Tag Archives: Malacañang

Fishers believe Palace had a hand in P 455 million ice-making machines scam

By Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines-The leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had a hand in the procurement of 98 units of ice-making machines by the Department of Agriculture, which the group said was overpriced by P 2.3 million per unit.

“This anomalous transaction has the seal of approval of Malacanang. It is impossible President Arroyo is not informed about this money making racket at the Department of Agriculture. This is part of the fund generation campaign for 2010 elections,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said Secretary Arthur Yap, who is at the center of this high crime of corruption is one of the protégés of President Arroyo. Hicap said Yap was probably tasked to clinch the highly questionable project to produce funds for the 2010 elections.

“The P 455 million ice making machine scam is chiefly authored by Mrs. Arroyo and members of the syndicate operating in and out of Malacanang and in and out of the agriculture department. Secretary Yap acted the lead actor in this newest high crime of corruption in DA,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya today gave Agriculture Secretary Yap 9 working days to revoke the scandalous
P 455 million ice-making machines contract, as the group threatened to charge him with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman on January 4 next year. The group said President Arroyo might be included in the charge sheet under the principle of command responsibility.

“Mrs. Arroyo and her no.1 operator at DA–Secretary Yap have 9 nine working days to revoke this anomalous and highly questionable contract. If they will not subscribe to this call for truth, justice and accountability, then we have no other recourse but to file plunder raps against them before the Office of the Ombudsman, nothing more, nothing less,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Pamalakaya said Secretary Yap allowed the procurement of 98 units of ice-making machines at P 4.65 million per unit, while its actual price according to industry standard is pegged at P 2.3 million per unit.

“This ice-making machine project is nothing but a grand slam money making activity authored by Malacanang, Secretary Yap and their cash-making personnel at the department of agriculture. The crime constitutes plunder and grave violations of anti-graft and corrupt practices act, the law of government procurement and on the conduct and ethics governing public officials,” he stressed.

Before the Christmas break, some 50 activists belonging to Pamalakaya staged a holiday on ice protest by blocking the main gate of DA with 30 blocks of huge ice cubes to demand the immediate revocation of the contract.

Hicap, also the fisherfolk representative in Anakpawis party list national council, said the agriculture department through the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) awarded the government contract to a lone bidder—the Integrated Refrigeration System and Services (IRSS) on September 2, 2009, which will provide the ice-making unit at P 4,650,000 per unit, or about P 2.3 million higher compared to prevailing industry price for the ice-making machine.

“In the name of national interest and public trust, Secretary Yap should immediately revoke the contract because it is highly disadvantageous to the national government and to the taxpaying public. Imagine taxpayers will pay more than P 225 million of hard-earned taxpayers’ money to pave way this high crime of corruption. This highly inflammatory, mind-boggling and totally unacceptable,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The Pamalakaya official said the government will pay IRSS the sum of P 455,700,000 for 98 units of ice-making machines with liquid freeze capability which will be supplied to selected municipal fish ports nationwide. But the group said the government can obtain 98 units of ice-making machines for P 225 million to P 230 million, or half of the quoted and agreed price with IRSS.

“P 225 million is P 225 million. That sum of money can be used to finance any kind of sinister agenda or cruel intention by the present power holders in and out of Malacanang. The money might also be used to finance the electoral campaign of Mrs. Arroyo’s national and local bets in 2010 elections. This is money making in aid of electoral campaign for 2010 polls,” added Hicap.

According to information gathered by Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list, NABCOR conducted a preliminary bidding last August 26, and IRSS which won the bidding, was only incorporated on August 25, a day before the preliminary bidding was conducted.

The groups said under Republic Act 9184 (Procuring Law), Section 37.1, the bidder must submit a copy of its single largest completed contract over the past 3 years, and such condition is impossible for IRSS, which was only incorporated on August 25, this year, a day before the preliminary bidding. The contract was finally awarded last Sept.2.

