Tag Archives: pork barrel

Big landlords to benefit from P 4-B Akbayan pork barrel

By Roy Morilla, Jay Cuesta and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-Big landlords in the Philippines will get their own pork barrel amounting to P 4-B in total agrarian reform subsidy courtesy of a party list group supported by the camp of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III in the last May 2010 elections.

Leaders of various farmer groups from Negros Island and Hacienda Luisita sugar estate in Tarlac province said the P 4-B support fund for bridges and infrastructures clinched by Akbayan party list will chiefly benefit the big landlords across the country like the family of President Aquino who still control the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita and the 11 huge land estates in Negros Occidental own by the President’s uncle Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.Yesterday, farmer leaders took turns in assailing the P 4.05 B pork barrel fund awarded by allies of the President in the House of Representatives to Akbayan party list, a staunch supporter of the present administration.

The Akbayan party list group said the P 4-B fund they sought from Congress was meant to provide support infrastructures and agricultural support and credit to agrarian reform communities (ARCs) and new farmer beneficiaries of the extended land reform program.

But in press conference held at Serye Café and Restaurant in Quezon City, farmer groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the National Federation of Sugar Workers in Negros (NFSW-Negros), the Luisita based farm worker groups United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and Unyon ng mga Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) rebuked Akbayan party list.

The activist peasant leaders asserted only big landlords and foreign agribusiness groups engaged in production of export crops and who control and dictate the operations of ARCs will benefit from the P 4 B pork barrel fund sought by Akbayan party list.

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“And that made the four-billion peso fund a pork barrel for big agribusiness, contrary to claim of Akbayan party list that the funds were meant to uplift the poor condition of new farmer beneficiaries under the extended land reform program,” they said.

The KMP and its staunch allies reminded Akbayan party list that land ownership in ARCs are only nominal and that the landlords and foreign agro-corporations still dictate what kind of crops should be planted in these agrarian reform areas.

They also said Akbayan should be reminded that even family of President Benigno Aquino III who controls the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita and Danding Cojuangco who operates at least 11 haciendas in Negros Island are also exploiting the ARC mode as a supplement to non-land transfer schemes such as Stock Distribution Option (SDO), joint venture and corporative farming to evade free land distribution and keep their lands for lifetime.

“Representatives of Akbayan party list are fooling millions of farmers across the country when they claimed that the P 4 billion infrastructure fund is meant to support fresh agrarian reform beneficiaries under the bankrupt CARPer regime. The ARCs operate under the whims and caprices of feudal lords and big agro-corporations, so it is a pork barrel set aside for these all time greedy entities. There is also no land reform to speak of under CARPer,” leaders of KMP-Negros, NFSW-Negros and UMA said during the press conference.

The KMP and its staunch allies said the ARCs are bogus land reform models, adding that land ownership in these communities are nominal because the farmers who possessed the lands are coerced to lease their lands to landlords and big agribusiness corporations for the production of cash crops and export crops.

For his part, KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella dismissed the P 4-B pork barrel fund to Akbayan party list a product of politics of payback to the highest order.

“The P 4 billion in total cash prize for Akbayan party list is an exchange deal for Akbayan support to the candidacy of President Aquino in May 2010 election. It is grandslam prize money for Akbayan for acting as the fourth communications group of Malacanang in the House of Representatives. In a nutshell, the P 4 billion Akbayan pork barrel is another form of government procurement of P 4 billion worth of political loyalty and patronage,” the KMP official said.

Marbella urged the House of Representatives to recall the P 4-B agrarian infrastructure fund to prevent big landlords and other groups with sinister agenda from the partaking fund and instead re-channel the four billion peso fund to support and production subsidies for rural producers across the country.

The KMP leader said the P 4-billion Akbayan pork barrel fund for agrarian infrastructure could be added to the palay procurement program of the National Food Authority (NFA) to enable the food agency to raise its palay buying capacity to 10 percent from the current 4 percent.

“We don’t want that P 4 billion worth of hard-earned taxes to go to big landlords and people with cruel intentions against the farmers. It is only politically, morally and legally correct for Congress to recall the highly questionable

P 4 billion and re-channel it to other social justice measures such as direct production subsidies to farmers and other rural producers,” added Marbella.

