Tag Archives: Philippine Senate

PH lawmakers urged to probe colleague on eco-zone project

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Katrina Heredera

MANILA, Philippines- A group of small fisherfolk in the Philippines had asked members of the Philippine parliament to investigate the role of their colleague on the ambitious free port project in Central Luzon ,which it said is inimical to people’s interest.

Leaders of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) went to the Philippine Senate yesterday to personally deliver its letter of appeal to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to have Senator Edgardo Angara investigated on the controversial Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Free Port Project (Apeco) in Casiguran, Aurora province.
Pamalakaya vice chairperson for Luzon Salvador France also furnished copies of their letter of appeal to the Senate President to Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Alan Peter Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Francis ‘Kiko” Pangilinan, Gregorio Honasan and Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

In their two-page letter of appeal to Enrile, the militant group said the affected farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous people of Aurora province urge honorable office of the Senate President to conduct a thoroughgoing investigation on the life-threatening impacts of Apeco project to these sectors.
“Honorable Senate President, the APECO project is a total menace to the rights to land of the farmers, even fisherfolk and other sectors residing on the affected barangays of Casiguran. If not stopped, this project might lead to the whole destruction of Casiguran and nearby towns in Aurora province,” France said in the appeal.

The letter further reads: “The APECO project is the brainchild of Senator Edgardo Angara, his son Rep. Sonny Angara and the senator’s sister Aurora Gov. Bella Angara-Castillo and they should be blamed for the current chaos and chronicles of land grabbing in the Casiguran.”
According to a report filed by organizers of a recent fact-finding mission held in Casiguran from June 22-25, the Apeco project also affected farmers include those who have actual titles like Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) and Integrated Social Forestry certificates (ISF).

“Mr. Senate President please take into account that generations of farmers have been cultivating lands under President Manuel Quezon’s Proclamation 467 and Proclamation 723 of Governor-general Frank Murphy during the American occupation, and they too are objects of landgrabbing and displacement,” Pamalakaya noted.

According to the group, to fast track the eviction of farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous communities opposed to Apeco project, the proponents employ the military under the 48th Infantry Battalion, Bravo Company to harass the opposition to Apeco and create a culture of fear among the residents. The military base in barangay halls and blend with residents to serve their purpose for Apeco project.

Pamalakaya said a case in point took place in Brgy. Esteves, where a PENRO’s official known as Miña harassed an elderly peasant woman when he arrived with armed police on February 10, 2010 and coerced farmer residents to vacate their farms. Miña also poked a gun at a woman on March 11, 2008 at Brgy. Dibet.

“The military elements also harassed upland farmers at Brgy. Cozo on September 27, 2010. Farmers also believe that some of their barangay officials, particularly Brgy. Cozo and Esteves are being intimidated by APECO officials thus, abdicating to help those threated to be displaced,” the group said.
The national fact finding mission which Pamalakaya joined last month had reported that residents from the 5 barangays are usually opposing the APECO project. Some residents such as in Brgy. San Ildefonso and Culat said they are not familiar with the project as there were no consultations held before the enactment of the law and they oppose it as they concern about their sources of livelihood such as their farms and fishing.

“We are willing to provide more information about the impacts of the projects, and the leaders and residents of affected farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous people are willing to come out in the open and testify on the increasing difficulties they suffered once the Senate approves the call for the investigation of the Apeco project,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group said the project is being rushed by the proponents led by the Angara family as indicated by the recent action of the Aurora office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) where the agency pursued a P 418-million peso worth of construction and road projects to pave way for Apeco project which it said is the ambitious project of the ruling Angara dynasty in the province.

Pamalakaya asserted the DPWH-Aurora is set to complete infrastructure projects necessary to jumpstart the free port project in Aurora. The group said the P 418-M funds allocated by DPWH in Aurora was meant to complete 71 projects and the completion of 9.16 kilometers of national roads that include the Baler-Cemento Road, the San Luis-Maria-Aurora-Castaneda road and the Baler-Dicolayungan road.

The group noted that the P 418-million Apeco driven projects were carry-overs of previous projects which were unfinished in 2009 and were continued in 2010. There were 66 carry-over projects, 26 were completed, 17 still ongoing and 23 are yet to be started. #

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RP senators asked to stop Aquino sister

By Handog Malaya Vera, Manila Legarda and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-Leftwing activists belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday urged the 23 senators comprising the incoming Senate to stop presidential sister and popular TV host actress Kris-Aquino Yap from intervening in the affairs of the Senate.

According to news report, Ms Aquino had allegedly called several senators to back Sen. Francis Pangilinan in his bid to become the next Senate President.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said senators should tell Ms Aquino that the latter has no business in the affairs of the Senate and the 23 senators should stop her lobbying offensive in favor of Senator Francis Pangilinan, a staunch ally of his brother- President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“Who is Ms Kris Aquino-Yap to tell and dictate the 23 senators that her brother President Aquino wants Senator Pangilinan to be next Senate President? Why not let her brother president do his job? We hope the Senate will rise above the occasion and completely reject this brazen and blatant political arrogance of Ms. Aquino,” Hicap said.

