By ABIGAEL JOY JOSE
BAGUIO CITY — Members and supporters of the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Makabayan) coalition filed a formal complaint at the regional office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against the proliferation of black propaganda materials linking them to the underground rebel movement.
According to the complaint letter, the black propaganda materials are aimed at progressive partylists under Makabayan coalition namely Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela Women’s Partylist, Kabataan Partylist, Act Teachers Partylist and Katribu.
The said black propaganda are intended to demonize the reputation of the partylists mentioned above by means of big streamers, graffiti, stickers and vandalized electric posts, plastered on building walls and overpass scattered all over Northern Luzon stating that Makabayan and the said partylists are associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).
Volunteers and staff of Makabayan removed some of these streamers but since December 2009 they continue to be put up in many places.
“Our chapters all over Northern Luzon have informed us of these well-made, costly long tarpaulins or painted signs plastered on eye-catching areas on roads and bridges”, said Makabayan Baguio chapter Chairperson Manuel Loste.
Loste said that these cowardly attacks may put the lives of their members, friends and supporters in danger and become targets of armed and unarmed attacks because of such unproven and malicious allegations.
Loste added that they are duly recognized by the Comelec and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Kinikilala ng batas ang legalidad ng aming koalisyon at mga partylists (our coalition and our partylists are legally recognized),” he said.
Geraldine Cacho of Katribu said that the black propaganda materials are part of a campaign against progressive partylists and organizations. Cacho said that people and organizations who are campaigning for the welfare of the people and are critical of the administration are often maliciously branded as terrorist fronts. Because of these, she added, the members are subjected to enforced disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings.
John Panem of the Kabataan partylist said there is an effort to block the entrance of progressive partylist in Congress. He said these partylists are known to be staunch opponents of anti-people policies. He cited progressive partylists like Bayan Muna and Anakpawis who have had a hard time acquiring their legal share of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) because of their pro-people stance.
Makabayan requests the Comelec through the Cordillera Administrative Region’s officer Atty. Julius Torres to deputize the appropriate government agency to cause the removal of black propaganda materials especially those posted along the highways, avenues and streets of the Cordillera.#nordis.net
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Katinnulong Dagiti Umili iti Amianan Inc (KADUAMI) held its 6th General Assembly on March 17-18 at the Benguet State University’s Training Center. KADUAMI holds a general assembly every three years.
The general assembly was attended by 110 delegates representing Kaduami’s partners from 120 people’s organizations and non-government organizations all over Northern Luzon. It provides an opportunity for partners to collectively reflect on development issues confronting the people of Northern Luzon.
The theme for the 6th assembly is “Empowering communities to assert their right to food and right to development, and promoting good governance in the context of climate change”.
The sessions started with a challenge from the acting chairman of Kaduami, Bishop Marino Inong. He reported that even if we faced many challenges in the last three years, the people proved to be resilient and creative in facing the concerns.
An input from the national chairperson of Kilusan ng Magbubukid sa Pilipinas, Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos provided the focalpoint for the assembly. He challenged the people of Northern Luzon to promote and uphold pro-people issues in the face of the financial crisis besetting the nation and the world.
He said that as a nation we are at the juncture of history where people’s organizations can stamp their aspirations even on governance and policies reflected in government. He symbolized people’s unities with the weaving of abaca of which one thread could easily break.
However, a tightly woven abaca rope could not be easily unraveled or broken and it could provide a strong binding for the people. He challenged the assembly to weave a strong unity by asserting our rights even in the face of the militarization we are now experiencing.
Four workshop groups discussed the problems, effects, interventions by the people and partner organizations and the response of duty bearers that confront the people of Northern Luzon. The four workshops were on climate change, development aggression, election and good governance, and human rights.
It was pointed out in the reports of the workshops that the four areas of concern are inter-related. For example, the destruction of watersheds in the Cordillera will result to floods in the lowlands. The construction of mega-dams in the Cordillera will result to floods in the lowlands. The entry of foreign corporate mining in the communities results in militarization and human rights violations follow in these areas and so on.
The workshop groups pointed out that food security can be achieved if the producers of food are provided the tools to revive, renew and propagate the seeds of the future. Upland and lowlands partnerships should be strengthened including research, to trainings and capacity building.
Evidence based knowledge and the collection/promotion of indigenous capacities should be institutionalized and nurtured. Campaigns and advocacies of the people should be promoted on a wider scale and not only on the community level. Destructive large scale, foreign and corporate businesses should be banned in the areas if a wholistic approach to development is to be promoted. It was also suggested that cross-learning activities should be promoted so communities can learn from each others’ advanced experiences and share with each other methodologies.
A bonus for the partners was an input on organic rice and vegetables farming, the production of bio-fertilizers, vermiculture and a visit to the showcase organic farm of BSU. Red rice and C18 rice produced by the demo farm of Kaduami was on sale at the venue, apart from other produce from the partner organizations.
Solidarity messages from partners locally and abroad were read. A review of the Constitution of KADUAMI and election of officers for the next period was done. A report on the next phase of KADUAMI from 2010-2012 as formulated by the partners themselves was presented. The assembly ended with a solidarity dinner with partner organizations.#nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — After staging a series of pickets to seek dialogue with the management of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) in Mankayan, Benguet, the mine workers were promised to be paid but then again partially.
Lepanto Employees Union-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (LEU-NAFLU-KMU) President Manuel Binhaon said that in a meeting between the union and the management, they were told that the company will first pay P4 million on Saturday, March 20 at 1 pm and another P10 million on Tuesday, March 23.
