Tag Archives: storm Ondoy

Fishers say P 18.5 B Laguna Lake rehab plan a bailout to big business

By Billy Javier Reyes and Gerry Albert Corpuz

Manila, Philippines- Leaders of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) on Saturday said the P 18.5 billion budget set aside by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for the rehabilitation of the calamity stricken Laguna Lake is a bailout for companies conducting business operations around the lake.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair and SLLM convener Fernando Hicap said the rehabilitation plan appeared like a bailout for factories and industrial plants which will benefit from the construction of 5 lakeshore areas for wastewater treatment facilities and 4 sewage treatment plants.

“The cruel intention of Malacanang is to carry out the rehabilitation of big business affected by storm Ondoy. Now it appears to us that this rehabilitation project is nothing but a major bailout for all-time profiteers and exploiters and not for lakeshore people seeking a comprehensive pro-people rehabilitation plan in Laguna Lake,” added Hicap.

The P 18.5 billion Laguna Lake rehabilitation project aims to resolve flooding problems in the provinces of Rizal and Laguna province. Based on the initial plans of NEDA, the government will implement the dredging of the Laguna lake navigational lane and the entire 8-kilometer stretch of the Napindan channel.

The rehabilitation plan also includes the development of transport systems and service repair centers. Specifically, the program targets to build 12 ferry stations in several sites. The NEDA said the Laguna de Bay rehabilitation project is set to be implemented from 2010 to 2012.

The Pamalakaya leader also lambasted the plan of the government to borrow loans for the rehabilitation project, asserting that the project is meant to assist big corporations, but the Filipino taxpaying public will be the one to pay for the loans to be sourced from Belgian government under the Belgian’s Super Subsidy Program and other Belgian private banks.

“The loans from Belgian financial biggies which will be used for the water treatment facilities and transport needs of big businesses in Laguna Lake will be paid by the Filipino taxpaying public. Where is social justice here?” asked Hicap.

Earlier, leaders of various people’s organizations in Laguna Lake had agreed to file criminal and administrative charges against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) chair Edgar Manda before the Office of the Ombudsman, whom they blamed as masterminds behind Laguna Lake’s swallowing of more than 30 towns in Rizal, Laguna and parts of the National Capital Region.

Since last week, leaders of Pamalakaya and SLMM had been conducting formal and informal consultations among fishermen, farmers and urban poor groups in Laguna Lake on the filing of class suit and other appropriate charges against President Arroyo and Mr. Manda. They asserted that the continuing closure of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS) was the immediate cause why majority of towns along Laguna Lake were and are still submerged to 14.5 meter deep since typhoon Ondoy stormed the country on Sept.26.

“The collective sentiment of the people in Laguna Lake is loud and clear– they hold the Office of the President and LLDA responsible for this across-the-lake calamity, and they want to bring them to court and to the court of public opinion,” Pamalakaya said.

The fisherfolk group had also consulted advocacy groups based in Metro Manila who are also organizing urban poor, women and worker groups along Laguna Lake about their plans to charge President Arroyo and Mr. Manda before the Office of the Ombudsman. Pamalakaya said the response was very positive and the filing of case against Arroyo and Manda may take place before the end of November.

“The Laguna Lake people in particular and the Filipino people in general have a case against Arroyo and Manda, and this will be billed in contemporary history as People of the Philippines versus President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and LLDA general manager Edgar Manda,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya said aside from Arroyo, other government officials will also be included in the charge sheet, but the Pamalakaya leader said they will reveal the names on the eve of the filing of charges against the President and the LLDA general manager.

Pamalakaya said aside from filing criminal and other appropriate charges, it will join forces with SLMM in the signature campaign calling for the immediate and unconditional dismantling of NCHS. The group said fisherfolk leaders and environmental activists have committed to initiate the campaign and gather signatures that will press the immediate removal of the controversial structure constructed in 1983.

The NHCS was built in 1983 to prevent or lessen the increase of salinity from Manila Bay and pollution from the Pasig River from entering Laguna de Bay during times of reverse flow. The NHCS is found on the confluence of Marikina and Pateros-Taguig rivers with Pasig River. This confluence is also the downstream endpoint of the Napindan Channel, which is the upper part of Pasig River that connects to Laguna de Bay.

