Tag Archives: President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

PH president asked: “How long it would take you to jail GMA?”

MANILA, Philippines- Barely 9 days before he delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), a group critical of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III today asked the 50-year old bachelor president how long his administration would take to charge and imprison his predecessor- former President and now Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
President Aquino last week promised the Filipino public that final chapter of his anti-corruption, a campaign oath during the May 2010 elections will soon happen with the filing of charges and imprisonment of former President Arroyo.

But critics were not convinced. “How long it would take Mr. Aquino to have Mrs. Arroyo charged and jailed for first rate crimes of corruption and for crimes emanating from mass murder of political activists? The filing of criminal cases against Arroyo can be done in a week upon his assumption of the presidency in June 30 last year.

But Mr. Aquino did not do his job,” lamented Fernando Hicap, national chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a press statement.

Hicap said the evidence implicating Arroyo on various crimes involving the plunder of taxpayers’ money specifically on the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam and now the P 325-million PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) fund are strongly supported by voluminous documents, testimonies and paper trails enough to convict the former President and other officials during her tenure.

“It seems to us Mr. Aquino and the current occupants in Malacanang are not inclined to charge and jail GMA in the name of political accommodation and political compromises. It appears to us that sooner or later, Aquino and clique will repeat what Arroyo did in her nine years in office,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Pamalakaya further said: “All these tirades against Arroyo and company were all just for public consumption to convince the Filipino people that Aquino is sincere in getting rid of corruption committed by the Arroyo officialdom. But the group said Aquino is not keen to make Arroyo pay for her crimes.”

The group had these lamentations aired to media as Hicap together with other fisherfolk leaders—Pamalakaya vice chairperson for Luzon Salvador France and Pamalakaya-Timog Katagalugan chair Pedro Gonzalez filed a letter of appeal to the Department of Justice (DoJ) in Manila this morning and asked Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate the case 97 ice-making machines bought during the last 8 months of the Arroyo administration.

The Pamalakaya leaders argued the missing 97 out of the 98 ice-making machines was a case of ghost delivery involving the P 455-million overpriced ice making machines several months before the May 2010 elections.

Aside from being one of the complainants in the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam, Pamalakaya also filed its own plunder case against former President Arroyo and former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap in connection with the P 455-million ice making machines scam.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya urged lawmakers on Wednesday to “vigilantly scrutinize” the P 25-B irrigation budget that National Irrigation Authority (NIA) would ask Congress come budget deliberation in 2012.

The group said the ambitious fund request to irrigate 145,000 hectares of rice farmlands in the country may result to an avalanche of high crimes of corruption that can surpass the celebrated graft and corruption cases hurled against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and many of her former Cabinet officials.

The NIA an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has P 12.79 B for this year to repair old existing irrigation systems and build new ones to cater to additional 55,000 hectares of new irrigated farm lands.

“NIA is one of the top money makers as far as corruption undertaking in the government is concerned. Small irrigators have been complaining that the budget for NIA irrigation projects usually went to corruption, with 25 percent, 40 percent and 60 percent of the budget going to the pockets of corrupt government officials and their contact syndicates,” the group said.

Pamalakaya recalled that in 2008, the Bataan provincial government complained to NIA over the construction of Tangilad Dam supposedly to irrigate 860 hectares of land and to benefit 698 farmers in the municipalities of Samal and Orani. The project was started in 1998, but in 2008, the local government unit found out that the same project remained useless.

“The project cost the national government P 286,224,000 and it supposed to be constructed by Villamar Construction and Development Corporation. But in 2008, the project was declared a white elephant, but NIA kept mum on the findings on an irrigation project that failed to deliver even a glass of water to supposed beneficiaries,” it noted.

“P 25-B is P 25-B. And P 10-B of that in the form of commissions will lose to all time plunderers and raiders of taxpayers’ money under gangland of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. This will usher a new era of substandard irrigation systems or even ghost irrigation projects under the Aquino dispensation,” the Pamalakaya said.

Pamalakaya said NIA set another P 20-B budget for 2013 for rehabilitation of old irrigation systems to service an additional 92,000 hectares of farm lands.

