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Satur urges Malacanang to defy business groups demanding termination of EO 839

By Vince Borneo, contributor

Manila, Philippines- Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo today said that Malacanang should not cave in to the demand of foreign and local businessmen that Executive Order 839, which places petroleum products under price control, be terminated. The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said that the EO 839 is damaging to the oil industry. Other groups have also expressed concern over EO 839, among them the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Makati Business Club, and the Federation of Philippine Industries.

“Instead of heeding the JFC,MAP, et al, Malacanang should defy their warnings and threats, and remain firm in implementing EO 839. There has been a long-standing need to regulate the prices of oil and petroleum products in the Philippines and it had to take a series of major calamities for the government to impose it. The oil cartel and their partners have been chaffing at the bit because their profiteering has been reined in. Their arguments against price controls are blatantly self-serving and do not serve the public good,” Ocampo said.

“If Malacanang caves in, the oil cartel would have again won, and it’s another point proving the weakness and ineffectivity of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration in protecting the public interest,” he added.

Ocampo even challenged the Palace not only to maintain price controls but to overhaul the oil industry by regulating and eventually nationalizing it.

Ocampo called on the JFC, MAP and other business groups to rethink their blind faith on deregulated markets especially since a cartel exists in the oil industry. “Consumers and the rest of the Filipino people are already overly-familiar with the abuses of Shell, Caltex and Petron. Rather than side with the oil cartel, I hope our businessmen will help find ways to bust the cartel and ensure that oil prices are just, reasonable and transparent,” Ocampo 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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Satur to poll body: Allow militant migrant group to run in 2010

By Sugar Hicap and Lollipop de los Reyes

Quezon City, Philippines- Party list coalition Makabayan today strongly urged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to reconsider its earlier resolution to remove Migrante Sectoral Party from the list of accredited party-list organizations participating in the 2010 elections.

“Thousands of overseas Filpinos are in danger of being disenfranchised by this COMELEC ruling. They who contribute so much from the economy have for so long been marginalized by the electoral system. Now, once again, they are being denied their right to representation,” said Rep. Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan.

In an en banc resolution last October 13, 2009, COMELEC barred Migrante and 25 other party-list organizations from participating in the 2010 elections. Migrante, according to the commission, participated and failed to gain seats in two straight elections prior to the upcoming polls.

It is on record, however, that Migrante only participated during the 2004 elections and signified their intent not to run in 2007 while maintaining the option to run in the next election.

“It is clear from its track record that Migrante is a legitimate party-list organization, with the largest and broadest membership among overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines. It cannot be denied that to delist Migrante is to disenfranchise their constituency,” explained Ocampo.

The Makabayan president further pointed to COMELEC’s wild inconsistencies in its decision to delist and maintain party-list groups in its accredited list. For instance, groups like BISA, Pinoy Overseas Party and Banat were allowed to run in 2004 even as they failed to garner the required two-percent of total party-list votes to garner seats in 1998. These groups also failed to run during the 2001 elections.

The activist lawmaker lamented that groups with dubious representation like (Mike Arroyo’s sister) Ma. Lourdes Arroyo’s Kasangga Party-list and butcher general Jovito Palparan’s Bantay Party-list were allowed to participate in 2007 and defame the true spirit of the Party-List System Act.

“All these point to a political motive in the delisting of Migrante. After all, Migrante, along with the other progressive party-list organizations, have been the most vocal in criticizing government misdeeds and even exposing electoral fraud during the past elections,” said Ocampo.

Ocampo also urged the commission not to give in to pressure from Malacañang. He asked COMELEC to give progressive party-list organizations like Migrante a chance to finally run for House seats that would represent the millions of Filipinos long denied of due representation.

While Comelec was slapped with criticisms over its decision to delist Migrante sectoral party list, the militant Bayan Muna party list welcomed the statement of House Speaker Prospero Nograles expressing the urgent need to stop the abuses of oil cartel-Shell, Caltex and Petron.

Nograles also said that the Oil Deregulation Law fell short of its supposed intent to put an end to the monopoly of the big three on the oil industry.

“It’s good that Speaker Nograles has seen the light on this issue of oil deregulation. For the longest time, Shell, Caltex and Petron have been abusing the law by jacking up their prices at the slightest excuse. Oil deregulation has only made the cartel even more abusive, and consumers have been at their mercy since the law was approved in 1998. More than a decade later, we have all seen the disastrous impact of oil deregulation, and it’s high time that the law be repealed,” Bayan Muna secretary general Nathanael Santiago said.

Santiago said that despite Nograles’ assertion that there was no more time to repeal the law, he said that “it was still important for Congress to make the attempt.”

He said that “all it will take is strong and determined political will to repeal the law and send an unmistakable signal to the Big Three that their abuses are not being tolerated.”

“There is still enough time to fast-track measures to repeal the oil deregulation law. If bills pushed by Malacanang can be rushed and even passed in a series of overnight plenary sessions, why not a bill putting an end to oil deregulation? It would be a great service to once and for all repeal this law that has brought nothing but added economic burdens to the people,” Santiago said.

“Bayan Muna is certain that our many lawmakers are willing to sacrifice a few sleepless nights for this effort. The oil companies should be taught a lesson, and this could be a good first step towards regulating the oil industry,” he added.

“If Speaker Nograles will put his influence and clout behind calls for the repeal of oil deregulation law, it will be possible to junk the said law before the end of the 14th Congress,” Santiago said. #

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