Tag Archives: VFA

RP senators asked to stop Aquino sister

By Handog Malaya Vera, Manila Legarda and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-Leftwing activists belonging to the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday urged the 23 senators comprising the incoming Senate to stop presidential sister and popular TV host actress Kris-Aquino Yap from intervening in the affairs of the Senate.

According to news report, Ms Aquino had allegedly called several senators to back Sen. Francis Pangilinan in his bid to become the next Senate President.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said senators should tell Ms Aquino that the latter has no business in the affairs of the Senate and the 23 senators should stop her lobbying offensive in favor of Senator Francis Pangilinan, a staunch ally of his brother- President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“Who is Ms Kris Aquino-Yap to tell and dictate the 23 senators that her brother President Aquino wants Senator Pangilinan to be next Senate President? Why not let her brother president do his job? We hope the Senate will rise above the occasion and completely reject this brazen and blatant political arrogance of Ms. Aquino,” Hicap said.

“If Pangilinan wins the Senate Presidency because of Ms Aquino’s aggressive lobbying stint, and not because of merits and good track record, then there is really something wrong with the majority of Senators who will vote for Pangilinan,” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader found active lobbying of Ms Aquino-Yap for Sen. Pangilinan extremely offensive and grossly insulting not only to the collective wisdom of the 23 senators but also to the collective intelligence and political sentiment of 94 million Filipinos.

“If President Aquino wants Pangilinan to be the next Senate President then by all means he should come out in the open, declare his support to Pangilinan and rally his allies in the Senate to vote for Pangilinan. At this point, Aquino is already showing that he is a future lame duck President by allowing his sister to do the job for him,” added Hicap.

Hicap said the active involvement of Ms Aquino in choosing the next Senate President and members of the Aquino cabinet suggests that Kamag-Anak Inc. really exists and politically active. “Kris is an epitome of what do we mean by Kamag-Anak Inc.,” he stressed.

Pamalakaya clarified it has nothing against Sen. Pangilinan as lawmaker, although the group noted that for a while, the Senator had been a close ally of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and was instrumental in rejecting all election protest during the congressional canvassing of the 2004 presidential elections.

But Pamalakaya said Pangilinan bounced back when he called for the resignation of Mrs. Arroyo in 2005 at the height of Hello Garci cheating scandal in 2005 and supported the broad anti-Arroyo movement since then. The group said it also recognized the advocacy of Pangilinan against extrajudicial killings and his stand to have the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) reviewed or repealed.

Sources said Ms Aquino’s endorsement of Pangilinan made headway for the latter in the race for Senate President. Sen. Pangilinan reportedly has the support of Liberal Party and non-Liberal Party senators composed of senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Francis Escudero, Sergio Osmena III, Vicente Sotto III, Teofisto Guingona III, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon, Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes IV. #

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(UPDATE)Noynoy, LP told: Please qualify, quantify program for “change”

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez, Cherry Pie Eggpie Sandoval,
Sugar Hicap and Lollipop delos Reyes

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday asked 2010 presidential candidate Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and his party mates in the Liberal Party to qualify and quantify the change the son of the late former President Corazon Aquino carries as platform on his way of becoming the next President of the Philippine Republic.

“Please allow us to set the record straight. The Filipino people are not inclined to buy dime-a-dozen polemics and sheer rhetoric speeches and statements. The Liberal Party standard bearer and his party mates should qualify and quantify what changes they will bring in 2010 if Noynoy wins the presidency next year,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya official prepared 10 issues which Senator Aquino and the Liberal Party should answer categorically to put substance and muscle to promise of change offered by the Noynoy camp for 92 million Filipinos.