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Aquino told: Submit own corruption case to “truth body”

Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bombshell Moran and Trinity Biglang Awa

MANILA, Philippines- Staunch critics of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III on Saturday challenged the 50-year old bachelor president to allow the newly established Truth Commission to investigate not only corruption cases involving former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies, but also his own turf in connection with the controversial Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTex) road scandal.

In a press statement, the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the national goverment paid P 170 million for the construction of the interchange in Hacienda Luisita, and there was no closure about the previous expose on this highly irregular deal between the Arroyo government and the Cojuangco-Aquino who agreed on the deal.

“Why not include the SCTex road scandal in the list of high crimes of corruption that happened during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration? If this truth body is after truth, justice and accountability, then it should include the SCTex right of way scandal in the investigation. If President Aquino and former President Arroyo are accountable for flagship cases of corruption that happened from 2001 to 2009, then by all means, subject the two to the Truth Commission and have their grand day for condemnation before the Filipino public,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The Truth Commission created through Aquino’s Executive Order No.1 was established to investigate ex-President Arroyo and her allies accountable for irregularities under her watch, including the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal.

President Aquino signed yesterday Executive Order No. 1 will “investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people.”

The “independent collegial body” chaired by retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. will have four more commissioners. It has until Dec. 31, 2012, to complete its work, with formal hearings most likely to begin next year, according Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

De Lima said the hearings would be open to the public but that closed-door sessions would be conducted for “matters of national security or public safety,” including the safety of witnesses.

Justice secretary De Lima said EO No. 1 was crafted in such a way that it would be “broad enough” to include cases such as Arroyo’s purported manipulation of the 2004 presidential election.

In seeking closure to controversies that occurred from 2001 to 2009, President Aquino armed the truth commission with the power to subpoena respondents and documents.

The commission is empowered to “collect, receive, review and evaluate evidence related to or regarding the cases of large-scale corruption which it has chosen to investigate, and to this end, require any agency, official or employee of the executive branch, including government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), to produce documents, books, records, and other papers.”

The EO empowers the commission to “obtain information and documents from the Senate and the House of Representatives’ records of investigations conducted by committees,” as well as those from the “courts, including the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Court Administrator,” in connection with corruption cases filed before them.

The commission can also “call upon any government investigative or prosecutorial agency such as the DOJ or any of the agencies under it, and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, for such assistance and cooperation as it may require in the discharge of its functions and duties.”

“If that is the case of this EO, then it can also summon the President or any members of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to explain and bare all about the P 170 million SCTex scandal and how the family continues to control Luisita despite legal, political and moral basis for them to surrender their unlawful and immoral claim of the 6,453 hectare sugar estate,” said Pamalakaya’s Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader the Cojuangco-Aquino family received P 170 million but regular government procedure mandates the landowner should give the property to the government at zero cost.

Hicap said the government does not ordinarily pay private landowners for right-of-way properties in government projects because the private landowner presumably benefits from the construction of a national road.

The Pamalakaya official also noted that the Toll Regulatory Board, which processes applications for interchanges in major road projects, does not normally pay for the construction of interchanges in private lands.

“Because of the SCTex hocus pocus, the value of Hacienda Luisita per square meter increased from P 8 to P 1,000 per square meter. The SCTex scandal deserves another round of scrutiny and the Truth Commission can look into this issue, aside from those high crimes of corruption perpetrated by the ruling Arroyo clique in Malacanang from 2001 to 2009,” Pamalakaya said.

The cost of the interchange built inside the Hacienda Luisita complex was shouldered by the government and funded through a loan from the Japan Bank and International Corp. It is a flagship project of President Gloria Arroyo.

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA)-SCTEx project engineering chief retired general Eduardo Lena had explained that the government paid for the construction of the interchange because it was part of the original plan for SCTEx.

The hearing failed to directly link Senator Aquino to the allegedly irregular transaction. The BCDA had negotiated with Senator Aquino’s uncle, Pedro Cojuangco.#

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Criminal charges pressed against Manila officials behind rice scam

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Gegemon Babon and Roy Morilla

MANILA, Philippines- The peasant activist group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the multisectoral alliance Bantay Bigas, the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday urged National Food Authority (NFA) chief administrator Lito Banayo to file criminal and other appropriate charges against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former agriculture secretary and now Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap in connection with the over importation of rice which occurred in 2004 and 2007.

