QUEZON CITY — Instead of a peaceful dialog, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Eleazer Quinto snubbed the indigenous peoples and security officers met and violently dispersed the peace contingent.
In a press statement, the indigenous peoples’ partylist KATRIBU and the indigenous Remontados and Dumagats of Rizal travelled to Manila for a peaceful dialog with the newly appointed environment czar to negotiate the previous environment secretary’s pro-corporate and anti-environment action and instead uphold a pro-people environmental policy in relation to the Laiban dam .
The call of the indigenous peoples, however, fell on deaf ears. Instead the security personnel of the department violently pushed the indigenous away from the gate of the DENR where a group was staging a protest program.
According to Nelson Mallari, Katribu secretary-general and third nominee, “We came here to call on the DENR secretary to stop the impending construction of the proposed Laiban dam project. We want him to deny or cancel the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to the San Miguel Corporation and Manila Water and Sewerage System (MWSS).”
Mallari, an Aeta of Floridablanca, Pampanga, said, “Unfortunately for us, this harsh treatment was the only answer we got from Quinto,” Mallari added.
Laiban dam danger to the indigenous peoples
“The construction of the Laiban dam not only pose grave danger to the rich biodiversity of the Sierra Madre ranges. It will also take away the ancestral lands of the Dumagat and Remontados of Rizal and Northern Quezon, the source of their livelihood,” he said.
KATRIBU likewise asked the environment secretary to adhere to the United Nations declaration of the protection of the biodiversity.
“The whole international community is calling for the protection of the environment and climate mitigation and yet the Philippine government is doing otherwise. It implements environmentally destructive policies that include the building of mega dams and the approval large scale mining application and operations,” Katribu Partylist Chair and first nominee Beverly Longid said.
Longid, who used to chair the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance is a Bontoc and Kankanaey of Sagada, Mountain Province.
“We should be warned by the tragedy that indigenous peoples and our lowland neighbors experienced resulting from floods brought about by mega dams such as the San Roque dam in Northern Luzon,” Longid added.
Longid urged the new secretary not to be swayed by the propaganda of the corporate bullies in the MWSS and the San Miguel Corporation (SMC). “The claim of these companies that we are lacking water is a hoax. The harp of a water crisis they feed the media is meant to justify their corporate interests and greed,” she said.
“The government should verify first its own data before they give in to the lies that we face a water crisis. No less than Local Water Utility Administration (LWUA) claims that there is no “water crisis” contrary to the MWSS claims,”
The group reiterates its call for the government institutions to genuinely prioritize the interests of the people and the environment over the profit-driven private corporations.
“It’s high time that the environment department should take a higher moral ground and stand with the people and deviate from the twisted policy of selling and destroying our land and environment,” Longid said. # nordis.net
By ACE ALEGRE
BAGUIO CITY — Refusing to die even after it was dropped like a hot potato by city officials fearing political backlash in 2010 by an irked electorate, the controversial 25-year lease of 7-hectare Baguio Athletic Bowl at the Burnham Park remains the talk of the town.
It is said “Parks are beyond the commerce of man” but Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. believes that Baguio owns the athletic bowl in papers, two former mayors said that it has no right to lease it out to private entities.
“Parang ganun na nga,” Bautista said when asked if the ownership was with city and not the Philippine Tourism Authority or its mother agency, the Department of Tourism.
The city’s ‘ownership’ over the park lead him to sign a memorandum of agreement with a Korean group late last year which was later confirmed by the city council
Earlier, Congressman Domogan and former Mayor worked for the transfer of management of the 26-hectare park from the national government to the city.
“It has been a mistake, we do not have ownership over the park, to be able to lease it out for 25 years to a group,” he said during a recent interview.
In February 1995, then president Fidel Ramos signed executive order 224 transferring the management , administration and maintenance of the park to the city.
This, however, was fully effected in January 2008 when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed EO 695 “fully devolving” the park to the city.
However, the Arroyo EO said the “City Government of Baguio shall not encumber, mortgage or alienate any portion of the Burnham Park unless approved by the Secretary of Tourism.”
Domogan and Vergara said that the 25 year lease to the Korean group is considered as an act of ownership.
This reflects the view of councilor Perlita Chan Rondez who during a privilege speech on January 11 castigating both mayor and the city council for approving the lease of the seven hectare Baguio athletic bowl to An Ho Yul and a group of Korean investors.
“Long term lease of 25 years is considered an act of ownership and not merely an act of administration,” said the councilor, who also gave her colleagues, some her law school professors a lesson on contracts during her speech.
She added: “City is not allowed to alienate as manager and administrator only. Lease violated EO 695.”
Rondez speech, came after seven of her colleagues pushed for the recall of Resolution 515, series of 2009 authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with An’s group for the lease of the park for 25 years. The council, unanimously approved the recall. #nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The question was, what would they look foor in a candidate? But most of the response of those interviewed Baguio folks said that their choice for a mayor is the one who can bring back the glory days of the city being the Philippines’ summer capital.
Crisanta Salig, born and grew up here in Baguio said that she prefers to vote for a candidate who she can expect to bring back the title of Baguio as the country’s main summer attraction.”Ti kayat ko ket diay maisubli na ti kinapintas ti Baguio,” (What I like is that he can bring back the beauty of Baguio) Crisanta said.
Salig added that she likes a mayor who can solve the trash problem. “Adda kuma utek na nga mangkita nu anya ti kamayatan a solusyon iti problema ti basura, maysa pay gayam ket ti nakaro a trapik ngay” ( he should have the brain to solve the garbage problem, one thing more is the traffic), she said.
Rudy, an Irisan resident who requested not to mention his surname said that his choice of a mayor is one who can really address the land problem. “A true to his word candidate”, he said, “who has the guts to investigate the land mafia that haunts every resident here tagged by the government as informal settlers. “Kaya na pay kuma nga ipahold dagiti demolition ket maresolba ti kaso ti daga a pabor kuma kadakami ababassit” (One who can delay the demoliton and the land case will be solved favoring us the poor), said Rudy.
Vendor Sydney Duy-as, hopes for a candidate who can give fair treatment to ambulant vendors like her. Duy-as said that she is already tired of listening to the promises of candidates for a place for them where they can ply their trade.
“Diay kuma met a agmayor, ket diay saan nga a basta-basta dakami ipatiliw a dagus weno ipadimolis dagiti laklako mi, diay adda konsensiya na a mangbirok nu anya ti mayat nga ikasta tapno saan kami la a kanayon a diay maab-abog lang a kasla aso (I prefer a mayor who does not just get us arrested immediately or demolish our stalls, the one who has a conscience to help look for a solution so that we will not always be driven away like dogs), Duy-as ended.
Jethro, a student said that he likes officials who can be a role model to the youth and students. “Ang gusto ko sa kanya ay ‘yung hindi siya nainvolve sa usapin ng korapsiyon o anomalya, yung puwede mong ipagmalaki ba” (what I like is that he has not been involved in corruption or anomalies, the one you can be proud of) he said.
