by editors

Youthspeak: 6.4% extraordinary econ growth benefits on the rich

June 10, 2012 in columns, Featured, opinion by editors


Anakbayan, the organization of young workers and professionals, peasants, out-of-school and community youth and students, slammed the recent rise in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), dubbed by Malacañang as ‘extraordinary’, saying that its benefits have accrued only to a few while millions live in deep poverty.

The youth group dismissed as “delusional” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s statement that “these positive figures reaffirm exactly” Aquino’s much-vaunted “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”.

“Secretary Abad and Malacañang perceive and portray reality differently from ordinary Filipinos. The growth recorded merely reflects increased economic activity but it does not actually translate to poverty reduction or better quality of life for the people.”

Contrary to their belief that the benefits of “the recent successes” of Aquino’s anti-corruption and anti-poverty campaign are already being felt, poverty, hunger and unemployment continue to rise even as the economy has “grown”.

According to the independent think-tank IBON Foundation, out of the 92 million Filipinos in 2010, 65 million or 70% are considered poor, living on P 104 or less per day. In February, Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that hunger incidence rose from 4.1 million families to 4.5 million.

As proof of the widening gap between the rich and poor, IBON’s findings indicates the net worth of 25 richest Filipinos in 2009, US $ 21.4 billion, is equivalent to the combined income in a year of the poorest 11.1 million families.

While the growth translated to 1.1 million in additional jobs according to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), it is far-flung from the record-high 11.6 million unemployed and underemployed. The mandated minimum wage, on the other hand, falls far short of providing for a decent living and what business-owners can afford. 

Moreover, the national government’s spending on basic social services such as education, health and housing, among others, as a share of gross domestic product has continued to drop.

If not reducing poverty by not counting the poor (government downplays poverty data by changing methodologies), the Aquino government resorts to a rehash of lies and exaggerations that his flagship Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program has reduced poverty.

In fact the CCT, cited as part of ‘increased government spending’—a major player in the GDP growth—will result in a heavier debt burden for Filipinos, an estimated US $ 508.5 million in 25 years.

Anakbayan also slammed the Aquino government for “not doing enough to prepare for the looming global economic downturn worst than the 2008 crisis” and for continuously implementing failed and inequitable neoliberal policies of globalization such as elimination of tariffs, deregulation of important industries and privatization of social services and government agencies.

To date, the Philippine economy relies heavily on export of cheap raw materials or semi-processed goods, OFW remittances, tourism and foreign-dictated programs—the CCT and Public Private Partnership (PPP) Projects—that have caused damage to people’s dwellings and livelihood, and foreign loans from ADB and IMF-World Bank which have greatly contributed to the worsening quality of life of millions of people in the world.

Centers of capitalism, the country’s major export markets, are in a deep crisis. We have every reason to doubt the sustainability of the economic growth in the coming months.

There is no substitute for strengthening the domestic economy through strategic agricultural development and creation of national industries with genuine agrarian reform as base. For a start, we challenge the landlord-comprador president to have a change of heart in redistributing wealth: implement the 125 across-the-board wage increase.

While it may not bring a decent standard of living to poor Filipino workers, a substantial wage increase will give immediate relief to their families. Stop being greedy. Workers should share the fruits of the economic growth instead of just benefiting a few. #

by editors

Tula: Ang ilaw ng tahanan

June 10, 2012 in Featured, literary by editors


Ikaw ay tulad ng isang lampara
Mayroong gaas at mitsa
Ang liwanag sayo, ito ay nagmumula
Ng sa dilim, mga mata’y nakikita

Ilaw mo sa mga tahanan, bata’y masasaya
Liwanag mo’y inspirasyon nila
Sa daan na aakyatin na mahaba
Para di sila mapahamak at maligaw pa

Liwanag mo sana kahit sa labas makita
Mga tahanang walang ilaw di sila kakapa
Sa araw nama’y sinag mo’y di makapinsala
Sa mga mata pag ika’y nakikita

Kulay ng ilaw sa modernong panahon
Dilaw, berde, puti nakikita sa lansangan
Ika’y ilaw ng tahanan sana di mabago ng panahon
Sana dating sinag mo’y di kukupas at kukulimlim

Sa tulang ito’y ang ina ay siyang tinutukoy
Ina kasi siya ang nagbibigay buhay
Pangarap ng kasambahay lagi siyang aalalay
Kaya ano mang pagsubok di siya bibigay

by editors

K+12 teachers honoraria delayed

June 4, 2012 in Cordillera, education, Featured by editors


BAGUIO CITY — Over 200 volunteer Kindergarten teachers of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) K+12 program in the province of Abra were only paid lately a fraction of the agreed honoraria of P30,000 per school year by the government.

According to a volunteer teacher who requested anonymity because of the fear of drawing the ire of the authorities in the province known for violence, they have a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with DepEd.

In the said agreement, each volunteer teacher shall receive an honorarium of P3,000 a month for ten months or a school year. The MOA which was signed by the teachers and the DepEd on June 2011 stated that the teachers have the responsibility of teaching the students while the government has also the obligation to pay the teachers regularly.

But according the source, they only received their first pay on December last year and it was only P6,000 per teacher and they were again promised full pay the next year. They were able to collect another partial payment of P2,200 in March this year. But before they were paid, they were given a difficult time to file necessary documents and a number of other requirements.

Many of them had borrowed money from all the people they know in order for them to survive. “Papuskolen min a ti rupa mi tapno makapangan kami,” (we have to swallow our pride in order for us to eat) said the teacher. He added that many of them are the breadwinners of their families.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Cordillera Regional Coordinator Perry John Mendoza condemned the practice of holding back the much needed honorartia and pointed out that the fate of the volunteer teachers only shows the failure of DepEd to address the country’s education needs.

He stressed that before adding school years, the government should have considered the plight of the teachers who will be in the front line in the implementation of education programs like the K+12.

Last year, DepEd employed 19,063 volunteer Kindergarten teachers all over the country. ACT teachers PartyList campaigns for the regularization of the volunteer teachers.

According to ACT Teachers ParyList Representative Antonio Tinio, this will protect the teachers from such exploitative conditions.

The unpaid teacher said that they gave their best service to the children during the ten month school year. “But the government should also see to it that it lives up to its responsibility of ensuring that the teachers will also eat,” the teacher continued.

“Dakkel ti naitulong mi kadagiti ubbing ngem kasla met saan dakami met a pagan-ano ti gobyerno,(we have greatly helped the children but it looks like the government does not care.) said the teacher.

The teacher said that it is not true that the country lacks teachers. The teacher added that many of them were just unemployed and more of them are hired only on contractual basis for just a school year or just few months.

According to the teacher, they heard that there are also unpaid volunteer teachers in the neighboring provinces of Ilocos. #

by editors

Victims refute AFP claims of no HRVs

June 4, 2012 in Featured, human rights, Ilocos by editors


SAN FERNANDO CITY — Victims of human rights violations in Ilocos provinces, and human rights group, Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA-KARAPATAN) filed complaints before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Regional Office 1 to debunk the zero HRV claims of the military.