Peasant leaders Willy Marbella, deputy secretary general of KMP, Bantay Bigas convener and Amihan peasant women federation secretary general Lita Mariano, Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin and Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap led 100 farmers and supporters’ rally outside the NFA outlet in Visayas Avenue in Quezon City asking the NFA chief to charge Arroyo and Secretary Yap before the regular court.

Marbella said aside from Reps. Arroyo and Yap, the charge sheet should include former officials of the Department of Agriculture and NFA who played key roles in the over importation of rice in 2004 and 2007 which cost Filipino taxpayers some 171.6 billion pesos.

In 2004, the Philippine government imported 900,000 metric tons of rice, while the country at that time only lacked 117,000 metric tons to fit the demand of the population, while in 2007, the government only needed 589,000 metric tons to fill the gap in rice supply, but DA and NFA pursued the importation of 1.827 million metric tons or about 1.2 million metric tons more of the required volume to augment the shortage in rice supply.

The rural based groups said aside from bringing the perpetrators of over importation of rice in exchange for fat or juicy commissions, the NFA and the DA should impose a six-year moratorium on the importation of rice and instead pursue measures that would increase domestic rice production, stop land use conversions of rice lands and assure irrigation for more than 3 million hectares of lands devoted to rice production.

They said, instead of reducing rice lands, the government should promote and increase rice lands devoted to rice and food production.

Procurement capacity

For her part, Mariano of Bantay Bigas and Amihan peasant women group urged Aquino government to increase the buying capacity of NFA to 25 percent of the total domestic produced palay by local rice farmers to stabilize rice prices and ensure good dividends for rice farmers.

Mariano lamented that while NFA is mandated by law to buy 10 percent of the locally produced palay from farmers, the authority only managed to buy one percent, and the rest of the funds of the NFA are allocated for unbridled importation of rice.

She said the NFA should increase not only its buying capacity, but also the price of palay per kilo. At present, Bantay Bigas wants the NFA to procure palay at P 15 per kilo, instead of spending taxpayers money to rice importation at the expense of Filipino farmers and consumers.

The groups said rotten and contaminated rice should not be distributed to poor Filipinos, saying the poor do not deserved rotten and unsafe rice for consumption. The groups said it would be grossly insulting and highly revolting to feed the poor with unsafe and health risk rotten rice.

Which is which?

But the groups asserted the unused and undistributed stocks of rice in government warehouses which are sound and still safe to eat should be distributed for free to communities affected by typhoon, including calamity stricken areas hit by Ondoy and Pepeng, and the El Nino and La Nina affected areas.

“In print media, Banayo of NFA said he will strongly consider the demand of farmers to have these hundreds of thousands of metric tons of rice distributed for free to poor Filipinos. But in TV and radio, the NFA chief said the authority will not give free rice to hungry families and multiple conditions shall be met to have these sacks of rice distributed either through food for work program or other measures,” noted Hicap of Pamalakaya.

” Which is which? Are Banayo and his puppet master in Malacanang taking us to another roller coaster ride?” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary Proceso Alcala should step into the picture and stop the NFA from talking non-sense , adding that the agriculture department has the last way on what to do with the over imported rice.

“Alcala should tell Banayo to shape up or leave NFA. The demand is as easy as ABC. Make an inventory and proceed with the free distribution of these sacks of rice for free at the immediate, ahead of the next harvest season this coming October. Is that difficult? Mr. Banayo and his benefactor in Malacanang are making things difficult and complicated for the Filipino public.,” said Pamalakaya.

Earlier, the KMP, Pamalakaya and other rural based groups demanded Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte to conduct joint or separate congressional inquiry on the over importation of rice in 2004 and 2007.

