Tag Archives: Satur Ocampo

Fishers group urges House, Senate to prioritize Laguna Lake probe too

By Billy Javier Reyes and Rey Manangan

Binangonan, Rizal- The lake wide fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally- the multisectoral alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) on Thursday urged leaders of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to also prioritize the legislative inquiry on Laguna Lake which is still under 14.5 meter deep since tropical storm Ondoy hit the country on Sept.26.

“Today is Oct.16 or about 20 days since storm Ondoy turned Laguna Lake into a virtual water world. Do we need 40 days before Congress takes up an inquiry on the ill-fated 90,000 hectare lake? Excuse us, but Laguna Lake, its people and environment are not dead to wait for 40-day ritual,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Hicap added: “Let me remind our lawmakers that 30 towns and cities of Rizal and Laguna provinces and the National Capital Region were swallowed by Laguna Lake at the height of storm Ondoy affecting 2.2 million out of the 6 million fisherfolk and lake shore population. But the investigation is not moving as if the issue on hand is just a dime-a-dozen concern”.

The Pamalakaya leader noted that only a handful of lawmakers agreed to their proposal for an all-out investigation on the current state of Laguna Lake. They are Senator Jamby Madrigal in the Senate, Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon and militant party list lawmakers Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino and Neri Colmenaras of Bayan Muna, Luzviminda Ilagan and Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party, Raymond Palatino of Kabataan Party and Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod of Anakpawis party list.

“The Senate has 23 senators and the House of Representatives has 255 congressmen. But only a few good men and women managed to rise above the occasion. It is not too late for the leadership of both Houses and their peers to come to their senses and start the ball rolling on Laguna Lake catastrophe,” added Hicap.

The lake-based groups said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles should discourage members of the Senate and the House from going into vacation or abroad and instead call for special sessions that will look into the impacts of storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng and root the causes of the twin catastrophe that plagued the almost entire island of Luzon. Both houses are set to have their recess on Oct.15.

“No more foreign trips please, and the lawmakers should continue their legislative work by pursuing these investigations in aid of legislation and by going back to their respective districts and find out the needs of their devastated constituents,” Hicap added.

Prior to typhoon Ondoy, Pamalakaya and SLLM asserted that towns and cities surrounding the lake were already flooded. The groups attributed the flooding to the closure of the NCHS that prevented excess waters of Laguna Lake from passing through Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay. Both groups said at the height of typhoon Ondoy, the Napindan channel was still closed impounding more waters to the lake and later spilled to 30 towns in Rizal, Laguna and Metro Manila.

Last week, the Social Action Center of San Pablo City in Laguna said the mass flooding affected 20 towns of Laguna, excluding several towns in Rizal province and had displaced around 750,248 people mostly fisherfolk, farmers and urban poor.

The most affected towns are the towns of Binan where 45,125 families or 198,700 people were displaced, followed by San Pedro (25,606 families or 153,636 people affected), Sta.Cruz (20, 498 families or 102,590 people displaced) Sta. Rosa (14,951 families or 77,052 people displaced), Cabuyao (7,670 families or 46,001 persons affected), Calamba (8,024 families or 33, 819 people affected) and Los Banos (5,496 families or 29,730 people displaced.

Pamalakaya and SLLM suggested the following names and offices to be invited or subpoenaed for the congressional inquiry, whether separate or joint congressional inquiry.

Their list includes environment Secretary Joselito Atienza, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Edgar Manda, the governors of Rizal and Laguna provinces, mayors and local government officials of affected 30 towns and cities surrounding the lake, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the officials of Board of Investment (BOI), the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the Office of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to represent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. #

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Militant senatoriable calls for debt moratorium

Militant senatoriable calls for debt moratorium

By Bb. Joyce Cabral

Manila, Philippines- Makabayan party senatorial candidate and Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo urged the Philippine government to suspend payments, both interest and principal, on the Philippines’ foreign debt and instead use the funds for disaster response measures.

In a press statement sent to the Pamalakaya Times, Ocampo asked his colleagues in the House of Representatives to support mounting calls for a moratorium on debt servicing for the next three to six years or until the country recovers from the series of disasters that have befallen it.

“It would be the height of insensitivity and callousness if the government continues to allocate billions towards debt servicing when the Filipino people are in desperate need for relief. It will take years to rehabilitate the damaged areas, and it is certain that it will take much longer for the Filipinos severely affected by the calamities to get back on their feet and recover physically, emotionally and psychologically. It is also the state’s duty to ensure that the welfare of the victims is looked after, and their homes and communities are rebuilt and improved,” Ocampo said.

Ocampo, also the Deputy Minority Leader of the Lower Chamber of Congress, said that now is not the time for the government to prioritize foreign debt servicing.