JUSTICE! Cries the victims and their kin as they filed complaints at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) RO1. Photo courtesy of IHRA

The victims and their families sought intervention from the CHR after the military, belonging to the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army threatened, harassed, intimidated and vilified civilians from Ilocos communities, including progressive leaders and human rights lawyer, Atty. Robert Tudayan.

Last May, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Human Rights Officer, Col. Domingo Tutaan announced to the media that the first quarter of 2012 recorded a zero-HRV and denoted that the CHR did not receive any complaints from the said period. KARAPATAN, the national umbrella organization of human rights advocates criticized the AFP and called the report a “big fat lie.”

Mila Marcelo, deputy secretary of IHRA lambasted the propaganda of the military that the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan respects human rights and international humanitarian law and called them “a bunch of liars”.

“The military continuously covers-up their accountability in the gross human rights violations they commit and consciously use psychological warfare to deceive the people through their so-called socioeconomic programs.” Marcelo said and cited that in Ilocos communities they pretend to help the local government officials in their projects as part of Oplan Bayanihan.

Marcelo cited that from January 2012 up to present, peasants from Ilocos communities have been harassed by elements of 3rd IBPA and accused them as “supporters” of the New People’s Army (NPA) while they were conducting “Bayanihan” work.

Leonardo Sabalo, former regional vice chairperson and local leader of Solidarity of Peasants against Exploitation (STOP Exploitation), and two other peasants from Ilocos Sur in separate incidents, were threatened by the military elements operating in their towns.

Atty. Tudayan, STOP Exploitation chairman Avelino Dacanay, and other progressive leaders, were vilified in the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) report of Lt. Col. Rogelio Mesias, commanding officer of 3rd IBPA, as part of the Communist Terrorist (CT) Non-violent activities.

The CHR RO1, through Mr. Omir Cacho, head of the investigation unit, said they will look into the complaints. As a result of the filing, the CHR is set to hold a dialogue between the victims and the military this June.

These cases, according to Marcelo, were only first among the series of complaints IHRA and other victims of human rights violations will file at the CHR and at the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) and other mechanisms.

Marcelo refuted the zero HRV’s claim of the AFP. “We filed the case of Cervantes 4 last January which the CHR even committed to investigate”

Marcelo said they have yet to hear from the CHR on the complaints filed before their office.

“We call on the CHR to stand for the victims and hold the AFP and PNP accountable to these violations.”

IHRA and the HRV victims filed before the CHR RO1 exactly the same day the Philippine Government underwent the 2nd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva.

The UPR is a mechanism where all member states of the UN undergo review every four years on their compliance to human rights treaties and instruments. A Philippine delegation, the Philippine UPR Watch, including KARAPATAN, which the IHRA is a member organization, headed to Geneva to lobby to the UN Human Rights Council on the cases of human rights violations under the Aquino government. #

by editors

Company sued even the dead

June 4, 2012 in Cordillera, Featured, mining by editors


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — “Nailaw-an a nainayon da,” (they were unintentionaly included) said Atty. Omar Evangelista who represents the Far Southeast (FSE) project of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) during a dialogue at the Ben Palispis Hall of the Benguet Provincial Capitol.

Apologetic for the blunder Evangelista said his office shall review the listed. FSE sued 123 people for obstruction of their operations, and among those named were deceased and paralyzed locals accused in the criminal case.

Benguet Provincial Prosecutor William Bacoling told those present that he called for the dialogue in a bid to settle the issue before the case will go to the courts.

He said that he initiated this as he saw that there were so many named in the said case. He also added that this can be an opportunity for the two parties to talk and reach a possible amicable settlement.

According to Madaymen resident Engineer Alexander Labiawen, he received a summons to a hearing two days upon the receipt of notice. He said that they can “always answer the charges even if they have a hard time looking for a lawyer because of financial constraints but he does not know how the dead will defend themselves in court.”

He added that included in the list of accused is one paralyzed who was not at the barricade area at Sitio Madaymen, Tabio of Mankayan.

On an inquiry, Bacoling told the audience that the criminal case against the 123 was filed by the company with and on the testimony of a witness, a truck driver Roger Ramos, who identified the respondents from the community’s barricade.

Evangelista said that their basis for the criminal case against the people included reports from the workers of the company, they named people they frequently see in the picket line and those who signed the petition for the mines to pull out.

Tabio resident Larry Bestoca said that they have no intention of destroying any equipment of the company or hurt people of the company. He stressed that all they asked for is that FSE pulls out its operations and withdraw its application on their area as their proposed operations is not approved nor consented to by the people.

He explained that they did not harass anybody. They just explained to the people of the company why they are not allowing any drilling operations in their place.

Atty. Richard Kilaan, the legal counsel of SMM said that the people are just exercising their constitutional rights. He said that they are defending their land and peacefully setting up a barricade for such. He added that if the company heeds the demand of the people then there will be no such problem.

Bacoling said that his office will give the people accused an extension to the period to file or submit counter-affidavits. He also said that he will not bring the case to the courts until the people able to get lawyers. #

by editors

Kin of killed mediamen urge PNoy to stop media killings

June 4, 2012 in media, national, people by editors


BAGUIO CITY – As the United Nations Human Rights Council scrutinizes the human rights record of the Philippine government, the families of killed journalists nationwide founded their organization on Sunday here in the city.

SARANGGOLA SUMMER CAMP. Children of killed journalists in the country participated in the annual summer camp, organized by the NUJP, as a way for these kids to recover from their nightmare of losing their parents whose job is for the realization of the contstitutional provision of the public right to know. Photo by Arthur L. Allad-iw

Called the Samahan ng mga Pamilya ng Pinaslang na Mamamahayag (SPPM), the new organization also urged President Noynoy Aquino to sincerely work to stop the killing of journalists and that justice be rendered to the victims of these media killings.

Elvie Sanchez, whose husband was killed in this city in 2005, said that their organization will move for the achievement of justice for the killed journalists.

Since 1986, there are 152 killed journalists in the country where only 10 of these are resolved or still undergoing court proceedings.

As most of the cases have no development, SPPM urged Aquino to order the review of the investigation and prosecution of media killing cases, said Sanchez.

“We also urge the President to work towards building an investigation and prosecution system that will protect the interest of the victims,” the SPPM added in their call which will be submitted to Pres. Aquino.

Mary Grace Morales, whose husband was among the journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre and SPPM vice-chairperson for Mindanao, shared that their newly-founded organization is very important to the survivors of the killed journalists.

“We will closely monitor the cases of the killed journalists,” added Morales as she shared that even the cases filed against the Ampatuans in the Magunidanao massacre are delayed due to legal tactics and maneuvering by the defendants’ lawyers.

“Itigil na ang pagpatay sa mga mamamahayag…ang pagpatay sa mga media workers ay pagkitil sa malayang pamamahayag (The killings should be stopped…the killing of media workers are an attack against press freedom)”, added Morales whose killed husband was a correspondent of News Focus, a newspaper of general circulation in General Santos City.

As most of the killed journalists were the breadwinners of their families, the SPPM also urged the government to provide livelihood assistance to their families.