“If Pangilinan wins the Senate Presidency because of Ms Aquino’s aggressive lobbying stint, and not because of merits and good track record, then there is really something wrong with the majority of Senators who will vote for Pangilinan,” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader found active lobbying of Ms Aquino-Yap for Sen. Pangilinan extremely offensive and grossly insulting not only to the collective wisdom of the 23 senators but also to the collective intelligence and political sentiment of 94 million Filipinos.

“If President Aquino wants Pangilinan to be the next Senate President then by all means he should come out in the open, declare his support to Pangilinan and rally his allies in the Senate to vote for Pangilinan. At this point, Aquino is already showing that he is a future lame duck President by allowing his sister to do the job for him,” added Hicap.

Hicap said the active involvement of Ms Aquino in choosing the next Senate President and members of the Aquino cabinet suggests that Kamag-Anak Inc. really exists and politically active. “Kris is an epitome of what do we mean by Kamag-Anak Inc.,” he stressed.

Pamalakaya clarified it has nothing against Sen. Pangilinan as lawmaker, although the group noted that for a while, the Senator had been a close ally of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and was instrumental in rejecting all election protest during the congressional canvassing of the 2004 presidential elections.

But Pamalakaya said Pangilinan bounced back when he called for the resignation of Mrs. Arroyo in 2005 at the height of Hello Garci cheating scandal in 2005 and supported the broad anti-Arroyo movement since then. The group said it also recognized the advocacy of Pangilinan against extrajudicial killings and his stand to have the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) reviewed or repealed.

Sources said Ms Aquino’s endorsement of Pangilinan made headway for the latter in the race for Senate President. Sen. Pangilinan reportedly has the support of Liberal Party and non-Liberal Party senators composed of senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Francis Escudero, Sergio Osmena III, Vicente Sotto III, Teofisto Guingona III, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon, Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes IV. #

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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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Lawmakers urge to donate pork to flood victims

Lawmakers urge to donate pork to flood victims

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged senators and congressmen to donate if not all, at least substantial portions of their respective pork barrels to victims of storm Ondoy yesterday.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson for Luzon Salvador France said an allocation of P 2 million each from senators and congressmen would mean relief and rehabilitation fund of P 46 million from the Senate and
P 500 million from the House of Representatives for a total of not less than P 550 million.

“We ask our lawmakers from both houses of Congress not to entertain second thoughts of giving up their pork barrels for this purpose. The people are demanding their paid taxes to be spent on proper intention and noble aims, the Pamalakaya leader said.

France urged Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles to sponsor a separate or joint resolution calling all members of the house to automatically allocate at least P 2 million of their pork barrels to victims of typhoon Ondoy.

“It is very doable proposal. An easy one. All the Senate President and the House Speaker have to do is to put this into writing and pass it this week. We hope Enrile and Nograles will do their assignment and accomplish what is being called by national situation and collective interest of the people,” added Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya said the P 550 million should be spent for immediate relief and rehabilitation efforts, while the national government should at least set aside P 20 billion for economic rehabilitation and production subsidies of affected sectors mostly the urban poor and poor workers in the National Capital Region and farmers and fisherfolk in Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Rizal,Cavite, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

According to the latest report, 280,000 people were displaced by typhoon Ondoy, were 51 were killed, while 21 are still missing or unaccounted by the national and local disaster management teams.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz said their group will join the campaign being launched by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)to generate relief goods for the victims of typhoon Ondoy. The relief campaign dubbed as Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (BALSA) will mobilize Metro Manila based activists to gather relief goods and materials for victims of flood.

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Leftists advised FG: “Enough of masquerade, face Senate probe”

Leftists advised FG: “Enough of masquerade, face Senate probe”

Ardent critics of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration on Wednesday gave an unsolicited advice to First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo to testify at the Senate on his alleged involvement on the rigged bidding of World Bank funded-projects in the country.

“Enough of masquerade and face the Senate probe. The First Gentleman is legally, constitutionally, politically and morally obliged to face the investigation because the issue involves the presidency, the Filipino national interest and the people’s standing in the international community,” said the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a statement.

“The issue is here is not the First Gentleman as a private person. The issue here is the World Bank allegations of first-rate crime of corruption against the Manila government which linked the presidential husband to corruption-checkered projects. The issue is of national importance to the 90 million Filipino public,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said.

The Pamalakaya leader warned Mr. Arroyo’s team of doctors at St. Luke’s Medical Center will be condemned by public opinion if they refuse to cooperate with the Senate investigating body and instead play their roles to the hilt as supporting actors to this national escapade of Atty. Arroyo.

Hicap said the statement of Mr. Arroyo’s spokesperson Atty. Ruy Rondain —-that the First Gentleman is well enough to play golf because it is not stressful compared to attending the hearing on the Senate investigation on World Bank rigged projects in the country, is grossly insulting to the collective intelligence of the Filipino people.