Aside from preventing the reverse flow of Pasig River, the NHCS is also used for flood control. During the rainy season, most of the flooding along the Pasig River area is due to the increased water flow coming from Marikina River.

The Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City was constructed to divert much of this water from Marikina River directly into Laguna de Bay. By also closing the NHCS during times of rain, the water is effectively dammed in Laguna de Bay preventing it from flooding the downstream portions of Pasig River.lippines-

Leave a comment

Filed under corruption, disaster, environment, Laguna Lake, politics

Bayan Muna slams Palace refusal to stop debt payment

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines- Bayan Muna party list Rep. Teddy Casiño slammed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for honoring fraudulent debts at the expense of the general public and Filipino taxpayers.

In a press statement emailed to The Pamalakaya Times, the activist lawmaker decried reports that the Macapagal-Arroyo government spent a total of P549.016 billion to service its debt from January to September this year.

The amount, according to Casino is two percent higher than the P537.352 billion it released last year for the same purpose. Some P235.283B of the total went to interest payments, slightly higher than last year’s P234.706 billion.

“After the devastation caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng worsened by the lack of government preparedness, it is shocking that the Arroyo administration still refuses to declare a moratorium on debt payments. These so-called ‘financial obligations” are nothing compared to government’s obligations to the Filipino people, millions of whom are worse off than they were previously because of the calamities,” Casiño said in a statement.

The Bayan Muna solon also castigated the government’s refusal to reorient the remaining section of its programmed payments for financial obligations for the rest of the year. For 2009, government aimed to allot a total of P698.5 billion for debt payments, 8.7 percent higher than the actual payout of P612.7 billion in 2008.

“It is an endless source of outrage that the Philippine government refuses to drop its debt payments when there are undoubtedly more urgent needs that should be attended to and provided for,” Casiño said.

“A debt moratorium is of utmost importance, as more funds are needed to hasten the rehabilitation are devastated areas and enable victims and survivors to get themselves back on their feet. The billions going to international banks and creditors should be given instead to local service infrastructure repair and creation,” Casiño pointed out.

Based on current data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), the government released P61.277 billion for debt payments in September alone, higher by 1.87 percent from last year’s P60.149 billion allocation.

Interest payments to local lenders and foreign creditors were also exorbitant, with the former receiving P132.635 billion during the nine-month period, and the latter getting P102.648 billion from P93.379 billion paid out in the same period last year, an increase of 9.9 percent.

Principal payments amounted to P313.733 billion, or 3.66 percent higher than the P302.646 billion disbursed in 2008 during the same period. #

Leave a comment

Filed under debt, neoliberalization, politics

(UPDATE)Pinoys in US opposed restrictions, taxes on relief aid for storm victims

By Jonna Baldres, contributor

Washington, D.C.–On Sunday, October 25, 2009, close to 100 Filipinos gathered in front of the Philippine Embassy to protest Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s directives on restricting and imposing taxes on relief aid for Typhoon Ondoy and other similar disasters. Protesters also condemned GMA for the documented 2,300+ state sanctioned human rights violations in the Philippines under her presidency.

The mobilization was organized by The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON–US) as a community action component to their annual national conference which carried the theme “Strengthen and Broaden the Rights and Welfare of Filipinos in the US.” The mobilization was followed by a Lobby Day on Monday October 26.

The rally included a march around the perimeter of the Philippine Embassy. Washington DC residents and visitors read placards such as “People First! No Tax on Relief Aid!” and “Stop the Killings! No US Tax Dollars for Military Aid that Supports Violators of Human Rights!” Speakers at the rally spoke on these issues and called on US Filipinos and allies to join NAFCON’s efforts.

President of NAFCON-US, Father Ben Alforque, underscored the historical significance of the October 25th mobilization, “This October 25th mobilization is a significant moment in US Filipino American History and Filipinos organizing our communities here in the US, in that not since the height of the anti-martial law movement in the 1980s, have Filipinos in such large numbers gathered in front of the Philippine Embassy in the nation’s capital to demand justice. Even more of an accomplishment is the strength of our alliance and the unity that members have in relation to the Philippine issues we are addressing.”