Nursing student Loryline said she will vote for a candidate who can assist graduating students like her find a job. “Yung handa siyang tumulong sa mga katulad ko na maghanap ng trabaho, tsaka, mayron siyang political will na iregularisa at istriktong isegurado ang mga batas para sa boarding houses, may mga mahal maningil kasi tapos hindi naman inaayos yung bahay, kadalasan, delikado pa sa sunog”( he is always willing to help those like me, looking for jobs, and, he has the political will to regularize and strictly ensure the laws on boarding houses. There are those (landlords) who charge too much but do not fix the boarding houses, oftentimes, they are fire hazards), Loryline said.
Elmo Gatus, a jogger in Burnham park said that his bet is the one who loves Baguio as his own. “Ang gusto ko ay yung hindi niya ibebenta ang Baguio” (What I prefer is the one who will not sell Baguio), Gatus added.# nordis.net
Katribu slams palace ads: The “plight of peasants and indigenous peoples disputes PGMA accomplishment”
Quezon City — KATRIBU Partylist lambasts the Presient Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (PGMA) administration for going on an extravagant advertising spree above protests of peasants and indigenous peoples against widespread poverty and landlessness across the land.
“The plight and present condition of peasants and indigenous peoples dispute the accomplishments PGMA brags about,” KATRIBU President Beverly Longid said in a press statement.
The two-page newspaper advertisements of the government’s Philippine Information Agency (PIA) aims to project the so-called accomplishments of the administration.
According to Longid,”It is very insensitive of the President to be thinking about ads while poor peasants and indigenous peoples are right in front of the Malacanang gates, demanding land and justice.”
“It is a callous and costly way to put on record the lies being peddled by the administration,” added Longid in reaction to PIA head Conrado Limcauco’s statement defending the advertisements.
Thousands of peasants from all over Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon converged today in the historic Mendiola Bridge, culminating the Lakbayan ng Anakpawis para sa Lupa at Katarungan.
The 10-day march, the first of its kind, was held in commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre during the Aquino administration where 13 peasants were killed.
Legacy of landlessness
Longid doubted the significance of the figures on land distribution reported by the Arroyo administration in the advertisements. “How can the government claim that conditions in the countryside are now better off when 7 out of 10 peasants still do not own land?”
Longid also questioned the reported figures on ancestral domain and land distribution, revealing that only about 8% of the 7.5 million hectares of ancestral domains was registered with the Registry of Deeds as of 2008. But registered or not, the titles the government claimed to have distributed do not in any way afford full protection to the right of indigenous peoples to own their ancestral land and domain, Longid added.
“The legacy which the Arroyo administration will leave behind is one of widespread landlessness and massive destruction of the environment through large-scale mining, logging, mega-dams and land conversions.”
On the other hand, Longid hailed the peasants who marched to Mendiola saying that the long march is as symbolic and historic as the Mendiola bridge because it is a reminder of the unfinished struggle of peasants and indigenous peoples for justice and genuine agrarian reform. “Indigenous peoples marched in solidarity with the peasants because they share the same historic fight,” she said. # nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The militant umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) on their website criticized the Commission on Elections (Comelec) after nine partylists tagged as pro-Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration were accreditied by the election offcials.
Bayan Secretary General Renato M. Reyes Jr. asked if the Comelec is giving special treatment and consideration for partylist groups identified with the administration.
According to Reyes, the partylist system is supposed to be for the marginalized or underrepresented sectors of the society. “However, over the past years, through the efforts of Arroyo and the COMELEC, the partylist system has been undermined and corrupted to favor the incumbent in Malacanang,” he said.
Reyes said that the questionable partylist groups have been accredited again despite previous questions by legitimate partylists on their qualifications. Reyes added that the Comelec in contrast made it hard for the legitimate partylists and critic to the administration like Ang Ladlad, Migrante, ACT Teachers’ Partylist and Courage.
The Ang Ladlad Partylist has only been included in the list of partylists after the Supreme Court issued a restraining order to the Comelec. ACT meanwhile was recently accredited.
The group Bayan said that among the partylist groups previously identified having connections with the administration who have been accredited by the Comelec for the 2010 elections are Agbiag Timpuyog Ilokano (AGBIAG); Babae para sa Kaunlaran (Babae Ka), Kalahi Sectoral Party (KALAHI); League of Youth for Peace Advancement (LYPAD); Ahon Pinoy (AHON), its previous nominee was Dante “Klink” Ang II, son of Dante Ang who chaired the Commission on Filipinos Overseas; Akbay Pinoy OFW-National (APOI), previous nominees included former Arroyo DILG officials; Aangat Ating Kabuhayan Filipinas (ANAK), previous nominee included an official of PNP-NCRPO; Bigkis Pinoy Movement (BIGKIS) identified with PAGCOR chair Efraim Genuino; and Byaheng Pinoy Labor Association (Byaheng Pinoy), previous nominee was brother of former COMELEC chair Abalos.
According to Bayan, Agbiag, Babae Ka, Kalahi and Lypad were previously cited in a memo from the Office of External Affairs dated October 16, 2006. Reyes said that they were then considered the four main partylist groups to be supported by the administration in the 2007 polls and were supposed to receive Palace funding according to the OEA memo. Reyes said that partylists receiving official funding from the administration should already be a basis for their disqualifications.
Bayan based its findings on a list released by the poll watchdog Kontra Daya in 2007 and on the said 2006 EOA memo.
Reyes suspects that Arroyo may be attempting to utilize the partylist system to create a power block in the House of Congress that will include her and other members of Arroyo family and cabinet offcials. He added that this power block may be used for the charter change which the Arroyo government is pushing in the pastand Arroyo will be the Prime Minister.
Bayan also cited the Bigkis Pinoy Movement (BIGKIS) identified with PAGCOR chair Efraim Genuino as another questionable partylist group accredited by the Comelec. The group’s previous nominees include PAGCOR officials Edward King and Ramon Agoncillo, consultants Mario Cornista (2001), Ismael Tabo (2004), and Tomas Toledo (2007)and Sheryl Genuino-See, the daughter of PAGCOR chair Genuino. The group has failed to get elected to Congress the past three elections.
Reyes said that it is anomalous that Bigkis that has failed to get elected three times is allowed to run again. “Isn’t it the rule that if a partylist group fails to participate or obtain at least 2% of the votes cast under the party-list system in the 2 preceding elections, they are to be delisted? Why is it that that rule doesn’t seem to apply to a partylist group that is identified with PAGCOR and Genuino?” Reyes blurted.
Kontra-Daya in its 2007 list also identified the groups Aangat Tayo (AT), BANAT, Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) and Kasangga sa Kaunlaran (Ang Kasangga) as partylist groups to have links with the adminstration. After an SC ruling on the appropriation of of seats under the partylist system, said groups have been given seats in the Congress.
According to Bayan, Ang Kasangga’s congressional representative is a sister of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. Bayan added that BANTAY’s representative is notorious human rights violator Gen. Jovito Palparan who claims to represent security guards and baranggay tanods. ANAD meanwhile is a group dedicated to fighting communism. The group said Both ANAD and BANTAY are believed to be supported by the military. BANAT meanwhile has recently endorsed administration presidential bet Gilbert Teodoro.
Reyes said that they have been recieveing reports that another member of the Arroyo family is poised as a partylist nominee. He said it is really sad that the Comelec has turned a blind eye to the abuses of the partylist system.
