I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”
Reading the latest NDRRMC report on Quinta, i can’t quite reconcile myself if this government is a liar or an effective data gatherer.
reminding myself that some individuals from different sectors claimed that the declaration of state of calamity for iloilo province is politically-motivated, my eyes caught the questionably absence of the Janiuay landslide on NDRRMC’s report. also, the municipality of Barotac Nuevo, one of the flooded municipality in Iloilo does not have a single damaged house (totally or partially).
on its report on the number of affected population, only the municipality of leganes was listed with evacuation centers. 18 evacuation centers to cater 893 families from 7 baranggays.
i can’t help myself but wonder if this ndrrmc report is a politically-motivated effort to block Barotac Nuevo from getting assistance. for all’s info, Barotac Nuevo is where the Biron’s (polls 2013 arch-enemy of the Tupases-cum-Defensors) hails.
their stupid politics can really put people’s lives in jeopardy.
Dear President Aquino, you must see these gruesome photos because they represent what is happening in Tampakan, South Cotabato where Xstrata-SMI has an application for a mining project. Members of a family leading the opposition against the mining project were killed in cold blood. Could they be a symbol of our brand of ‘development’, which is for government and for multinatinals, not for Filipinos?
(A word of advise. This is not for softies.)
State of the Nation Address
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines
[English translation of the speech delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City, on July 23, 2012]
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; eminent Justices of the Supreme Court; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps; honorable members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate; our leaders in local government; members of our Cabinet; uniformed officers of the military and of the police; my fellow public servants; and, of course, to my Bosses, the Filipino people, a pleasant afternoon to all.
This is my third SONA. It wasn’t too long ago when we began to dream again; when, united, we chose the straight and righteous path; when we began to cast aside the culture of wang-wang, not only in our streets, but in every sector of society.
It has been two years since you said: We are tired of corruption and of poverty; it is time to restore a government that is truly on the side the people.
Like many of you, I have been a victim of the abuse of power. I was only 12 years old when Martial Law was declared. For seven years and seven months, my father was incarcerated; we lived in forced exile for three years. I saw for myself how many others also suffered.
These experiences forged the principles I now live by: Where a citizen is oppressed, he will find me as an ally; where there is an oppressor, I will be there to fight; where I find something wrong in the system, I will consider it my duty to right it.
Martial Law ended long ago and when it did, we were asked: “If not us, then who?” and “If not now, then when?” Our united response: let it be us, and let it be now. The democracy that was taken from us by force was reclaimed peacefully. And in so doing, we brought light to a dark chapter in our history.
Let it not be forgotten: Martial Law was borne because a dictator manipulated the Constitution to remain in power. And to this day, the battle rages: between those who seek a more equitable system, and those who seek to preserve their privileges at the expense of others.
The specters of a lost decade haunted us from our first day in office.
There was the North Rail contract—an expensive project that became even more expensive after renegotiation. Ironically, the higher cost came with fewer public benefits; a fleet of 19 train sets was reduced to three, and the number of stations, from five to two. To make matters worse, the debts incurred from the project are now being called in.
We had GOCCs handing out unwarranted bonuses, despite the losses already suffered by their agencies. We had the billions wasted by PAGCOR on—of all things—coffee. We had the suspect management practices of the PNP, which involved ignoring the need to arm the remaining 45 percent of our police force, just to collect kickbacks on rundown helicopters purchased at brand-new prices.
We were left with little fiscal space even as debts had bunched up and were maturing. We were also left a long list of obligations to fulfill: A backlog of 66,800 classrooms, which would cost us about 53.44 billion pesos; a backlog of 2,573,212 classroom chairs, amounting to 2.31 billion pesos. In 2010, an estimated 36 million Filipinos were still not members of PhilHealth. Forty-two billion pesos was needed to enroll them. Add to all this the 103 billion pesos needed for the modernization of our Armed Forces.
To fulfill all these obligations and address all our needs, we were bequeathed, at the start of our term, 6.5 percent of the entire budget for the remaining six months of 2010. We were like boxers, sent into the ring blindfolded, with our hands and feet bound, and the referee and the judges paid off.