Aside from Secretary Yap, Pamalakaya said it will include in the plunder charge sheet the top officials of NABCOR namely Alan A. Javellana, President; Romulo A. Relevo, Chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee; Dennis Lozada, Winston Azucena, Melody de Guzman and Encarnita Cristina Munsod, all members of Bids and Awards Committee, and owners and operators of IRSS.

Earlier, Allan V. Ragasa, a complainant had filed charges against Sec. Yap and officials of NABCOR and officers of IRSS headed by its chairman Alexander Leung before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the questionable awarding of contract to IRSS. The complaint in violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 9184 was filed on Nov.18, 2009. #

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GMA vow to be nicer to media raised eyebrows

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s vow to be nicer to reporters in the remaining days of her presidency raised eyebrows of her critics from the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

“She is like the typical telenovela villain who is used to flash that sweet, yet checkered smile to pursue a more bolder and more sinister agenda,” Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz said in a press statement.

Corpuz reminded Arroyo on the brutal record of her government against media people, where over 100 journalists have been killed since Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001.

The Pamalakaya information officer said the biggest haul of crime against the media “perpetrated” by the Arroyo government was the Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao where a total of 57 press persons were massacred by the Ampatuans, who are staunch allies of Malacanang and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“That statement could raise her critics’ and non-critics’ eyebrows in and out of the media circle and the entire Filipino public to the highest level,” added Corpuz.

Celebrating what could be her last Christmas party with Palace-based reporters Ms Arroyo renewed an old resolution promising to become an easier subject to cover.

“She is feeling and acting like a Superstar although she is already an aging, detested and has-been political animal in this country,” the Pamalakaya information chief said.

President Arroyo thanked membes of the Malacanang Press Corps (MPC) for their patience in covering her and her presidency admitting that she is not easy subject to cover and apologized for the short fuse, an attitude she promised to improve on in the past.

“The departure of President Arroyo from Malacanang months from now is a celebration not only for the Filipino people but also for our dear friends in media covering the Arroyo presidency and Malacanang,” Corpuz said. #

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DENR chief told: GMA, not LGU has last say on Mindoro mining project

By Margie Duran Floresco, contributor

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing militants belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said the statement of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Joselito Atienza that local government unit of Mindoro has the last say on the controversial nickel project on the island was misleading and extremely absurd.

“That’s not true, that’s not true. The mining project in Mindoro Island is a national flagship project and therefore, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has the last and final say on whether this nickel extraction escapade in the island should proceed or not,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap said local government officials can voice their opposition to Intex Resources nickel exploration, but it is still President Arroyo who will decide whether to allow or disallow the Norwegian mining giant to push through with its’ project.

“The nickel project has the seal of approval of Malacanang and was billed as one of the flagship projects of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. If Atienza wants to kill the project he should have revoked the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued on Oct.14 by his office and tell Mrs. Arroyo to stop this corporate madness for the sake of the environment and collective interest of the people,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Atienza said the ECC granted to Intex Resources was just one of the requirements for the nickel mining project to commence and it us up to the local government if they allow the project to proceed. The environment secretary explained that could not arbitrarily cancel the ECC given to Intex because there are laws to follow, stressing that the cancellation of ECC will send wrong a signal to foreign investors.

But Atienza said that if the project is proven to cover a watershed area, as claimed by those who opposed to the project, then the ECC would be automatically moot in accordance with the law.

But Pamalakaya’s Hicap rebuked Atienza, and charged the environment secretary of gambling people’s lives and environment in the name of the government’s obsession for mining investments and fat commissions.

“How come the ECC of Intex Resources was approved by DENR? How come the people were not consulted? Mr. Atienza is not an expert on environmental concern as far as the Filipino public is concerned. He is just a limelight getter or an attention getter from boxing champ Manny Pacquiao,” Hicap added.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya appealed to the Norwegian government to compel Intex Resources to pullout its mining investment in Mindoro, citing the disastrous impact of the project, which will initially displace around 20,000 residents, mostly members of the Mangyan tribe.