People First: No Tax on Relief Aid

There has been a national outpouring of aid and support from US Filipinos for the over 1.8 million victims of Typhoon Ondoy and other similar disasters in the Philippines that are linked to multinational corporations’ illegal mining and logging, deforestation, and land conversion. NAFCON-US has lead relief efforts under our BAYANihan campaign, raising over $15,000 in monetary aid and packing several hundred balikbayan boxes of donated relief goods through our regional offices. But, once again there is corruption in the Arroyo government’s profiting from disaster-prone policies as GMA imposed taxes on relief goods coming from the US and restricted the distribution of aid in the Philippines, causing a backlog.

In this time of urgent need for the vast majority of Filipinos impacted by Ondoy and other natural disasters, NAFCON-US appeals to supporters in the US to join us in our demand that GMA rescind her directives taxing and restricting disaster relief. The lives of the Filipino people should be her first consideration, not government profit.

No US Tax Dollars for Military Aid that Supports Violators of Human Rights

Philippine Attorney Rex Fernandez of Karapatan gave these facts to participants: “To date, there are over 1090+ extrajudicial political killings and assassinations, over 1000+ cases of torture, and over 250+ abductions of political, labor and environmental activists, religious leaders, and journalists that have been perpetrated by the Philippine military under the US backed presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Dozens of reports by international human rights groups such as Amnesty International, UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s findings, and even the yearly US State Department Report on Human Rights, and concrete cases including that of US citizen Melissa Roxas and Father Ben Lucero expose this situation.

Attorney Fernandez congratulated NAFCON-US for bringing together so many Filipino organizations to Washington, D.C. to address and take action on this urgent Philippine Issue. He encouraged NAFCON-US members to stand strong in their demand that the US should be ensuring that any military and direct aid contains restricted language and justice for the victims.

Overall those who participated in the NAFCON-US mobilization at the Philippine Embassy were pleased with the outcome. “The solidarity statements from NAFCON member organizations and analysis of the Philippine situation provided by speakers affirm the need for a national alliance of Filipinos that can address and support community organizing and advocacy work in our communities.

In order to strengthen and broaden the struggle for rights and welfare of Filipinos in the US, we must continue efforts to educate and work with our community, our allies, and our government representatives,” ended Mara Ibarra, NAFCON Vice President of Membership and Chapter Building.

Leave a comment

Filed under corruption, human rights, politics

Raps ready against PGMA, LLDA chief

By Billy Javier Reyes and Lollipop de los Reyes

Antipolo City-Leaders of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) agreed to file criminal and administrative charges against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) chair Edgar Manda before the Office of the Ombudsman, whom they blamed as masterminds behind Laguna Lake’s swallowing of more than 30 towns in Rizal, Laguna and parts of the National Capital Region.

Since last week, leaders of Pamalakaya and SLMM had been conducting formal and informal consultations among fishermen, farmers and urban poor groups in Laguna Lake on the filing of class suit and other appropriate charges against President Arroyo and Mr. Manda. They asserted that the continuing closure of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS) was the immediate cause why majority of towns along Laguna Lake were and are still submerged to 14.5 meter deep since typhoon Ondoy stormed the country on Sept.26.

“The collective sentiment of the people in Laguna Lake is loud and clear– they hold the Office of the President and LLDA responsible for this across-the-lake calamity, and they want to bring them to court and to the court of public opinion,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap, also convener of SLLM said their group had also consulted advocacy groups based in Metro Manila who are also organizing urban poor, women and worker groups along Laguna Lake about their plans to charge President Arroyo and Mr. Manda before the Office of the Ombudsman. He said the response was very positive and the filing of case against Arroyo and Manda may take place next month.

“The Laguna Lake people in particular and the Filipino people in general have a case against Arroyo and Manda, and this will be billed in contemporary history as People of the Philippines versus President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and LLDA general manager Edgar Manda,” the Pamalakaya official said.

Hicap said aside from Arroyo, other government officials will also be included in the charge sheet, but the Pamalakaya leader said they will reveal the names on the eve of the filing of charges against the President and the LLDA general manager.
Pamalakaya said aside from filing criminal and other appropriate charges, it will join forces with SLMM in the signature campaign calling for the immediate and unconditional dismantling of NCHS. The group said fisherfolk leaders and environmental activists have committed to initiate the campaign and gather signatures that will press the immediate removal of the controversial structure constructed in 1983.

