Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Supreme Court told: Go easy on Manila Bay clean up

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Portnip Pakangcharap and Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines- Slow down please.
THE left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday said Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and 14 other justices should go easy in pushing its decision on Manila Bay clean up following reports that government agencies and local government units which have clinched deals with private investors are using the decision on Manila Bay rehabilitation to remove fisherfolk and urban poor have them replaced with projects financed by private interests.

Pamalakaya vice chairperson for Luzon Salvador France issued the statement hours after chief Justice Corona and 3 other SC justices joined the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in inspecting the cleanup of Manila Bay this morning.

Joining SC chief justice Corona in the inspection were SC associate justices Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo and Jose Perez with DENR Secretary Ramon Paje. They boarded on PCG Vessel BRP EDSA II that passed through the Pasig River and the Manila Bay area and off Navotas City and SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

“We strongly urge Chief Justice Corona and 4 other SC justices to exercise extreme prudence in enforcing their decision on Manila Bay rehabilitation. People and groups with vested interests to private Manila Bay are taking advantage and are using this landmark ruling to effectively eject the fishing people and urban poor folks opposed to Palace’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) escapades in Manila Bay and adjacent rivers, tributaries including Laguna Lake,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

“The SC decision putting weight on the demolition of fishing communities and urban poor structures along Manila Bay and its interlocking tributaries that would include the whole of Pasig River and Laguna Lake is not only unfair but also revolting. It is a grand massacre of social justice and people’s rights,” France added.

Voting 11-4, the high tribunal two weeks ago instructed the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) until Dec. 31, 2015 to remove illegal structures along river banks and waterways connected to the bay.

“On or before June 30, 2011, the MMDA shall submit its plan for the removal of said informal settlers and the demolition of the aforesaid houses, structures, constructions and encroachments, as well as the completion dates for said activities, which shall be fully implemented not later than December 31, 2015,” the SC said.

The decision also gave the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and local governments in Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan provinces until Dec. 31, 2012 to demolish illegal settlements near river banks.

In its en banc resolution issued last Feb. 15, the SC noted that while some parties may view its orders as an encroachment on the powers of the executive branch, its Dec. 18, 2008 ruling “is but an integral part of the adjudicative function of the Court.”

But Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap dismissed the decision of the high tribunal as “injustice to the highest order”.

“The Supreme Court notion of environmental protection and rehabilitation is too narrow yet socially costly to the people and it puts the people of Manila Bay and Laguna Lake under heavy attack and endless dispossession of livelihood and extreme denial of housing rights. The 11 justices who voted on the decision forgot there are more than more than five million people, mainly fisherfolk and jobless and economic starving folks residing along Manila Bay and Laguna Lake communities. The decision is an across-the-Manila Bay and across-the-Laguna Lake tragedy,” said Hicap.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., the high court said “it is clear that the final judgment includes not only what appears upon its face to have been so adjudged but also those matters ‘actually and necessarily included therein or necessary thereto.’ Certainly, any activity that is needed to fully implement a final judgment is necessarily encompassed by said judgment.”

In December 2008, the SC dismissed the petitions filed by several government agencies asking the court to overturn the Court of Appeals September 2005 ruling upholding a Cavite trial court’s ruling. In that ruling, the Cavite court ordered the government agencies to clean-up Manila Bay and make it suitable for public bathing and swimming, and for catching milkfish and other similar fish species.

The Manila Bay Advisory Committee (MBAC) has recently reported to the SC that there were several setbacks in monitoring the implementation of its December 2008 decision. These include the lack of government agencies’ uniform manner of reporting their cleanup, rehabilitation, and preservation activities. Because of such problems the SC ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to submit until June 30, 2011 its updated operation plan for the Manila Bay cleanup.

The high court also gave the DENR until Sept. 30, 2011 to submit the names and addresses of persons and companies in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, and Bataan that generate toxic and hazardous waste.

The Manila Bay clean up decision has put to task the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to order all local government heads in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Bataan to inspect all factories, commercial establishments and residences along the banks of the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros rivers, the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, and the Laguna de Bay, and other minor rivers and waterways that eventually discharge water into the Manila Bay.

The heads of the concerned local government units were given until the end of September this year to complete their respective inspections.

But Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the SC decision will be used by the government and their partners in crime in the private sector to effectively full-blast commercialization of Manila Bay and Laguna Lake under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) republic of the Aquino administration, which started during the time of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos up to the present administration of President Arroyo is the main reason the 190-kilometer bay is on the brink of general collapse.