The activist party list lawmaker asserted that now, more than ever, it is necessary to scrutinize and then overhaul the government’s budgetary priorities as it puts more importance to debt payments over social and productive spending.

The Makabayan senatorial candidate noted that as of October 2007, the country’s foreign debt was P1.589 trillion, or US$39 billion, according to the Bureau of the Treasury. More than 30 percent of the national budget for 2008 was allocated to interest payments.

“Pres. Arroyo should do all that is in her power as executive to seek help for the Philippines and the victims of Pepeng and Ondoy; and she can start by notifying the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other international finance institutions that the Philippines will be suspending debt payments immediately,” Ocampo said.

The Bayan Muna lawmaker noted that from 2003 to 2007, for instance, the Philippines’ foreign debt repayments amounted to some 1000 billion pesos. Do the math and consider how that money could have been used to improve the country’s disaster response capabilities. Funds being earmarked for dept payments for 2010 until 2016 should be utilized now for the relief operations and rehabilitation campaigns.

He said the victims in the evacuation centers and in the devastated areas can be given much more than instant noodles and canned good; soup kitchens can be put up and the victims can be served nourishing meals. Medicine and vitamin supplements can also be brought and distributed free, and sanitation facilities can be built,” Ocampo pointed out.

Ocampo said that an immediate moratorium on debt servicing will also allow the purchase of necessary technologically up-to-date weather forecasting equipment.

” Scientific, efficient and reliable weather forecasting and broadcasting equipment is an important service that will save lives and help reduce the potential damage to infrastructure,” he said.

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Militants feel de facto Martial Law

Militants feel de facto Martial Law

Despite the assurance of Malacanang that Martial Law will not be imposed and the next democratic elections will take place in 2010 as scheduled, critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asserted a creeping de facto Martial Law is happening all over the country.

“Malacanang does not need to declare Martial Law. It is happening in its de facto form with the rapid militarization not only of rural areas, but also of the National Capital Region and other key cities and centers all over the country,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader also said the policy of extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance and all-out legal offensive against known leaders of underground and aboveground organizations are also proof of an onogoing de facto Martial Law in the country.

“In fact, the grounds for full-blown Martial Law are being laid down by the national security regime to stop the 2010 elections in favor of a military-civilian junta that will still be led by Arroyo and her political gangmates in Malacanang and in the military, particularly her loyal generals inside the PMA Class of 1978,” Hicap added.

The Pamalakaya agreed with observations raised by other political quarters that the Arroyo government is presenting scenarios that will frustrate the bid of the Filipino people to replace Mrs. Arroyo in 2010 through the 2010 electoral exercise, and one of them is to declare failure of elections, instead of declaring Martial Law.

Another option he said is for the government to instigate a friendly coup where the PMA class of 1978 will lead the dramatic pro-Arroyo military movement, with Mrs. Arroyo graphically sharing powers with the generals of the PMA batch.

Pamalakaya said another proof showing the existence of de facto Martial Law is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) aggressive campaign involving covert and overt operations that aim to sabotage the electoral bid of militant party list groups in the 2010 elections.

The group was referring to an AFP report that Pamalakaya will join the party list election next year, and that its campaign will be funded from the $ 210 million raised by the New People’ss Army from collected revolutionary taxes from big business operating in guerilla zones controlled or influenced by the communist guerillas.

“The report is a product of sloppy intellgence work and not so intelligent escapades of the military. But just the same they did it on purpose, which is to sabotage the participation of progressive personalities and party lists in tne 2010 elections. It is meant to justify the continuing brutal operations and campaign of terror against militants and progressives,” said Pamalakaya.

According to document seized by the military from communist rebels during an encounter, the CPP and its front organizations will be active in the 2010 elections and they have raised $ 210 million from revolutionary taxes the communist guerillas imposed on big businesses to support its party lists and the senatorial candidates under the newly formed group Makabayan.

The same document said Pamalakaya, a party list of farmers and fishermen will participate in the 2010 elections under the party list system and will have Rafael Mariano as its no.1 nominee.

“First, please allow us to correct this misinformation being peddled by the AFP. Pamalakaya is not a party list group and definitely will not run in the 2010 elections under the party list system. To set the record straight, Pamalakaya will suppport the party list bid of Anakpawis and the three senatorial candidates of Makabayan – Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna and Liza Maza of Gabriela in the 2010 elections,” said Pamalakaya.

“Actually we are not shocked nor surprised by this intelligence report, since the military is used to feed the public with tall tales, false reports and false alarms to justify their evil plans and at the same time enjoy the unbridled corruption of public funds,” the group said.

According to the military intelligence report based on documents seized by the military from the NPA guerillas during an encounter, the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya will run in the 2010 elections and that Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano would be its no.1 nominee.