The 10 issues raised to Aquino for concrete response were:

1. The immediate and unconditional free distribution of 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate to agricultural laborers and farmworkers.
2. The prosecution of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and members of her ruling clique on charges of high crime of corruption, grave human rights violations and election fraud
3. The legislative approval of the P 125 across the board daily pay hike for workers, P 3,000 across the board monthly salary increase for government employees and the P 9,000 pay hike demanded by teachers nationwide.
4. The abrogation of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)
5. The repeal of Republic Act 9700 or the extended Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms (Carper) and its immediate replacement of a meaningful agrarian reform program carried by House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).
6. The repeal of oil deregulation law and the nationalization of oil industry
7. The resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
8. The review and total abrogation of treaties entered by the Arroyo government including but not limited to World Trade Organization (WTO) and Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), which was ratified by Senate in 1994 and 2008 respectively.
9. The return of the P 130-billion coconut levy fund to small coconut farmers
10. An end to all government destructive projects in Manila Bay, Laguna Lake, Calabarzon areas and all parts of the country that displace millions of poor people and rural folk all over the Philippines.

Pamalakaya said it was shocked to see and hear Sen. Aquino on national TV announcing his plan to seek audience with and talk to his uncle— business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, while at the same time maintaining either a hostile or elusive attitude to the invitation of Hacienda Luisita farmers to sit down and talk to them on the urgent proposal for the immediate and free distribution of hacienda lands.

“As far as we are concerned, flirting with the Danding camp is a no show of promise but a glimpse of what a Noynoy presidency has to offer to the people—that is political accommodation and puppetry to big business,” the militant group added.

“Senator Aquino wants to talk and exchange pleasantries with Danding. Now, what’s the big deal behind this sudden change of heart of the late President Corazon Aquino son? Is the senator and gentleman from Tarlac ready to smoke the peace pipe with Danding to gain the latter’s support for his presidential ambition in exchange for Hacienda Luisita and the land rights of agricultural workers and landless farmers?” asked Pamalakaya.

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Arrival of more US troops from Okinawa seen

By Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the arrival of more US troops from Okinawa, Japan to the country is not a remote possibility after the new installed Japanese government rejected the presence of American military and the proposed new basing deal by 2014.

“Of course we are proud of the patriotic tradition and struggle of the Japanese people against US military aggression and intervention forces in Okinawa and entire Japan. In the name of global people’s solidarity and resistance to US imperialism and militarism, we in the Philippines should reject the Okinawa-based US military forces’ possible re-deployment in the country under the Visiting Forces of Agreement,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader noted hundreds of US troops from Okinawa where here in the country over the last three weeks and joined rescue and relief missions to calamity stricken areas in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Northern Luzon.

“The US government under the Barack Obama administration is using the disaster situation in the country as a smooth way of getting in with or without prior notice for the forward deployment of their troops from Okinawa. To stop these overt and covert deployment and redeployment of American mercenaries, the government should immediately terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement ,” added Hicap.

Hicap said the US military command in Asia and the Pacific is now facing a major problem on where to move their US troops currently stationed and deployed in Okinawa. He said there are about 47,000 US military troops in Okinawa, and the decision of the Japanese people to dismantle the US military bases and the expulsion of US troops from Japanese soil is now creating a heavy problem to Washington D.C.

“Where and when they will move these White House mercenaries? As of now what is clear is the Washington government will exploit the VFA for the temporary, if not permanent basing of US troops all over the Philippines, while White House is convincing the new Japanese leadership to sign a new military deal that will allow White House to keep and expand its bases for its 47,000 regular troops in Okinawa,”the Pamalakaya leader said.

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Thursday last week that US President Barack Obama should respect Japan’s democratic process in a row over a US base, adding that the issue would not be resolved before Obama’s visit next month.

Earlier, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates bluntly pressed Tokyo to “move on” quickly with previously agreed plans to build a new US airbase on southern Okinawa Island.

Japan’s new government has said it will review an agreement to build the new base by 2014 – a project opposed by many Okinawans who object to the US troop presence and complain of aircraft noise and the risk of accidents.

“The will of the people of Okinawa and the will of the people of Japan was expressed in the elections,” Okada said on television, predicting that the issue won’t be resolved before Obama’s scheduled November 12-13 visit.

“I don’t think we will act simply by accepting what the US tells us, just because the US is saying this, in such a short period of time.” Okada added.