Binhaon said that around 1,400 rank-and-file employees of the LCMC Mine Department will receive around P2,000 to P2, 500 each. “Ti kinaagpayso na ket bassit a gatad adi manen daytoy kumpara kadagiti gagatangen ken gastusen da, pati pay dagiti inutang da idi (The amount is so small compared to the daily expenses and the workers’ previous debts),” said Binhaon.
Binhaon said they are hoping that the management will be fair and true to its promise to deliver the additional P10 million on Tuesday. He said many parents need it so much since some of their children will graduate from elementary and high school. Some of them, Binhaon said are in need of money as their children who are in college especially the graduating students are required to submit projects and other requirements to be able to pass the semester. He said that the management gave them many promises and Memorandum of Agreements already that they have yet to fulfill.
But Binhaon said they did not know the result of the dialogue between a representative of the Social Security System (SSS) and the management. He said they held a closed-door meeting and the union was not invited. “Kayat mi kuma nga ammuen nu kas-ano met diay SSS mi tani saan kami metten a maka-avail ti benepisyo gapu kadagiti saan a panakairemit dagiti kontribusyon mi (We would like to know if our contributions to SSS were remitted because we cannot avail of our benefits because of the non-remittance of our contributions)”, Binhaon said.
Last March 8, the mine workers headed by the LEU together with the members of the Tignayan dagiti Babbai iti Minasan a Lepanto (Women’s Movement in Lepanto Mines or TBML) and wives of the workers, the Anakbayan-Lepanto and the mineworkers’ children as well as their relatives and friends trooped to the General office to demand the management to pay its obligations to its employees. The picket lasted for four days as they were promised a meeting with the management.#nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or Bayan scored the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by saying that it brought again shame to the country after the United States Department released its 2009 human rights report on the Philippines.
According to the report posted on the website, the arbitrary, unlawful and extrajudicial killings and political killings, including killings of journalists by elements of the security services and by a variety of actors continued to be major problems.
“Concerns about impunity persisted. Members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees, and there were instances of torture. Prisoners awaiting trial and those already convicted were often held under primitive conditions.”
Disappearances occurred, and arbitrary or warrantless arrests and detentions were common. Trials were delayed, and procedures were prolonged. Corruption was endemic.
Problems such as violence against women, abuse of children, child prostitution, trafficking in persons, child labor, and ineffective enforcement of worker rights were common,” the report stated further.
According also to the report, during the previous year, the members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees. The report also said that leftist and human rights activists often were subjected to harassment by local security forces.
Recently, Malacañang claimed they are encouraged by the report. But Bayan Secretary General Renato M. Reyes Jr said that the report put the country in shame. He said it is ridiculous that the Arroyo apologists are struggling to put a positive spin to it. “It is clear that the rights abuses committed by state security forces persist under the Arroyo administration. How can Malacanang be encouraged over that?”Reyes, Jr. asked.
Reyes said the palace is trying to downplay the impact of the report by saying that the rights abuses were only individual cases. He said that the Malacañang wanted it to appear that these are unrelated, isolated cases that do not follow a pattern of abuse perpetrated by state forces.
President Arroyo’s spokesperson Ricardo Saludo earlier expressed that the palace was elated by the positive assessment they got from the report on its so-called handling of human rights cases. Saludo said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are tasked to submit a report on the status of the individual cases mentioned in the report.
Reyes however said that one cannot window-dress a damning report. “It is what it is. Human rights abuses and a climate of impunity persist under the Arroyo regime,” said Reyes.
The report mentioned the abduction of Filipino-American Melissa Roxas by suspected military elements. Roxas was later granted a writ of amparo by the Court of Appeals.
The report also cited the killings of Rebelyn Pitao, environmental activist Eleazar “Boy” Billanes and peasant leader Fermin Lorcio as some of the cases of extrajudicial killings that were committed in 2009.
The report earlier reaffirmed the claims of militant and progressive groups that the Arroyo administration has been targetting activists.
Bayan called on the US government to be true to its report and stop providing military aid to the Arroyo government.. Reyes said that the US State Department report affirms what many groups have been saying all along that the human rights situation is not at all well in the Philippines contrary to what the government claims. “The situation is so bad even the US can’t ignore it,” said Reyes.
Reyes said that if despite the report that the US military aid continues to increase then the US clearly is directly supporting human rights abuses here in the country.# nordis.net
By RHODA SANTOS
BAGUIO CITY — The indigenous community of Barangay Tinongdan in Itogon, Benguet can now formally manage certain areas near the Binga power plant with the recent signing of a multi-party agreement.
Benguet Governor Nestor B. Fongwan, SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP)-Benguet Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel V. Rubio and Director Amador P. Batay-an of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera Region (NCIP) led the signing ceremonies on March 15, 2010 at the Provincial Capitol.
They were joined by Itogon Vice Mayor Noel G. Ngolob, Tinongdan Barangay Captain and Tinongdan Indigenous Peoples’ Organization representative Norberto I. Pacio, Watershed Management Director Emmanuel A. Umali of the National Power Corporation (NPC), and Asset Valuation Division manager Rommel G. Regacho of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM).
The agreement formalizes the use and administration of the Binga national and elementary schools, chapel, day care center, former market building and recreation hall in Marian Village by the indigenous peoples’ community.
The areas used to form part of the hydro power complex managed by NPC for 60 years. In 2008, SNAP-Benguet took over the 100 megawatt (MW) Binga power plant after winning the bid held by PSALM.