They also urged Aquino to avoid statements and actions that infringe on press freedom but instead build an enviroment where diversity of views are encouraged and those with contrary opinions should not be killed. They also urged Congress to pass the bill on Freedom of Information Act.

The families of the killed journalists were in the city for the Sarangola Summer Camp, a yearly activity organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) which aims to help the children and their parents cope with their situation. NUJP also has education scholarship programs for the children of these killed journalists. #

by editors

Ifugao folks say gov’t projects cause disunity

June 4, 2012 in Cordillera, economy by editors


LAMUT, Ifugao — Residents from the different communities of Lagawe, Lamut, Tinoc, Asipulo and Hungduan criticized infrastructure and socio-economic projects of the government saying that the projects only caused disunity in their communities.

This came out in a workshop on the efficiency of socio-economic and infrastructure projects implemented in the different communities in Ifugao during the Cordillera Day celebrations last May 29 in Tupaya, Lagawe. Participants to the workshop identified the conditional cash transfer or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Philhealth cards, distribution of farm tools, farm to market road and irrigation as among the government projects that has caused disunity.

According to Ifugao Peasant Movement Vice President Francis Awilan, the selection process for the 4Ps should be reviewed because at present it is not serving those who really need assistance. He added that brangay officials should be involved in the selection process because they know who among their constituents really need assistance.

Awilan further said all the communities represented in the workshop also complained of the selection process for the recipients of Philhealth cards and farm tools distribution. He said that like that of the conditional cash transfer the inefficient selection process for beneficiaries caused disunity in the communities.

“It is also notable that the Philhealth cards are distributed very late. The beneficiaries received their cards toward the end of the year, a few weeks before expiration. These should be distributed in the first quarter of the year so that beneficiaries can maximize them,” Awilan stressed.

He also stressed that road projects and irrigation repairs should be implemented properly to ensure long term service to the people. He cited as example the national irrigation project in Lamut that is being repaired yearly. “The beneficiaries called for a more permanent solution to their irrigation need and not just yearly repairs. This would save the government millions,” he pointed out.

Infrastructure projects, agriculture assistance programs and basic social services are very much needed in our communities to help us combat poverty. We need socio-economic projects that genuinely address out needs and not just band aid solutions,” Awilan stressed. #

by editors

Ti bisyom ken iti buwis a kasingin na

June 4, 2012 in national by editors


Nabayagen nga ilunglungalong ti gobyerno ni Presidente Noynoy Aquino iti panagpangato ti Sin Tax wenno buwis iti basol. Daytoy kanu ti mangsolbar ti problema kadagiti adda ti bisyo na kas iti arak ken sigarilyo. Ania kadi iti Sin Tax?

BEER AT YOSI. Photo ni Noel Godinez

Ti Sin Tax ket buwis kadagiti tagilako a pangbisyo a kas ti sigarilyo ken arak. Ispesyal daytoy a buwis gapu ta nangatngato daytoy ngem ti ordinaryo a buwis dagiti tagilako. Kangrunaan a panggep na daytoy ti panangnayon ti koleksyon a buwis ti gobyerno. Sekundaryo laeng ti panangkissay dagiti adda bisyo na. Ti panagkolekta ti Sin Tax ti pamuspusan dagiti gobyerno a dakkel ti depisit ti badyet da (karaman ti United States) tapno basbassit ti utangen dan kadagiti banko. Pangkalub laeng dagitoy a gobyerno ti seknan da iti imoralidad ken salun-at ti umili tapno maingato daytoy a buwis.

Pagsayaatan wenno nayon a problema?

Inlungalong ti Department of Finance sumagmamano a lawas kalpasan ti panagtugaw ti baro nga administrasyon a maingato ti Sin Tax manipud 125% nga agbalin a 400%. Sinuportaran ti Department of Health (DOH) daytoy a lungalong tapno adda kanu paggapuan ti pondo para ti pannakaagas dagiti addaan ti sakit a kanser.

Kinontra a dagus dagiti diputado manipud kadagiti probinsya nga agmulmula ti tabako daytoy a lungalong. Kunada a matay kano ti industriya ti tabako ken rumigat ti kasasaad dagiti mannalon ti tabako no maipatungpal ti pannakaingato ti Sin Tax. Uray ti mayorya dagiti gobernador, mayor, bise-mayor ken konsehal iti Rehiyon 1 ket impeksa da ti panangkontra da kadaytoy a lungalong.

Interesado ti gobyerno ti buwis

Ti buwis ti maysa kadagiti kangrunaan a paggapuan ti pondo ti gobyerno. Adda dagiti direkta a makolekta a buwis kas ti buwis iti masapulan (income tax) dagiti empleyado, mangmangged, negosyante, propesyunal, ken dadduma pay nga addaan regular a pastrek ken amilyar dagiti dagdaga ken pasdek. Adda met ti saan a direkta kas dagiti buwis dagiti gagatangen ken serbisyo. Ti Expanded Value Added Tax wenno EVAT a konkontraen tayo ket maysa a klase ti saan a direkta a buwis. Daytoy ket nakapauneg iti presyo ti gagatangen tayo. Dakdakkel ti mapastrek ti gobyerno iti saan a direkta a buwis gapu ta sapasap ti agbaybayad kadaytoy.

Para kanu ti serbisyo?

Masapul nga agsubli dagiti buwis iti umili kas serbisyo. Saan a nainkalintegan ti agkolekta ti buwi no saan a maisubli daytoy ti umili. Iti kapadasan ken makitkita tayo, bassit ti masagsagrap dagiti umili a serbisyo-agkurkurang ti badyet para iti irigasyon, awan ti subsidyo para iti agrikultra, manmanon ti malibre a maagasan kadagiti ospital ti gobyerno, nangina iti matrikula ken dagiti mabayadan iti iskwela, ken agkurkurang ti tulong ti gobyerno iti panawen ti kalamidad. Ngem agtaltalinaed a nangato ti badyet para iti panagbayad iti utang ken ti militar ken pulisya. Iti ayan na a pagdaksan adu ti kaso ti panagkurakot iti uneg ti gobyerno.

Partikular iti pondo manipud iti excise tax ti tabako wenno RA 7171, magasgastos dagitoy basar iti pagayatan ti politiko a mangig-iggem ti pondo a saan ketdi a pagayatan dagiti mannalon ti tabako a makagapu no adda daytoy. Nalaka nga agbirri a kalkalsada ken dagiti sobra ti ngina na a multicab ti makitkita tayo a pappapanan ti pondo. Nabayagen nga ilablaban dagiti mannalon ti Ilocos nga idiretso ti gobyerno ti pondo manipud RA 7171 kadagiti lehitimo nga organisasyon ti mannalon ti tabako ngem agkedked dagiti politiko. Awan ngamin makurakot da no datayo ti mangtengngel iti pondo.

Awan sabali a papanan ti Sin Tax

Gapu ta saan met laeng a sigurado nga agserbi iti pagsayaatan ti umili ti aniaman a panagngato ti Sin Tax, kontraen tayo ti lungalong ti gobyerno a panangipangato kadaytoy. Nalabit nga agturong met laeng ti nayon ti agdama a Sin Tax kadagiti bulsa dagiti buklis a burukrata.