“The Norwegian government should convince Intex Resources to drop its mining investment in Mindoro like a hot potato. This project will put the European state in a very, very bad position and standing in the international community. While we recognize and pay high respect to the efforts of the Norwegian government as third party facilitator to the peace talks between the Manila government and the communist led National Democratic Front of the Philippines, we do not subscribe to this kind of destructive escapade,” the group said.

The militant group commended Mindoro Oriental Gov. Arman Panaligan and Vice-Governor Estela Aceron for sticking to their position against the nickel mining project in the island. But Pamalakaya advised the two top local government officials of the island province to bring the battle of the island people against the mining project to Malacanang Palace.

“The fight against the mining project should not stop at Secretary Atienza. The next and the penultimate battle should reach Malacanang and President Arroyo, since the Chief Executive and her policy on liberalized and all-out mining should be blamed for the current woes suffered by the people of Mindoro,” added Pamalakaya. #


Filed under agrarian reform, agriculture, corruption, environment

Palace’s P 1.6 B budget for Manila Bay clean up meant for “demolition jobs”, says fishers group

Palace’s P 1.6 B budget for Manila Bay clean up meant for “demolition jobs”, says fishers group

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday said the P 1.6 billion Malacañang has allocated for Manila Bay clean up is meant to carry out the baywide demolition of fisherfolk and urban poor communities along the bay that would extend to Pasig River up to Laguna Lake.

“The P 1.6 billion fund for Manila Bay clean up is a campaign fund to undertake the massive demolitions of bay people and urban poor from their main source of livelihood and communities. This is a declaration of war,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

According to Hicap the P 1.6 billion Palace allocations will target 13 million out of the 30 million population of Manila Bay, including urban poor families along Pasig River and the 27,000 fisherfolk families in Laguna Lake.

To prove that the fund was meant for “demolition jobs”, the Pamalakaya leader recalled that sometime last year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) granted the request of the Cavite provincial government for assistance in demolishing fishepens and mussel growing structures in Bacoor Bay.

“If my memory serves me right, last year, DENR secretary gave Cavite Gov. Ayong Maliksi not less than P 800,000 for the demolition of fishpens and other structures in Cavite in the name of the bogus Manila Bay clean up,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the planned demolition of 4,000 Cavite fisherfolk and residents starting tomorrow will be funded by the P 1.6 billion Palace allocations for Manila Bay through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the DENR and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) who will help the the Cavite provincial government in carrying out the demolitions from Bacoor to Cavite City.

The militant group said in Cavite alone, more than 26,000 fisherfolk and urban poor residents in 10 barangays of Bacoor town will be displaced once the Manila Bay clean up programs go full blast.

Pamalakaya said the government is exploiting and abusing the Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay clean up to effectively carry out the demolitions of communities to pave way for the entry of foreign funded government projects like road expansion and establishment of high rise buildings and condominiums, including casinos and high end rest and recreation centers.

The group said the reclamation of shallow waters in Manila Bay to allow the construction of R-1 Expressway Extension Project and the conversion of Sangley Naval Point into an international seaport spurned the destruction of Manila Bay. Pamalakaya said the government since last year had already reclaimed some 12,000 hectares of coastal waters in Bacoor Bay.

In a compliance report submitted to the Supreme Court yesterday, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. told the high court that the fund allocation was part of next year’s proposed national budget for the cleanup, restoration and preservation of the bay’s water quality.

Andaya explained the budget deliberations for the fiscal year 2010 National Expenditure Program will commence September of 2009 and will continue until the same is passed by Congress and approved by the President as the General Appropriations Act of FY 2010.

He said the recipients of the P1,644,721,000 fund allocation include proposed programs, projects and activities of DENR and MMDA.