The NHCS was built in 1983 to prevent or lessen the increase of salinity from Manila Bay and pollution from the Pasig River from entering Laguna de Bay during times of reverse flow. The NHCS is found on the confluence of Marikina and Pateros-Taguig rivers with Pasig River. This confluence is also the downstream endpoint of the Napindan Channel, which is the upper part of Pasig River that connects to Laguna de Bay.

Aside from preventing the reverse flow of Pasig River, the NHCS is also used for flood control. During the rainy season, most of the flooding along the Pasig River area is due to the increased water flow coming from Marikina River.

The Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City was constructed to divert much of this water from Marikina River directly into Laguna de Bay. By also closing the NHCS during times of rain, the water is effectively dammed in Laguna de Bay preventing it from flooding the downstream portions of Pasig River.

Temptation Island

Yesterday, Pamalakaya, party list group Anakpawis and Oplan Sagip Kanayunan in cooperation with church groups affiliated with the protestant National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Task Force Dambana and the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) kicked off a relief drive in Barangay Ticulio, in Cardona, Rizal, which is part of Talim Island in Laguna Lake.

The relief drive billed as Operation Temptation Island bannered the theme “Relief, Relieve, Survive” was joined by 30 volunteers who helped in the distribution of relief goods of 500 packs for the same number of fishing families in flooded sitios of Cavite, Poblacion, Tondo, Sapang Palay and Masangkay, all in barangay Ticulio, in Cardona, Rizal.

Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz clarified that Operation Temptation Island is not a remake of a classic campy film in the 80s known as Temptation Island directed by the late director Joey Gosiengfiao for Regal Films which starred Dina Bonnevie and former beauty queens Jennifer Cortez, Azenith Briones and Deborah Sun.

“Talim Island is a total paradise because of its natural beauty and nearness to the mainland of Rizal and Laguna provinces. Real estate developers and land speculators are very much eager to grab lands in the island because of its tourism potential. In fact, Malacanang has marked Talim Island for flagship eco-tourism projects,” Corpuz explained.

“The objectives of our relief drive are to provide immediate relief to the people of Talim Island, inform island people about the root causes why Talim Island and the entire 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake are in shambles and what to do to address the current problems posed by the highly critical water level in the lake,” the Pamalakaya information officer added.

Upon reaching the small fish port in Cardona, relief participants from Manila took a 30-minute boat ride on their way to Barangay Ticulio where they were met and assisted by Barangay officials and Pamalakaya-Rizal chairperson Romy Antazo. #

Leave a comment

Filed under disaster, environment, Laguna Lake, politics

Calamity stricken farmers burned 1,000 photos of surfing Gloria

By Lollipop de los Reyes and Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines-Some 1,000 reproduced photos of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo showing her surfing in Argao Island in Mindanao will be burned by calamity affected farmers in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog in today’s rally set at the footbridge of Mendiola in Manila.

Rally organizers led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and Anakpawis party list said the mass burning of the presidential photo taken during a surfing event in Mindanao is a collective display of rural people’s outrage against the Arroyo government.

“Arroyo’s land reform remains anti-farmer and super reactionary. The recently passed agrarian reform law known as Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms is a land reform for big landlords and big business,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos in a press statement.

The KMP leader added: “Complicating and exacerbating this long running nightmare is the seemingly endless episode of calamity and disaster perpetrated by the transnational clients of Malacanang and the unbridled greed of Arroyo and her gang for fat kickbacks.”

Ramos complained government relief and rehabilitation efforts for calamity devastated farmers and fisherfolk in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog were not that substantial to cause significant impact on the lives of calamity stricken people in the countryside. “President Arroyo is exploiting the sorry situation of the people for political makeover and image building purposes. That is catastrophe by itself,” he said.

The 1,000 farmers will be joined by another 1,000 Manila based activists mostly urban poor, workers and students during the scheduled long march from Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) national office in Quezon City to Don Chino bridge in Manila. The marchers will include activists from the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya, Amihan peasant women federation, Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, the support group Nnara-Youth and member organizations of the umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

KMP and allied groups the rural people’s 10-pt demand to address current rural crisis across the country

1. The junking of Carper law and the free distribution of land to landless and land lacking farmers all over the country. In particular, farmers from Central Luzon represented by AMGL demanded the immediate and unconditional free distribution of 375 hectares of land in San Miguel, Bulacan allegedly landgrabbed by Rep. Luis Villafuerte, the 3,100 hectares of prime agricultural lands inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation and the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of the late President Corazon Aquino in Tarlac province.