Mamati tayo met a narabaw ti rason dagiti diputado ken dadduma pay a politiko ti rehiyon 1 a matay kano ti industriya ti tabako no maingato ti Sin Tax. No pudno a kayat dagitoy a politiko nga agtalinaed ti industriya ti tabako, pagserbien da koma ti pondo ti manipud RA 7171 kadagiti mannalon ken suportaran da ti laban dagiti mannalon a panangragpat ti umno a presyo ti tabako. #

Ni Zaldy Alfiler iti agdama a secretary general ti STOP Exploitation, ti kalawaan nga organisasyon dagiti mannalon ti Ilocos a mangilablan kadagiti karbengan dagiti mannalon.

by editors

Madaymen people not consulted — Fongwan

June 4, 2012 in Cordillera, mining by editors


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Governor Nestor Fongwan told the representative of Far Southeast (FSE) Mining Company during a dialogue that the testimonies of those who were protesting the company’s drilling plans show that the people were not properly consulted.

SAVE MANKAYAN. Residents of Mankayan seek the aid of the provincial government regarding the mining application of the Far Southeast Project in their ancestral domain. Photo by Aldwin Quitasol

Fongwan said this during the activity held at the Ben Palispis Hall of the Benguet Provincial Capitol. But Atty. Omar Evangelista, representing FSE, claimed that they had consulted the people and accused those who were present during the dialogue of playing innocent of the said consultation.

Mang Baltazar, a Mankayan elder, narrated how the water source of Mankayan dwindled. He also described how their relatives and town mates were buried alive because of the loosening of soil caused by mining. He said that Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) never helped the victims. And they do not like these to happen again to Barangay Madaymen and other nearby Barangays.

Fongwan asked Baltazar why did he not tell his story during the so-called consultation that Evangelista referred to. Baltazar said that he was never invited and they did not know that there was a consultation on the said project.

Save Mankayan Movement (SMM) President Marlou Pablo said that all they want is for FSE to pull out its drilling machines and refrain from any drilling operations in their (residents) land as the company did not get the consent of the people.

He added that when the company will do this, then they will also remove their barricade and the people shall go back to normal life.

According to Pablo, they were told the drilling operations was to draw ore samples. But they came to know later that it is being eyed by the company as a mine shaft. “Saan mi nga ammo nu anya a talaga ti aramiden da, ngem nalawag a dadael ti ited na iti ili mi,” (we do not know what they will really do, but it is clear that it will bring destruction to our place) said Pablo.

Pepita Alviar of SMM said that they will be at the losing end if the drilling project will push through and if it is true that a shaft will be constructed in their place. She said that once their place will be destroyed, they have no other place to go. “This land is created by God for us to live, saan mi a kaya nga agaramid ti lugar a pagalisan mi,” (we cannot create a place for us to transfer) she added.

Fongwan asked the Mankayan people to give him more time on the matter. He also asked for the necesary documents and references for him to study. Lastly, the governor also stressed that he will summon both parties for another dialogue. #

by editors

Baguio council approves P27 million for trash

June 4, 2012 in Baguio City, general welfare, social concerns by editors


BAGUIO CITY — Members of the city council approved the release of P27 million for the hauling of the city’s garbage, tipping fee and road users’ tax instead of the P82 million fund requested by the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) during their barely one hour and 30 minute regular session last Monday, May 28.

City Budget Officer Leticia Clemente announced that for the P60 million realigned garbage fund the councilors approved in an earlier meeting to be possible, part of each councilor’s Community Development Fund (CDF) would be reduced. She said additional funds will be sourced out from the savings from unimplemented projects since 2008 and continuing appropriations from different City departments.

Upon learning that their CDF will be affected, the councilors approved the realignment of P27 million saying their priority projects in different parts of the city will suffer. According to Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas, the said amount needs to be approved as the city’s garbage problem needs an urgent solution. He said that the councilors may file their comments on the remaining P33 million.

The council meanwhile questioned the Pro Tech Machineries Corporation’s non compliance of its Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the city government in hauling residual waste. According to Councilor Peter Fianza, Protech who sold two Environmental Recycling System (ERS) to the city government for P128 million has still the obligation to haul but they are not doing it.

Pro Tech stopped hauling residual trash of the city since January this year.

Councilor Richard Cariño said the company should be invited for an inquiry to explain why they are not complying with the agreement.

Cariño said that they will file necessary case for failing to meet conditions in the contract with the government. He also said that the council will give sanctions to the company to attend to heed to the council’s invitation.

Councilor Nicasio Aliping suggested that the retention payment of Protech should not be released until the company explains its non-compliance. He added that Pro Tech snubbed earlier invitations of the council to shed light on its MOA with the city government. #

by editors

Buasaw project to solve Sagada’s water crisis

June 4, 2012 in Cordillera, general welfare, social concerns by editors


SAGADA, Mt. Province — The Buasaw Waterworks Project is the latest bid by the LGU of Sagada to solve Sagada’s decades old water crisis. It is a project with an P18M funding from Senator Teofisto Guingona’s pork barrel and another P18M from CHARMP.

It is both an irrigation project and a domestic water system project. In the earlier design of the project, 15 barangays of Sagada were targeted to benefit from the water system.

The present design however, will only reach Sitio Kapinitan, Barangay Patay. The changes in the plan have caused issues to be raised by beneficiaries as well as by the legislative branch. A controversy in relation to why the lowest bidder, Benguet Builders, was not awarded the contract was also raised.

With the objective to clarify issues surrounding the project, a conference with LGU was held as initiated by the Tangguyub People Center (a new NGO based in Sagada), Radio Sagada Staff, civil society and peoples’ organizations, and the beneficiaries.

The mayor’s explanation as to why the project design shall only reach sitio Kapinitan is that negotiations with barangay Tanulong necessitated the redesigning of the project to accommodate the needs of Tanulong and other northern barrios of Sagada. This is why the original P18M from Senator Guingona for domestic water system using 2-inch GI pipes was re-designed to include the CHARMP P18M that includes irrigation using 6-inch GI pipes and 4-inch GI pipes to sentro and Eastern Sagada.

According to Mayor Eduardo Latawan, the costs for the 6-inch and 4-inch GI pipes are more expensive and on top is the added cost of hauling.

The bid process controversy was clarified also by Mayor Latawan. He said that while it is true that Benguet Builders had the lowest bid, it was disqualified during the post qualification conference. The disqualification was due to the lower category capacity of the Benguet Builders license which is only for P15 million compared to the P34 million project. The project was then awarded to the 2nd lowest bidder – FFJJ construction.

The construction of the project is now ongoing. It is a project that Sagada people are expectant of its immediate completion and hope it is the resolution to the decades old water crisis specially in the town center barangays.

Although the project can only reach sitio Kapinitan at Barangay Patay, the mayor, members of the SB and the Vice Mayor commit to work for more support to reach all the target beneficiaries or barangays.

