Tag Archives: President Noynoy Aquino

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leftist alliance in Manila calls for scrapping of PH-US war games

By Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- Opposition to the up coming Philippines-US joint military exercises is getting stronger with the largest alliance of patriotic and progressive groups in Manila voiced out their collective rejection to the scheduled Balikatan exercises next month. In their webiste (www.bayan.ph), the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today called on the Aquino government to scrap the scheduled 2011 Balikatan exercises saying it undermines any meaningful review of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

“By holding the Ballikatan war games on April 5-15 this year, the Aquino government is showing that it is not really serious in reviewing the VFA. Unequal and lopsided provisions remain in the agreement yet the Aquino government has no problems enforcing this pact for the upcoming war games,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“What will happen if there are again violations of Philippine law which would require us gaining custody of American troops? How will the unequal provisions of the VFA be implemented once more? Will we have another Daniel Smith episode, one that is ultimately embarrassing for the Philippines?” Reyes added.

Bayan objected to the holding of the Balikatan exercises saying that the VFA does not specify the number of US troops entering the country and the type of activities they can engage in.

“The VFA has been abused by the United States so they can permanently station their troops in the Philippines as what we are seeing now in Mindanao. The Philippine government has taken on the untenable position of allowing this to happen despite it being a clear violation of our sovereignty and constitution,” Reyes said.

“The upcoming Balikatan exercises show the extent of the Philippine government’s subservience to US dictates. The Aquino government will allow 6,000 US troops who are covered by a defective and one-sided pact to undertake unspecified military operations in our country. The Aquino government, much like the Arroyo government, will allow US troops to make the Philippines their playground,” he added.

The group also said that there remains the unresolved issue in relation to corruption of Baliaktan funds. A Commission on Audit investigation revealed there were irregularities in the management of the AFP’s funds deposited in the Land Bank of the Philippines.

“This is the 27th Balikatan war games. What have we gained so far? What benefits has the VFA provided us? The so-called civil military operations at the communities are mere publicity stunts for US forces to be acceptable to the local population,” Reyes said. The Philippine military announced last week that around 6,000 American troops are going to participate in Balikatan (Shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises next month. It said around 2,000 Philippine troops will join their US counterparts in the 10-day war drill that would start on April 15. The exercises include a unilateral planning exercise inside the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

But AFP officials said the US troops will only participate as observers in the unilateral planning exercise. Aside from the unilateral planning in Puerto Princesa, other joint PH-US military exercises will be held inside Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija, Basa and Clair Air Base in Pampanga, Crow Valley Range in Tarlac, Naval Station L in Zambales, Sangley Point in Cavite, Msrine Base in Ternate, also in Cavite and Mactan Airbase in Cebu province. Earlier, the activist peasant group in Central Luzon– the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) announced its plan to hold series of protests against the Balikatan exercises. Leaders of the farmer regional alliance said farmers in the region will be barred again from attending their crops during the war exercises.

The same sentiment was echoed by the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, which said that the water-based military drills in Sangley Point and Ternate might result to banning of fishing activities during the joint war drills. Pamalakaya vice chair for Luzon Salvador France said everytime there is joint military exercises held along the country’s coastal shores, local government units enforce fishing ban as what happened in the Bicol Region during the 2008 Balikatan exercises.(With reports from Roy Morilla and Labo Molabo Ramos)

Leave a comment

Filed under politics

Lawmakers asked to stop toll hikes

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Manila Legarda

MANILA, Philippines – A group of affected rural producers on Saturday urged members of the Philippine parliament to act with dispatch and stop the looming hikes in toll fees, after the Philippine high tribunal declare the recent increases as legal and constitutional.

The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday urged lawmakers from both houses of Congress to cross party lines, call a special session and pass a joint resolution to scrap if not indefinitely suspend the implementation of toll increase at the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx).In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said Congress can exercise its legislative powers and remedies to spare millions of people in Southern Luzon and the National Capital Region from bearing the brunt of the 250 percent hike in SLEx toll fees.“President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will not stop the toll fee increase at SLEx because he wants to lure foreign investors to takeover SLEx that would promise lucrative business and sure super profits for foreign investments. So the ball is now Congress court to stop this highway robbery in broad daylight,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader asked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte to lead the authorship and sponsorship of a joint Senate-House resolution that would indefinitely suspend the implementation of SLEx toll hike, which should be followed by a full-blown congressional inquiry on toll hike proposals that would include the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and South Metro Manila Skyway.