“Pamalakaya’s existence and advocacy are an open book to the Filipino public and even to the military establishment since it is a legal organization. The information fed by the military informer to the AFP about our plans in the 2010 elections is wrong,” the group said.

“For the information of the AFP and their not-so-intelligent persons, Pamalakaya, like in 2004 and 2007 elections, will continue to support the electoral bid of Anakpawis, which Rep. Mariano serves as president,” Pamalakaya added.

Pamalakaya said the military are again into mass production of grand stories against the left-leaning groups and party lists and their personalities to justify present and future moves that could imperil if not derail the active participation of legal organizations like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela party lists in the 2010 elections.

AFP intelligence personnel also said the Commnunist Party of the Philippines (CPP), its armed wing the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)have raised the equivalent of
$ 200 million as campaign funds for the candidates who will be supported by the communists in the 2010 elections.

The sources said the $200 million raised so far allegedly came from “revolutionary taxes” imposed by the CPP-NPA on politicians, businessmen as well as transportation and telecommunication firms operating throughout the country.

The captured documents also indicated that the CPP-NPA is optimistic that more funds would be raised with the 2010 elections less than a year away, the sources said.

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Rural groups urged Satur, Maza to run for Senate in 2010

Rural groups urged Satur, Maza to run for Senate in 2010

Despite of the much-talked about no-election scenario, five of the biggest rural-based groups in the country— the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the agricultural workers group Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) ,the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the Amihan national federation of peasant women on Sunday urged Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela party list Rep. Liza Maza to run for senator in the 2010 elections.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said although during public launching of the coalition group Makabayan last month were it announced Ocampo and Maza as two of the probable senatorial candidates of the new-Left led political alliance, the two militant lawmakers have yet to issue formal statements certifying their intention to run for Senate seats next year.

“The rural people are urging Reps. Ocampo and Maza to lead the senatorial ticket of Makabayan in the 2010 elections. The grassroots demand for politics of change and good governance will be carried effectively in the Senate with patriotic people like Ocampo and Maza elected as senators to pursue our collective interest as farmers, fisherfolk and rural people in aid of legislation,” said Hicap.

“The track records of Ocampo and Maza in serving the people in and out of the House of Representatives are politically exemplary. The two militant lawmakers are veterans of the parliament of the streets and they are our people’s servants in the House of Representatives championing the rights and welfare of marginalized people over the last 8 years in Congress,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Hicap noted that aside from Ocampo and Maza, who are third termers as party list representatives, Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano and Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño are also being eyed to run for senate in 2010 under the Makabayan coalition and they will support the two other militant lawmakers in case they join the senatorial race in 2010.

“Definitely we will go all-out campaigning for Ocampo and Maza in the 2010 senatorial elections in case they decide to pursue a seat in the Senate. There’s widespread clamor among our leaders and members across the country for them to run for senator and win seats for the cause of our people for genuine land reform, patriotic government and good governance,” Hicap said.

In the event Reps. Ocampo and Maza officially decide to run for Senate in 2010, Pamalakaya said its 43 provincial chapters across the country will be part of the national machinery to campaign for Ocampo, Maza and other candidates of Makabayan coalition party.

KMP vice chairperson and Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo said her group’s has 55 provincial chapters and 17 sub-regional chapters nationwide together with Amihan peasant women federation and UMA has 20 provincial chapters each will actively campaign for Ocampo, Maza and other senatorial candidates of the coalition.

According to Lacandazo, once elected as senators, Reps. Ocampo and Maza are expected to bring the fight for the enactment of the senate version of House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which they co-authored with the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran in the House of Representatives, along with Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan.

“As advocates of genuine land reform, we are 100 percent sure Reps. Ocampo and Maza will carry the farmers desire for social justice and agrarian justice by pursuing the senate version of HB No. 3059 or GARB and other pro-people legislative agenda,” said Lacandazo added.

Certify GARB

Meanwhile, Lacandazo, one of the organizers of the 54-day Rural Camp Out for Genuine Land Reform and Against Chacha challenged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Senate and the House of Representatives to certify HB 3059 or GARB as an urgent bill if the administration is really sincere in implementing a thoroughgoing land reform in the country.

Declaring the 20-year old CARP as dead, KMP, Pamalakaya and Kasama-TK together with peasant groups from BTL (Buffalo-Tamarraw-Limus) in Bukidnon province cremated CARP to signify that the present land reform program is dead and the country needs a new legislated agrarian reform program through GARB.

While the first committee hearing of GARB is set on May 20, it is about time for the Philippine Congress to give full consideration on the proposed law without the resurrection of a dead law. There is no more room for debate if CARP is extended or not, instead the government should pass a new land reform law which is genuine and pro-farmer and GARB is providing every assurance that is indeed an agrarian reform that arises from the legitimate demands of the landless peasants all over the country,” Kasama-TK said. #

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