Initially, 2 million pesos from the NAPPC poverty reduction fund allotted to the municipality of Sagada has been allocated for the Kapinitan to Ambasing and Tetep-an water distribution project. Another Php 3 million from the Later Day Saints water works project is eyed to distribute water to the people of barangay Patay. #

by editors

Migrants have nothing to celebrate on OFWs’ day

June 4, 2012 in Cordillera, migrant, national by editors


BAGUIO CITY — According to Innabuyog-Gabriela Deputy Secretary General Veron Malecdan, the hard work and contribution of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to the Philippine’s economic development really needs recognition but there is nothing to celebrate for the Migrant Workers’ Day on June 7.

Malecdan said the so-called special day for OFWs is actually a commemoration of the ratification of Republic Act 8042 known as the Migrant Worker’s and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. This Act aims to institutionalize policies of overseas employment and establish a higher standard for the protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of migrant workers and their families.

According to Malecdan, Migrant Filipinos are among the most exploited sector. She added that the government imposed exorbitant fees and rakes millions daily in the processing of migrant workers’ papers alone. These include payments for passports, NBI and medical clearances, administrative fees, forced contributions and a litany of other expenses.

She also criticized the $25 or P1,200 membership fee for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). She explained that the membership fee is collected per contract. She further said that even if an OFW paid for his OWWA membership during his first contract but fails to pay for his membership fee for his next contract then he will be considered as undocumented.

She said that the number of OFWs who suffer from various forms of abuse by their employers increase dramatically every year. She added that there are also countless reports of abused Filipinos abroad abandoned by the officials assigned in the countries they are in.

Malecdan said that the Labor Export Policy of the government is not the answer to lack of jobs in the country. She explained that many Filipino workers need to endure being separated from their loved ones working in other countries and most of the time falling victims to abuses, illegal recruitment and broken homes. The best solution she said is for the government to create more job opportunities here in the country so that the people will not be forced to seek job abroad. #

by editors

Katribu celebrates International Biodiversity Day

June 4, 2012 in national by editors


BAGUIO CITY — KATRIBU Indigenous Peoples’ Partylist joined the tree planting activity, jointly spearheaded by TEBTEB-BA and Organisasyon Dagiti Nakurapay Nga Umili iti Syudad (ORNUS) at Buyog Watershed, Tapao, Pinget here last May 22.

This activity is part of the annual celebration of the International Biodiversity Day proclaimed by the United Nations in December 29, 1993 with the objective to further increase the understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues around the world.

According to ORNUS secretary -general Daisy Bagni, they chose Buyog Watershed because of its crucial contribution to Baguio City’s water sources. She added that it must be protected and nurtured.

“This is the reason why we mobilized our youth organization – PINATUD to make them aware and at the same time experience and feel the importance of their role in the protection of the environment,” she reiterated.

The group planted 130 coffee and 20 caliandra tree seedlings which were donated by Dr. Michael Bengwayan of the Pine Tree.

Katribu regional spokesperson Samuel Anongos lauded the inspiring participation of PINATUD youth. He said that they will be the next generation who will continue to promote a pro-people development that will ensure the protection of our environment. He also encouraged everyone to continue this important advocacy.

This year’s International Biodiversity Day theme highlighted the importance of Marine Biodiversity to raise awareness on the issue and increase practical action to address the present problems.

Anongos explained that the Cordillera peoples fight against destructive mines also contributes to the protection of marine biodiversity. He reiterated that destructive mining activities here in the upland communities have negative impacts to the marine ecosystem since the rivers drains to the seas.

He added that Katribu also took on the challenge of protecting the off shore communities of the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley region against large scale magnetite mining that is detrimental to marine biodiversity. #

by editors

Impeachment is not just about SALN — Casiño

June 4, 2012 in national by editors


QUEZON CITY — Partylist Rep. Teddy Casiño today reminded senator judges that Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona’s non disclosure of his properties and bank accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) is not the only thing he should be held accountable for.

“The senator-judges should remember that aside from Article 2, there are also Articles 7 and 3. It is imperative that the senator-judges not only concentrate on the supposed undisclosed wealth of Corona but on the political aspect of how he used his position as the chief justice to protect Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that almost led to her fleeing the country and escaping accountability,” said the progressive solon.

“Yes, the evidence on Article 2 is strong but the other articles should not be disregarded because these provide the context on how Corona was able to amass wealth and that he betrayed the public trust by using his position to aid Mrs. Arroyo escape accountability,” he added.

“We must remember that the Corona-orchestrated irregularities in the issuance of the temporary restraining order (TRO) against the DOJ Watch list is one of the strongest cases against him. Corona should be convicted for his inordinate bias in the way he used his position to hastily prioritize the petition, decided and even railroaded the implementation of the TRO by extending court hours just to serve the TRO. Coupled with the charges that he declared the TRO effective even if the Supreme Court en banc decided that it was not effective pending the fulfillment of conditions,” Casiño stressed.

Article VII is the betrayal of public trust through his partiality in granting a TRO in favor of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo to give them an opportunity to escape prosecution and to frustrate the ends of justice, and in distorting the Supreme Court decision on the effectivity of the TRO in view of a clear failure to comply with the conditions of the Supreme Court’s own TRO.

“Next week I hope that we can have a conviction against Corona on all remaining articles of impeachment so that we can now close this chapter of our history and concentrate on issues that are closer to the stomachs of our people,” said Casiño. #

by editors

Ifugao solon opens bank records

June 4, 2012 in national by editors


QUEZON CITY — Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat welcomes the challenge for elected officials to open their bank records to scrutiny, saying that the public deserves to be assured that their representatives do not use their taxes for personal gain. 

Baguilat supports the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona although he was not able to sign the complaint as he was then away on official business. 

According to Baguilat, he has less than a combined P200,000 in his peso bank accounts, and has no dollar account here or abroad. 

Baguilat says he is voluntarily signing a waiver to disclose his bank accounts to tell Filipinos that their representatives are willing to subject themselves to accountability, even if it means opening up bank accounts. 

“I want the Chief Justice impeached so I should put these words into action by signing the waiver,” said Baguilat. “I support the impeachment because it is critical to government’s resolve on good governance,” he added. 

The Chief Justice earlier said he was willing to open up his accounts to government scrutiny on condition that the 188 Representatives of the Lower House who signed the impeachment complaint as well as Senator Franklin Drilon do the same. He later withdrew the challenge and submitted his unconditional waiver to the Senate, paving the way for the opening of his accounts. 

Baguilat, however, said that even with the withdrawal of the challenge, he is still signing the waiver to assure his constituents as well as the rest of the Filipino taxpayers that good governance is indeed possible.

“As a representative of Ifugao, I am open to Ifugaos knowing the financial situation of their representative now and for the years to come and also to show the country that representatives take accountability and transparency seriously and that we do earn our living in an honorable way,” said Baguilat.