Mr. Rubio said SNAP-Benguet voluntarily participated in and supported the stakeholders’ consultation process. “We believe in balancing corporate investment with community investment… and that entails making positive contributions to the communities in which we operate,” he said.
Gov.. Fongwan lauded the groups that participated in the process but emphasized that the IPs are the most important group because of their role in the agreement. He noted that “even if the full work is yet to be done, the process of solving problems from way back has begun.”
According to Atty. Batay-an, the agreement was the first of its kind with stakeholders agreeing on a communal site through a consultation process.
“This is a concrete example of how stakeholders can be brought together and how the IPRA [Indigenous People’s Rights Act] can be a tool for cooperation and development,” he added.
The implementing agreement concretizes the May 29, 2009 Memorandum of Agreement which aimed to establish, among others, an Indigenous Peoples’ Cultural Heritage Site in Binga and Barangay Ambuklao in Bokod, Benguet.
SNAP-Benguet is a joint venture between SN Power of Norway and the Aboitiz Group. It also owns the 75 MW Ambuklao hydro power plant. # nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lt. General Delfin Bangit and Philippine Army head Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu were challenged by Bayan Muna Partylist third nominee Atty. Joven Laura to carry out their election duties as mandated to them by the constitution.
In the website of Bayan Muna, Laura said that it’s high time that the army reminds itself of its sworn obligation and through its new chief. Bangit promised earlier that he will not allow himself to be used in partisan politics. “Sa Diyos lang ako magpapagamit ( I will only submit myself to God)”, he said. Magapu meanwhile said that he will ensure that his soldiers will be non-partisan in the 2010 elections. Magapu even promised that he will see to it that military elements who will engaged themselves into partisan politics will be sanctioned.
Laura said that the adherence of Bangit and Magapu to the constitution and put a stop to the military’s black propaganda and harassment campaign against Makabayan coalition and progressive partylists like Bayan Muna among others.
Last year, and especially since the campaign period started, there were reports of rampant military harassing volunteers and staff of Makabayan and progressive partylists. One of the obvious campaign against the progressive partylist was in Sorsogon when military elements in full battle gear went house to house and from barrio to barrio warning the people not to vote for Makabayan senatoriables Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, Bayan Muna and other progressive partylists since February.
Makabayan volunteers also reported cases where alleged military men and policemen dismantled progressive posters. There are other cases of military’s partisan politics as Bayan Muna said are yet to be confirmed and in the process of documentation.
Here in the Cordillera like in other regions, unidentified people hang streamers that are meant to link the progressive partylists to the underground Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines in the major highways. The Makabayan national office as well as its provincial and city chapters filed formal complaints at the local office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on the matter.
Laura challenged Bangit and Mapagu to look into the cases and make a positive action in fulfilling their promise to uphold the constitution and punish those within their ranks who violate the law .#nordis.net
BAGUIO CITY — Beverly Longid, Katribu partylist first nominee, calls for greater social spending by the government to combat the fall-out from the on-going global finacial crisis.
This was Longid’s response to a joint report by the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank that the global financial crisis could trap 21 million more in the Asia-Pacific region in extreme poverty or those living on less than $1.25 a day. She also noted that indigenous peoples are not a priority concern of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The report presented in Manila last February 17 entitled “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in an Era of Global Uncertainty: Asia-Pacific Regional Report 2009/10” was produced by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). It examines the effects of the global economic crisis on the progress made by governments towards reaching the MDGs.
The report notes that the most adversely affected segment of the population are women, who constitute the majority of Asia’s low-skilled, low-salaried, and temporary workforce that can easily be laid off during economic downturns. Moreover the crisis has reduced the demand for migrant labour – and women form nearly two-thirds of the total Asian migrant population.
Longid pointed out that women are hardest by the crisis as they carry the burden of keeping the family together even as they must contribute to the income of the family. Indigenous women especially suffer more deprivation because of lesser opportunities and discrimination due to ethnicity. “As we celebrate Women’s month this year we should address these major concerns of women,” she added.
The ESCAP report finds that across the region, only 20 per cent of the unemployed and underemployed have access to labor market programmes such as unemployment benefits, and only 30 per cent of older people receive pensions.
Longid said that the actual situation in the Cordillera and other indigenous communities all over the Philippines might even be lower than those cited in the report. The contractualization of labor and the common practice of businesses of not giving the basic minimum wage to their workers has depleted the incomes of the people all the more. There is no tenure of employment much less benefits for the workers.
According to the report, prior to the economic crisis, the region as a whole had been making notable gains, including being on track to achieve three important targets: gender parity in secondary education, ensuring universal access of children to primary school, and halving the proportion of people living below the $1.25-a-day poverty line. However, the economic crisis undermined the momentum.
Asia and the Pacific is a region where more than 50 per cent of the people in both rural and urban, are without basic sanitation, of under-5 children who are underweight, of people infected with TB, of people living on less than $1.25 a day, and of rural people without access to clean water, according to the report.
The report notes that in 2009 the crisis trapped up to an additional 17 million people in extreme poverty, and in 2010, another 4 million, giving a total of 21 million or roughly the equivalent to the population of Australia. The amount of $1.25 is the poverty threshold or measure of poverty according to the standards set by the MDGs.
Earlier, the UNESCAP pointed out that the South Asia region faces issues related to health, environment (particularly water and sanitation) and nutrition. New findings suggest that the incidence of health, hunger and environment related poverty are not only interrelated but also underestimated in several countries of the Asia-Pacific region. A conference on facing challenges related to rising sea levels and high incidence of natural calamities was also called for the Pacific island countries.