In our first three months in office, I would look forward to Sundays when I could ask God for His help. We expected that it would take no less than two years before our reforms took hold. Would our countrymen be willing to wait that long?
But what we know about our people, and what we had proven time and again to the world was this: Nothing is impossible to a united Filipino nation. It was change we dreamed of, and change we achieved; the benefits of change are now par for the course.
Roads are straight and level, and properly paved; this is now par for the course.
Relief goods are ready even before a storm arrives. Rescue services are always on standby, and the people are no longer left to fend for themselves. This is now par for the course.
Sirens only blare from the police cars, from ambulances, and from fire trucks—not from government officials. This is now par for the course. The government that once abused its power is finally using that power for their benefit.
Reforms were established as we cut wasteful spending, held offenders accountable for their actions, and showed the world that the Philippines is now open for business under new management.
What was once the sick man of Asia now brims with vitality. When we secured our first positive credit rating action, some said it was pure luck. Now that we have had eight, can it still just be luck? When the Philippine Stock Exchange index first broke 4,000, many wondered if that was sustainable. But now, with so many record highs, we are having trouble keeping score: For the record, we have had 44, and the index hovers near or above 5,000. In the first quarter of 2012, our GDP grew by 6.4 percent, much higher than projected, the highest growth in the Southeast Asian region, and the second only to China in the whole of Asia. We are second only to China. Once, we were the debtors; now, we are the creditors, clearly no laughing matter. Until recently, we had to beg for investments; now, investors flock to us. Some Japanese companies have said to us, “Maybe you’d like to take a look at us. We’re not the cheapest but we’re number one in technology.” Even the leader of a large British bank recently came looking for opportunities.
Commentators the world over voice their admiration. According to Bloomberg Business week, “Keep an eye on the Philippines.” Foreign Policy magazine, and even one of the leaders of ASEAN 100, said that we may even become “Asia’s Next Tiger.” Ruchir Sharma, head of Morgan Stanley’s Emerging Market Equities said, “The Philippines is no longer a joke.” And it doesn’t look like he’s pulling our leg, because their company has invested approximately a billion dollars in our markets. I only wish that the optimism of foreign media would be shared by their local counterparts more often.
And we are building an environment where progress can be felt by the majority. When we began office, there were 760,357 household-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Our target: 3.1 million within two years. By February of this year, the three millionth household-beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya had been registered. Next year, we will enroll 3.8 million households—five times what we had at the beginning of our term.
This is a long-term project, with far-reaching impact. The research is in its initial stages, but already the figures show promise. Based on data from the DSWD: 1,672,977 mothers now get regular checkups; 1,672,814 children have been vaccinated against diarrhea, polio, measles, and various other diseases; 4.57 million students no longer need to miss school because of poverty.
When we first took office, only 62 percent of Filipinos were enrolled in PhilHealth. Enrollment was not necessarily based on need but on being in the good graces of politicians. Now, 85 percent of our citizens are members. This means that since we received our mandate, 23.31 million more Filipinos have access to PhilHealth’s array of benefits and services.
And here’s even better news: the 5.2 million poorest households identified by our National Household Targeting System will now fully benefit from PhilHealth’s programs, free of charge. Because of the Department of Health’s No Balance Billing Policy, treatment for dengue, pneumonia, asthma, cataracts—as well as treatments for catastrophic diseases like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and acute leukemia—can be availed of for free by our poorest countrymen.
The process for our poorest PhilHealth members: Enter any government hospital. Show you PhilHealth card. Get treatment. And they return to their homes without having to shell out a single centavo.
One of the briefings I attended noted that four out of ten Filipinos have never seen a health professional in their entire lifetime. Other figures are more dire: Six out of ten Filipinos die without being attended to by health professionals.
But whatever the basis, the number of Filipinos with no access to government health services remains a concern. And we are acting on this: In 2010, ten thousand nurses and midwives were deployed under the RNHeals Program; to date, we have deployed 30,801. Add to this over 11,000 Community Health Teams tasked to strengthen the links between doctors and nurses, and the communities they serve.