His desire for greater transparency is also one reason why he is a firm supporter of the passage of the Freedom of Information bill, which is part of the Aquino administration’s legislative agenda. #

by editors

Katribu muling lalahok sa halalang partylist

June 4, 2012 in national by editors


MANILA — Ang KATRIBU partylist, ang tunay na partido ng mga katutubong mamamayan, ay muling naghahanda   para sa muling paglahok nito sa darating na halalan sa 2013. Sa huling araw ng pagsusumite ng Manifestation of Intent to Participate, dumulog ang nasabing grupo ng mga katutubo sa Commission of Election (COMELEC) para magsusumite ng “Intent to participate”.

Ayon kay Kakay Tolentino, Dumagat na Secretary General at Tagapagsalita ng Katribu, “Sa aming muling paglahok sa halalang 2013, muli naming sisikapin na dalhin ang interes at kagalingan ng mga katutubong mamamayan mula sa parliyamento ng lansangan patungo sa loob  ng Kongreso”

“Naniniwala kami na ang mga katutubong mamamayan ay malaki ang naitutulong sa pagpapaunlad ng ekonomiya, sosyo-kultural at politika ng ating bansa, kung kaya naman dapat magkaroon ng tunay na partisipasyon at representante ang mga katutubong mama-mayan sa ating pamahalaan”

“Sa matagal na panahon, nanatiling hindi pinapansin ang mga katutubong mamamayan ng ating pamahalaan, malaking bilang ng mga komunidad ng mga katutubo ay hindi naabot ng serbisyo sosyal, patuloy ang paglabag sa karapatan ng mga katutubo sa kanilang lupaing ninuno at kolektibong karapa-tan. Ang hindi pagbibigay ng atensyon sa mga katutubong mamamayan ang isa sa nagtulak sa aming na lumahok sa eleksyon.”

“Sawa na kami sa napakaraming politiko na nagsasalita at nagsasabing para sila sa mga katutubo at aping mamamayan, Sawa na kami sa  pagsasamantala ng mga tradisyunal na politiko sa aming abang kalagayan at pagku-kunwaring sila diumano ang aming “boses” at “Represen-tante”. Panahon na upang ang mga katutubo na mismo ang  magsalita para sa mga katutubo, Kami na mismo ang magsusulong ng interes ng aming mga “katribu”  

“Layon namin na isulong ang karapatan ng mga katutubo sa sariling pagpapasya, tunay na awtonomiya, pangangalaga ng lupaing ninuno at kalikasan, pagtatangol ng kalikasan mula sa mapanirang proyekto; Pagkilala at pagrespeto sa kolektibong kara-patan ng katutubo, kultura at pagpapaunlad ng katutubong gawi, kaalaman at socio-politikal na istraktura ng mga katutubo.” 

“Handa na kami na muling lumahok sa halalang 2013, bagaman hindi kami naging matagumpay sa unang pag-subok noong 2010,  hindi kami tumigil sa pagtataguyod ng karapatan ng mga katutubo sa loob man ng konreso sa pamamagitan ng lobbying o maging sa parliamentaryo ng kalsada.”

Pangunahing nominado ng Katribu ay Kankanaey na human rights activist at dating chairperson ng Cordillera People Alliance na si Beverly Longid na nagmula sa Mt. Province. Habang si Genasque Enriques at Norma Capuyan ang ikalawa at ikatlong nominee ng Katribu.

Si Enriques, bise-presidente ng Katribu, ay isang Manobo mula sa Surigao del Sur habang si Capuyan ay isang Tagabawa-Bagobo mula  Makilala, North  Cotabato. #

by editors

Garci must be charged! — Bayan Muna solons

June 4, 2012 in national by editors


QUEZON CITY — Partylist Representatives Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares today filed their reply to the counter-affidavit of former COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano, reiterating that the former official should be charged with perjury; falsification of public document; using a fake passport and; violation of Section 4 (c) of RA 6713, which states that public officials should act with justness and sincerity.

All the charges stemmed from the testimony of Garcillano on the Joint Committee Congress inquiry on the Hello Garci scandal when he said that he never left for Singapore when the scandal was exposed to the public.

“This is again part of our campaign to hold corrupt government officials accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people and we will find ways to get them behind bars. What is important here is that they should not get away from any of their crimes. Garci for one has stolen the votes of our people and he should pay for that,” reiterated Casiño.

“Maaaring maliit na kaso ang mga isinampa namin sa ngayon pero kung ito ang maglalagay sa kanya sa kulungan at para di na makapag-tago pa e, so be it,” said Casiño. 

Colmenares said that “some lawyers call what we are doing as the Al Capone tactic of using minor or other cases to catch big criminals, if it worked against Al Capone then it may also work for local crooks here,”

“We just hope that this will jump start the search and arrest not just of Garci but other unscrupulous individuals who profited from the Macapagal-Arroyo regime,” ended Casiño. #

by editors

Editorial Cartoon

June 4, 2012 in editorials, Featured, opinion by editors

by editors

Editorial: An issue for Peace

June 4, 2012 in editorials, Featured, opinion by editors

“While we all hope for peace it shouldn’t be peace at any cost but peace based on principle, on justice.” — Corazon Aquino

At the dialogue called by the Benguet provincial fiscal’s office between the representatives of a mining company and the people of the community where a mine company wanted to do some drilling, and who were named in two cases filed by this mining company. The Provincial attorney explained that he called the dialogue to surface the issues and situation surrounding the cases filed and maybe try to seek amicable settlement between the parties involved.

The complainant was represented by its lawyer and its witness, and some of the 123 town mates who were named respondents were there too with a lawyer friend and advocates to lend them whatever support while they were in the capitol.

One lady spoke when the fiscal called everyone to speak out their heart. She requested it be explained to her why they were called to this dialogue because when they were told to come to this dialogue they had to prepare to leave the farm work a day before, prepare the children for school and travelled five hours only to arrive to stand up and wait for the meeting to start. “We are just farmers and a day missed in the farm can cost us the whole harvest which is our only source of livelihood as a family, and the children she said have to be fed and prepared early for school. And how many times do we have to say we are against the entry of mining in our barangay?”

One other lady narrated that since primary school the teacher made them memorize and recite their commitment as citizens, “Iniibig ko ang Pilinas …” and sing the national anthem to promise to defend the homeland. Seeing the destruction of their ancestral domain caused by over-mining in their town: the loss of water that is crucial to their traditional livelihood of farming; the landslides and depleted forest; the sinking of the town center; the loss of lives and the school in Colalo; her community took a consensual position of no more mining. “Stop mining our town,” she said. “It has not made our lives easier nor has it brought true development to sustain and support our daily lives. When the mining company leaves, we the people here will be left, with what? A wasteland?” She asks. If the mountains all slide down to the sea where will we draw our sustenance as a people?”

“All we wanted was for them to stop mining and they (the company) slap us with court cases and they even bring the military just to serve us a court notice?”

One gentleman said, “For many years we have sought the help of government agencies, the NCIP, DENR, and also the help of the Church. We are now at the end of our rope, from whom else can we ask for help to make all those concerned comprehend we do not like any mining in our ancestral domain anymore.”

“All we want is to save and preserve Mankayan for the future of all of the children.” #

by editors

Crossroads: An impeachment and a conviction

June 4, 2012 in columns, Featured, opinion by editors


The Chief Justice was found guilty by the Senate acting as an impeachment court. It is done. We have seen the finale of an impeachment drama that saw its end unlike the unfinished attempt to impeach another Chief Justice, an Ombudsman and a president earlier.