“The disclosure of partylist nominees is a crucial aspect of transparency in the elections. We can better analyze and pinpoint the pseudo –partylist groups if the Comelec makes public the nominees,” Reyes ended # nordis.net
January 23 marks the second month since the Ampatuan massacre when 57 lives were mercilessly snuffed out by a political clan that have started to play God with powers over the lives of men and women in that corner of the country.
The prime suspect in this dastardly crime is now undergoing trial even as the witnesses and their relatives are being harassed and threatened with harm if they do not desist from testifying. Judging from government’s handling of previous crimes with political overtones, the chances of getting justice for the victims in this case is not guaranteed.
January 23 also marks the day when protesting peasants and their allies were gunned down by security forces along Mendiola bridge during the term of the late President Cory Aquino, claiming the lives of 13 protesters. That was 23 years ago and justice has not been served to the victims of this Mendiola massacre.
Aside from the date, what connects these two tragic incidents is the impunity with which people are killed, lives are wasted in this supposedly civilized times we are living in. As a result, the norms of humane behavior breaks down and more lives are lost in a continuing spiral of violence.
This is true in the case of elections in this country. Never has there been an election when no violence against person did not take place. Our pretensions to democracy remains largely just that – pretensions; the fear and violence, vote-buying and vote-rigging that accompany our electoral exercises make the choice of our leaders largely an exercise in make-believe.
If the situation is bad when it comes to elections, the situation is far worse in the case of the peasants’ struggle for genuine land reform. To underscore the landlords’ resistance to any meaningful land reform, the Mendiola massacre would be repeated in the Hacienda Luisita massacre when a dozen or so farmers were again killed a few years ago.
And so the country’s peasants and their allies have had to undertake another “long march” to bring to the public’s attention the continuing injustice Filipino peasants are going through for several decades now.
This is also the reaon why the issue of land reform especially that pertaining to Hacienda Luisita has become a burning issue for presidential aspirants, particularly for Sen. Noynoy Aquino. Will he or will he not bring justice to the tenants of Hacienda Luisita if he gets elected president?
Land, elections and violence are themes closely interconnected in the Philippine landscape for decades now. Going deeper, these have to do with how wealth and power is shared or monopolized in our country.
It has been said that in this country wealth begets power, and power, in turn, begets more wealth. Attempts to change or alter that equation usually begets violence, if not death.
In other words, those who monopolize wealth and power in this country do not really want to share, much less democratize the wealth and power now in their control. Crumbs, as in meaningless reforms, yes. But real sharing, never.
Is that what is at the bottom of these tragic days of our lives? Can somebody tell us another, less brutal theory to explain all these tragedies? # nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible. — Mao Tse-Tung
Who tilled the land and plowed it since dawn, under the scorching heat of the sun and till dusk? Who planted the rice and cared for it for months to harvest it? Who pounded the rice or brought it to the rice mill? Of course the peasant.
Who are the planters of the food crops but have no enough food to eat? Who are the tillers of the land who are landless and are driven from their lands? Who are feeders of the people yet are regarded by the society as the lower class? Still the peasants.
Who are the victims of historical injustices committed by feudal lords for centuries? Who are the victims of human rights violations by the hand of tyrants, fascists in the ruling elite protecting their lust and greed? Who are the victims of massacres in the countrysides? Who are the people being killed just because they simply struggled to be heard? The peasants.
Who are the makers of tools and instruments to be used by the people in their daily lives, Who made the clothes, the buildings, the accesories for necessity and for luxury? Who made the production and the economy running? Of course the workers.
Who are in the production and processing industry that create the profit? And, who are in the hole of poverty? Who are the diggers of gold yet they have no enough money to buy food for their children? Who made the garments and fashionable trappings yet are dressed in trousers and shoes that have holes in them? Who made the rich much richer and richest yet they recieve pegged incomes? Still the workers.
Who are the victims of unequal sharing of production and profit for centuries? Who are the victims of labor rights violations? Who are being killed just because they assert their rights to stable jobs and decent wages? The workers.
Who are the real heroes of the world where they work day and night for humanity to have food? Who are the many people who make production revolve as the world revolves? Who are they who really make history live? yet the few ruling elite claim the creators of civilization? The workers and the peasants.
Who are the people once joined and shout to the whole world that they want to end the injustices and inequalities in the society will truly change the world? Who are the many people of the world once united will make the production run and feed all the people of the world instead of the few elites? Of course, the workers and the peasants.
Who will help each other? Indeed the workers and the peasants with the poor people of the world.
In solidarity with the peasants who are participating in the Lakbayan that started January 22 and converged in Mendiola for the Lakbayan, the first-ever nationwide caravan for land and justice and commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the mendiola massacre, long live with the struggle. # nordis.net
By ADELA WAYAS
We owe the rice that we are eating to the farmers who work the field to supply the millions of people in the country. For me, the farmers bleed for each and everyone of us because without their hard work many will starve especially those who are used to fluffy white grain on their table.
It has been 23 years since the Mendiola massacre was marked in the history of the Philippines by the blood of some 13 farmers who were killed and the hundreds wounded. January 22, 1987 when thousands of farmers from the different parts of the country gathered to protest and demand from the new Aquino administration for the implementation of genuine land reform promised to the peasants.
Instead they were confronted by the anti-riot group of the Western Police District, the Integrated National Police and the Philippine Marines who fired at them as they came to the Mendiola Bridge.
I do not know why this had happened. In the law there is such a thing as freedom of expression where according to Constitution Article III Section 4. “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
And for me, the farmers who went in the protest were just expressing their grievances to the administration at that time. What had happened to them is unjust, what they did is a form of redressing what they want and do not want.
Looking at what had happened to them, their rights were voilated. The Article XIII of the Constitution sections 4-8 indicates the rights and privileges of these farmers. Instead of answering the grievances, they were blocked and some killed and many wounded.
Thinking of the farmers who were killed and hurt is like being told that there are people who do not care for the farmers. I just do not know what will happen to the people who do not care when there will be no more farmers to till the land and produce food to eat.
I am sure many of us do not know how to plant. Why not be grateful that there are farmers who are planting for our food. Edgar Watson Howe says that “even if a farmer intends to loaf, he gets up in time to have an early start”.
For their hard work what are some of us doing? Many do not even eat all they have put in their plates or sometimes just throw the food out.
D.D. Eisenhower once said that farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you are a thousand miles from the corn field. Maybe many of us think like this but we do not know really the feeling of a farmer, of course we will just know it when we try to go to the field and put our selves in the boots of the farmer. And if you are playing the game Farmville in the internet, you would have an idea now of the value the food you are eating and value also the importance of the farmers our life.
Going back, in the commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola massacre, I can not blame the farmers and the different organizations who are supporting them in the rallies and protests that they are doing. Their call to justice for the victims should be heard and its time that the government provide a genuine agrarian reform for these farmers. What had happened should remain a lesson to all of us.# nordis.net
By MARY ANN ‘MANJA’ BAYANG
Constitutional prohibition and existing jurisprudence
Article VII, Executive Department
Section 15. Two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or Acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.
The coming presidential elections shall be held on May 10, 2010. The start of the two-month period immediately before said elections is on March 11, 2010. Thus, the period on prohibition of appointments starts on March 11, 2010 until June 30, 2010, the date the term of the President shall end.