In Southern Tagalog, peasant groups demanded the free distribution of all agricultural lands owned and controlled by rich families like the Ayalas and the Yulos in the region. Kasama-TK also pressed the government to stop all Calabarzon bred projects in Southern Tagalog, including the controversial Laiban dam project.

2. Support repair and construction of homes of farmers and rural people destroyed or uprooted at the height of tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng.
3. Rehabilitation of farms and granting of seeds and seedlings for rice, corn, vegetables and other farm crops
4. Financial grant of about P 10,000 to P 15,000 per hectare
5. Zero interest credit line to the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P 10,000 to
P 15,000 per hectare
6. Provisions for farm implements such as tractors, hand tractors and carabaos for free.
7. Setting up of potable water supply.
8. A halt if not moratorium on irrigation fees imposed by the National Irrigation Authority and private irrigation systems.
9. Livelihood to rural people
10. Automatic repudiation of farm debts, if not moratorium in payment of principals and interests on acquired loans from landlords and local financial institutions

The KMP official said they will campaign the 10-point omnibus demands by pursuing aggressive lobby work in concerned government agencies, including the Senate and the House of Representatives and mass mobilizations in the streets, asserting the immediate and long term demands are matters of life and death to farmers and the rest of the rural people.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported that damage to property brought by storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng reached the P 16-billion mark. The disaster agency said P 11. 68 billion of the damage or 72% represents total damage to local agriculture, while P 4.68 billion or 28 percent represents damage to infrastructure. #

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform, agriculture, corruption, disaster, environment

Dumagats launched Tanay-Manila caravan vs. Laiban dam

by Bb. Joyce Cabral

Manila, Philippines- Leaders of indigenous Dumagat communities in Tanay, Rizal went on Tanay-Manila protest caravan against the revival of the mothballed Laiban Dam Project.

In a press statement sent to The Pamalakaya Times, leaders of Dumagat indigenous groups asserted that the $ 1 billion dam project would submerge 7 barangays in Tanay and 2 in Gen. Nakar, Quezon province.

The protest caravan, which came a week after lawmakers from the House of Representatives filed a bill seeking a halt on all flagship dam projects in the country in the aftermath of the San Roque Dam flooding of provinces in Northern Luzon. The caravan was also joined by farmers, fisherfolks and other sectors from Southern Tagalog, and it is part of the weeklong activities to commemorate peasant week.

Among the Dumagat leaders, Lupe de la Cruz,70 of Sitio Nayon, Brgy. Sta. Ines, Tanay said that they are firm in their stand against the construction of the dam citing its severe effects to their livelihood, safety, and ancestral domain.

“Mawawalan kami ng tirahan at ang ang aming mga pananim ay lalamunin ng tubig. Papaalisin kami sa aming lugar na hindi naman namin alam kung ang paglilipatan sa amin ay may pananim o wala; o kung malaya ba kaming nakakapaglakad katulad sa aming lupang ninuno na walang humahadlang sa amin”, he said

The Laiban Dam project which started in the 1970s recently saw its revival following moves of San Miguel Bulk Water Co., Inc, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation owned by landlord Danding Cojuangco to submit an unsolicited joint venture proposal to MWSS to develop the dam.

Government data showed that some 4,413 families will be directly displaced including Dumagat and Remontado communities, while downstream communities are also at risk of disastrous flooding should the project pushes through.

De la Cruz also chided military atrocities in their area, ranging from intimidation to direct threats among residents vocal against the project. Increased military presence were also observed in the area.

“Mahirap lumabas sa mga kabayanan dahil iniimbestigahan kami ng mga militar, tinatanong kung kasapi ng NPA”, he furthered.

On October 17-18, Dumagat leaders joined the solidarity mission “Lakbay Pakikiisa”, initiated by multi-sectoral groups in the region led by BAYAN-ST, Serve the People Corps, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan and the indigenous Katribu partylists to provide relief and rehabilitation to communities in Tanay, Rizal that have yet to receive help from the government despite the damage Typhoon Ondoy has wrought.

The group traversed the bumpy roads for 4 hours leading to Brgy. Sta. Ines, where at least 1,300 families waited and availed of the relief goods. Medical and psycho-social services were also extended to the residents.