“The 250 percent increase in toll fees at SLEx is not only a case of highway robbery in broad daylight. This burdensome hike in toll fees is tantamount to economic sabotage,” added Hicap.

Following the Supreme Court ruling junking the petition against SLEx toll increase, South Luzon Tollways Corporation (SLTC) president Isaac David said the increase toll rates at SLEx will be implemented by next week or early November.David said the toll increase would enable STLC to pay its debts from creditors amounting to P 1 billion in the past two months. In a decision released Thursday last week, the Supreme Court declared as valid and constitutional the supplemental toll operation agreement (STOA) covering the Luzon Tollway Project between the government and SLEx, as well as the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) resolutions allowing rate increases.The SLTC had spent P 12 billion for the rehabilitation of SLEx which cover the rehabilitation of Alabang viaduct and the widening of highway. The company which is backed by Malaysia’s MTD Capital holds a 30-year concession to operate SLEx and it is allowed to collect toll to ensure that it gets a 17-percent return on investment every year.

Pamalakaya said the 250 percent increase in SLEx toll fees would further push trade cartels and buyers of agricultural and fishery products in Southern Luzon to cut farm gate prices of farmers and fisherfolk produce in the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions. “The cartel will further cut prices of farm gate prices by as much as 50 percent. Because of toll hikes at SLEx, fish traders will further reduce the average of fish price of P 50 per kilo to P 30 or P 25 per kilo. To ensure fish cartels would have money for toll fees and still make profits, fish cartels on the other hand will jack up prices of fish products by another 10 to 20 percent at the expense of the fish buying and eating public. This is one of negative impacts of the 250 percent increase in SLEx toll hike,” said Pamalakaya. (With reports from Pepsi Laloma and Sarsi Pimentel)

Leave a comment

Filed under corruption, neoliberalization, politics

World Bank eyes RP as Asia’s begging capital

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap and Akihira Tatchu

MANILA, Philippines- The plan of the Brettonwoods institution to support the direct cash assistance fund to millions of impoverished Filipinos through an increased fresh loan to Manila government sparked protest from a Philippine group highly critical of the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The leftist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday assailed WB over its recent move to double its assistance in the country for 2011 so the national government could fund its conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to poor Filipinos. Impressed by the Philippine government’s initiatives on good governance, WB country director Bert Hofman last Friday said WB will increase the current overall assistance to the Philippines from $ 630 million to $ 1.3 B in total assistance to the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.Hofman said the aid increase was approved last week at the annual meeting of the WB and International Monetary Fund (IMF)with the Philippines economic team.

In 2007, the WB approved a five year support to CCT with $ 400 million loan as funding support for 2008 as launched by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) then under President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo administration. This year, Congress passed the national budget for 2011, allotting P 21 B for CCT, an increase of P 9 billion compared to last year. The P 21 B for CCT elicited protest from 100 congressmen.

But Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the increase in aid assistance merely suits the political agenda of WB-IMF to turn millions of Filipino poor into beggars and mendicants, transform them into passive political entities highly allergic or hostile to politics of change in the country.

“The WB-IMF supports the CCT program because it sees it as a socio-political instrument that would convert this nation of over 90 million starving Filipinos into a Republic of mendicants and beggars rather than into a progressive nation with critical thinking and struggling people fighting for land, jobs, rights and justice.The increase in assistance with the purpose of supporting the CCT program is mainly a counter-insurgency program in form and in substance,” Hicap explained.

“The WB-IMF backed CCT program is also counter-productive in the sense that it does not create jobs and does not transform people into productive citizens but helpless folks begging for alms,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The WB country director said the initiatives of the Aquino administration for poverty alleviation were doing well for target beneficiaries and that transparency under the new government made them more comfortable to provide additional assistance to Aquino government.