The impeachment trial is a chapter that has made our jurisprudence richer. Some said that it restored confidence in the democratic processes and that accountability and transparency should now be our guide. Throughout the impeachment trial, bungled as it was by both the prosecution and the defense, the shadow of transparency and accountability loomed large. The impeachment put forward the notion that all public servants, whether appointed or elected, are required by the public to be accountable for their actions. As public servants they are required to protect, respect and fulfill the law and all obligations given to them by the nature of their being duty bearers. Short of that, as the senator-judges said, they should not seek public positions. They are bound as part of the state machinery to respect, protect and fulfill obligations and rights as enshrined by our laws, our practices and our traditions.

The prosecution rightly deserved the censure and reprimand from the people and senator-judges. They bungled their case left and right. But the enormity and depth of the “sins” whether of omission or admission of Chief Justice could not save him. He was the best witness against himself even as he was repeatedly admonished by the presiding judge that he is not being tried for ill-gotten wealth. Maybe that will be one of the cases for a criminal trial. The defense presented the best witnesses as it were – the hostile witness, the Ombudsman and the respondent himself, CJ Corona. He got hanged by his very admission and words.

Juxtaposed with the dismissal from service and removal of all benefits of a court interpreter, even the double compensation issue of the same court interpreter pales in comparison with the wealth hidden under the mantle of bank secrecy and technicalities. Given that it was even under the cloud of allegedly defrauding relatives in the acquisition of property makes the impeachment case all the more melodramatic and leaves a bad taste to the mouth when the Chief Magistrate has questionable hidden assets and was appointed as such in a huff by a deplored executive. I could not understand why the prosecution and judges keep on saying it was a painful process, the pain is with the impeached justice for &#@%! (words better left unsaid). The impeachment process is a welcome process. It showed how flawed and politically motivated appointments to high offices have become, be that of the Chief Justice, Ombudsman, Chief of the Armed Forces and other generals, to name a few. Even the selection process for our judges is subject to doubt and open to questions. It is not what you know but whom you know and whom you serve.

I had to do a quick re-reading of the constitution since like Sen Lito Lapid, I am not an abogasya student. This constitution was framed after the People Power upheaval and is strong on addressing the excesses of martial law and dictatorship. It places a premium on accountability and transparency, a fact that most senator-judges pounded on, even by Sen Miriam Santiago. We can do another re-reading of the constitution to remind us of our rights, our obligations and the rich tradition we have in our jurisprudence. Alas, we regard it as mere paper by how we protect and defend our patrimony, our rights and our birthright.

One thing stood out in the impeachment trial – the presiding officer’s steering of the court. With all the drama inside and outside the court, Senate President Enrile presided firm and square over the 44 days trial.

In my book, he is still the Secretary of Defense who signed the Presidential Detention Action (PDA) that kept me and six others in jail but who through the intercession of relatives and lawyers did not sign the extension for another year of the PDA which would have kept us longer in jail “lifting of martial rule” notwithstanding. We were released even as then Chief PC Gen Ramos signed the extension of our PDA (But that is another story). In my book, Enrile is still one of the Rolex boys who masterminded a fake ambush that initiated the declaration of Martial Law. In my book, he shifted sides in 1986 to save his skin when he knew Marcos and his men were allegedly going to kill him. In my book, he has added a new page, that he can steer a legal and political battle straight to the finish and earn the respect of both sides in the issue. He was given the task to preside over an impeachment case and he fulfilled it.

Maybe every person knows that when the end is near, it is time to right some wrongs. Maybe every person desires to leave a good legacy in this life even if mired in sins earlier. Maybe every person is capable of keen judgement however rotten their beginnings were. Maybe in this universe justice can still prevail however long it will take. I pray the convicted Corona would also right his wrongs before he nears his end. Maybe just maybe we can still try a past president for plunder and all other sins.

I also like to commend tri-media for the coverage of the impeachment trial. Media not only provided blow-by-blow accounts but also explanations through legal luminaries, people of the street and the parties involved in the impeachment process that made us understand the pizza pies and Latin terms better. They were even better at digging deep and not rely on little ladies or envelopes left at gates. The sideshows were also entertaining as well. By all means, let us have another impeachment trial. We deserve the lessons and gains. #

by editors

From Under This Hat: One group for EJK victims

June 4, 2012 in columns, Featured, opinion by editors


It is now two and a half years after the Ampatuan Massacre of Mindanao – the single most brazen attack against journalists in recent history where 58 people including 31 journalists were killed. According to the Safety Office of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), 96 of the 196 suspects behind this crime have been arrested while 100 remain at large. Of the 64 suspects arraigned, only two of them – Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Andal Ampatuan Jr. – are primary accused.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Philippines ranks third (Iraq ranks first and Somalia second) among countries with the most media killings and the least convictions relative to their population.

Last weekend, several of us in the press had the opportunity to meet some of the families or survivors of our colleagues who have fallen victims to extra-judicial killings (EJK) from all over the country. About a hundred of them were here for a psycho-social workshop sponsored by NUJP, the Children’s Resource Center and an Australian organization.

This project is called the Saranggola Summer Workshop. It was launched in 2005 by the NUJP to bring together the children, widows of slain journalists for a few “days of healing, learning and fun. It is an annual activity established as an adjunct program for the beneficiaries of an NUJP scholarship program.”

The families who were present, 24 of them, decided to organize themselves into a self-help group as victims of human rights violations. Their president is from Northern Luzon. She has an axe to grind because the case of her husband (killed on March 9, 2005) has not gone further than having been filed or remaining on the police blotter.

Added to the continued violation of her family’s human rights as survivors and dependents is the lack of a more comprehensive investigation of the case, and the pursuit of or acting on the warrant of arrest of the suspect has only ended up in the NBI archives.

The majority cases of these extra-judicially killed journalists are not yet resolved. The continued delay in the halls of justice and the lack of support from the police in the resolution of these cases are a continued denial of justice for the victims. These also are concrete evidence of the continuing culture of impunity in the military and government.

Among their purposes for organizing the Samahan ng mga Pamilya ng Pinaslang na Mamamahayag (SPPM), listed their demands from PNoy: Stop the killing of journalists; Justice for all victims of Media Killings; and to Advance press freedom.

Specifically, they seek: the review of the investigation and prosecution of media killing cases. They would work towards building an investigation and prosecution system that will protect the interest of victims.

Avoid statements and actions that infringe on press freedom; Build an environment where diversity of views are encouraged and those who criticize are not killed; to lobby for Congress to pass the Freedom of Information Act. And Provide livelihood assistance to families of victims of media killings.

It may be a humble beginning but it is led by a bright torch of hope to empower the press workers and help build democracy in the Philippines. #

by editors

Labor Watch: The season of greater work, bigger expenses

June 4, 2012 in columns, Featured, opinion by editors


Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. — James A. Baldwin

The month of June, when weddings and the opening of classes at all levels are scheduled. The students are excited anticipating their going back to school life to meet and see their teachers, friends and crushes perhaps.