The groups said in aid of legislation, the rice inquiry will be able to draft policies to stop the government from anarchic importation of rice which are hinged on the liberalization policy and on the agenda of corrupt officials for juicy and fat commissions sourced from over importation and over pricing of rice imports. (With reports from Bombshell Moran and Lollipop de los Reyes)

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Davide rejected as head of Truth Commission

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Lady Michelle Adobe and Trinity Biglang Awa

MANILA,Philippines- Leftwing fisherfolk activists belonging to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday slammed President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III over the appointment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. as head of the Truth Commission which will investigate issues ranged against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Either Mr. Aquino is not doing his job or he is just indebted to Mr. Davide. This former chief justice is a close associate of President Arroyo who worked overtly and covertly to perpetuate the criminal regime of Arroyo and company. Where is Mr. Aquino’s sense of history, truth and justice?” asked Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap reminded President Aquino that Davide served as Arroyo’s Supreme Court chief justice from 2001 was appointed as adviser on election matters by President Arroyo in 2004 at the height of the election protest filed by the camp of the late Fernando Poe Jr. who questioned presidential victory of Arroyo in 2004 .

The Pamalakaya leader said Davide was later appointed as the Philippine Permanent Representative to UN where the former chief Justice defended Arroyo on charges of political killings and crimes against humanity before the UN and the international community.

“Mr. Davide is Arroyo’s no.1 defender at apologist during his prime as chief justice. The former chief justice of the Supreme Court is an opportunist political animal who switched allegiance to the Aquino camp when he found out that Arroyo is a lame duck president and that the Washington D.C has already chosen Aquino as its new political darling in the Philippines,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the national interest and collective sentiment of 94 million Filipinos to have Mrs. Arroyo prosecuted and later jailed for her crimes against the people will be sacrificed at the altar of political accommodation if Aquino insists Davide’s chairmanship of the Truth Commission.

Pamalakaya argued that the cases against President Arroyo had been backed up by voluminous materials which were used in the four impeachment complaints filed against the outgoing President. The Pamalakaya officials asserted that prosecution and eventual imprisonment of President Arroyo can happen within the first 100 days of President elect Aquino.

“Mr. Aquino is constitutionally, politically and morally bound to pursue the case People of the Philippines vs. former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He cannot overlook this legitimate crusade of 94 million Filipinos in favor of political accommodation and horse trading between the Arroyo camp and the Aquino syndicate. But the Truth Commission under Davide is a brazen attack on the rights of the people to achieve truth, justice and accountability,” the group added.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed a plunder case before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Arroyo, former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and other agriculture officials in connection with the P 455 million ice making machines, which the group claimed were overpriced by 100 percent.

In 2006, Pamalakaya also filed plunder and other criminal and civil charges against President Arroyo and other cabinet members in connection with the offshore mining activities in Central Visayas, the fish kill caused by Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and the indiscriminate issuance of environmental compliance certificates in 2005 to more than 4,000 companies.

Prior to the two plunder charges, Pamalakaya along with the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) filed plunder case against President Arroyo, former agriculture secretary Cito Lorenzo and former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante in connection with the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam in June 2004, less than a month after the May 2004 presidential elections.

In 2005, Pamalakaya and KMP led coconut farmers and fisherfolk in filing another plunder case against President Arroyo in relation to the P 150 billion coconut levy fund. “ All in all, we have 4 plunder complaints filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Arroyo and company and the Office of the Ombudsman did not even bother to inform us about the status of these plunder cases,” Pamalakaya lamented.

Earlier, Pamalakaya staunch ally party list Bayan Muna announced it will file a plunder case against President Arroyo on July 1, the day Mrs. Arroyo will officially lose her immunity from suit. Bayan Muna party list Rep. Teodoro Casino said the plunder case will deal on the controversial $ 329 million NBN-ZTE deal. #

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House arrest proposed for Arroyo

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Trinity Biglang Awa and Bombshell Moran

MANILA, Philippines-Eight rural based groups today urged President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III to immediately place former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under house arrest as plunder and other criminal and civil cases against his predecessor and her other officials are expected to flood the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman beginning tomorrow July 1.

In a statement, organizers of the 100 Days of Peasant Camp- Out for Land and Justice composed of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), AMIHAN peasant women federation, Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), the Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) said there is an immediate need to place ex-President Arroyo under house arrest to prevent the former President from launching any daring escape from justice anytime beginning July 1.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said aside from placing Arroyo under house arrest, her passport and other travel documents should also be cancelled to make sure the former President who is facing pending cases of plunder and other criminal offenses and would face again similar cases on various counts will be present once the investigation of the Truth Commission started and the DoJ and the Office of the Ombudsman begins their respective parallel probe on complaints filed before the offices.