Secretary Andaya and five other members of the Cabinet were among the heads of 10 government agencies whom an environmentalist lawyer wanted to be cited for contempt by the Supreme Court for failing to comply with the court’s requirement for regular progress reports in connection with the Manila Bay cleanup.

The other officials were Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Jojo Allado of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, and the heads of the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority and Maritime Police.

The DBM report strressed that the biggest allocations related to the Manila Bay cleanup are those for the MMDA’s solid waste disposal and management that cost P848,525,000, and the relocation of informal settlers on open waterways in Metro Manila, P250 million.

The MMDA share includes P223,626,000 for operational support, maintenance, repair and rehabilitation of flood control systems costing, and P100 million for the mitigation of floods in the Gil Puyat Avenue-South Superhighway area.

The MMDA’s flood control and drainage projects in Metro Manila were given P58 million, while its urgent disaster flood control projects under the Pasig-San Juan-Marikina River systems and other areas were allocated P50 million.

The top recipient under the DENR programs is the Environmental Management Bureau’s monitoring of waterways, including the Manila Bay. The program was given a budget of P75.57 million.

The Office of the Environment Secretary was given P35 million for programs related to rehabilitation of the bay.

Of the amount, P20 million was set aside for physical and water quality, monitoring, mangrove reforestation and stream bank protection, bio-ecological monitoring, advocacy and communication, inventory of and support for dismantling of illegal structures, monitoring of industries and the natural process of cleaning up of degraded, toxic and sewage water and bodies of water.

A budget of P15 million was allotted as the office’s intelligence fund for gathering data on offenders of illegal forest extraction, illegal fish pens, smuggling of ozone-depleting substances and small-scale mining.

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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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Pamalakaya assailed Japanese envoy

Pamalakaya assailed Japanese envoy
for snubbing diplomatic protest vs. poachers

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday assailed Japanese Ambassador to Manila Makoto Katsura for sitting on a diplomatic protest filed by the fishers group last week against the poaching activities of Japanese tuna factory ships in Aurora province.

“We don’t deserve this kind of snub and cold treatment. We are raising a very serious matter here,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement. According to Hicap, the three-page diplomatic protest was faxed last week to the Japanese embassy in Manila upon the instruction of a Filipina staff of the embassy.

“We did our assignment. The ball is now on the court of the Japanese embassy in Manila to act with dispatch and in accordance with the national and collective interest of the Filipino people,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz who faxed the three-page diplomatic protest last week said, the Filipina staff of the Japanese embassy in Manila told him that they should first call the attention of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) before writing the embassy.

But Corpuz told the Filipina staff of the Japanese embassy that Pamalakaya’s three-page diplomatic protest was an independent act of his group, adding that DFA is a white elephant and insensitive to the cause of the Filipino fisherfolk and the general public.

“Who are they to tell us what to do?” he added.

The three-page diplomatic protest note was faxed Tuesday afternoon at around 3:00 pm last week was signed by Hicap and Salvador France, Pamalakaya national vice-chairperson for Luzon, and was addressed to the Japanese ambassador to Manila Makoto Katsura.

The protest letter read: “The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), a national federation of small fisherfolk organization in the Philippines that counts a total mass membership of not less than 100, 000 small fisherfolk across the archipelago is bringing to your attention the alleged poaching activities of Japanese owned and operated factory ships to fish tuna off the waters of Aurora province from January to July 2008.”

It further said: “Honorable Ambassador, the national leadership and mass membership of Pamalakaya in the name of 1.8 million small Filipino fisherfolk and close 90 million Filipino people, strongly condemned this poaching frenzy of Japanese corporate factory ships inside the Philippine waters.”

In their protest letter the Pamalakaya leaders said they view this poaching and invasion activities of Japanese factory ships as gross violations of our national sovereignty and patrimony as people and as a nation, and therefore, we lodge this strongly worded protest in behalf of affected sector and in behalf of the 90 million Filipinos.