Article VIII, Judicial Department
Section 4 (1) . The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or in its discretion, in division of three, five, or seven Members. Any vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from the occurrence thereof.
Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno shall retire on May 17, 2010. The ninety (90) days period shall start on May 18, 2010 and the last day is on August 15, 2010.
Section 9. The Members of the Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for every vacancy. Such appointments need no confirmation.
For the lower courts, the President shall issue the appointments within ninety days from the submission of the list.
The Court’s View
The Court’s view is that during the period stated in Section 15. Article VII of the Constitution “(t)wo months immediatey before the next presidential elections and up to the end his term” the President is neither required to make appointments to the courts nor allowed to do so; and that Sections 4(1) and 9 of Article VIII simply mean that the President is required to fill vacancies in the courts within the time frames provided therein unless prohibited by Section 15 of Article VII. It is not noteworthy that the prohibition on appointments comes into effect only once every six years.
That instruction that any “vacany shall be filled within ninety days” contrasts with the prohibition Section 15, Article VII, in stronger negative language that “a President or Acting President shall not make appointments. . .”
The Commission later approved a proposal of Commissioner Hilario G. Davide, Jr.. His purpose was to provide a “uniform rule” for lower courts. The 90-day period should be counted from submission of the list of nominees to the President. Should the President reject the list submitted, the JBC would need time to submit a new one.
Analysis of Provisions
It appears that Section 15, Article VI is directed against two types of appointments: (1) those made for buying votes and (2) those made for partisan considerations. The first refers to those appointments made within the two months preceding a Presidential election and are similar to those which are declared elections offenses in the Omnibus Election Code. Sec. 261. Prohibited Acts. election offense: Vote-buying and vote-selling.
The second type of appointments prohibited by Section 15, Article VII consist of the so-called “midnight” appointments.
Instances may be conceived of the imperative need for an appointment, during the period of the ban, not only in the executive but also in the Supreme Court. This may be the case should the membership of the Court be so reduced that it will have no quorum, or should the voting on a particularly important question requiring expeditious resolution be evenly divided. Such a case, however, is covered by neither Section 15 of Article VII nor Sections 4 (1) and 9 of Article VIII.
SC internal rules
There have been several instances in the past where, the Chief Justice post is vacated, the most senior Associate Justice acts as the Chief Justice until a new Chief Justice has been validly appointed. It is submitted that the most senior Associated Justice be appointed as the acting Chief Justice by the members of the Court.
Thus, as long as a quorum exists whenever the Court en banc meets, the absence of a new Chief Justice does not really affect the performance of its constitutional duty. At present, the fifteen (15) seats in the Court are occupied, and only a seat shall be vacated on May 17, 2010 – the Chief Justice post. Thus, fourteen (14) Associate Justices shall still remain, and they can perform their duty without any problem in any way.
The real issue is not about the vacancy in the Chief Justice post, by the retirement of Chief Justice Puno, because it poses no problem in the Court’s performance of its constitutional duty.
The real issue is the rush of JBC members – DOJ Secretary Agnes Devanadera and Rep. Matias Defensor – for the JBC to immediately convene and deliberate on the list of nominees for the Chief Justice post in order for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to make the appointment before her term of office ends.
Corollary to this is the apparent acquiescence of Malacañang to this move by said two JBC members. Malacañang has never repudiated such move to date nor issued any statement that the President won’t appoint the next Chief Justice.
All these things are clearly suspect and full of political underpinnings. Why does President Arroyo appear to be determined to appoint the next Chief Justice? Who will benefit from such appointment?
If President Arroyo would be the one to appoint the next Chief Justice, the credibility of the appointed Chief Justice may be put at a great risk since it is certain that plunder and human rights abuses charges will be filed against President Arroyo after her term has already ended. And if said cases will be elevated to the Court, the credibility of the appointed Chief Justice will be questioned. And the country could not afford such a situation in the prosecution of President Arroyo. The Court, especially the Chief Justice, must not be tainted with any suspicion of partiality or bias. And it would be unfair for the Chief Justice appointed to be placed in such a situation.
It is very clear that the apparent move for the JBC to immediately select the nominees from whom President Arroyo shall choose the next Chief Justice is for her to have a leverage and a bargaining power in the Court after her terms ends. If she makes the appointment of the next Chief Justice, all members of the Court will have been her appointees. And that is a huge leverage and bargaining power for political maneuvers and power play, a reality that history does not deny. # nordis.net
By PROF. JOSE MA. SISON
January 17, 2010
We of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle are in firm solidarity with Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) in the carrying out of the National Lakbayan (caravan and long march) for Land and Justice from the southern and northern regions of the Philippines to the national capital in ten days, from January 12 to 22.
We applaud and congratulate you for resolutely and militantly organizing this unique mass undertaking which traverses more than 1000 kilometers. We are elated that this mass mobilization has started from the south in Davao City on January 12 and from the north in Tarlac city on January 16.
We strongly support the broad masses of the people, especially the peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk, who are involved in this historic event. We eagerly await the convergence of the caravans and long marchers in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform on January 21 and the march to Mendiola, near the presidential palace, on January 22. We agree with all your objectives.
It is just to demand genuine land reform and the free distribution of land to the tillers as the solution to the land problem. Land reform must be realized on the strength of the peasant movement and for the purpose of attaining the economic, social and political liberation of the peasant masses. It must not be limited to the confines of reactionary legislation.
The so-called Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) is essentially intended to dampen the peasant demand for land and preserve the feudal and semifeudal forms of exploitation. As in previous bogus land reform programs, CARPER retains the same loopholes and tricks for the landlords to prevent or evade land reform.
It is necessary to bring to national and international attention the local struggles for land and take up the most outstanding cases of land accumulation and landgrabbing at the expense of the peasants and the farm workers. The people want to know more about the land greed, rapacity and brutality of certain landlord families that dominate the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.
Two major presidential candidates, Benigno Conjuangco-Aquino III and Gilberto Cojuangco-Teodoro belong to the same big comprador-landlord clan which owns vast haciendas in Tarlac, Pangasinan, Isabela, Negros, Caraga, Palawan and elsewhere in the country. The land question must be in the agenda of the current electoral struggle. The progressive parties and candidates who espouse land reform deserve support.
It is necessary to expose, oppose and frustrate the escalating militarization of the countryside under the Oplan Bantay Laya of the US-Arroyo regime. The gross and systematic human rights violations perpetrated by the regime are instigated and provided with logistics by US imperialism, especially under its policy of global war of terrorism. The official military, police and paramilitary forces collaborate with the private armies and gangs of foreign monopoly enterprises, the big compradors and landlords.
In their struggle against the imperialists and the local reactionaries, the toiling masses of workers and peasants must engage the active support of the middle social strata and middle forces of Philippine society. It is necessary to heighten the unity of the broad masses of the people and intensify their militant struggle against the rotten ruling system and the rapidly worsening socio-economic and political crisis.
We the International League of Peoples’ Struggle support the broad masses of the Filipino people in their struggle for national independence and empowerment of the toiling masses, development through national industrialization and land reform, social justice, a national, scientific and mass culture and international solidarity against imperialism and war.