“It is business as usual for IMF-WB. It will lure the Aquino administration enter into another cycle of debt trap and national death bed due to debt. Behind the triple platinum debt offer of this US-led financial monster is the cruel intention of IMF-WB to get involved in Jurassic public-private partnership (PPPs) economic escapade of the Aquino administration,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group also slammed the Philippine officials who signed the deal with IMF-WB during a meeting in Washington D.C. Pamalakaya said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Budget and management SecretaryFlorencio Abad and Socio-Economic planning secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. should be condemned to the highest order for what the group called a millennium sell out of the national economy.

“These officials of Noynoy Aquino committed one of the major blunders in the 21st century when they offered the Philippines at the altar of IMF-WB millennium exploitation.They should be remembered in history as modern-day traitors along with President Aquino for undertaking this sell out of national patrimony and grand scam denationalization and privatization of national economy,” said Pamalakaya.

According to Pamalakaya, the IMF-WB aside from raking super profits from interest on loans, would also take part in highly profitable business in the country including but not limited to the expansion of Light Railway Transit system, the improvement of sewerage system of Maynilad and Manila Water.

The militant group said IMF-WB also wants to facilitate PPPs in tourism, food supply chain, construction of airports and other road networks, mass transport, national highways, water, power and other utilities.

Pamalakaya said the P 18.7 B Laguna Lake Dredging Project in Laguna de Bay was one of the PPPs approved by the Arroyo government prior to the May 2010 elections.The group said the project is between the Philippine government and the Fortis Bank of Belgium, which is a private commercial bank based in Brussels. It said around 400,000 lake families or roughly 2 million people in Laguna Lake will be displaced by the Laguna Lake dredging project #

Leave a comment

Filed under corruption, debt, foreign relations, politics, US intervention

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.

\

“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.

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform

Militants declare CARPer a failure

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Roy Morilla

Manila, Philippines- Eight of the biggest rural based organizations in the country today led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the agricultural labor group Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan peasant women federation urged senators and congressmen to repeal the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with reforms (CARPer) or Republic Act 9700 for its comprehensive and far-reaching failures in delivering social justice to millions of landless farmers across-the-country.

The position of KMP and its allies was supported by the Hacienda Luisita farm worker groups Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the National Federation of Sugar Workers in Negros (NFSW).

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said a signature campaign calling for the repeal of CARPer or RA 9700 and the congressional passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 374 authored by Anakpawis party list Rep. Mariano and 6 other militant party list lawmakers will be launched beginning today to compel lawmakers to correct the grave historical injustice by previous land reform programs including the extended CARP.

On the other hand GARB, which militant farmer groups claimed is a progressive and social justice driven land reform law will put all agricultural lands, including lands leased to multinational corporations under the coverage of land reform and will have these lands distributed for free to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

In HB 374 or GARB, just compensation will be provided to landlords, however lands acquired through coercive and fraudulent means will not receive just compensation from the government. Aside from free distribution, GARB will ensure sufficient subsidies and support to farmer beneficiaries to prevent lands from reverting back to previous and new generations of landlords.

The KMP official did not say how many signatures his group and allied organizations would target for the anti- CARPer, however, Ramos said a memo will be sent to regional and provincial chapters of KMP in 55 provinces and 17 regions to gather signatures at the grassroots level calling for congressional repeal of RA 9700.

Ramos said the signatures would be soon submitted to Senate and the House of Representatives for appropriate legislative action. “We will bring CARPer back to the halls of Congress for extensive debate and discussion. We will assert our previous assessment that this law is a menace to the Filipino farmers. It is time to open the debate once more on why GARB is social justice driven and necessary and why CARPer is a inimical to the collective interest of land tillers and why RA 9700 is undoubtedly a land reform for big landlords,” the KMP leader added.

Citing a study released by independent think tank Ibon Foundation, KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores noticed that CARPer which was passed by Congress last year only managed to distribute 64,329 hectares out of the 163,014 target hectares for disposal in the second semester of 2009.

Of the 64, 329 hectares, only 1,777 hectares were acquired by the Department of Agrarian Reform(DAR) under compulsory acquisition (CA), and huge sum of money were shelled for more than 41,000 hectares of private agricultural lands under voluntary offer to sell (VOS) scheme.