“Please allow us to state the real score on Manila Bay. Eighty percent of the untreated water wastes that are thrown or dumped into the bay come from industries and commercial establishments situated along the bay. The reclamation activities of the government that began during the Marcos era up and which continue at present are also destroying Manila Bay and have prevented the ecosystem and marine life from regenerating,” Pamalakaya stated.

“We are not happy with the way the national government is treating Manila Bay. We are being blamed for its deterioration. Why us? We are not destroyers of natural resources and marine environment. We cannot destroy our main source of livelihood. It is impossible for us to do that, because destroying Manila Bay is like destroying our basis for existence. In fact, the fisherfolk are long running victims here of corporate exploitation and capital accumulation,” the group said.

The militant group said about 20,000 hectares of Manila Bay waters have been subjected to reclamation to pave way for the construction of special economic zones in Bataan and Cavite, the commercial spaces presently occupied by Manila Film Center, the GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) Building in Pasay City, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Folk Arts Theater in Manila, and the SM Mall of Asia and other commercial companies in Pasay City.

Pamalakaya complained that while the government and the Supreme Court are blaming the fisherfolk and the urban poor over the deterioration of Manila Bay, the Philippine government and the DENR had upheld proposals of the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to develop the 90-hectare reclaimed casino and resort complex in Manila Bay.

On top of the $-15 billion casino project to be constructed along Manila Bay, Pamalakaya said the DENR had granted ECC to the ambitious Cavite Coastal Road Project II that would involve reclamation of more than 8,000 hectares of coastal waters along Manila Bay from Bacoor to Cavite City.

Pamalakaya said close to 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite are still dependent on fishing as a principal source of livelihood, and any move to transform or convert Manila Bay for other purposes like the $15-billion casino project and the Cavite Phase II Coastal Road project will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.

“From 1992 to 1995, the demolitions of coastal shanties became an everyday ordeal in Pasay Reclamation area. Houses were uprooted almost daily. Small and big time bribery to divide the communities were conducted to facilitate the demolition of coastal communities,” the group said.

The setting up of casino and resorts, including SM’s Mall of Asia was included in the master plan of the government known as Manila Bay Master Development Plan that officially started during the time of President Ramos and projected to end between 2020 and 2025.

Pamalakaya recalled that 3,500 small fisherfolk in Pasay Reclamation Area and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along the coastal shores of Parañaque were evicted by the government of former President Fidel Ramos to pave way for the construction of the proposed casino that would make the Philippines the Las Vegas of Asia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Manila’s high court orders review of Luisita case

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Queen Shawn Dok and Lady Michelle Adobe

MANILA, Philippines-Striking farm workers in Hacienda Luisita and close allies in and out of the 6,453 hectare sugar estate owned by the family of the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino welcomed on Monday the order of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona to have the agrarian row reviewed by the high tribunal.

“The order for review is a welcome news that’s why we are welcoming it. We hope this won’t be the beginning of another false start. We hope this is the beginning of an end to a sugar coated reign and long-running feudal exploitation inside Hacienda Luisita,” the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa Sa Agrikultura (UMA), the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Amihan peasant women federation and the left leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a joint statement in reaction to Chief Justice recent order for a review on the Hacienda Luisita land row case.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the review should end on a positive note with the lifting of temporary restraining order and the high tribunal would decide for an urgent and unconditional free distribution of lands to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries.

“Chief Justice Corona is lawfully, politically and morally obliged to lead the other 14 justices to decide the Hacienda Luisita case in favor of farm workers and their striving and starving families. Social justice should not be compromise for any kind of political accommodation and elite oriented political reconciliation. I guess this is clear with Corona and the 14 associate justices,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos for his part said it is still a long way to go even if Chief Justice Corona has issued the order. For a fresh start of the Corona led Supreme Court, the peasant leader asked Corona and other justices to put Hacienda Luisita ahead of other unfinished businesses the high court will accomplish this year.

“The case of Hacienda Luisita is the most controversial and the most politically charged case among the cases being reviewed by the high tribunal for judicial disposition. This should be prioritized and should be decided in the name of the collective interest of farm workers in particular and the Filipino public in general,” Ramos added.

Earlier Pamalakaya told the Supreme Court that the 10,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries inside the 6,453-hectare sugar estate owned by the family of President elect Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino were not asking for preferential treatment from the Supreme Court as far as the farm workers legal battle in the high tribunal is concerned.