“The highest level of vigilance and engagement in the name of truth, justice and accountability is highly required and at the same time a political necessity because we don’t want our people’s collective interest and demand for the prosecution and immediate imprisonment of Arroyo to be sacrificed at the altar of political accommodation. We have also this strong gut feeling that the US government will intervene to stop the Aquino administration from pursuing the people’s cases against GMA,” Ramos stressed.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap shared the sentiment of the KMP official warning President Aquino of an across-the-nation outrage if his administration fails to prosecute and jail Arroyo within his first 100 days in office.

“Arroyo’s prosecution and eventual imprisonment can be done and finished with flying colors in the first 100 days in office of President Aquino. This job is as easy as ABC or basic arithmetic, all Mr.Aquino need is strong political will. In fact, Aquino does not need 100 days, he can do the job in two weeks time or before his first State of the Nation Address on July 26,” Hicap said.

On June 2004, about two weeks after the 2004 presidential elections, KMP and Pamalakaya together with their regional and provincial chapters filed a plunder complaint against President Arroyo and officials of the Department of Agriculture in connection with the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed a plunder case before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Arroyo, former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and other agriculture officials in connection with the P 455 million ice making machines, which the group claimed were overpriced by 100 percent.

In 2006, Pamalakaya also filed plunder and other criminal and civil charges against President Arroyo and other cabinet members in connection with the offshore mining activities in Central Visayas, the fish kill caused by Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and the indiscriminate issuance of environmental compliance certificates in 2005 to more than 4,000 companies.

Meanwhile, Kasama-TK secretary general Guillermo Bautista and AMGL secretary general Joseph Canlas said aside from immediate prosecution of President Arroyo, the 100 days camp-out of farmers and fisherfolk from Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon would demand immediate positive responses on agrarian disputes involving thousands of hectares in the regions.

The peasant leaders said they would submit a peasant agenda to President Aquino that demand concrete favorable actions from the newly installed government like land cases in Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas involving 8,650 hectares of prime agricultural lands now being developed for real estate projects of Manila South Coast Development Corporation, the 7,100 hectares of former sugar lands in Hacienda Yulo in Barangay Canlubang in Cabuyao, Laguna and the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate owned by the family of President Aquino.

They said Aquino should work for the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of these lands to farmer beneficiaries.

Kasama-TK and AMGL leaders will also press for the investigation of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of rural activists from 2001 to 2009 and will also urge the Aquino administration to drop all politically motivated fabricated charges filed against leaders of peasant and fisherfolk groups in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and other regions and the unconditional and urgent release of peasant political prisoners all over the country. #

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Manila’s high court asked to stop 2 presidents from converting lands

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bombshell Moran and Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines-Leftwing fisherfolk activists belonging to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday said theSupreme Court ruling upholding the ban imposed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) two years ago on land use conversion of agricultural lands should cover the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” AquinoIII and the 157 Hacienda Bacan in Negros Occidental owned by the family of former President and now Pampanga (2nd district) Rep.Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said aside from Hacienda Luisita and Hacienda Bacan owned by the families of President Aquino and ex-President Arroyo respectively, the high tribunal ruling against land use conversion should also cover other big cases of land grabbing and land-use conversions like the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and the the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Laguna.

“The DAR has no choice but to stop and scrap the planned land use conversions in Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Bacan, Hacienda Looc and Hacienda Yulo. There should be special treatment to Aquino and Arroyo and the landed feudal aristocracies in the country. Their lands should be subjected to immediate, unconditional and free distribution to farmer beneficiaries,” Hicap stressed.

The Pamalakaya official pressed President Aquino and Rep. Arroyo to heed to the Supreme Court ruling against land use conversion and allow DAR to take over their lands and have it distributed for free to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“Aquino and Arroyo are legally bound to honor the high court ruling. They must give up their immoral and illegal control onHacienda Luisita and Hacienda Bacan respectively,” said Hicap.

Quoting a report from peasant NGO– Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), the Pamalakaya leader noted that from 6 million hectares of rice lands the country had, the coverage was reduced to 4 million hectares due to land use conversions. Hicap said in Cavite alone, from 1989 to 1993, irrigated rice land fell from 14,710 hectares to 12,800 hectares due to land use conversions. Recently, the DAR placed 217 hectares of rice land known as Tropical Land in Cavite for land use conversion.