On the other hand, teachers will again be busy preparing lesson plans, syllabus and the curriculum for the school year. They will have to prepare themselves, just like going to the battle field, to be in school from early seven o clock in the morning until the late afternoon talking, lecturing, demonstrating or sometimes screaming at their students.

This year, the teachers will have to endure added work load as this school opening is start of the government’s K+12 program. They will have to squeeze their minds to fill in the needed activities and subjects to the additional years of schooling. This program was proposed by some people who claim to have brilliant minds saying this is the answer to the ailing Philippine educational system and at a short span of time, it was approved and implemented immediately. But for a longer period of time, the teachers are demanding an increase to their salary, their regularization and other benefits and rights, until now, they still have to fight for it.

The prices of school supplies are high. And even if there are rollback on the prices of oil and other petroleum products in the past few days, they are pittance compared to the prices of basic commodities and services especially the tuition fees. And surely, big oil players will again think for alibis to raise their prices.

Until now, the petition of transport groups and other sectors for the investigation of the books of the three big oil companies is yet to be done.

Here in the Cordillera Region, amidst the rising of prices of necessities, the government ordered a mere P8 hike to the minimum wage of the workers. They proudly claimed that this will ease the financial burden of the poor Filipino workers.

The workers who are sending their children to schools hoping that when they graduate, they will have work and receive better salaries and live a more decent life than them. But the commercialized education forced many of the children to stop and seek employment themselves to augment their family’s income.

Some of them may be lucky enough to graduate but end up unemployed in a country that lacks employment opportunies.

This seems to be a cycle. This should end. How will it end, the people should decide. #

by editors

Statements: Mensahe para kadigiti tattao ti Abra

June 4, 2012 in Cordillera, Featured, opinion, statements by editors


Kas akemna a mangiwaragawag ti mensahe ti Ebangelio kadagiti tattao ti Abra, ti Diocesis ti Bangued, a pagserserbian dagiti appo a papadi a Diocesano ken Missioneros nga SVD, saan nga agsarday ti panagsaritana kadagiti pakaseknan a moral, pannakasaluad ti aglawlaw ken pannakalabsing ti kalintegan dagiti tattao ditoy Abra,nangnangruna ti agraira a pammapatay a mapaspasamak iti kabisera ti Bangued.

Ti missionary commitment mi a mangitandudo ti Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) ket isu ti mangtigtignay kadakami nga SVD iti pannakipasetmi kadagiti umno a gakat ti gobierno ken NGO para ti napardas a pannakasolbar dagiti amin a kita a pannakasalungasing ti kalintegan dagiti tattao a kas iti pammapatay, kinagulib, kinaranggas ken kinakonniber.

Danggayanmi pay dagitoy a pannakipaset mi babaen ti di agressat ken nadayaw a pannakinuman kadagiti tattao a mangsapul kadagiti pamuspusan a mangrisot kadagiti riribuk a pinataud ti kinadangkes babaen iti consultations, meetings, conferences, seminars ken dadduma pay a wagas ti pannakiuman.

Naotobmi a ti kagagapu dagitoy agsasamusam a pammapatay, kinagulib, rinnisiris, panaglabsing ti linteg ken urnos ket isu ti kumapkapsuten wenno mapukpukawen a nakristianoan ken naingimongan a pammateg,kangruan ti kinalinteg. Gapu iti pannakipagrikna ken tarigagay mi a mapasubli dagitoy a pammateg a kas ti kinapudno, wayawaya, kinalinteg ken kappia, agun-unnoy kami:

- kadakayo a kakabsat a bassiten ti panangkailalayo ti sagot a biag isu’t gapuna a laklakaenyo lattan ti manggudas ti biag ta laglagipenyo koma a ni Apo Dios ket intalekna iti tunggal tao ti panangsaluad ti biag a saan a mangkeltay ti biag.

- kadakayo a kakabsat a nakaitalkan ti panangipatungpal ti linteg ta raemen ken salaknibanyo koma ti kalintegan ti tao kabayatan nga us-usisaen, suksukimaten wenno tuntuntonenyo ti pannakalawlawag ti napasamak a kinadamsak.

- kadakayo a kakabsat nga adda iti turay ta dakayo koma ti mangilungalong ti ayat, panagkikinnaawatan, panagtutunos ken kappia imbes a gurangura,rinnisisris ken panagibales, iti kasta ti liderato yo ket epektibo,makaallukoy,makatignay ken maapresiar.

- kadakayo a kakabsat ditoy Abra ta sitatallugod koma a makitimpuyog kadagiti otoridad ti pannakasalaknib ti kalintegan ti tao kabayatan a maipakpakat dagiti gakat a pananggun-od ti kappia, iti kasta maikanawa ti pannakairurumen ti Abra.

Apo San Jose, Esposo ni Apo Sta. Maris, Patron ti Abra Mission ken SVD Philippines Northern Province, Ibabaetmo ti Panagtalinaed ti Kinalinteg ken Kappia ditoy Abra! #

by editors

Statements: Stop Lepanto operations, pull out Goldfields in Tabeo!

June 4, 2012 in Cordillera, Featured, mining, opinion, statements by editors


Mankayan. To its residents, to the indigenous peoples who worked the land so that they too may live in harmony with nature, it is home. It is ili.

Yet, to Philippine government, to the large mining companies, it is but a resource base for plunder and profit. To these, the tragic Colalo sinking in 1999, the Poblacion sinking in 2008, the pollution of the Abra River, the vast hectares of fertile agricultural lands devastated due to Lepanto’s mine waste, the depletion of water sources— are things they easily dismiss and take no accountability for. But, to the people of Mankayan, these are real, and are stark issues of life and death. It is a struggle for rights and survival.

Twenty-three days from this day marks the 5th month of the people’s barricade in Tabeo. It has been a long and challenging struggle with many protests, lobbies, dialogues, petitions and resolutions made. Other provinces adjoined by the Abra River, like Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur and Abra, including other communities in Benguet, have shown unconditional support and solidarity to the people of Mankayan. And the people’s demands, articulated through the Save Mankayan Movement, are clear: to save the people, to save Mankayan, to save the Abra River, Lepanto’s operations must already stop. To truly uphold indigenous peoples right to self determination, right to ancestral land, Lepanto’s operations must simply stop. 76 years is enough.

Even outside of Mankayan, our Cordillera experience shows that where large mining is, are human rights violations. And where large mines exist and attempt to operate is militarization, that further results in various and numerous violation of indigenous peoples collective, political and civil rights. The rape and sexual abuse perpetrated by Capt. Danilo Lalin then with the 50th Infantry Battalion (IB) and now with the 86th IB to two daughters of Mankayan must not go unpunished, like the other human rights violations of the military to women and children in other indigenous communities in the region. The military must immediately be pulled out from Mankayan, and all indigenous communities in the Cordillera.

Our appeal is for the public to support us in this struggle. We only have one Mankayan, one Abra River. And we have only our unity and strength as a people to defend and nurture the ili, the ancestral land. #