Katribu nominee Longid explained that in times of crisis and disasters it is the women and children who suffer most. “These reports from the UN bodies compel us to act decisively to combat the extreme poverty suffered by families in the Asia-Pacific region if we are to save our population. Even the impact of extreme climate change we are now experiencing is sinking our women deeper into crushing poverty. We should compel government to devote more budgetary allocation and resources to combat the impact of the crisis,” Longid concluded. # nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL with reports from the wires
BAGUIO CITY — Makabayan coalition senatorial bet and Nacionalista Party guest candidate Satur Ocampo said it would be best for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to tell the truth so that contingency measures can be prepared for the elections.
Ocampo called on the Comelec to declare whether it can still push through with the full poll automation or fall back on the old fashioned way. He said the Comelec should admit its limitations amid notable reports of system failures and delays in the preparations.
“Otherwise, we will all be up the creek without a single paddle”, Ocampo said.
Ocampo criticized the Comelec’s attempt to assure the public of its preparations on the poll automation as not convincing. Ocampo revealed that the commission is already days past its self-imposed deadline to announce whether they are ready for full automation or go partial come May elections.
Ocampo said the Comelec has failed to assure that the 50 million ballots will be ready by April 25. He said the public is still very much at a loss regarding how automation works given the very limited information campaign regarding the process.
“The issues of ballot security are also unresolved as well the security of the transmission of results from the precincts. There are a thousand and one things that could go wrong, and the Comelec should acknowledge and prepare for this. It would be best for the Comelec to conduct an immediate and comprehensive assessment of the preparations for the polls and determine if we’re really ready for automation or not,” said Ocampo.
According to Ocampo, the Center for Peoples Empowerment in Governance (CenPeg) has found 30 areas that will affect the success of the poll automation. He said there are many areas that are problematic like the lack of a source code or software preview, passwords to be generated by Smartmatic and Comelec instead of the Board of Election Inspectors, lack of public counting and the absence of proper measures and procedures that will look into the election protests.
Ocampo stressed that it is not a matter of pointing fingers and exchanging blames. He said it is merely the acceptance of limitations.
“If it is not the right time for automation, then we should not force it. The repercussions are too serious and we risk failure of the polls. The Comelec should weigh in all these considerations,” Ocampo ended. # nordis.net
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Reports from people’s organizations all over Northern Luzon show an increasing trend in development aggression. This was culled from the provincial surveys of people’s opposition to the encroachment of big, foreign corporate businesses in people’s lands and watersystems in the recently concluded KADUAMI 6th General Assembly. (see related article)
Development aggression happens when the people are not consulted in planning, implementation and exploitation of their resources and livelihood. Aggression happens when the people become incidental and victims of land grabbing, resource destruction and dislocation due to large-scale and corporate interests.
Cagayan province reported the growing opposition not only of people’s organizations to magnetite or black sand mining but also church and environment advocates.
Colossal Mining Corporation, a 100 % Filipino owned company that engages in exploration, mining, and production of iron ore in the Philippines, holds three exploration permits of 36,000 hectares of offshore magnetite iron ore sites in Northern Luzon (Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, and Ilocos Sur) of which 13,483.89 hectares are located in the province of Cagayan alone, situated in the municipal waters of Sanchez Mira, Pamplona, Abulug, Ballesteros, Appari, Buguey and Gonzaga of Cagayan. Colossal Mining Corporation is a partner of Bonaparte Diamond Mines NL, the sole company based in Australia that conducts marine diamond exploration.
Offshore mining of magnetite in Cagayan can increase vulnerability to floods as magnetite holds the sand together. The absence of magnetite in the sand can deplete and erode the coastal and near-shore areas as the experience of Bauang, La Union had shown. Bauang municipal government is now putting up seawalls as a mitigating measure for flooding. The experience of the Bauang river overflowing and flooding the barrios during Typhoon Pepeng is a very concrete example of the disastrous impact of near shore mining.
Food security of indigenous peoples in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya is threatened by the large-scale mining operations of Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) and Oxiana-RoyalCo. At the same time, the FPIC process under the IPRA law brings disunity among the IPs residing in the mining-affected areas.
The areas stated in the mining permit granted to the mining companies are within an ancestral land applied by the Bugkalots for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC), through the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). The Bugkalots are discriminated as only migrants and not original people of the place.
Coal-fired power plants to tap coal deposits worth millions of dollars are planned for Cauayan, Benito Soliven and Naguilian in Isabela. American companies are partnering with the Philippine government to help energize not only Isabela but Luzon as well.
Thousands of farming families are fighting to keep their lands and have blocked the 50MW project. The PNOC-Exploration Corp. has announced this month that it will soon start the 50MW open-pit coal plant in Cauayan.
Cordillera has reported the most number of mining exploration claims among the three regions. Benguet alone has more than 37 permits for 117,000 hectares or 43% of the whole area of Benguet. Even the Abra river is not spared. A foreign firm is interested to mine its river aggregates. To think that the mine wastes dumped by Lepanto have polluted it.
The waters and watersheds of the mountain areas of Northern Luzon are also magnets for corporate interests as they drumbeat the need for energy and cheap energy sources. To date, the people of Northern Luzon have successfully stopped or delayed these huge, destructive projects.
The reports from the people’s organizations show communities bravely fighting these interests. The corporations have been using deception and military might to push their projects. The people’s organizations noted that communities experience human rights violations, militarization and rifts among them caused by the deception of the government, military authorities and big business.