“The ban on land use conversion should be effectively implemented to stop this anarchic land use conversions and destructions of rice lands and other prime agricultural lands. To set the record straight, the DAR itself is the main instrument in enforcing land use conversions. From 1988 to 1997, a total of 129, 467 hectares of land were converted for other purposes and in Cagayan Valley around 442, 648 hectares,” said Pamalakaya.

In a ruling issued last June 18, the high court’s First Division unanimously agreed that the DAR was right to impose a moratorium at the time when the country was suffering from global rice crisis. The SC dismissed the petition filed by the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Associations (Creba), an umbrella organization of 3,500 companies and individuals in the real estate business. The real estate group questioned Memorandum No. 88 issued by then Agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman.

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2 new books on outgoing RP President ridiculed

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bb. Joyce Cabral and Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap

MANILA, Philippines- Rabid critics of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dismissed as garbage the two books written for her by two of her closest allies in Malacanang. The books narrate how the scandal rocked Arroyo handled the different crises that hounded her administration and the good jobs accomplished during her nine-year stay in power but skipped two of the most controversial issues—the NBN-ZTE scandal and the Hello Garci election scandal in 2005.

In a press statement, the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the books entitled “Beating the Odds” penned by Secretary Ricardo Saludo and Renato Velasco, a UP political science professor and current board member of Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and “Beat The Odd” authored by deputy Press Secretary Gary Olivar are nothing but a compilation of lies and should be regarded by the Filipino public and book lovers as stinking garbage.

“The high crimes of corruption, the extreme brutality and the first-rate puppetry of President Arroyo to Washington D.C is an open secret to 94 million Filipinos and all these lies peddled by Arroyo associates in their books will not score a giant kill at the political box-office,” said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France.

Secretary Saludo told reporters the books are all about governance which students and academicians could use as reference material. He said the books would be helpful to people in the academe and government. He said the two books which will be released anytime before June 30 were not an attempt to put the President in good light.

“Beating The Odds” authored by Saludo and Velasco tackles the July 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, the threat posed by the SARS virus, terrorism and illegal drug trade, as well as the budget deficit—and President responded to these challenges and passed the tests with flying colors. A newspaper ad on Thursday described the book as a “crisis-management bible for the 21st century.

“Let Arroyo and her gang fool themselves on periodic and perpetual manner. No one will believe these books are product of intellectual honesty,” Pamalakaya’s France added.

However, Pamalakaya suggested Mrs. Arroyo to write her own book detailing her sins and crimes to the Filipino people. The militant group even suggested a title for the book. “How about a book written by Mrs. Arroyo herself aptly titled “The Day I Robbed Your Glory”, I Am Sorry or “The Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Scandal” which will have Arroyo confessing her sins and top notch crimes to the Filipino people that include but not limited to NBN-ZTE scandal, Hello Garci and the bloody series of extrajudicial killings from 2001 to 2010.

“I guess the “I Am Sorry” is the more appropriate title for her book and this is a potential blockbuster that could rival the best-selling novel of all time,” Pamalakaya added.

Saludo said he and Velasco only “selected” the crises that happened between 2001 and 2004. “These were the topics that we felt we could handle,” they explained.

Saludo said he and Velasco felt the wiretapping scandal should not be lumped together with the other crises because it required a “more extensive treatment.”

The other book Beat The Odds,” is more about Ms Arroyo’s accomplishments and written by Olivar whose title is based on the acronym Ms Arroyo coined when she assumed power in 2001 to summarize her 10-point agenda. With a report from Trinity Biglang Awa.

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Outrage sparked anew over killing of another RP media

By Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- Members of the Philippine media are again outraged with the murder of Nestor Bedolido of the weekly Kastigador in Digos City, Davao del Sur, on Saturday night. Bedolido, according to the media alert dispatched by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) was the 140th journalist killed since 1986. Since 2001 or under the nine-year rule of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration there were 103 Philippine journalists and media workers killed.