The P 4 B fund awarded to Akbayan will be sourced from the P 110.6 B given to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). According to Cavite Rep. Jose Emilio Abaya, chair of the House Committee on Appropriation, Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-Ao lobbied for the P 4 billion pork barrel agrarian fund for fresh beneficiaries under CARPer.

The KMP believed the P 4 billion pork barrel fund for Akbayan party list was in exchange for the support of the party list group to the proposed P 21-B budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its conditional cash transfer (CCT) program currently being questioned by over 100 congressmen and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago at the upper chamber of the House.

The KMP also assailed Akbayan for drumbeating the success of CARPer as basis for its agrarian advocacy. Citing a recent study made by independent think tank Ibon Foundation, the KMP noted that last year, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) only managed to distribute 64,329 hectares of land out of the official target of 163,014 hectares under the extended land reform, and therefore big chunks of agricultural lands are still in the hands of big landlords and corporate groups, asserting further the P 4.05 B agrarian infrastructure fund will go to the hands of landed few.

Of the 64, 329 hectares distributed, 42, 428 hectares are private agricultural lands, but only 1,777 hectares or 4 percent of the total private agricultural lands were distributed through compulsory acquisition, and 96 percent were acquired under the voluntary offer to sell scheme.

Citing the same Ibon study, the KMP argued that only 17,501 hectares were distributed from January 2010 to June 2010, and that only 1,061.51 hectares or 6% were distributed through compulsory acquisition. Meanwhile, land distributed through the voluntary offer to sell mode – which landlords used to their advantage by dictating the price – covered a bigger 7.7% or 1,340.44 hectares.

The activist farmer group also said land distributed through the voluntary land transfer (VLT) mode – which allows landlords to retain control over their landownings by choosing whom to transfer land ownership to – covered the largest percentage at 40.7% or 7,119.14 hectares, all of which are landholdings over 50 hectares.

“The lands are still in the hands of the landed elite based on the own records of DAR. By design, by orientation and by practical means, the P 4 billion pork barrel fund alloted to fresh agrarian beneficiaries is a misnomer, a wholesale fraud and a triple platinum fund raising campaign for near future high crimes of corruption. It will only benefit the 11 haciendas of Danding in Negros and the President’s feudal empire in Hacienda Luisita,” the KMP added.

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Militant group proposed P 10K subsidy for poor fishing families in Red Tide, Fish kill areas

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Trinity Biglang Awa

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) proposed on Friday the allocation of P 10,000 per month economic and production subsidy to fishing families affected by red tide and fish kill, which are attributed to the ongoing dry spell brought about El Nino phenomenon.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the proposed 10 thousand peso economic and production subsidy for each poor fisherfolk affected by El Nino would keep production alive and would enable small fishermen to go on fish capture beyond the 15-kilometer municipal fishing ground which is currently scarce for fish due to extreme heat.

“The P 10,000 subsidy per month for fisherfolk in red tide and fish kill areas would help to keep the wheels of production on the go, aside from providing immediate relief to poor fishing families,” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya chair said the government should mobilize the P 1.7 billion El Nino budget allotted last year and the calamity funds of provincial and local government units to provide relief to red tide and fish kill stricken areas all over the country.

The fisherfolk leader also urged senators and congressmen to donate their remaining salaries from March 1 to June 30, including unspent portions of their pork barrel to fisherfolk and farmer victims of El Nino.

Hicap said the public could generate P 40,425 each from each district congressman. If there are 220 district congressmen, the fund which could be raised would be P 8,893,500 per month or
P 35.57 million for four months. There are 23 senators at present, and each senator also receives
P 40,425 per month or P 929,775 for all senators. If they senators decide to donate their salaries to El Nino victims, the amount that can be generated from senators’ salaries for next four months would be
P 3,719,100.

“If there are 243 congressmen and senators who will donate at least P 20 million of their remaining pork barrel for the year, that would amount to P 4.86 billion, excluding their salaries. All in all, the combined salaries and donated pork barrel would amount to over P 5-billion which could be of big help to affected farmers and fishermen,” the Pamalakaya official said.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Thursday reported cases of fish kill in Magat River where fishermen reported 30 tons of cultured tilapia due to prolong dry spell and absent of rainfall over the last three months. The fish skill sent the price of tilapia down from P 50 per kilo to P 30 per kilo. The bureau is also monitoring possible fish kills occurrences in several fishpond towns of Pangasinan—Dagupan City, Sual, Bolinao and Anda, which recorded cases of fish kills during the times of El Nino and period of extreme heat.