In the face of the concerted effort to grab the people’s resources and livelihood, the people have steadfastly stood their ground. In the 6th General Assembly of KADUAMI they have renewed their pledge to continue protecting their people, land and livelihood, and their right to full development.# nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The members of Anakpawis Partylist and the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement) trooped to the national office of the Social Security System (SSS) to protest the implementation of the Unified Multi-purpose Identification (UMID) system.
According to KMU in its web page, the UMID system will be serve as a tool for the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to spy on its citizens and make it also as a source of funds for its electoral campaigns.
KMU Secretary General Roger Soluta said that at the core of UMID system is the national identification system which is being proposed by the government since former President Fidel Ramos and was resurrected by unseated President Joseph Estrada. Soluta said this is now being railroaded by the Arroyo administration.
The UMID-complaint card or all-in-one utility card will take over the functions of the cards of the 50 million members of SSS, Government Security and Insurance System (GSIS), Philhealth and Pag-ibig, The said card will bear a common reference number (CRN) which will be the primary identifier of a card holder in transaction.
During the term of Ramos, he directed government agencies through Executive Order (EO) 800 to adopt a uniformed data collection for existing identification system.
The Supreme Court assailed the EO as unscontitutional saying it is an outright violation of the right of the citizens to privacy. The Arroyo government issued its version through the EO 420 on April 2005. This was met with protests mostly from militants.
Soluta said that the National Computerized ID system proposal of Ramos was strongly opposed by the public more than a decade ago and was even invalidated by the SC in 1998. “Now the Arroyo administration is resurrecting the ID system as part of its so-called ‘anti-terror efforts.’
There will be 12 million IDs for the next five years costing up to P1.7 billion. The new GSIS ID card which will be on its initial roll-out this March will cost P270 million or P 180 per piece while the new SSS-Philpost card will cost P140 each.
In January 2008 Arroyo through its subsequent EO said that the Social Security ID System will be the core of the UMID system. She directed the SSS to implement the streamlining and harmonization of the ID systems of all government agencies and government owned and controlled corporations.
“The Department of Defense and AFP have been strongly advocating for the implementation of an ID system. This could be a part of the AFP’s desperate attempt to ‘execute the final phase of counterinsurgency’ as its June 30 deadline nears.” Soluta said.
Anakpawis Representative Joel Maglunsod said that the unified ID system will serve a dual purpose for the Arroyo government. He said that it will be a money-making scheme to generate campaign funds and as a convenient way to embed a barcide and trackdown Filipinos.
“Instant destruction of our civil liberties – that is what this new ID system spells out.” said Maglunsod.# nordis.net
The law is clear on the appointment powers of an out-going president: He or she is prohibited from appointing anyone 60 days before he or she steps down from the Presidency. The rationale behind this constitutional prohibition is to to prevent him or her from exercising undue influence after exiting from power.
Former President Fidel V. Ramos tried to circumvent this provision in 1998, but the Supreme Court then under the leadership of Chief Justice Narvasa unanimously voted to uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution and struck down his midnight appointments as unconstitutional.
Recently, the Supreme Court set aside this legal precedent and decided by a majority vote to allow the out-going president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to appoint the next chief justice when Chief Justice Reynato Puno retires on April 17, or a week after the May 10 elections.
In the past, citizens of this country looked upon to the highest court of the land as the final arbiter of what is lawful and constitutional. This time, however, there is a growing perception that the majority members of the Supreme Court have opted to pay back the appointing authority in a display of gratitude, but unfortunately undermining the independence of the judiciary.
From hereon, people can no longer expect the Supreme Court to decide fairly when cases against GMA’s is brought before it. This will happen when cases of plunder, corruption and abuse of authority is finally brought against GMA when she steps out of Malacanang.
What the framers of the Constitution feared will have finally come to pass – a president being able to influence, if not control, the judiciary even if she is no longer in power. Add to this is the likelihood that the current administration will have a majority in Congress under the leadership of Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then GMA’s bid to regain Malacanang through a constitutional change would have become much easier.
And if things go awry in the coming May 10 elections, then there is always the insurance that the AFP will remain loyal to her after having appointed its top brass from the PMA’s class 1978 of which she is an honorary member.
Even if a new president is elected in the coming elections and duly sworn in as such, he will be in a less than enviable position as he would then be confronted with an opposition congress, a military loyal to the outgoing president and a judiciary whose independence has been severely compromised.
This is the scenario that many of our citizenry fear. GMA would not have really left after all to be held accountable for variious crimes she committed against the people while sitting as president of the land. It is this unmitigated greed for power that has made everything that GMA has touched to rot.
First, it was the executive branch with many of her minions plundering the coffers of the nation. Then, Congress succumbed to her wily ways, most of them voting to oppose the impeachment charges brought against her. Now, it is the turn of the judicial branch of government to succumb to the unrelenting efforts of GMA to make it bend to her will.
With all the checks and balances in government now seriously compromised, it is no wonder that the citizenry is fearful that a dictatorial regime is not far-fetched. Thus, the call for vigilance has again been raised even as the people are busy preparing for the May 10 elections.
Many more things can happen between now and June 30 when GMA is expected to bow to the will of the citizenry. But if her previous actuations are any gauge, the people be better prepared for sudden twists and turns in the political landscape as GMA clings hard to power, including undermining judicial independence. # nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
The trouble with unemployment is that the minute you wake up in the morning you’re on the job. — Slappy White
Unemployment : The state of having no job; joblessness; The phenomenon of joblessness in an economy; The level of joblessness in an economy, often measured as a percentage of the workforce; A type of joblessness due to a particular economic mechanism; An instance or period of joblessness – en.wiktionary.org/wiki/unemployment
Unemployed: Number of people within the economically active population (people between 15-65 years), who are willing to work, looking for a job, but unable to find a job.