We are determined to coordinate the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the Filipino people with those of all other peoples of the world in order to help raise to a new and higher level the struggle of humankind for greater freedom, democracy, all-round development, social justice and world peace.# nordis.net
By NATIONAL UNION OFPEOPLES” LAWYERS
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) view the running debate on the legality and propriety of appointing the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by the lameduck outgoing President Gloria Arroyo as going beyond the legal realm.
There is an abundance of legal bases that would easily have stopped President Arroyo’s band – Representative Matias Defensor Jr. and Department of Justice Secretary Agnes Devanedera, joined in by Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzales and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile – from even stoking the issue to advance their principal’s interests in naming and choosing the next Chief Justice. The Judicial and Bar Council is thus being politicized and painted into a corner by these orchestrated statements and moves that have the blessings of the Palace to prematurely submit a list of nominees.
Much has already been said about these legal bases to which we at NUPL fully agree with: the constitutional prohibition on appointments including the position of the Chief Justice two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of the President’s term (Article VII, Section 15), the well-settled jurisprudence that sustains this ban (In Re Appointments of Hon. Valenzuela and Hon. Vallarta, A.M. No. 98-5-01-SC November 9, 1998), and Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 (R.A. 296) that has survived the test of time and tradition that the most senior justice shall act as Chief Justice – all of which militate against the naming and choosing of the next Chief Justice by the very person who does not have the moral authority to do so: Mrs. Arroyo.
The real issue is not about the vacancy in the Chief Justice post that shall be created by the retirement of Chief Justice Puno because it poses no problem in the Court’s performance of its constitutional duties. The real issue is the rush of JBC members – Secretary Devanadera and Rep. Defensor – for the JBC to immediately convene and deliberate on the list of nominees for the Chief Justice post in order for President Arroyo to make the appointment before her term of office ends. Corollary to this is the apparent acquiescence of MalacaLang to this move as it has never repudiated such plan to date nor issued any statement that the President won’t appoint the next Chief Justice.
All these things are clearly suspect and full of political underpinnings. Why does President Arroyo appear to be so hot in appointing the next Chief Justice?
Thus far beyond all the legal debates and niceties – each lawyer can take either side depending on their legal analysis and what others say as partisan proclivities – are the higher questions or issues of principle. Is President Arroyo using this crucial situation regarding the impending vacancy on the post of Chief Justice to perpetuate herself in power, coming as it does on other previous telling indications that she is? Is President Arroyo manipulating this issue due to her well-founded fear of being held accountable by the people when she is scheduled to step down from the Presidency for credible and lingering charges of unbridled graft and corruption, rampant human rights violations, and midnight contracts – major issues that may ultimately have to come before and be resolved by the Supreme Court? It is very clear that the move for the JBC to immediately select the nominees is for President Arroyo to have a leverage and a bargaining power in the Court after her terms ends. If she makes the appointment of the next Chief Justice, all members of the Court will have been her appointees. And that is a huge leverage and bargaining power for political maneuvers and power play.
We at NUPL, as progressive lawyers that go beyond academic legal debates and relate these with the political, social and economic context and conditions of our society, view all these moves and statements by President Arroyo’s minions as ominous and betray her own sinister designs to perpetuate herself in power, cloak herself with immunity and dangle impunity, debase the post of the Chief Justice and of the Supreme Court itself. The teaching of history and experience is that the Chief Justice is key and crucial in the positions and opinions of the Court notwithstanding the professional origins and political orientation of some or all of its other members. The Court, especially the Chief Justice, must not be tainted with any suspicion of partiality or bias. And it would be unfair for the Chief Justice appointed to be placed in such a situation. A Damocles’sword is thus left hanging over the heads of whoever will be nominated or wish to be nominated.
These points must put into context this raging legal debate especially in view of the distinct scenarios of no elections, failure of elections or no proclamations of the highest elective posts up for grabs in May 2010. The NUPL believes that the outgoing President is quivering in her knees and is so desperate that naming and appointing a new Chief Justice that she expects – rightly or wrongly – to steer the Court to take her side and rescue is an offer she can not simply refuse. # nordis.net
By NATIONA UNION OF JOURNALISTS IN THE PHILIPPINES
QUEZON CITY — Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her Government must take all necessary measures to provide local media with protection ahead of upcoming elections, says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and other members of an international solidarity mission that investigated the November 23 massacre of 57 people in the southern Philippines.
Among those killed were 32 journalists and media workers.
“The massacre underlines the terrible dangers that Filipino journalists face. It also highlights the inability and unwillingness of the State to ensure the protection and safety of journalists who are seeking to perform their duties,” the mission members say in their report, Massacre in the Philippines: International Solidarity Mission Rapid Assessment, released today.
The mission conducted its investigations in the Philippines from December 5 to 10 in association with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an affiliate of the IFJ. The team included representatives from leading journalists’ rights and press freedom organisations, including the IFJ, Indonesia’s Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Media Support (IMS), International News Safety Institute (INSI), the Institute for Studies on the Free Flow of Information (ISAI), Australia’s Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, the Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA), the Thai Journalists’ Association (TJA), and Union Network International (UNI).
“Power-holders in the Philippines must act urgently on all the recommendations of the mission’s report to reverse once and for all the country’s shameful culture of impunity for the murders of journalists, tragically underscored on November 23,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
As the mission report went to press, the toll of media personnel killed in the massacre was revised up to 32, as it was confirmed that Saksi News photographer Jepon Cadagdagon was among the victims in Maguindanao province, Mindanao.
The toll of 32 media personnel includes 31 whose bodies were recovered, as well as Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay who remains missing.
The mission team says that it holds grave concerns for the safety of Filipino journalists as the investigation and prosecution of the accused takes place in a tense environment ahead of national and presidential elections due on May 10.
“This massacre, coming at the very beginning of the 2010 election process, not only undermines that process but has dealt a cruel blow to democracy and free media in the Philippines,” the mission members say in their report.
They call on the Government to ensure media is able to report fairly and freely on the election campaign without undue risk.
It also stresses concerns about judicial and forensic processes in view of the political ties between the Arroyo administration and the Ampatuan family in Mindanao.
Although at least 100 gunmen are believed to have been involved in the massacre, Andal Ampatuan Jr, the son of the clan patriarch, is the only person to be charged and brought before a court in direct connection to the massacre. He is pleading not guilty.
Among other significant concerns highlighted in the report is the role of Major General Alfredo Cayton, the Commander of the 6th Infantry Division in Maguindinao at the time of the massacre.
The mission urges a full investigation into Cayton’s role and actions preceding the massacre.
Cayton, who denied requests for a military escort to accompany the convoy that was attacked on November 23, was stood down immediately after the massacre.
However, he has since been promoted to Vice Commander of the Philippine Army.
The mission further calls for an investigation into reports that several members of the Philippine National Police were involved in the massacre.
It stresses that under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738 (2006), the Government of the Philippines is required to ensure its security forces provide the protection due to citizens in areas of conflict within national borders, including media personnel.
The mission, which Arroyo declined to meet, further recommends:
- The Government and local authorities must undertake all necessary measures to fully investigate the massacre and to ensure all evidence is properly preserved and available.
- The Government and local authorities must provide all necessary measures for the protection and safety of witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, lawyers and judges.
- Families must be provided with legal support to pursue the prosecution of perpetrators.
- Observers and human rights groups must have full open access to legal proceedings.