Aside from Pangasinan, BFAR is also monitoring possible occurrence of fish kills in fishpond areas in Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, Bataan and Bulacan provinces in Central Luzon.

The fishery agency also predicted an increase in the incidence of red tide in the country in the coming months. He identified the areas of Manila Bay encompassing Bataan, Bulacan, parts of the National Capital Region and Cavite province, Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon, Murcielagos Bay in Misamis Occidental, Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur, and Bislig Bay in Surigao del Sur as contaminated with red tide.

Pamalakaya said the identified areas where fish kills and red tide regularly occur should be the immediate focus of P 10,000 economic and production subsidy grant, but other fishing areas should also be covered and the amount would be different since it is a case to case basis. However, the group proposed that in areas where there are no cases of red tide and fish kills, but affected by reduced catch due to El Nino, the government could provide P 4,500 for production subsidy per month to small fishers operating motorized boats and P 2,500 for fisherfolk operating non-motorized boats.

Earlier, Pamalakaya, Anakpawis party list and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) submitted a 5-point Omnibus demand to Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) that would cushion the impact of El Nino to small fisherfolk and urban poor communities situated along the lake.

The 5-point Omnibus Demand presented to LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda includes supply of 1 sack of rice per family for free beginning March to July this year.

The proposal submitted to LLDA likewise calls on the lake agency to compel local government units to immediately release the calamity funds intended for their respective constituents and allows fisherfolk and farmers plant crops for their subsistence or alternative livelihood.

The 5-point Omnibus demand also put to task the Department of Health (DoH) to mobilize doctors and health workers to look into the situation of poor folk and be ready to provide the lake people with free checkups and medicines. The demand also urges government to set aside at least P 1,500 worth of groceries package for every family of poor fisherfolk and lake resident in the 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake representing the 9 lake towns of Rizal and 18 lake towns of Laguna, including the cities of Pasig, Taguig and Muntinlupa and the municipality of Pateros- all in National Capital Region.

Instead of proceeding with demolitions of fishing villages, privatization and conversion of public lands along the lake, we urge the government to provide P 5,000 rehabilitation grant to every fishing family so they could repair their houses wrecked by typhoon Ondoy last year. #

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Lawmakers urged to let go salaries, pork barrel for El Nino victims

By Akihira Tatchu and Bb. Joyce Cabral in Manila
and Lollipop delos Reyes, in Antipolo City, Rizal

Leftwing militants belonging to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged senators and congressmen to donate their salaries and remaining pork barrel from March to June 30, 2010 to victims of El Nino.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson Salvador France appealed to senators and district representatives to contribute their available funds to subsidize sectors hardly hit by the long dry spell, specifically farmers and fishermen all over the country. The fisherfolk leader lamented that Malacanang, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have yet to identify workable solutions that will provide urgent relief to affected and other vulnerable sectors.

France said the affected sectors could generate P 40,425 each from each district congressman. If there are 220 district congressmen, the fund which could be raised would be P 8,893,500 per month or
P 35.57 million for four months. The Pamalakaya leader said there are 23 senators at present, and each senator also receives P 40,425 per month or P 929,775 for all senators. If they senators decide to donate their salaries to El Nino victims, the amount that can be generated from senators’ salaries for next four months would be P 3,719,100.

Pamalakaya said if the 243 congressmen and senators will donate at least P 20 million of their remaining pork barrel for the year that would amount to P 4.86 billion, excluding their salaries. The militant group said what the executive branch of government did so far was to monitor the impact of El Nino and hyped multi-billion mitigation projects which are subjected to audit free schemes, and are prone to high crimes of corruption.

Pamalakaya said the combined salaries and donated pork barrel could raise as much as P 5-billion which could be of big help to affected farmers and fishermen.

“There are billions of pesos of unprogrammed funds out there in the secret vault of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. There are billions of pesos of unaccounted presidential pork barrel funds that were kept and are still in the disposal of the ruling syndicate in Malacanang. Where are these funds? Why not mobilize these funds to provide subsidies and other forms of aid to El Nino affected folks?” the group said.