The coordinated protests also marked the 18th anniversary of Calabarzon Project, an extensive development project in Region IV-A which has brought destruction to peasants, fisherfolks, and urban poor communities over the region in favor of foreign and local business interests.

“The 18 years of Project CALABARZON has only brought tragedy and has only worsened the lives of the people in the region with its pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist leaning. The government made it appear as a developmental project when in reality, only few business interests who would benefit from it”, said Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of the militant KASAMA-TK.

She furthered that massive land conversion and infrastructure building have already displaced farmers, fisher folks and urban poor communities, and have caused serious blow to the environment.

Similar protest actions were also held in Batangas Pier and Trece Martires City in Cavite while members of the Save Laguna Lake Movement also staged a protest caravan going to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Quezon City.

The caravan from Rizal will also stage protest actions in Benpres holdings where displaced farmers from Brgy. Macabud in Rodriguez, Rizal will air their grievance against the Lopez owned Bantay Kalikasan. The caravan will then head to the Department of National Defense and the MWSS offices before joining the Laguna delegation in a protest march from the Department of Agrarian Reform to the DENR office. #

Leave a comment

Filed under disaster, environment

Militant farmers want PGMA charged on San Roque Dam fiasco

By Gigi Babon, Billy Javier Reyes and Bb. Joyce Cabral

Manila, Philippines- The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) asked farming families in Pangasinan province affected by “tidal wave like” releasing of excess waters by San Roque dam to file class suit and other appropriate criminal and civil charges against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, against managers of the multipurpose dam and officials of the state-run National Power Corporation (Napocor).

In a press statement, KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said President Arroyo under the principle of command responsibility is grossly liable for the scores of death and destruction in Pangasinan, and it is only legal and moral to have her lead the stellar cast of criminals behind the across-the-province massacre of peasant homes and rural economic and cultural life.

“We don’t care if she still has this presidential immunity excuse. That will not stop farmers from charging her before the country’s appropriate court. The proposal to deluge her with criminal charges along with top officials of San Roque Multipurpose Dam and Napocor is both legal and collective political exercise of people’s search for truth, justice and accountability,” the KMP leader said.

Ramos made the appeal to Pangasinan farmers to sue President Arroyo, a day after the Senate Committee on Climate Change headed by Sen. Loren Legarda agreed to help craft a protocol in releasing excess waters from dams following the incessant rain and devastating flooding that last week submerged 38 towns and cities in the province.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. This tragedy is intentional and can be rooted out to the eternal thirst for super profits of San Roque and Napocor, which has the seal of approval of the Office of the President. Now, President Arroyo wants to call her own version of investigation. What for? She should be at the center of the gathering political storm against San Roque dam and Napocor,” the KMP official said.

Sen. Legarda said her committee will summon all dam operators to another hearing on tomorrow to write the procedures prompted by back-to-back storms that hit Luzon over the past three weeks, triggered massive flooding and claimed 712 lives.

“We need to have a system or what we call a protocol in releasing water from the dams. We can’t rely on (dam officials’) ingenuity but on a clear scientific way,” said Legarda following a three-hour hearing last Wednesday.

Legarda said the mechanism was needed to prevent a repeat of the destruction and deaths caused by the sudden rise of floodwaters at the height of the onslaught of Tropical Storm “Pepeng” (international codename: Parma) just a week after Tropical Storm “Ondoy” (Ketsana) mauled Metro Manila.

But KMP said Sen. Legarda should now extend the invitation to legitimate stakeholders groups that include farmer organizations in Pangasinan, Tarlac, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, including peasant groups in other flooded provinces of Central Luzon namely Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Bulacan.

The peasant group said aside from peasant organizations, the chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change should also invite experts and advocacy groups to shed light on San Roque Dam that includes cause-oriented organizations that opposed the construction of the dam in 1998.

“Senator Legarda is well informed that San Roque Dam and Napocor officials who attended the hearing two days ago are President Arroyo’s alter egos, and like Mrs. Arroyo, these officials have no conscience and therefore their stories are tall tales, certified incorrect and grandiose lies. We appeal to the good senator to have the farmers speak for themselves and present their alternative and politically correct views based on their rich grassroots experience and knowledge,” the KMP added. #

Leave a comment

Filed under agriculture, disaster, environment