Half of the 47,000 US troops stationed there all over Japan are currently in Okinawa, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Their presence has often caused friction with the local community, especially when American servicemen have committed crimes.

Under a 2006 bilateral agreement between US and Japan, the heliport functions of the base would be moved to a coastal area of Okinawa by 2014, while 8,000 Marines would be moved to Guam in a relocation to be partly financed by Japan.#

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Termination of VFA pressed after Jolo incident

Termination of VFA pressed after Jolo incident

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) today urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) a day after an explosion incident occurred in Jolo on Tuesday morning, killing 2 US soldiers and a Filipino Marine.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson Salvador France said President Arroyo should order the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to prepare the termination paper, sign it right away and just fax it to the US Embassy and the Office of US President Barack Obama.

“The termination of VFA by the Philippine government can be done in less than 24 hours. What is decisive here is political will and the readiness of President Arroyo to face her American military master and tell him it is the end of the road for military pact,” France explained.

The Pamalakaya leader agreed with the observations raised by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago that the US troops in Jolo were actually engaged in combat operations because of their presence in combat zones, and supported her call for the abrogation of the VFA.

France said the Jolo incident should lead senators to update their previous resolution—Senate Resolution No. 1356 entitled “Resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the DFA should seek to renegotiate the VFA with the US, in a case of denial, should give notice of termination of the VFA.

Pamalakaya proposed to update Senate Resolution No. 1356 that should be read: “ Resolution expressing the sense of the Senate strongly urging President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to terminate the VFA in the name of national sovereignty.”

“We hope the senators, as well as the congressmen in the House of Representatives will rise above the occasion, express the patriotic will of the people through legislative action. No more debates please, just send the Yankees home,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said the Jolo incident would also remind the Supreme Court of their past mistakes in upholding the constitutionality of the VFA, the last of which is the 2009 case Nicolas vs. Romulo, where the high tribunal, through a 9-4 vote, declared the military agreement as constitutional,

Quoting Senate Resolution No.1356 sponsored by Sen. Santiago, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Pamalakaya said US troops in the country are engaged in combat operations. It said, the first commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-Philippines) Col. David Maxwell, clearly implied that combat operations are part of the US military business.

According to Maxwell ,the Philippine constitution only prohibits stationing of foreign forces but it does not ban US troops from engaging in combat operations. The US military official said the Task Force that he had led once as conducting operations under the guise of an exercise.

From April 2001 to October 2007, more than 50 US war ships entered in the Philippine territory and docked in various parts of the Philippine archipelago. #

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Palace told: Indefinitely suspend VFA, while talks of renegotiation is on

Palace told: Indefinitely suspend VFA, while talks of renegotiation is on

A group calling for the abrogation of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) on Saturday urged Malacanang to immediately and indefinitely suspend the effectivity of the military agreement, while talks of its renegotiation or possible scrapping is still being finalized by senators and officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a press statement, the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should immediately notify the US government of the proposed suspension of the VFA because talks are underway for its renegotiation or possible abrogation as the case may be.

Malacanang on Friday said it was supporting the position of some senators to renegotiate the VFA and has asked the Commission on the VFA to work with senators on the issue.

But Palace deputy press secretary Lorelei Fajardo appealed to senators not set aside the gains and benefits the country are getting from the military agreement, which the Senate ratified in 1999, eight years after the same constitutional body rejected the 1991 RP-US Military Bases Agreement.

“Given this latest development in the Senate and the mounting protest against the military agreement, the executive department led by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her defense and foreign affairs officials should open their hearts and minds for the immediate suspension of the VFA and the near future dissolution of the VFA in the name of national sovereignty and public interest,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap added.

To put premimum to its assertion that the VFA should be abrogated, Pamalakaya said in Bicol region where one of the joint RP-US military exercises was held this year, their members saw US troops joining their local counterparts in conducting census activities which they said were part of the surveillance operations conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the New People’s Army in the region.

