, president of Socsksargen Fishing Federation and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII), that the closure of high seas for tuna ban, covering areas parallel to Palau, above Papua New Guinea and below Micronesia was not meant to preserve tuna stocks in West and Central Pacific, but to dislodge fishing companies from Third World countries from their tuna fishing grounds and allow tuna industrial fleets of European Union and Japan to takeover these tuna rich fishing areas.

Pamalakaya noted that in their respective free trade agreements with the Philippines, Japan for instance want to invade the Philippine waters for tuna fishing under the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), while EU also wants a share of the country’s territorial waters for tuna under the proposed RP-EU free trade pact.
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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(UPDATE)Noynoy, LP told: Please qualify, quantify program for “change”

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez, Cherry Pie Eggpie Sandoval,
Sugar Hicap and Lollipop delos Reyes

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday asked 2010 presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and his party mates in the Liberal Party to qualify and quantify the change the son of the late former President Corazon Aquino carries as platform on his way of becoming the next President of the Philippine Republic.

“Please allow us to set the record straight. The Filipino people are not inclined to buy dime-a-dozen polemics and sheer rhetoric speeches and statements. The Liberal Party standard bearer and his party mates should qualify and quantify what changes they will bring in 2010 if Noynoy wins the presidency next year,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya official prepared 10 issues which Senator Aquino and the Liberal Party should answer categorically to put substance and muscle to promise of change offered by the Noynoy camp for 92 million Filipinos.

The 10 issues raised to Aquino for concrete response were:

1. The immediate and unconditional free distribution of 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate to agricultural laborers and farmworkers.
2. The prosecution of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and members of her ruling clique on charges of high crime of corruption, grave human rights violations and election fraud
3. The legislative approval of the P 125 across the board daily pay hike for workers, P 3,000 across the board monthly salary increase for government employees and the P 9,000 pay hike demanded by teachers nationwide.
4. The abrogation of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)
5. The repeal of Republic Act 9700 or the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms (Carper) and its immediate replacement of a meaningful agrarian reform program carried by House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).
6. The repeal of oil deregulation law and the nationalization of oil industry
7. The resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
8. The review and total abrogation of treaties entered by the Arroyo government including but not limited to World Trade Organization (WTO) and Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), which was ratified by Senate in 1994 and 2008 respectively.
9. The return of the P 130-billion coconut levy fund to small coconut farmers
10. An end to all government destructive projects in Manila Bay, Laguna Lake, Calabarzon areas and all parts of the country that displace millions of poor people and rural folk all over the Philippines.

Pamalakaya said it was shocked to see and hear Sen. Aquino on national TV announcing his plan to seek audience with and talk to his uncle— business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, while at the same time maintaining either a hostile or elusive attitude to the invitation of Hacienda Luisita farmers to sit down and talk to them on the urgent proposal for the immediate and free distribution of hacienda lands.

“As far as we are concerned, flirting with the Danding camp is a no show of promise but a glimpse of what a Noynoy presidency has to offer to the people—that is political accommodation and puppetry to big business,” the militant group added.

“Senator Aquino wants to talk and exchange pleasantries with Danding. Now, what’s the big deal behind this sudden change of heart of the late President Corazon Aquino son? Is the senator and gentleman from Tarlac ready to smoke the peace pipe with Danding to gain the latter’s support for his presidential ambition in exchange for Hacienda Luisita and the land rights of agricultural workers and landless farmers?” asked Pamalakaya.

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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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