- The Government is urged not to reimpose martial law ahead of the May 10 elections.
The mission report will be officially released in the Philippines today at the launch of an organisation of families of journalists killed in the massacre,
Justice NOW! The NUJP and Justice NOW! will conduct a press conference in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, where many of the families live.
In Quezon City, the November 23 Movement, which has been convened by the NUJP, will hold a candle-lighting vigil, among other activities to mark two months since the massacre.
The report is available at: http://asiapacific.ifj.org.# nordis.net
By UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES-BAGUIO OPA
BAGUIO CITY — The University of the Philippines in here invites the public to a Free Forum on Social Studies Curriculum and Textbooks in Basic Education.
To clarify content as well as pedagogical issues in History and Social Studies in the elementary and secondary curricula including recommendations that will facilitate improvements in the teaching of History and Social Studies, by the Department of History and Philosophy University, College of Social Sciences of the University of the Philippines Baguio will conduct a the ‘Forum on Social Studies Curriculum and Textbooks in Basic Education on February 12, 2010, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bulwagang Juan Luna, University of the Philippines Baguio.
Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, a distinguished Filipino Historian and Consultant for Philippine textbooks and curriculum, will deliver a presentation entitled, “Making a Case for History in Basic Education” which is a result of the findings of a project she conducted that reviewed the curriculum and textbooks of Social Studies in basic education in the public school sector.
Dr. Diokno’s findings show that History has been marginalized in the basic education curriculum. Although three out of four years in high school teach history (Philippine, Asia, and world), at the elementary level, history is taught only in grade five.
History is part of the rubric of Social Studies, which primarily includes geography, civics, and government and, in fourth year high school, economics. History, however, is not civics and neither is it the multidisciplinary term ‘social sciences’ or ‘social studies’. Aside from the conceptual fragility of this combination (see, among others, the selection of topics covered by the prescribed social studies curriculum), there is the issue of competencies and skills to be learned.
The most distinctive—and least appealing—feature of the Social Studies subject is factual recollection, not infrequently at the expense of thinking and analytical skills, even in secondary education. The content of the Social Studies curriculum at both levels, including the competencies that students are taught or expected to learn, as well as the quality of the textbooks overall, are substandard from the point of view of the discipline of History.
A number of measures ought to be taken to remedy the situation, but most important is the restoration of History in the basic education curriculum. History helps our young understand themselves, develop a sense of being Filipino, and introduces them to membership in a larger community. Equally important, History teaches students to think critically—a competence inherent in the discipline—which is essential to the practice of decision-making as individuals and as members of Filipino society.
We enjoin and encourage the participation of primary, secondary and tertiary level Social Studies/MAKABAYAN/History and Education teachers, as well as students of History to attend the forum.
The forum is free of charge. Interested participants are asked to REGISTER IN ADVANCE not later than February 7, 2010. Please call, fax or email Prof. Leah Abayao (Chair – Department of History and Philosophy) and Ms. Maureen Macaraeg the complete names, positions, titles and institutional affiliations. The following are our contact details: Tel/ Fax: 074-442-2427, Mobile: 09279282471 or 09228499691 Emails: email@example.com or LEAbayao@yahoo.com. # nordis.net
Ni BRENDA SUBIDO-DACPANO
Tofu a naseksekan ti karne, maysa a Chinese inspired a putahe. Mabalin nga usaren a paseksek (stuffing) ti pasayan wenno ikan. Ti unusar ko ditoy ket giniling a karne ti baboy.
3 a bloke tofu
mantika a pagprituan
1 ngipen a bawang
dua kutsara a tausi
1/4 kilo nga uong (button wenno shitaki)
bulong ti sibuyas
1/4 kutsarita a paminta
1 kutsara a gawgaw wenno cornstarch
1/4 kilo a giniling a karne ti baboy
1 ungkay ti celery, naiwa iti pino
1 sibuyas, naiwa iti pino
1 ngipen a bawang
1/2 kutsarita nga asin
1 kutsara nga asukar a brown
1/4 kutsarita a paminta a pulbos
1. Isagana ti paseksek (stuffing): paglaoken amin a ramen ti paseksek. Ipaigid pay.
2. Iwaen iti agka-innem ti dakkel a bloke ti tofu. Iwaen ti tofu iti sikiganna ngem saan nga ilayon iti maysa a bangirna, ditoy ti pangiserrekan ti paseksek. Ikkan ti maysa kutsara a paseksek wenno no ania ti malaonna. Uliten daytoy aginggana maseksekan amin a tofu.
3. Iti pariok, iprito iti adu a mantika ti tofu nga adda paseksekna. Saan unay a pigsaan ti apoy tapno saan makset ken maluto ti paseksek. Adawen no naluton ti paseksek ken ag-brown bassit ti tofu, agarup walo a minutos. Paik-ikan iti colander wenno pinggan a naap-apan ti papel/kitchen tissue. Uliten aginggana maluto amin a tofu.
4. Ikkatan ti mantika ti pariok a nagprituan ti tofu, mangibati laeng ti 2 kutsara a mantika. Ditoy nga igisa ti bawang ken uong. Kiwaren. Ilaok ti tausi.
5. No naluton ti uong, ikabil ti gawgaw a naikanaw ti maysa tasa a danum. Kiwaren aginggana napalet, agarup lima a minutos. No napalet unay, nayunan ti bassit a danum, ngem no nasayaw unay, nayunan ti maysa kutsarita a gawgaw a naikanaw iti bassit a danum. Ramanan ti sarsa no husto ti apgadna. No kurang, nayunan ti asin. Timplaan ti paminta ken asukar.
6. Ilaok dagiti naprito a tofu ken naiwa a bulong ti sibuyas. Iluto iti 3-5 minutos. Adawen. # nordis.net
By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — The brother of a murdered human rights worker reiterated his opposition anew to the Board of Pardons and Parole of the Department of Justice recommendation to release one of the culprits of his brother’s murder.
Cirilo L. Batan wrote Reynaldo G. Bayang, executive director of the BPP-DOJ, expressing his strong opposition on the recommendation to grant parole to Agustin Tao-ad Agpawan, among the five members of the CAFGU who mercilessly shot his brother Christopher Batan while on their way to document human rights violations by the culprits’ village in Sadanga, Mountain Province.
The opposition letter was sent on Tuesday, January 12, by Batan to the BPP after the latter published in the Philippine Star on January 5 that Agpawan was among the 56 prisoners who are recommended for parole/executive clemency by their (BPP) office.
Batan reasoned out that they oppose the recommendation for Agpawan’s parole/executive clemency on the ground that if released Agpawan is a great threat to his family, relatives and witnesses of the case against his co-accused, one who is being tried and two are remain un-arrested up to this time.
“Mr. Agpawan has not shown any remorse on the crime that he has done until now and in fact has not apologized to us,” Batan added in his strongly worded letter which was also sent to the Office of the President, DOJ Secretary, the Trial Court in this city trying the case and the city prosecutor.
Batan explained in his letter that the companions of Agpawan who are at large and their fellow CAFGU are feared in their place in Mountain Province as they carry high powered firearms and boast that Mr. Agpawan shall soon be released.
The threats on Cirilo Batan and his family continue.