“As far as we are concerned US troops are strictly prohibited from conducting census and military surveillance according to the 1987 Constitution because its violates the sovereign rights of the Filipino people and by nature, by design and by purpose the census participated by US troops is US military intervention,” the group said.

“Why they are allowed to join government census? It is not the job of American mercenaries to conduct census and surveillance unless they are really planning something big like directing and joining actual combat operations against state targets. It is not even the job of AFP regular forces to conduct census since it is the job of civilian authorities,” said Pamalakaya.

In a report sent to Pamalakaya headquarters in Quezon, it said small fishermen started seeing US personnel joining the military census activities in Barangay Mayngaran in Masbate City, Barangay Bagacay, Marintuk, Lalaguna and Balatukan in Mobo town, barangays Marcilla, Dapdap, Panisihan, Buenvista, Armenia, Sawang, Buenasuerte and Magsaysay in Uson town, and in the municipality of Cataingan proper all in Masbate.

Lambat-Bicol also noted the disturbing presence of US troops in Oas town, Albay, particularly in the farming villages of San Pascual, San Miguel and Talisay, where the 5th engineering battalion of the Philippine Army is currently detailed. A number of US troops were also seen in Barangay Liyang, municipality of Irosin in Sorsogon province, ahead of the scheduled RP-US joint military exercises last March.

Pamalakaya said the survey of communities was followed by the announcement of Mr. Celso del Socorro, Officer-in-charge of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reforms (BFAR-V) about its plan to impose a region-wide fish ban in Bicol once the Balikatan exercises start in April 2009.

The fish ban according to Pamalakaya was announced, because the war games will make use of the interconnecting bodies of water in Bicol region namely the Ragay Gulf, Albay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay that join the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate for the loading and unloading of 3,000 US troops and personnel who will participate in the Balikatan exercises.

To show proof that a Balikatan-induced fish ban was implemented, a fish ban in the form of curfew in three coastal towns— Tiwi, Tabacco and Malilipot, all in Albay province were executed last Feb. affecting the fish capture activities of not less than 10,000 small fisherfolk.

The curfew ordinance in Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot was effectively utilized to effect a fish ban ahead and during the Balikatan exercises. The three coastal areas in Albay are being used as pilot areas for the Bicol wide fish ban in the name of the RP-US Balikatan exercises and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) last march.

Reports that reached the national secretariat office of Pamalakaya said the local government units and barangay officials in mentioned coastal towns in Albay have started implementing a 9-hour fish curfew and fish ban from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am beginning February 23 until the Balikatan exercises officially ended sometime in April. #

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Return of US military bases possible under Teodoro presidency, says leftwing group

Return of US military bases possible under Teodoro presidency, says leftwing group

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakaa ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday warned the return of US military bases in the country in case Defense secretary and Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet Gilbert Teodoro wins the presidency in 2010 elections.

“The possibility of the return of US military bases in the country is high because Secretary Teodoro is a certified American boy who is obsessed with military treaties, with military bases and with military troops of Washington D.C,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

“Secretary Teodoro is a rabid supporter of US military intervention and aggression. He has this American military mindset, and he will do whatever he can do for US military interest across Asia and the Pacific. If the US asks him for permanent basing, he will do it without any second thought,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Hicap said a Teodoro presidency will allow US troops to join combat opeerations with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against local armed political groups like the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“We have a new Vietnam war in the making under a Teodoro presidency. This the clear and present danger of elevating this US lapdog to the highest post in the land,” said Hicap.

On September 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate headed by former Senate President Jovito Salonga and former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona led 12 senators in rejecting the proposed RP-US Military Bases Agreement that officially ended the half-century old US military basing in the country.

But in 1999, the Philippine Senate ratified the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that allow US military troops to conduct periodic military trainings and military basing in the country on limited duration and scope, although some quarters observed that US is already engaged in permanent basing and Washington is operating discreet military bases in violation of the VFA and the Philippine Constitution on presence of US troops and permanent basing agremeent.