“Please allow us to correct the Chief Justice, the 14 other justices and the spokesperson of the Supreme Court. The farm workers of Hacienda Luisita are not asking for preferential treatment. What they are asking is social justice based on free distribution of lands which was denied to them for several decades by the feudal aristocracy of Cojuangco-Aquino and their partners in crime in previous administrations,” said Pamalakaya.

The Pamalakaya fisherfolk group is one of the signatories to a letter of appeal sent to Chief Justice Renato Corona last week urging the high tribunal to resolve the Hacienda Luisita land case, as well as other high profile land cases including but not limited to the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Calamba City, Laguna and the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas.

In 2005, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman revoked the SDO scheme due to complaints by members of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Hacienda Luisita (AMBALA) that it has become disadvantageous for the farmers.

In order to avoid the property from being placed under the land distribution scheme under CARP, the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) immediately filed a petition before the high tribunal in February 2006 seeking the nullification of the order recalling the SDO agreement between the hacienda owners and 5,498 farmers.

On June 10 farm workers from Hacienda Luisita by UMA and KMP including other supporters and advocates submitted a letter of appeal asking the Supreme Court to act with dispatch and resolve the controversial agrarian case of Hacienda Luisita in favor of agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“Honorable Chief Justice, the Supreme Court ruling favored the sugar barons of Hacienda Luisita and the landed aristocracy of Cojuangco-Aquino. It is in the highest interest of the Filipino people and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita to end this long-running feudal reign and exploitation with the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries,” the three page letter of appeal stated.

The high court was also asked to look into high profile cases of land reform reversals and big time denials of peasant land rights in Southern Tagalog region.

The farmer groups were referring to the case of farmers in Hacienda Looc involving 8,650 hectare of prime agricultural lands, which was previously placed under land reform program but was reversed by the Department of Agrarian Reform to pave way for real estate projects of Manila South Coast Development Corporation, a sister company of SM Holdings Inc. and Fil-Estate Realty Corporation, and the 7,100 hectare property in Hacienda Yulo in Calamba City, Laguna.

The groups maintained these land reform reversal will lead to the evictions of thousands of families in farming families in Nasugbu, Batangas and Calamba, Laguna and their wholesale displacement from their farmlands and principal source of living.

“Such land reform reversal policy of the state exempting commercial farms and expanding with coverage for exemptions that now include coconut lands has become a long running nightmare for millions of landless farmers and still land seeking farmer beneficiaries across the country”, the groups said. #

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Philippine Chief Justice urged to end Luisita land row in 100 days

By Queen Shawn Dok and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- Newly installed Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona is urged today by striking farm workers in Hacienda Luisita to resolve the long running land dispute inside the 6,453-hectare sugar estate owned by the family of President elect Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino.

A composite of 50 peasant activists mainly Hacienda Luisita farm workers belonging to Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and from staunch allies Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) personally delivered a 2- page letter of appeal addressed to Chief Justice Corona.

KMP deputy secretary-general Willy Marbella said Chief Justice Corona and 14 other justices of the high tribunal anytime can lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it imposed against the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) to place Hacienda Luisita under land reform and have the sugar estate distributed to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries.

“We humbly submit to your honorable office our appeal asking the Supreme Court to act with dispatch and resolve the controversial agrarian case of Hacienda Luisita in favor of agrarian reform beneficiaries,” Marbella said. The two-page letter of appeal to Corona reads: “Dear Chief Justice, the honorable high court has yet to act on the collective interest of Hacienda Luisita farm workers to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the move of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to place the 6,453-hectare under land distribution to landless farm workers.”

“Honorable Chief Justice, the Supreme Court ruling favored the sugar barons of Hacienda Luisita and the landed aristocracy of Cojuangco-Aquino. It is in the highest interest of the Filipino people and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita to end this long-running feudal reign and exploitation with the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries,” the farmer groups added.

In their appeal, the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) also asked the Chief Justice to let the high tribunal investigate high profile cases of land reform reversals and big time denials of peasant land rights in Southern Tagalog region.

Kasama-TK was referring to the case of farmers in Hacienda Looc involving 8,650 hectare of prime agricultural lands, which was previously placed under land reform program but was reversed by the Department of Agrarian Reform to pave way for real estate projects of Manila South Coast Development Corporation, a sister company of SM Holdings Inc. and Fil-Estate Realty Corporation.