Pamalakaya cited a recent interview with Senator Edgardo Angara who revealed that Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese fishing vessels regularly come to Baler Bay in Aurora province between January to July every year to fish for tuna.

In that story, Senator Angara said the haul cannot be ascertained but the lawmaker said eight fishing vessels, some with canneries were seen almost daily during those months. Her sister, Aurora Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo had asked the Philippine Coast Guard to establish a station in Northern Aurora and assign patrol boats to protect the province’s waters from foreign poachers.

According to Aurora provincial fishery officer Victoriano San Pedro, fishermen reported seeing
long-line fishing gears being used in the hauling of tuna, blue marlin and other high value fish species. He said foreign fishing vessels even entered in the 15-kilometer municipal fishing waters from the shoreline.

“Your Honor, to give you an idea on how much a Japanese tuna factory ship could create damage to Philippine tuna resources, a 3,000 Japanese single-ton tuna factory ship, accompanied by support fishing fleets can catch as much as 150 metric tons of tuna on a 24-hour operation basis. By industry standard, a single factory ship could harvest 50,000 metric tons of tuna per year,” Pamalakaya said.

Let us say there are eight Japanese tuna fishing vessels that regularly poach in the waters of Aurora province daily from January to July that means a total haul of 27,000 tons of tuna per factory ship during the period or 216,000 metric tons of tuna for all eight fishing vessels.

According to Pamalakaya’s computation, the owners of the eight fishing vessels could have earned as much as US $ 1.274 billion or US$ 160 million per fishing vessel in just six months from tuna poaching in Aurora and other tuna-rich waters of the Philippine territory.

“Honorable Ambassador, the situation is expected to get worse with the Senate ratification of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) last October because under the one-sided agreement, the Philippine government fully recognizes the entry of Japanese factory ships into the Philippine waters at the detriment and expense of our small tuna fishermen and the already fragile marine environment,” the group said.

“Mr. Ambassador, your country is known to consume 630,000 tons of tuna per year or 11 pounds of tuna per person. With the current shrinking catch in Japan seas and in the Philippines as its’ one of the major sources of tuna in Southeast Asia, particularly the country’s fishing areas with confirmed rich tuna deposits like the Moro Gulf and Celebes Sea in Mindanao, the Northern Aurora waters and other tuna potential areas across the Philippine archipelago,” added Pamalakaya.

The militant group said Japan was once a leading tuna producer in Asia and in the world, but was overtaken by Taiwan in recent years. The other tuna producers are the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and China. Japan is now reviving its interest in tuna, because of the scarcity of supply and high demand for tuna which is equivalent to lucrative business and promise of huge return on Japanese investments.

Pamalakaya stressed that the fishing aspect of Jpepa is meant for the benefit and survival of Japan’s commercial tuna fishing at the expense of Filipino tuna producers and small fisherfolk across the archipelago.

“With the increase in the supply of tuna produced by Japanese factory ships and their shipment to Japan and other countries, the local tuna producers and small tuna fishermen would be at their mercy by way of depressed prices, or worst when tuna stocks in Philippine EEZ are depleted it could lead to supply constraints and closure of local tuna producers’ of livelihood of 180,000 tuna fishermen and fish workers,” it further said.

“The situation is very, very alarming. The Philippine waters which is part of the country’s national territory has become an open city for foreign fishing plunderers led by Japanese tuna fishing interests yet the Japanese government is not making any decisive action to stop this “gang rape” of Philippine tuna stocks” by Japanese tuna factory ships,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group was hopeful that the diplomatic protest they filed would reach proper Japanese government authorities including Japan’s lawmaking body—the Japanese Diet for swift, concrete and reasonable resolution and dispatch. #

Pamalakaya leaders discuss Jpepa and invasion of Japanese tuna factory ships in RP waters

Pamalakaya leaders discuss Jpepa and invasion of Japanese tuna factory ships in RP waters

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