Pamalakaya said the strong inclination of Sec. Teodoro to allow the return of US military bases in evident in his pronouncement yesterday during the hearing of the defense portfolio budget at the House of Representatives.

Teodoro said he is open to more military treaties with foreign countries stressing the need for closer alliances and confidence-building measures.

At the budget hearing for the proposed P57.69 billion appropriation for his department, Teodoro declared he is against moves to abrogate the VFA with the United States and the State of Forces Agreement (Sovfa) with Australia and want more military alliances with other countries.#

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Critics asked: Are US troops allowed to conduct census under VFA? 

Critics asked: Are US troops allowed to conduct census under VFA?

Are the visiting American troops joining the yearly Balikatan exercises under the Visiting Forces Agreement allowed to conduct census in remote farming and fishing villages across the country?

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said their members in Bicol region where one of the joint RP-US military exercises was held this year saw US troops joining their local counterparts in conducting census activities which they said were part of the surveillance operations conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the New People’s Army in the region.

“As far as we are concerned US troops are strictly prohibited from conducting census and military surveillance according to the 1987 Constitution because its violates the sovereign rights of the Filipino people and by nature, by design and by purpose the census participated by US troops is US military intervention,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader posed this legal and constitutional question a day after retired Navy Lt. Nancy Gadian revealed that US soldiers are embedded with Filipino troops in combat situations in Mindanao, and that the United States had taken part in the “planning of combat operations against terrorist and Moro targets in Mindanao.

“Why they are allowed to join government census? It is not the job of American mercenaries to conduct census and surveillance unless they are really planning something big like directing and joining actual combat operations against state targets. It is not even the job of AFP regular forces to conduct census since it is the job of civilian authorities,” said Hicap.

According to a report sent by Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol), the regional chapter of Pamalakaya last February, it revealed that US military personnel were seen conducting initial surveillance operations ahead of the Balikatan exercises scheduled from April to September eliciting fear and confusion among fishermen, farmers and the rural people.

In the same report, small fishermen started seeing US personnel joining the military census activities in Barangay Mayngaran in Masbate City, Barangay Bagacay, Marintuk, Lalaguna and Balatukan in Mobo town, barangays Marcilla, Dapdap, Panisihan, Buenvista, Armenia, Sawang, Buenasuerte and Magsaysay in Uson town, and in the municipality of Cataingan proper all in Masbate.

Lambat-Bicol also noted the disturbing presence of US troops in Oas town, Albay, particularly in the farming villages of San Pascual, San Miguel and Talisay, where the 5th engineering battalion of the Philippine Army is currently detailed. A number of US troops were also seen in Barangay Liyang, municipality of Irosin in Sorsogon province, ahead of the scheduled RP-US joint military exercises last March.

Pamalakaya said the survey of communities was followed by the announcement of Mr. Celso del Socorro, Officer-in-charge of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reforms (BFAR-V) about its plan to impose a region-wide fish ban in Bicol once the Balikatan exercises start in April 2009.

The fish ban according to Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap was announced, because the war games will make use of the interconnecting bodies of water in Bicol region namely the Ragay Gulf, Albay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay that join the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate for the loading and unloading of 3,000 US troops and personnel who will participate in the Balikatan exercises.

To show proof that a Balikatan-induced fish ban was implemented, a fish ban in the form of curfew in three coastal towns— Tiwi, Tabacco and Malilipot, all in Albay province were executed last Feb. affecting the fish capture activities of not less than 10,000 small fisherfolk.

The curfew ordinance in Tiwi, Tabaco and Malilipot was effectively utilized to effect a fish ban ahead and during the Balikatan exercises. The three coastal areas in Albay are being used as pilot areas for the Bicol wide fish ban in the name of the RP-US Balikatan exercises and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) last march.

Reports that reached the national secretariat office of Pamalakaya said the local government units and barangay officials in mentioned coastal towns in Albay have started implementing a 9-hour fish curfew and fish ban from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am beginning February 23 until the Balikatan exercises officially ended sometime in April. #

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