Earlier, leaders of Pamalakaya, Anakpawis party list and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) submitted a 5-point Omnibus demand to Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) that would cushion the impact of El Nino to small fisherfolk and urban poor communities situated along the lake.

The 5-point Omnibus Demand presented to LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda includes supply of 1 sack of rice per family for free beginning March to July this year.

The proposal submitted to LLDA likewise calls on the lake agency to compel local government units to immediately release the calamity funds intended for their respective constituents and allows fisherfolk and farmers plant crops for their subsistence or alternative livelihood.

The groups also tasked the Department of Health (DoH) to mobilize doctors and health workers to look into the situation of poor folk and be ready to provide the lake people with free checkups and medicines. They also pressed the government to set aside at least P 1,500 worth of groceries package for every family of poor fisherfolk and lake resident in the 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake representing the 9 lake towns of Rizal and 18 lake towns of Laguna, including the cities of Pasig, Taguig and Muntinlupa and the municipality of Pateros- all in National Capital Region.

“Instead of proceeding with demolitions of fishing villages, privatization and conversion of public lands along the lake, we urge the government to provide P 5,000 rehabilitation grant to every fishing family so they could repair their houses wrecked by typhoon Ondoy last year,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya said the LLDA should permanently open if not dismantle the controversial Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS) to allow salt water from Manila Bay to penetrate Laguna Lake. Gonzalez said the regular entry of salt water in Laguna Lake will allow the lake to restore its former ecological balance and healthy inland environment. #

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Noli, Loren, Manny asked to break silence on P 20-B pork barrel for GMA allies in HOR

Noli, Loren, Manny asked to break silence on P 20-B pork barrel for GMA allies in HOR

Leftwing activists belonging to fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday challenged the three leading 2010 presidential contenders Vice President Noli de Castro and Senators Loren Legarda and Manuel Villar to break their silence on the alleged P 20-billion additional pork barrel worked out by allies of Malacañang in the House of Representatives.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. This is a multi-platinum robbery and plunder in broad daylight orchestrated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies in the House of Representatives. De Castro, Legarda, Villar and other presidential wannabes are highly obliged to denounce and take concrete action against the Macapagal-Arroyo raid of public funds,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

According to the survey conducted from Nov.28 to December 1 last year by the Social Weather Station (SWS), VP de Castro got the nod of 31 percent of respondents, followed closely by Senator Legarda with 28 percent and Senator Villar with 27 percent. A far fourth was Senator Panfilo Lacson with 14 percent, followed by ousted President Joseph Estrada with 11 percent and Senator Mar Roxas with 10 percent.

Sen. Lacson on Wednesday said allies of President Arroyo in the House of Representatives have built up a large pork barrel by diverting close to P 20-billion in proposed spending from debt service and agrarian reform to increase allocations for public works, local governments and Congress.

Sen. Roxas confirmed the dubious diversions, stressing further that the diversion of funds was meant to raise funds for Charter Change (Chacha) and the 2010 elections. According to Lacson and Roxas, of the P 1.415 trillion proposed budget for 2009, the House slashed P 14.776 billion from debt service, P 3.5 billion from miscellaneous personnel fund and P 1.3 billion from the Department of Agrarian Reform.

The cutbacks, totaling P 19.576 billion were allocated for the regional infrastructure projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) amounting to P 8.178 billion, P 3.36 billion in additional funds for local government units and additional P 1.46 billion in pork barrel for Congress, while P 6.578 billion has been inserted in the 2009 budget for other purposes.

The Pamalakaya leader said once the budget was approved carrying those diversions, the DPWH is expected to go full blast with regional infrastructure projects, and it would have the names of President Arroyo’s favored bets in 2010 as sponsors of those projects.

“This is part of the electoral game plan of Malacañang. The Filipino public wants to know how de Castro, Legarda and Villar will deal with this first-rate crime of corruption, discreet political grandstanding and early electioneering activities of the Palace and its electoral fraud machinery,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said on top of the P 19.576 billion additional pork barrel fund, the P 10-billion poverty reduction program recently announced by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was also meant for an early muscle flexing activity of pro-Arroyo politicians. It said the DSWD will give political allies of President Arroyo the opportunity to take part in its dole out activities for early electoral projection in preparation for the 2010 general elections. #

The message is clear

The message is clear

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