According to Kasama-TK, the conversion of Hacienda Looc will lead to the evictions of 10,000 farming families in Nasugbu, Batangas and their wholesale displacement from their farmlands and principal source of living. Such land reform reversal policy of the state exempting commercial farms and expanding with coverage for exemptions that now include coconut lands has become a long running nightmare for millions of landless farmers and still land seeking farmer beneficiaries across the country.

Kasama-TK also told Chief Justice Corona the incident two weeks ago involving some 50 heavily armed men who stormed peasant villages in Hacienda Looc and tore down 21 houses of helpless farmers in vain attempt to terrorize the farming communities and force them to leave the lands they cultivated for generations. Another case which was mentioned in the letter of appeal is the case of Yulo Estate in Canlubang, Calamba City involving 7,100 hectares of prime agricultural lands which are coconut lands in nature.

“Honorable Chief Justice, also two weeks ago, armed goons about 50-60 of them swooped down a farming village inside the hacienda and dispersed a crowd of farmers who set up a protest camp out against the plan of the Yulo family to convert the estate into an industrial and commercial zone,” Kasama-TK added.

The dispersal resulted to the illegal arrest and detention of 11 people were arrested- three of them were minors and 1 was a 71-year old peasant woman, 8 others were charged with fabricated offenses and hundreds of their peasant colleagues were hurt. “Honorable chief Justice, perhaps it is time for the high court to take a decisive intervention on cases involving agrarian disputes all over the country.

“Many hacienda owners and their private partners are behaving extremely nowadays starting with Hacienda Luisita and recently Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Calamba City, province of Laguna,” the farmer group said.

KMP said the continuing denial of peasant land rights and the left-and-right land reform reversals all over the archipelago are sending the high court a compelling signal to purse a thoroughgoing agrarian reform in aid of pro-people’s jurisprudence. We hope this letter of appeal would merit the attention of your honorable office and the offices of 14 other justices of the Supreme Court. #

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Fishers group asked CBCP support vs. Las Vegas like casino in Manila Bay

By Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines-A militant alliance of small fishermen on Wednesday revealed a close associate and crony of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was given the franchise to develop portions of a reclaimed area in Roxas Boulevard to construct a Las Vegas type gambling complex in Manila Bay.

In a press statement, the activist Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally Anakpawis party list on Sunday appealed to the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to join the groups’ crusade against the ambitious multi-billion casino project in Manila Bay.

“To the archbishops and bishops of the CBCP, please hear and support our appeal and prayer against this giant gambling escapade of Malacanang and its cherished cronies,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Enrique Razon Jr., head of multinational port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and a known crony of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has bought a gaming company that will build a casino at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino project.

“This is ridiculous, very, very ridiculous. Please allow us to inform the bishops that the Supreme Court ruling is clear——-Malacanang should rehabilitate Manila Bay and should not transform the bay into a gambling capital of Asia is contrary to the high court decision,” said Hicap in reference to the Dec. 2008 Supreme Court decision mandating the national government and concerned government agencies to restore Manila Bay back to its historic and proud past.

Hicap learned last week that Razon had acquired a controlling stake in Bloombury investment Holdings Inc from Jose Ch. Alvarez, owner of Columbian Motors Corp. The Pamalakaya leader said Alvarez sold his controlling interest in Bloombury, one of the companies tapped to develop the ambitious $ 15 billion Las Vegas casino project to be installed along the 120 reclaimed area in Manila Bay.

“The bishops are politically and morally obliged to confront this gambling project of the ruling Mafia in Malacanang. That is one their callings as far as the Christian faith and the people’s collective interest are concerned,” the Pamalakaya official added.

According to a news report, Bloombury is one of four companies granted a provisional license by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to set up and operate gaming and entertainment facilities at the Bay Shore Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City project at the Manila Bay reclamation area in Parañaque.

The other companies granted licenses were Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., the partnership between the Andrew L. Tan-led Alliance Global, Inc. and casino-resort operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd., SM Investments Corp. and Universal Entertainment Corp. (formerly Azure Corp.), which makes gaming machines and is a co-investor in the Wynn chain of casino hotels in Las Vegas and Macau.

“The issue of Manila Bay casino project is not only about cronyism and the despicable partnership between Arroyo and his cherished client-Mr. Razon. At stake here is the marine environment, the livelihood of 3 million people in Manila Bay and the national interest of 92 million Filipinos. Sad to say, President Arroyo sacrificed these stakes to make more money and make his crony the happiest and the luckiest guy on earth.