In a new imitation talent search show here in the Philippines, many people try their luck in the audition. They all hope to make it to be in the final selection and make it to the top to win the P2 million prize. You can see their perseverance and their determination.
In order to please the three judges, they do their best to show their maybe God-given or planned for that competition talent. The contestants sing, do some funny things, dance, act and many others.
A man who was unemployed for years and who has been looking for a job his whole life auditioned for that show. When interviewed, he said he joined to show his talent and his unending search for the elusive job will stop.
He then rose to the stage, and amidst the laughter of everybody in the audition, he was wearing funny clothes and in the ridiculous make-up of a clown. He was then asked by one of the judges what was his talent, he said he was a singing contortionist. He can sing and do some body twisting and fancy exhibitions.
When he started to do his number, the people in the room laughed and shouted jeered and booed. One of the judgescould not control her giggle and finally burst out into laughter. The poor man still continued trying to sing even if he was out of tune and he was not really a contortionist. But you can see in his face the hopelessness of a hungry man. He had to do this so if ever he may be counted in by the judges, there will be a chance for him to redeem himself from unemployment and who knows, he will get the P2 million.
Many are like him who are not really talented at all. They are just trying their very best and their luck. Even if they will turn out to be the laughing stock of the audience and the judges. They also have to endure what the judges say, as one of the judges used to say: “ang pangit ng pinakita mo (whatever you had showed us was ugly),” or listen to the No of the judges. Many times, they will be ridiculed by the crowd and the people who know them.
According to the latest government survey, the country has 2.83 million unemployed Filipinos in January. The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1st movement or KMU) said the most recent jobless rate is 7.3 % higher than October last year which is 7.1%. In 2009, Ibon Data Foundation said that 25 million up to 32 million Filipinos are either jobless or underemployed.
Even if the present administration twisted the definition of unemployment, it cannot hide the job scarcity in the country. In 2005, the government excluded from the labor force those who are tired of looking for work and those who see that there are no available jobs for the unemployed.
How many Filipinos who have no job will try their luck in funny talent searches and promises of prices because they cannot find a job? How many Filipinos who because of joblessness endure ridicule just to grab a chance to get that instant income?
Will there come a time when there will be no unemployed?# nordis.net
By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“Remember, my son, that in your lifetime you were given all the good things, while Lazarus got all the bad things. But now he is enjoying himself here, while you are in pain.” — Luke 16:25
Hunger and Poverty
Citing a National Statistical Coordinating Board data, Albay Governor Joey Salceda said in an interview, “My biggest frustration as a presidential adviser is that 34 quarters of uninterrupted expansion in the past nine years did little to reduce poverty and the number of poor people.” He said further that the number of poor Filipinos – five- member families living on a little more that P1, 200 a month – rose to 27.60 million in 2006 from 25.47 million in 2001. Incidence of hunger nearly doubled from 11.4 percent in 2000 to 20.3 percent in 2009, he also added.
We need not be an economic analyst or expert to understand why this was so. Poverty and hunger in our country are obviously connected to corruption and injustice. Our nation’s resources are unevenly distributed. Public funds from people’s taxes that are supposed to be redistributed through government services rather find their way to pockets of people in the bureaucracy. This is shown by numerous scandalous scams committed by people in government within the period cited.
But I think the deeper reason why there is so much hunger and poverty in our land despite glowing government economic statistics is the general indifference of people towards poverty and hunger. People are no longer disturbed by the statistics of hunger and poverty. Politicians usually make use of hunger and poverty as issues in their electoral campaigns. But many times it simply ends up as mere rhetoric.
Rich Man and Lazarus
There is an old, beautiful rabbinic parable recorded in the Gospel According to Luke that illustrates to us people’s indifference to hunger and poverty. It is about the story of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31). The Parable says: There was once a rich man who dressed in most expensive clothes and lived in great luxury everyday. There was also a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who used to be brought to the rich man’s door, hoping to eat the bits of food that fell from the rich man’s table.
The dogs noticed the poor man and would come to lick his sores, but the rich man never noticed the poor man in front of his house. Perhaps, the rich man simply regarded Lazarus not as a human being but as part of the natural landscape.
The poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the feast in heaven. The rich man died and was buried, and in Hades, where he was in great pain, he looked up and saw Abraham, far away, with Lazarus at his side. So he called out, “Father Abraham! Take pity on me, and send Lazarus to dip his finger in some water and cool off my tongue, because I am in great pain in this fire!”
But Abraham said, “Remember, my son, that in your lifetime you were given all the good things, while Lazarus got all the bad things. But now he is enjoying himself here, while you are in pain. Besides all that, there is a deep pit lying between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, nor can anyone cross over to us from where you are.”
The rich man said, “Then, I beg you, father Abraham, send Lazarus to my father’s house, where I have five brothers. Let him go and warn them so that they, at least, will not come to this place of pain.” Abraham said, “Your brothers have Moses and the prophets to warn them; your brothers should listen to what they say.” The rich man answered, “That is not enough, father Abraham! But if someone were to rise from death and go to them, then they would turn from their sins.” But Abraham said, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.”
Sin of Indifference
The point of the parable is not about the temperature of heaven and hell, but rather about the sin of indifference. The sin of the rich man is the sin of indifference. Not that it is wrong to be rich, but it is wrong to be rich to the point that we become indiferrent to the poverty and hunger of other people.