“What kind of mindset and thinking is this? This is not only mind-boggling; it is also very, very insulting to the 90 million thinking people of this country. They are moving heaven and earth to prevent the First Gentleman from testifying at the Senate,” he added.

Pamalakaya also dared the Senate Committee on economic affairs chaired by administration senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago to forcibly compel Atty. Arroyo and his co-accuse former congressmen Prospero Pichay and Jacinto Paras, past and present officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways, including the owners of E.C de Luna Construction and other firms named in the World Bank report, to attend the hearing.

The group’s challenge was contrary to Sen. Santiago’s proposal to excuse the First Gentleman from attending the Senate hearing and just be asked to submit a deposition. #

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Laguna Lake “Movement” declared war vs. int’l airport

Laguna Lake “Movement” declared war against plan to build international airport

Dismissing it as a “triple platinum murder”, the environmental alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) and the left-leaning fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday declared war against the government plan to build a new international airport at the heart of Southeast Asia’s second largest lake.

In a joint statement signed by SLLM spokesperson Romy Antazo and Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, the groups vowed to cooperate and help each other in opposing the Rizal International Airport, which is supposed to be constructed after the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the city government of Taguig complete the reclamation of 3,000 hectares submerged public in the Taguig portion of Laguna Lake.

“This triple platinum murder of Laguna Lake must be stopped at all cost. Laguna Lake is already in the Intensive Care Unit, and this project will deliver the death blow, nothing more, nothing less,” both leaders said in the statement.

Both leaders added: “We decry this sell-out of Laguna Lake. This is not development, but a world class murder written and directed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and conspiracy with the LLDA chair Edgar Manda and Taguig City mayor Freddie Tinga,” the Pamalakaya and SLMM stressed.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap demanded Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza to refrain from issuing an environmental clearance certificate (ECC), warning him of the legal, moral and political repercussions the project would bring to his office.

SLMM Antazo said in December 2008, Malacañang in cooperation with the City of Taguig and LLDA announced their plans to develop some 3,000 hectares of lake waters into a mixed-use property that would include the Rizal International Airport and high-end residential, commercial and recreational zones.

Dubbed as the Lakeshore Project, Taguig City Mayor Freddie Tinga and LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda said once completed, the project is expected to rival the Fort Bonifacio Global City also in the city.

Mayor Tinga said the cost of reclaiming 3,000 hectares of sub-merged public properties in Laguna Lake stands at P 1million per hectare or P 3 billion to displace the lake water from the planned development site, stressing that the total cost of the project would depend on what the private developers intend to develop in the site.

Tinga said the government will start inviting investors and developers in the first quarter of 2009
to bid for the projects and the winner or winners would be announced in the second quarter of next year. He said the construction of the international airport will take 10 to 15 years.

According to master plan of Laguna Lake 2000 project, the government intends to finish the international project by 2025.

Among the top real-estate companies that attended the launching of Lakeshore project were the
representatives of Megaworld Corp., San Miguel Properties, SM Development Corp., Federal Land, Filinvest Land, DMCI Holdings, Eton Greenfield, Sta. Lucia Real Estate Group, Alphaland, Robinsons Land and Century Properties.

Pamalakaya and SLMM said the Lakeshore project that intends to construct the international airport and other world-class infrastructures in Laguna Lake is the main reason why Malacañang and the LLDA are hell bent in evicting some 30,000 fisherfolk and urban poor families in a number of towns of Rizal, National Capital Region and Laguna that surround the lake to give way to
reclamation and construction of dikes, roads and other support infrastructures.

The groups said the first phase of the lakewide development program involves reclamation and
construction of road dikes that will initially displace 32,000 fisherfolk and urban poor families in
Pasig, Cainta, Taytay and Muntinlupa, all in National Capital Region.

To facilitate the entry of foreign investments, the government will first execute the North Laguna
Lakeshore Flood and Drainage System that will involve construction of road and dikes from Taguig to Taytay (9.8 kilometers), Bicutan to Taguig (9.5 kilometers), Sta. Rosa to Calamba City section (28 kilometers) Bay to Sta.Cruz in Laguna (32 kilometers), Siniloan to Kalayaan section (28 kilometers) and Tanay section (10 kilometers).

Pamalakaya and SLLM also said aside from road and dike construction, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the LLDA will proceed with the reclamation of lake waters in Taguig (3,000 hectares), Muntinlupa (5,000 hectares) and Los Baños
in Laguna (500 hectares).

Pamalakaya also said the government plans to reclaim thousands of hectares of lake waters from Taytay to Binangonan.

“The LLDA said it wants to save the lake from biological destruction. But the government projects facilitated by the lake authority have further exposed the falsity of President Arroyo’s long running claims that it is really after protection of Laguna Lake and the welfare of the people,” the groups added. #

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