He received a letter on July 15, 2009 from alleged concerned citizens of Betwagan, Sadanga, the village of the accused, which states that Cirilo insulted them and he (Cirilo from the Lias tribe of Barlig, Mountain Province) does not recognize their peace pact with Betwagan.
Cirilo denied that Betwagan people ever approached him. He said that the letter was a threat as it was mailed in the post office in this city and contains no signatories, except the words Concerned Citizens of Betwagan.
Batan said that the City Trial Prosecutor Ruth Bernabe also wrote the BPP/DOJ on April 20 last year. Bernabe defended in her letter her office’s objection to the executive clemency by Agpawan as the trial of Panyong Rongan, one of the accused, is being heard before RTC Branch 59.
Nordis learned from Batan that the witnesses against Rongan are the same witnesses against Agpawan and the other accused.
To release Agpawan would threaten these witnesses, Batan explained.
The murder of Cristopher Batan happened on February 23, 1993 in Betwagan when he , together with Anglican priest Eduardo Solang and Mila Fanaang were on their way to the Betwagan village to document human rights violations committed during the Marcos regime which they would be included in the compensation case against the former dictator.
They were shot at by five CAFGUs fatally hitting Cristopher. The case was transferred through the order of the Supreme Court from Bontoc to this city due to the threat from the accused.
Agpawan and Bonifacio Chumacog were arrested in 1993 and 2004, respectively and were convicted afterwards.
Rongan surrendered in 2004 and is being tried by the same court.
Still at large accused
The other co-accused Mathew “Mateo” Fanao and Kengeb Fayno are still at large.
The court in this city had issued arrest warrants issued against Fanao and Fayno but to this day had not been arrested.
Nordis learned that Fanao has not been arrested by authorities despite being the Barangay Captain of Betwagan and the president of the Association of Barangay Captains in Sadanga in the past.
He has alleged connections with local politicians and military officials, said sources who claimed not to be identified. # nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — In a letter to the editor to one of the leading national daily newspaper copy furnished to the Nordis, the Chadli Molintas Command – New People’s Army (CMC-NPA-ICR) of the Ilocos-Cordillera Region denied links to the trade of illegal drugs in the region.
In a letter written by a certain Maj. Eugenio Julio C. Osias IV in the January 13, 2010 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer titled “The irony that is the CPP-NPA”. Osias accused the NPA of involvement in the alleged discovery of multi-million marijuana plantations in the Ilocos-Cordillera Region.
Martin Montana, CMC-NPA-ICR spokesperson said that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-NPA) maintains a strict policy against the use, cultivation and trafficking of marijuana. Montana also said this also applies against the manufacture and sale of other illegal drugs. He added that the CPP-NPA has never and will never tolerate illegal drugs trade.
Montana said that some poor peasants in the region are forced to plant and sell marijuana because of heightening poverty and the scarcicty of social services. Montana stressed that all NPA units and CPP branches in Ilocos-Cordillera discourage this kind of activity which he said is anti-social.
According to Montana, economic programs for alternative and sustainable livelihood and political programs of propaganda and education to dissuade peasants from planting marijuana is a continuing campaign of the CPP-NPA.
On the other hand, dishonest officers of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines even encourage and protect marijuana planters in the region, Montana claimed. “It is an open secret, especially among peasants in hinterland barangays, that marijuana seeds are provided for by military and police personnel, and that known marijuana buyers in the region are able to conduct business because of their military or police protectors.
It has become a laughing matter for astute residents of the region that marijuana raids by the police and military are often conducted when the marijuana plants are ready for market, and not when these are still seedlings that can be easily uprooted and eradicated.
The raids aren’t actually for the confiscation and destruction of marijuana, these are for the harvest and quick transport of the marijuana aboard military helicopters,” Montana said.
According to Montana, one of the big marijuana-growing areas in the region is in Mt. Chumanchill in Tinglayan, Kalinga. The spokesperson said that the plantation is being maintained by the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) which he added is an auxilliary of the AFP.
Montana stated that corrupt PNP and AFP officers gain from the marijuana trade in several ways. He said that while these officers earn promotions and incentives through their sham raids, they get profits from sales and receive protection money from marijuana dealers.
“Maj. Osias can dissemble and blend fact and fiction into what he thinks is a story that would be acceptable to the public. But he really isn’t getting anywhere with his concoctions. The great danger is not the revolutionary movement. The great danger is the fact that Philippine politics is dominated by warlord-politicos funded by logging and mining firms that devastate the environment, and by gambling and drug lords who wreak havoc on our youth’s future.
Using the NPA as a convenient whipping boy for the crimes committed by warlord-politicos with AFP and PNP complicity is a worn out tactic that no longer works. For were not the arms, ammunition and war materiel found in the possession of the perpetrators of the horrible Maguindanao massacre clearly from the AFP and PNP?” ended Montana. # nordis.net
By MAURICE MALANES
BAGUIO CITY — If they thought the issue over the Athletic Bowl has been put to rest after they recalled their earlier position of approving a deal with Koreans to develop and lease the facility, the involved city officials may have to brace themselves for the continuing actions of a vigilant public.
“We cannot just sweep the issue under the rug,” said University of the Cordilleras’ College of Law dean Reynaldo Agranzamendez. “The involved city officials must still be held accountable for entering into a deal without the necessary legal processes of public consultation and public bidding.”
Agranzamendez is the legal counsel of the Baguio Multi-Sectoral Group, whose leaders and members include religious and civic groups.
Leaders and members of the group were supposed to file a class suit against both parties of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) and the members of the city council who confirmed the MoA.
But they had to rethink their move after a local daily reported on Jan. 13 that An Ho Yul, the representative of the Korean party to the controversial MoA, had backed out. They also would like to ascertain that the Koreans have indeed officially retracted in writing the questionable deal.
City Mayor Peter Rey Bautista, who signed the MOA last Dec. 10, and members of the city council who unanimously confirmed the agreement last Dec. 21, all have retracted their positions because of popular opposition.
“Still, the fact that this (controversial MoA) happened must be a cause for alarm because this kind of questionable deal did not happen just once. There were the controversial car plan and the Jadewell fiasco,” said Agranzamendez.
He was referring to the proposal by city councilors to provide themselves service cars right after they assumed office three years ago and the controversial pay parking company, which the past city council authorized to collect fees from owners of parked vehicles along the city’s streets.
Meeting on Jan. 13, the multi-sectoral group leaders stressed that the unmaintained and unkempt Athletic Bowl south of Burnham Park needed repair and development. But its leaders asserted that any development of the facility must be done legally and rightly.
“We must ensure that the utter disregard for transparency and democratic processes must not happen again in the future,” said Jose Taguba, one of the group’s leaders.
But Taguba cheered up leaders and members of the group gathered at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) to “congratulate ourselves for our continuing vigilance.”
Leaders and supporters of the multi-sectoral group said the controversial MoA speaks volumes about those who pushed and approved it and then changed minds and “washed their hands” only after a vigilant public exposed what it asserted was irregular.
“Those involved either lacked the capacity to discern what was irregular or were aware of the irregularity and questionability of it all but helped push it anyway,” said lawyer Roney Gandeza.
Had the deal with the Koreans succeeded, the city would have been at the losing end, considering the “minuscule” proposed 100,000-peso monthly rent for the athletic bowl facility even if this would be raised to 140,000 pesos for the next 25 years, said Agranzamendez.