Pagcor president and chief operating officer Rafael Butch Francisco announced on Monday the construction at the Bay Shore Entertainment City was expected to start in the latter part of the year. Sources said the Razon’s entry into the Pagcor project came after his exit from the power transmission business. Last month, Henry Sy Jr.’s OneTaipan Holdings, Inc. bought Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. from Razon’s group for $350 million.

Pagcor said the construction is expected to start in the third quarter at an estimated cost of $400 million for the first phase. According to the state-run gambling corporation, the complex will include two five-star luxury hotel towers of over 1,000 rooms within a world-class entertainment and convention facility.

The Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance said the construction of Manila Bay casino similar to first-rate casinos in Las Vegas and Macau will trigger the displacement of 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite who are still dependent to fishing as principal source of livelihood, and any move to transform or convert Manila Bay for other purposes like the $15-billion casino project will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.

“The irrevocable desire of President Arroyo and Mr. Razon to convert Manila Bay into an international gateway for big time gambling addicts both international and domestic is not only blasphemous, but also detestable and highly revolting. This government is sacrificing the future of Manila Bay fishers at the altar of corporate interest and gambling addiction of the international and domestic elites,” the Pamalakaya said.

The militant group said the construction of Manila Bay casino will also trigger reclamation of other coastal shores along Manila Bay that will result to eviction of fishing communities and coastal villagers along the bay.

Pamalakaya recalled from 1992 to 1995, the demolitions of coastal shanties became an everyday ordeal in Pasay Reclamation area. Houses were uprooted on almost day-to-day basis. Small and big time bribery to divide the communities were conducted to facilitate the demolition of homes as if the words and orders of Malacañang were the words of God in this country.

The setting up of casino and resorts, including SM’s Mall of Asia was all in the master plan of the government known as Manila Bay Master Development Plan that officially started during the time of President Ramos and projected to end between 2020 and 2025.

Pamalakaya said 3,500 small fisherfolk and their families in Pasay Reclamation Area, and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along the coastal shores of Parañaque were evicted by the government of former President Ramos to pave way for the construction of the proposed casino that would make the Philippines the Las Vegas of Asia.#

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Fishers slam Arroyo crony over Las Vegas casino project in Manila Bay

By Bb. Joyce Cabral, Billy Javier Reyes and Cherry de Belen

MANILA, Philippines-A militant alliance of small fishermen on Wednesday revealed a close associate and crony of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was given the franchise to develop portions of a reclaimed area in Roxas Boulevard to construct a Las Vegas type gambling complex in Manila Bay.

In a press statement, the activist Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Enrique Razon Jr., head of multinational port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and a known crony of President Arroyo has bought a gaming company that will build a casino at the Bagong Nayong Pilipino project.

“This is ridiculous, very, very ridiculous. The Supreme Court ruling is clear—Malacanang should rehabilitate Manila Bay and transforming the bay into a gambling capital of Asia is contrary to the high court decision,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap referring to the Dec. 2008 Supreme Court decision mandating the national government and concerned government agencies to restore Manila Bay back to its historic and proud past.

Hicap learned the other day that Razon had acquired a controlling stake in Bloombury investment Holdings Inc from Jose Ch. Alvarez, owner of Columbian Motors Corp. The Pamalakaya leader said Alvarez sold his controlling interest in Bloombury, one of the companies tapped to develop the ambitious $ 15 billion Las Vegas casino project to be installed along the 120 reclaimed area in Manila Bay.

According to a news report, Bloombury is one of four companies granted a provisional license by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to set up and operate gaming and entertainment facilities at the Bay Shore Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City project at the Manila Bay reclamation area in Parañaque.

The other companies granted licenses were Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., the partnership between the Andrew L. Tan-led Alliance Global, Inc. and casino-resort operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd., SM Investments Corp. and Universal Entertainment Corp. (formerly Azure Corp.), which makes gaming machines and is a co-investor in the Wynn chain of casino hotels in Las Vegas and Macau.

“The issue of Manila Bay casino project is not only about cronyism and the despicable partnership between Arroyo and his cherished client-Mr. Razon. At stake here is the marine environment, the livelihood of 3 million people in Manila Bay and the national interest of 92 million Filipinos, and President Arroyo sacrificed these stakes to make more money and make his crony the happiest and the luckiest guy on earth.