The point of the parable is the fact that we are the five brothers of the rich man that he was referring to. We need to be warned before it’s too late about the terrible consequences of being indifferent to the problem of hunger and poverty in this world. To end people’s hunger and poverty should not only be a campaign slogan of politicians; it must be a concrete and sustained program of government, and a genuine concern of the whole citizenry, including the church. # nordis.net
By GLADY MAE TALAN
Forty years from now, two out of three polar bears existing today will disappear. Moreover, years from now the highest city in the Philippines, Baguio City will soon have an island view floating in a vast sea. “The city by the clouds” will soon be the only remaining city where you could still land your feet to see clouds. This is all going to happen because of us. We are now obviously experiencing the most destructive phenomenon ever seen in human history — global warming.
Aren’t you worried enough? For your loved ones? Think about it. It is never too late.
Global warming is a global phenomenon brought by green house effect which is related to the absorption of solar energy by the planet and its ultimate radiation by wave length infrared energy. Atmospheric water vapor and carbon dioxide trap infrared lights resulting in the increase of the planet’s surface temperature.
In many countries, people keep on cutting down millions of trees. At the same time, big factories all over the world are sending more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is hard to believe but factories pour out billion of tons of carbon dioxide annually. One ton is equal to 200 pounds. What pollution!
On the other hand, carbon dioxide is used by plants and trees in the processing of food that in return gives us life. However, too much of it makes the atmosphere warmer. Heat that is supposed to pass through this barrier (the atmosphere) is unable to pass. Instead, it keeps on going back to earth, turning the world warmer. Global warming causes huge icebergs and ice caps to melt resulting to higher sea level.
Scientists predict that years from now, many islets and even island will disappear. We may think this is impossible in the Philippines but nature has already spoken when it washed out the whole barangay of Ginsaugon 3 years ago, when Ormoc, Leyte was covered in mudslides and when Little Kibungan, La Trinidad, Benguet eroded in a landslide just last year. Climate change is responsible for typhoons and super typhoons destroying many lives.
We take blame over those big factories, destroying nature until it withers. We took for granted protecting nature, we forget we too have a contribution to the destruction of this once beautiful God- given paradise. Mother nature is dying in our hands. We all contributed in the death, in the destruction of our world. We should start saving it to pay for all we did. Save mother earth, save yourself.
Planting trees can help. Recycling trash is a small move, but can help save energy and fuels. Mother Nature loves and gives us everything. It satisfies our needs with its bounties. Let us save our world from global warming.# nordis.net
By JOSE MA. SISON
20 March 2010
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) joins the peoples of the United States, Iraq and the rest of the world in condemning the continuing US occupation of Iraq and national oppression of the Iraqi people, as well as the continuing notorious US-led global war of terror.
We do so as we mark the 7th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq this March 20. We actively support all protest initiatives being undertaken by ILPS member-organizations and and all other forces in commemorating this monstrous imperialist act of aggression.
We must make manifest the peoples’ outrage at the betrayal of the American people by the Obama administration for refusing to undo the rotten policies and programs of its predecessor Bush regime of carrying out wars of aggression; and unleashing fascism on a global scale, especially Israeli Zionism in the Middle East.
We must condemn the unprecedentedly wanton military spending that hemorrhages the chronically sick US economy and deprives the American people of social services and economic relief. We consider as reprehensible the continued adherence of the US to the bankrupt dogma of neoliberal globalization and the concomitant brazen political deceits.
For all intents and purposes, the Obama administration has clearly shown that it has taken as its own the US-led global war of terror passed on to it by the Bush regime. This is now Obama’s war. Under its new emperor, the US is expanding its global network of military bases even while it is sinking in the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Obama administration harps on the false promise of “US withdrawal from Iraq,” while fortifying strategic US military bases in Iraq and increasing US troops and other foreign armed personnel under the guise of security contract employees. The US is hell-bent on owning or controlling the oil resources of Iraq and is desperately trying to preserve an ever fragile puppet regime through the holding of reactionary elections for this purpose. These sham elections cannot be passed off as democratic.
Together with the people of the world in solidarity with them, the people of Iraq cannot forget and cannot forgive the killing of millions of Iraqis and the forced displacements of several more millions, the widespread destruction of the economy and social infrastructure and the seizure of oil and other natural resources. They hate the US aggressors, their imperialist allies and the local reactionary puppets. For as long as they are exploited and oppressed, the Iraqi people are determined to fight for national and social liberation.
The Obama government is complicit in the crime of aggression in Iraq. It has clearly abandoned all efforts to prosecute Bush, Cheney and their henchmen for their war crimes in Iraq. These include the pillaging of Iraqi patrimony and war megaprofiteering by crony firms, the illegal use of toxic chemical and nuclear weapons, such as white phosphorus and depleted uranium “bunk-buster” weapons, and the poisoning of water facilities. The violations of the Geneva Conventions are unprecedented.
It is not surprising that the Obama regime has condoned the war crimes of the Bush regime. During the 2008 presidential elections, it received huge amounts of campaign funds from the giant corporations of the US military-industrial complex. Since then it has collaborated with them in the same way as the Bush regime. Key personages of the Bush clique in the defense establishment, foremost of whom is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, have been retained and made part of Team Obama to preserve the militarist policies and programs begun under Bush.
The ILPS salutes the people of Iraq in their continuing heroic patriotic resistance to the US occupation. Their anti-imperialist struggle has made great strides and has contributed greatly to the bleeding of the evil imperialist beast. They are thwarting the despicable US moves to undermine their struggle via demonizing and isolating the armed resistance, and cultivating fringe groups invariably linked to â€œal-Qaedaâ€ in a futile attempt to outflank the solid homegrown armed resistance.