Leaders and members of the multi-sectoral group all agreed that a better and “more win-win” lease and development package for the neglected athletic bowl facility and its surrounding environs could be ensured through “a transparent, participatory and democratic process.”
Rev. Simplicio Dang-awan Jr., UCCP-Baguio senior pastor, had suggested that the group issue a “statement of concern,” which can also help other members of the public to be ever-vigilant in scrutinizing the actions of their elected officials. # nordis.net
CAMP PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Bantay, Ilocos Sur — The principal suspect in the murder attempt of a veteran broadcaster in Ilocos Sur has already been identified by the Ilocos Sur Police Provincial Office.
Senior Superintendent Eduardo A. Dopale, Ilocos Sur Police Provincial director, named the suspect as Mario Paa, a resident of Barangay Bulag East, Bantay, Ilocos Sur, who earlier was tagged as the prime suspect in the slay try on Eugene Paet, a commentator of DWRS radio station.
Dopale said the suspect was a neighbor of the victim. Their investigation showed that the two figured in a heated altercation last New Yearfs Eve regarding indiscriminate firing of a gun. The suspect accused the victim of firing a gun on New Year’s eve which the victim vehemently denied. He said they are now filing a case of frustrated murder against the suspect at the provincial prosecutor’s office.
The suspect will be arrested as soon as a warrant of arrest is issued by the court. Dopale also said the motive was not related to Paet’s work as a broadcaster but due to a personal grudge, citing the altercation between the two.
Nevertheless, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines – Ilocos Sur (NUJP-IS) Chapter chaired by Arlon Serdenia strongly condemned the shooting.
In a press release, Serdenia said, “The shooting of a broadcaster in the province is an attack to our constitutional right for the freedom of expression.
On the evening of January 7, 2010, broadcaster Eugene Paet of DWRS Commando Radio was shot while he was on his way home after his program “Operation Commando” by two assassins riding in a motorcycle.
They shot him twice but hit him once on his left side. Paet managed to stop his motorcycle and sought help. He was rushed to the hospital while the suspects fled.
The veteran broadcaster is now stable after a four (4) hour operation. Jun Ramos,the news director of Commando radio said that Paet is still in the intensive care unit for observation.
The statement said, “Whatever the motive was, this shooting of our brother in the media, NUJP Ilocos Sur Chapter condemns in the strongest terms the shooting of “Commando Uno” Eugene Paet.”
“We appeal to the authorities for the immediate resolution of the case as well the creation of a task force to investigate the shooting incidents.
We also call on our colleagues to stand firm and united in the face of these growing threats. Let us also demand an accounting from the government for its failure to protect and defend our rights not only as media but as a citizen. It is also very ironic that the scene of the crime was in the front of the police provincial headquarters.
Let us pray for the fast recovery of Commando Uno To our fellows, let us defend the freedom of expression at all times!” the statement concluded.# nordis.net
By JS TABANGCURA
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The Benguet State University on its 24th Charter Day Celebration on January 12 inked a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Asia Pacific Resource Recovery Reuse and Development Corporation (APRRRDC) on several research projects.
As stated in the MoA, BSU will implement research projects under the Institute of Highland Farming Systems and Agroforestry (IFHSA) which are:
Micropropagation of Hanga Varieties of Cordillera (Pittosporum resiniferum Hemsl.); Micropropagation of Seven Bamboo Varieties in Benguet; Feasibility of Chevon and Dairy Goat Production in Benguet; Ostrich Production Project and Solid Waste Management Project with focus on the processing of organic fertilizer.
These researches will be led by Julia Solimen as program leader and Valentino Macanes as project manager. BSU researchers involved are Milagros Dumaslan, Dante Chichioco, Marissa Parao, Anatalia Castrence, Myrna Walsiyen, Richard Dumapis, Madeline Kingan, Jose Balaoing, Alexander Fagyan and Asuncion Nagpala.# nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Bayan Muna Representative and senatorial bet Satur Ocampo questioned the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel (CBFSP) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on its decision in exempting the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) from gun ban during election period.
In a Comelec resolution 8742 released on January 11, government militia particularly the Cafgu, together with the Presidential Security Group (PSG), the Bureau of Fire Protection, the treasurer of the Philippines, deputy tresurers and the internal security division of the Bureau of Treasury are all exempted from the gun ban which started January 10 and will end on July 2 of 2010.
Comelec Commissioner and CBFSP head Lucenito Tagle said that they exempted the CAFGU, the PSG and the other groups because they are under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police. The commission also exempted the security personnel of accredited foreign diplomatic corps and establishments and foreign military personnel in the Philippines who are covered by existing treaties and international agreements.
Ocampo said that members of the Cafgu are often serving as bodyguards and goons of local warlords. He said they are being used as instruments for harassing and even killing supporters of rival candidates on election period. Ocampo added that they are given the most minimal training on gun handling and gun ethics with almost no idea on the respect of civil, political and human rights.
According to Ocampo, many of the Cafgus have become legitimized private armies for warlords and local government officials in the provinces and are allowed to carry firearms during the election period thus defeating the purpose of the election gun ban.
“Cafgus have been involved in many cases of human rights violations perpetrated against civilians. The Comelec should include them in the gun ban. In fact, the very institution itself should have been dismantled a long time ago!” said Ocampo.
The militant lawmaker also criticized the decision of Comelec accepting applications from officials for exemptions on various grounds. Ocampo said there are far too many exemptions that it is almost as if there is no gun ban at all. He added that by election day, there will be many people carrying guns.
The Comelec Regional Joint Security Control Centers (RJSCC) will accept applications from congressional candidates and other candidates for local elective positions for authority to employ bodyguards in the regions. It also authorizes the transfer or delivery of firearms bought during the election period so long as it is done by the “authorized dealer itself on a one way basis directly to the address of the buyer within twenty four hours.”
Ocampo said that the gun ban of the Comelec will soon turn out to be a failure. “Does the Comelec have the means and the manpower to monitor the activities of all local candidates and their security forces? Can the Comelec keep an eye on all the security forces of all the officials and agencies they exempt from the gun ban? I don’t think so,” Ocampo stressed.
Meanwhile, the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) called on the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to dismantle all para-military groups as election season started January 10.
Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes Jr said that the dismantling of all para-military units and armed civilian groups is imperative if private armies and local warlords are to be eliminated. “It is a well-known fact that these armed civilians are being used by local politicians as their own private armies. We have seen as much in the Ampatuan massacre,” Reyes said.
Issue on the para-military groups and armed civilian volunteers were highlighted in the news after the November 23 Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao where a hundred elements of Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVO) were involved in the massacre of 57 civilians and members of the media.
The CVOs involved were reportedly part of the Ampatuan clan’s private army.
“The Arroyo government has boasted that it will be coming down hard on private armies as we enter the election period. But unless Arroyo dismantles all para-military groups and revokes Executive Order 546, all this talk of going after private armies will be empty rhetoric,” said Reyes.
E.O. 546 was signed by President Arroyo in 2006 for the mobilization, training and arming of CVOs as local armed units under the supervision of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for counter-insurgency operations. The said CVOs are in addition to the Cafgus under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. # nordis.net