Pagcor president and chief operating officer Rafael Butch Francisco announced on Monday the construction at the Bay Shore Entertainment City was expected to start in the latter part of the year. Sources said the Razon’s entry into the Pagcor project came after his exit from the power transmission business. Last month, Henry Sy Jr.’s OneTaipan Holdings, Inc. bought Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. from Razon’s group for $350 million.

Pagcor said the construction is expected to start in the third quarter at an estimated cost of $400 million for the first phase. According to the state-run gambling corporation, the complex will include two five-star luxury hotel towers of over 1,000 rooms within a world-class entertainment and convention facility.

The Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance said the construction of Manila Bay casino similar to first-rate casinos in Las Vegas and Macau will trigger the displacement of 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite who are still dependent to fishing as principal source of livelihood, and any move to transform or convert Manila Bay for other purposes like the $15-billion casino project will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.

“The irrevocable desire of President Arroyo and Mr. Razon to convert Manila Bay into an international gateway for big time gambling addicts both international and domestic is not only blasphemous, but also detestable and highly revolting. This government is sacrificing the future of Manila Bay fishers at the altar of corporate interest and gambling addiction of the international and domestic elites,” the Pamalakaya said.

The militant group said the construction of Manila Bay casino will also trigger reclamation of other coastal shores along Manila Bay that will result to eviction of fishing communities and coastal villagers along the bay.

Pamalakaya recalled from 1992 to 1995, the demolitions of coastal shanties became an everyday ordeal in Pasay Reclamation area. Houses were uprooted on almost day-to-day basis. Small and big time bribery to divide the communities were conducted to facilitate the demolition of homes as if the words and orders of Malacañang were the words of God in this country.

The setting up of casino and resorts, including SM’s Mall of Asia was all in the master plan of the government known as Manila Bay Master Development Plan that officially started during the time of President Ramos and projected to end between 2020 and 2025.

Pamalakaya said 3,500 small fisherfolk and their families in Pasay Reclamation Area, and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along the coastal shores of Parañaque were evicted by the government of former President Ramos to pave way for the construction of the proposed casino that would make the Philippines the Las Vegas of Asia.#

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SC told: Order GMA to recall midnight appointments

By Akihira Tatchu, Cherry de Belen and Lollipop delos Reyes

MANILA-Philippines-The rabid-PGMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged on Wednesday the Supreme Court to order GMA to recall her midnight appointees, saying the March 17 SC decision only exempts appointments to the high tribunal from the ban beginning two months from the May 10, 2010 elections.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap appealed to outgoing SC Chief Justice Reynato Puno and the 14 other justices to immediately cite President Arroyo in contempt of court and declare her previous appointments covered by ban unlawful and unconstitutional.

“The Supreme Court should stop GMA’s anarchy of midnight appointments. Who knows Mrs. Arroyo would soon appoint midnight DJs (disc jockeys) in Malacanang if she feels she needs some entertainment too,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

According to Hicap, President Arroyo is treating the Supreme Court as a low life political animal in the country, which is highly evident in the flurry of fresh appointments in the executive department and filling up of vacancies in the judiciary despite the constitutional ban.

Hicap added: “President Arroyo is rapaciously practicing the politics of wholesale accommodation by giving juicy government posts to a fresh batch of cronies and puppets.” The Pamalakaya official said it is obvious President Arroyo is playing around with the SC decision favoring her to appointment the next Chief Justice ahead of the May 10, 2010 elections.

Among the new appointees was 87-year old taipan Alfonso Yuchengco who replaced Philippine Ambassador to Germany Delia Albert-Domingo who learned she had been replaced when she received an award from President Arroyo in Malacanang.

The Chief Executive also unceremoniously booted out National Museum Director Cora Alvina and Bureau of Animal Industry Director Dave Catbagan and replaced the entire boards of the National Museum and the National Historical Institute.

On Monday, acting Justice secretary Alberto Agra said Malacanang will use the SC decision upholding her right to appoint the next Supreme Court Chief Justice to fill up vacancies in the judiciary until her last day in office on June 30, which Hicap said was a direct affront to the 15-member justices of the high court.

Pamalakaya said the Supreme Court made the fresh appointments of President Arroyo illegal, adding that the appointment of other appointees like Libran Cabactulan as the country’s representative to United Nations, Mark Lapid as Chief Operating Officer of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and Cynthia Carreon as head of Tourism Promotions Board should be also be recalled based on the high court decision. #

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