We call on our member-organizations and all friendly forces in the global anti-imperialist struggle to hold the Obama government accountable for the continuing war crimes in the US occupation of Iraq and in the so-called global war of terror. We call for the accounting of the Bush-Cheney clique’s crimes against the people of Iraq, the United States and the rest of the world.
We demand the immediate pull-out of US troops in Iraq, the Middle East, and elsewhere outside of the US, a stop to US support for Israeli fascism, an end to the promotion of fascism and militarism at large, and the undoing of the current US military command structure to serve these ends. The Iraqi people’s right to self-determination must be upheld immediately.
We join the American people in calling for an end to the severe debilitation of the US economy by American militarist adventures overseas, and for the prioritization of immediate economic relief and recovery, job regeneration and expansion of social services, especially health insurance and housing for the homeless. We encourage the American people to break the stranglehold of the finance oligarchy on the entire US economic, social and political system.
US, out of Iraq and the Middle East! No to imperialist wars of aggression, fascism and militarism! Fund economic relief and recovery, and not the wars and the banks! Down with US imperialism! Long live the people of Iraq! # nordis.net
By STELA SAYAN
Everybody may agree that Session Road is Baguio City’s most popular road, but is everybody aware that it was named so because it was the venue of the first session of the Philippine Commision under the American colonial rule?
How many of our fathers or our grandfathers would remember how Session Road used to look like, where cafes, restaurants, boutiques, the famous Session theatre catered to Americans in cowboy hats and highlanders in bell buttons? Well, that was Session road-very American.
Today, after celebrating Baguio City’s Centennial, here are two faces of Baguio’s Session Road:
Session Road in Bloom- the season of the country’s best festival; the Baguio Flower Festival or Panagbenga highlights Session Road for one-week where it gets transformed from a busy street to a shopping/foodtrip boulevard. Stalls are put up where food, ornaments, drinks and a lot more are sold; concerts are organized to entertain tourists, and the Baguio’s Finest Policemen parade in uniform to assure security. A picture of real festivity for one week, then after that, here is the other picture:
Session Road now bare – After the stalls are removed, Session Road gets back to reality. A mere walkway towards SM or to the Baguio Cathedral, a busy street of carbon emitting cars and a dumping place for the garbage from the recent festival. A good ground for pickpockets to practice their skill.
Heres the irony, do we just show off the best during festivities as a compliance? Why do we do a thorough clean up only before the Panagbenga? Why do our good looking policemen disapear after the festival?
Why does Session Road get so bare and neglected after it had just bloomed? Is Session Road like the sunflower that blooms only during summer then wilts and go for a while? Gosh what would the designers of Baguio say when they see how much we ruined the beautiful centerpiece they had designed for us, designed to be different from all the cities in the country, Oh how pitiful Session Road is, having to wait another year to bloom again. # nordis.net
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
Union said mining company not complying with the MOA
MANKAYAN, Benguet — The rank-and-file employees headed by the Lepanto Employees Union-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (LEU-NAFLU-KMU) picketed the general office of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) to demand the company to pay its workers.
The picket-rally started by the workers with their wives, children and supporters on March 8 sought a dialogue with the management of the Lepanto Mine Division (LMD) and an explanation on the continued delay of wages and non-payment of SSS contributions. Around three to four hundred participated in the said picket since then.
According to LEU president Manuel Binhaon, they like to have a dialogue with the management but as of press time, they got no reply. “Nalawag a saan kami nga agis-strike, kayat mi lang nga ammuen nu apay nga aginggana itatta ket kasla saan a matungtungpal ti nagtungtungan mi (It is clear that we are not staging a strike, we just like to know why the agreements with the management are not being complied with)”, said Binhaon.
Last December 22, 2009, LCMC President Brian Yap promised that the company will pay P14 million for the unpaid salaries of the mineworkers and P9.2 million for backwages. Binhaon said that Yap promised this in a dialogue between the officers of the union and the management in the Makati head office of the company.
Same issue, same story
Binhaon said that the management seemingly does not want to fulfill its commitment to resolve the issue of unpaid SSS premiums, back wages and regular pay of the workers. He said that what is only being addressed is the stoppage of work rotation imposed by the management last year.
According to the last statement of the Research and Education committee of the union, LCMC owed them a total of P265.2 million. The management did not submit around P91 million for the SSS and Pag-ibig premiums. The union also noted that the unpaid wages from June 2009 has reached P85 million.
The union said that because of the non-payment of their SSS and Pag-ibig, the mine workers cannot apply for loan and enjoy other benefits. They also complained of delayed paying of their salaries.
On March 11, a worker reported that they were partially paid by the management just P1,500 each. “Kas-ano kami ngayen, anya manen ti ipakan kadagiti ubbing nu kastoy manen ti aramiden da kadakami (How will we live, what will we feed our children if management will give us partial payments again)”, said one of the workers who requested for anonymity.
Binhaon informed this paper that they will continue with the picket until the management will face them in a dialogue. “Awan dakes a rangta mi, kayat mi lang a matungpal dagiti naikari kadakami idi (We do not mean harm, all we want is for management to fulfill their promises to us),” said Binhaon.
The picket was also attended by the Tignayan dagiti Babbai iti Minasan a Lepanto (Movement of Women in Lepanto Mines or TBML), the members of the Anakbayan-Lepanto together with the children of the mine workers as well as their relatives and supporters. #nordis.net