“Big landlords who want money for their lands made big money from CARPer last year under the financial slogan and condition of “if the price is right” Those landlords who wanted to keep the lands ranged VOS scheme as agrarian instrument to evade land distribution as seen the case of other big land owners who retained control over 99, 000 hectares which were target for acquisition by DAR last year. Now tell us where is land reform and social justice in CARPer. Those who are going gaga with the extended land reform are dreaming in broad daylight,” Flores noted.

The same Ibon study also revealed that from January 2010 to June 2010 only 17,501 hectares were distributed but only 1,061 hectares were acquired through CA, while 1,340 hectares were covered through VOS scheme. Still a huge number of landlords managed to evade land distribution by choosing VOS and imposing their own price on just compensation to FAIL DAR from placing the lands for coverage of pro-landlord CARPer.

KMP said the Landbank of the Philippines from 1972 to 2008 had spent P 289 B to acquire 1.6 million hectares of land from landlords in the name of previous land reform programs including the extended CARP. In the first year of CARPer, the KMP said, DAR only managed to distribute 81,000 hectares of the still undistributed 1.7 million hectares of land which is about 4 percent accomplishment rate and still 96 percent of the 1.7 million target hectares are in the hands of landed monopolies and saved from land distribution under the CARPer law.

Peasant enemy no.1

Meanwhile peasant activists belonging to Kasama-TK, AMGL, NFSW-Negros and Luisita farm worker groups will lead the public burning of President Aquino’s effigy at Mendiola Bridge whom they tagged as Peasant Enemy No.1.

The effigy made of scrap materials shows Aquino as the chief political representative of the Haciendero Republic and no.1 puppet of the United States (US) will be collectively set on fire by 20 leaders of peasant and fisherfolk groups from Southern Tagalog region, Central Luzon, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos region, Bicol, Negros Island and sectoral leaders of the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Kasama-TK spokesperson Nestor Villanueva said President Aquino is coddling big landlords inSouthern Tagalog like the Ayala-Zobel family which control or maintain majority stake in a number of haciendas in the region particularly the 10,000 hectare Hacienda Zobel in Calatagan, Batangas, the 8,650 hectare prime agricultural estate in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu, Batangas, 10,000 hectare sugar estate of Don Pedro Roxas also in Calatagan, Batangas and the 7,100 hectare estate in Hacienda Yulo in Calamba, Laguna.

“Aquino’s political attitude on Hacienda Luisita has become the model of land reform denials, land reform reversals and ultimate land reform grabbing by big landlords in Southern Tagalog region. It is only politically and morally correct to brand this 50-year old bachelor president as peasant enemy no.1,” the Hacienda Yulo based leader said.

Akbayan’s P 4 B pork barrel

Villanueva also slammed the P 4.05 B awarded by Aquino’s allies to Akbayan party list, referring to the budget lobbied by Akbayan party list Rep. Kaka Bag-ao for support infrastructure to agrarian reform communities (ARCs) which are members of the moderate and pro-Aquino party list group.

“Akbayan party list acted as partners in crime of big landlords who want to avail of separate pork barrel from Congress. The P 4 billion support fund will go to agrarian reform communities controlled or influenced by big agro-corporations own by landlords and foreign companies. Let me set the record straight, these ARCs are nothing but mere showrooms or token land reform projects just to make it appear that land reform still exists in the country. The four billion peso budget is chiefly pork barrel to all-time feudal exploiters,” the Kasama-TK spokesperson added.#

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform

US lawyers tell BSA: “Free Morong 43”

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, http://www.allvoices.com MANILA, Philippines-

American lawyers belonging to the National Lawyers Guild on Saturday added their voice to the growing demand of the international human rights and social justice community to immediately and unconditionally release the 43 health workers illegally arrested and detained by the Philippine military last Feb.6 this year in Morong, a municipality east of Metro Manila.

In a resolution approved during the NLG assembly in New Orleans, the American lawyers group put to task President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to free the detained health workers known as Morong 43.

The resolution, a copy of which was emailed to http://www.allvoices.com was dispatched to Malacanang, barely a day after Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima said the recommendation on the case will be forwarded to Malacanang anytime next week. On February 6, 2010 a force of 300 Philippine police and military illegally raided and abducted 43 community health workers including doctors and nurses who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines.