In a statement sent to media a copy of which was emailed to http://www.allvoices.com,, the NUJP said “it would be convenient to attribute this week’s murders to a killing frenzy by the enemies of press freedom before this unlamented government steps down.But it is more likely they really cannot care less which administration is in place”.

The NUJP added: “Not with the apathy and official inaction administration after administration – the outgoing one admittedly more than any other – has shown towards attempts to silence one of the cornerstones of democracy, a free press”.

It futher said: “The outgoing administration has, again, excelled at – that nurtures warlords and sundry crooks, allowing them to amass power and pervert public service into personal privilege, in exchange for political favors, like stolen votes”.

The NUJP said Bedolido’s murder followed that of Ilocos Norte’s Jovelito Agustin of dzJC Aksyon Radyo in Laoag City, who was ambushed on his way home Wednesday and died while being treated at a hospital, and Davao Oriental’s Desiderio Camangyan of Mati-based Sunshine FM, killed with a single shot to the head as he sat onstage while emceeing a village singing contest in Manay town.

Bedolido, in his late 40s, was buying cigarettes on the corner of Rizal and Quezon Avenues when he was shot six times by a lone gunman who then “casually walked to a waiting motorcycle driven by another unidentified man.”

The victim was rushed by bystanders to the nearby Gonzales Hospital but died before he could receive treatment.The Philippine Daily Inquirer which ran a story on the killing of Mindanao based journalist, the victim was known to be critical of a prominent politician in Davao del Sur and was suspected of authoring a series of exposés against the official. “It is clear that government’s failure or, and we suspect this is more accurate, refusal to hold accountable those responsible for the killings – especially the masterminds – makes it equally guilty, an accomplice to the bloodbath that has made a mockery of all our claims to being a democracy,” the NUJP said.

The NUJP challenged President elect Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to put an end to the killings of journalists and resolve previous cases of politically motivated murder of their peers.

The Philippine media group said the search for truth and justice for murdered journalists in the country will be a litmus test of how seriously Benigno Aquino III considers his promise of good governance. So will his resolve to hold accountable his predecessor not only for the corruption that marked her nine years in office, but also for the massive loss of lives for which, she too, should be made responsible for.
The NUJP said these media killings are matter of state accountability asserting these human rights violations were committed under the administration of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.The group said the business of ensuring justice for all victims weighs just as heavy on Aquino as head of state as it should on all thosewhose sworn duty it is to protect and ensure the life and welfare of all citizens but which, sadly, they still have to do so.
Earlier, international journalist groups have urged Aquino to resolve with dispatch the continuous killing of journalists all over the archipelago.

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Aquino flirting with Arroyo, critics charge

By Bb. Joyce Cabral, Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) today warned President proclaimed Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to refrain from engaging in either open or discreet political flirtation with outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, saying the national interest and demand for truth and justice of the Filipino people should prevail over narrow factional interests and politics of accommodation.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said he was very worry over the turn of events that led to the proclamation of Aquino as the 15th President of the Republic.

The activist fisherfolk leader recalled that Aquino issued recent a statement that he was accepting Palace offer for smooth transition of power by June 30 and that Aquino received a phone call from Mrs. Arroyo congratulating him for winning the presidential derby in the last May 10 elections and that Mrs. Arroyo offered to tour the 50-year old bachelor president in Malacanang anytime Aquino at any given time before June 30.

“Mr. Aquino is a certified political flirt. And our worry is that his game of political flirtation would result to horse trading and political accommodation at the expense of public interest and collective sentiment of the Filipino people which is the urgent and unconditional prosecution of Arroyo over charges of crimes against humanity, election fraud and top notch corruption offenses,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap said.

The militant group wondered why Aquino became silent on his plan to form a truth commission which will probe scores of scandals that rocked the Arroyo administration over the last 9 nine years which include the series of extrajudicial killings and other grave human rights violations committed against political activists and critics of the previous administration.

“So what’s the truth about this Truth Commission? The US installed Aquino presidency should tell the truth and nothing but the truth about this truth commission hyped by the Aquino camp at the height of the May 10 presidential campaign season,” said Pamalakaya.

During his campaign in Alaminos, Pangasinan, Aquino said many people were volunteering to join the Truth Commission which he promised to establish to prosecute Arroyo on charges of big time corruption and human rights violations.

Pamalakaya recalled that Aquino promised to investigate scandals in Arroyo administration including the Hello Garci scandal in 2005, the P 728 million fertilizer fund scam, the $ 328.49 ZTE scandal and the scores of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by state security forces under Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya 2.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya challenged Aquino on first day in office to come up with a presidential executive order declaring the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries within his first 100 days in office.

“Noynoy should face this issue fair and square in his first 100 days office. He should not evade the issues pertaining to Luisita and act like long-running political escape artist. An executive order can take place at any given time between 9 am to 5 pm at any given working day in Malacanang,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group noticed that the ongoing dispute of Hacienda Luisita was not among the issues Aquino included in his first order of business on July 1, the newly elected president’s first working day in office.

In an interview with reporters, President elect Aquino said among the issues his administration would attend to were the problems he would inherit from outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from budget deficit to speeding up of prosecution of criminal and other cases filed against President Arroyo and other government officials of the outgoing administration.

“To Mr. Aquino and company we dare ask—how do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita? This issue is a matter of life and death and they cannot escape this political calling searching an end to landlessness, exploitation and injustice inside the 6,543-hectare Cojuangco-Aquino sugar estate,” Pamalakaya said. #

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House Speaker’s sorry on freedom of info bill rejected

By Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap, Bb. Joyce Cabral, Billy Javier Reyes and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- “We don’t need your sorry.” This was the reaction of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on reports quoting outgoing House Speaker Prospero Nograles that the fourth highest official of the land was sorry for the failure of 14th Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Bill. Nograles said he was sorry for the fate of the Freedom of Information Bill and that did his best to have the controversial measure passed by Congress but there was no quorum at the time the Lower House was set to approve the freedom of info bill.

“We were not born yesterday Mr. Speaker. The Freedom of Information Bill according to the narrow sentiment and interest of Malacanang was designed for a grand massacre,” said Pamalakaya.

“House Speaker Nograles wants to take the truth and justice seeking people of this country to another roller coaster ride. This aging and has-been politician from Davao City will go down in history as one of those shameless and lowlife political prostitutes of all time,” said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said House Speaker Nograles could had grabbed the opportunity and redeem himself by leading the congressmen to vote in favor of the legislative measure that will empower the Filipino public to source information about contracts and transactions entered into by government agencies and officials, which are deemed disadvantage or inimical to public interest.

“Mr. Speaker opportunity knocks only once. But you did not open the door of the House because that will put the ruling but outgoing occupant in Malacanang and their partners in crime in and out of the Palace and in and out of the House of Representatives in the name of political and legal immunity of the Arroyos and their close associates,” added France.

Pamalakaya said the failure of Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Bill will prevent the group from asking reports and documents from different government agencies concerning government officials and offices involved in big time crimes of corruption.

The militant group is set to demand next Congress to pursue investigations and legislative inquiries pertaining to still unresolved complaints of corruption against President Arroyo, favored cabinet members like former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and top military and police officials implicated in controversial anomalies involving huge public funds.

Pamalakaya earlier said it will ask the next Speaker of the House of Representatives to pursue the investigation of several anomalies involving President Arroyo and Sec. Yap and other top officials of the agriculture department regarding millions of pesos of missing funds at the agriculture department.

One of the issues of corruption which the group will raise is the P 455-million ice making scandal which Pamalakaya said was perpetrated by Malacanang and ex-agriculture secretary and now elected congressman (Bohol, 3rd district) Yap.

“It will be hard for us to secure documents and reports from DA just like the old times, because the law that should have given us the legal franchise to exercise our constitutional right to basic information is thwarted by the Arroyo-Nograles syndicate,” Pamalakaya lamented.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya challenged leading presidential candidate
Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to certify the approval of the Freedom of Information bill in 15th Congress and make it as one of the prioritized legislative agenda in the first 100 days of his administration.

But some quarters are saying it would still be an uphill battle for the controversial measure, since majority of the allies of President Arroyo who are allergic to the freedom on info bill would still exact political influence in Congress under the Aquino administration.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III is optimistic presumptive Philippine president elect Aquino would be fully behind the FOI bill that seeks to improve transparency in government transactions and to make it easier for the public to get the data they need.#

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