“These health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a week long First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD),” the NLG said in a resolution approved by its members during the assembly at New Orleans recently.

The NLG added that “these health workers were being trained to go to rural areas where the government does not provide medical services and who are most vulnerable during devastating typhoons which have been hitting the Philippines and devastating many rural communities.

“But, because people in many of these rural country side areas are considered enemies of the state, the government as part of its “counterinsurgency plan” targets people such as these health workers claiming they are in fact part of the insurgent movement in the Philippines and if the work is of a progressive nature they are assumed to be members of the New People’s Army,” the NLG resolution added. According to NLG, the training took place at a conference center owned by a renowned Doctor in the Philippines.

The workers were rounded up and taken to the central conference room while the military conducted an illegal search of the cabins and grounds, and claimed to have found a gun and some explosive materials. “The workers deny any connection to such materials and believe that the evidence was planted. Their personal belongings, as well the training m materials used, were all confiscated by the military,” it said.

The NLG said the lawyers for the workers immediately filed a petition for habeas corpus, claiming the search warrant was defective and the arrest illegal. “Marcos era law indicates that if those arrested are charged within 36 hours the illegality of the search and arrest cannot be attacked in a habeas petition. . In this case the charges, of possession of explosives, a non bailable offense, were not filed until 5 days later,” it said. The NLG also took note of the Supreme Court action on the Morong 43 case where the habeas was initially filed referred the case back to the court of appeal.

The court of appeal at first split 2-1 in favor of granting the habeas, but the government then added two more judges to the appeals panel making resulting in a 3-2 denial of the habeas.The NLG said it was shocked to learned that the 43 health workers were held in military camps until May 1, 2010. For days they were deprived the right to counsel during interrogation and there are many reports of sleep deprivation, beatings, electrical shock and the like. “Although they were transferred to jails near Manila in May their cases are in limbo.

They cannot be arraigned and tried while the habeas is pending because under Philippine law, if they are arraigned they lose the right to challenge the illegality of the search and the arrests through a habeas and a potential trial of all 43 would take years,” it said. On September 15, 2010 members of the IADL bureau met with the new Secretary de Lima, and urged her to conduct a review of these cases.

De Lima according to IADL lawyers agreed before her meeting with the IADL bureau to review these cases, and render an opinion on whether the cases should go forward. The IADL at its bureau meeting in Manila on September 16-17, 2010 decided to launch a world wide campaign to continue the pressure on the government to rescind the charges against these health workers and in particular to ensure that the Justice Secretary will act quickly to review the charges and withdraw them.

IADL is asking that National Affiliates such the NLG join in this effort.Officials and members of the NLG said they had decided to send a letter to the Justice Secretary to express the lawyers’ concern for the rights of these health workers, and requesting her to review and rescind the charges.

The NLG is also planning to send a delegation and meet the Philippine Ambassador in the United States to talk the case and launch a global campaign to pressure President Aquino and the military to free the 43 health workers. Meanwhile, the Philippine foreign affairs department announced President Aquino will be in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 28-30 to talk on human rights in East Asia and the Pacific.

The East Asia summit will be attended by members of Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN), Russia and the US, China, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, India, South Korea and Australia. The Manila foreign affairs department said the President is expected to call for vigilance over Myanmar’s first democratic elections which has been ruled by military dictatorship over the last thirty years.

But critics of Aquino argued the 50-year old president has no political and moral ascendancy to talk about protection of human rights in the East Asia conference.

Rural based groups such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the biggest peasant group in the country and staunch ally Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a joint statement said Aquino is bound to emulate and surpass the brutal human rights records of previous President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.KMP and Pamalakaya said in the first 100 days in office of President Aquino, the AFP backed death squad had already claimed 16 lives of political activists in the country, about 11 to 12 of them are farmers affiliated with chapters of KMP all over the country.

The government under the extended counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) continues to file fabricated charges against leaders of activist rural organizations in the country.

Recently, a leader of Pamalakaya in Negros, Western Philippines was charged with arson and other criminal charges in connection with the Oct.5 attack at Victorias Milling Corporation compound where a milling equipment amounting to P 600,000 was burned by the Maoist guerillas operating in the hinterlands of Negros Island.

Leave a comment

Filed under health, human rights