And today, because of efficient targeting, they are deployed to where they are most needed: to areas that have been for so long left in the margins of society. We have sent our health professionals to 1,021 localities covered by the Pantawid Pamilya, and to the 609 poorest cities and municipalities, as identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
This new system addresses two issues: thousands of nurses and midwives now have jobs and an opportunity to gain valuable work experience; at the same time, millions of our countrymen now have increased access to quality health care.
But we are not satisfied with this. What we want: true, universal, and holistic health care. This begins not in our hospitals, but within each and every household: Increased consciousness, routine inoculation, and regular checkups are necessary to keep sickness at bay. Add to this our efforts to ensure that we prevent the illnesses that are in our power to prevent.
For example: Last year, I told you about our anti-dengue mosquito traps. It is too early to claim total victory, our scientists are rigorous about testing, but the initial results have been very encouraging.
We tested the efficacy of those mosquito traps in areas with the highest reported incidence of dengue. In 2011, traps were distributed in Bukidnon—which had recorded 1,216 cases of dengue in 2010. After distribution, the number of cases decreased to 37—that is a 97 percent reduction rate. In the towns of Ballesteros and Claveria in Cagayan, there were 228 cases of dengue in 2010; in 2011, a mere eight cases were recorded. In Catarman, Northern Samar: 434 cases of dengue were reported in 2010. There were a mere four cases in 2011.
This project is in its initial stages. But even this early on, we must thank Secretaries Ike Ona of DOH and Mario Montejo of DOST; may our gratitude and applause spur them into even more intensive research and collaboration.
Challenges remain. The high maternal mortality ratio in our country continues to alarm us. Which is why we have undertaken measures to address the healthcare needs of women. We, too, want Universal Health Care; we want our medical institutions to have enough equipment, facilities, and manpower.
We can easier fulfill all these goals, if the Sin Tax Bill—which rationalizes taxes on alcohol and tobacco products—can be passed. This bill makes vice more expensive while at the same time raising more money for health.
And what of our students—what welcomes them in the schools? Will they still first learn the alphabet beneath the shade of a tree? Will they still be squatting on the floor, tussling with classmates over a single textbook?
I have great faith in Secretary Luistro: Before the next year ends, we will have built the 66,800 classrooms needed to fill up the shortage we inherited—of this, we expect 40,000 for this year. The 2,573,212 backlog in chairs that we were bequeathed will be addressed before 2012 ends. This year, too, will see the eradication of the backlog of 61.7 million textbooks—and we will finally achieve the one-to-one ratio of books to students.
We are ending the backlogs in the education sector, but the potential for shortages remains as our student population continues to increase. Perhaps Responsible Parenthood can help address this.
For our State Universities and Colleges: We have proposed a 43.61 percent increase in their budget next year. A reminder, though, that everything we do is in accordance to a plan: There are corresponding conditions to this budget increase. The SUC Reform Roadmap of CHED, which has been deliberated and agreed upon, must be enacted to ensure that the students sponsored by the state are of top caliber. Expect that if you work to get high marks in this assignment, we will be striving just as hard to address the rest of your needs.
Year after year, our budget for education has increased. The budget we inherited for DepEd last 2010 was 177 billion pesos. Our proposal for 2013: 292.7 billion pesos. In 2010, our SUCs were allocated a budget of 21.03 billion pesos. Since then, we have annually raised this allocation; for next year, we have proposed to set aside 37.13 billion pesos of our budget for SUCs. Despite this, some militant groups are still cutting classes to protest what they claim is a cut in SUC budgets. It’s this simple: 292.7 is higher than 177, and 37.13 is higher than 21.03. Should anyone again claim that we cut the education budget, we’ll urge your schools to hold remedial math classes. Please, attend these classes.
When we assumed office and began establishing much-needed reform, there were those who belittled our government’s performance. They claimed our achievements were mere luck, and what impact they may have as short-lived. There are still those who refuse to cease spreading negativity; they who keep their mouths pursed to good news, and have created an industry out of criticism.
If you have a problem with the fact that, before the year ends, every child will have their own chairs and own set of books, then look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I do not want you to go to school.”
If you take issue with the fact that 5.2 million of the country’s poorest households can now avail of quality healthcare services without worrying about the cost, then look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I do not want you to get better.”
If it angers you that three million Filipino families have been empowered to fulfill their dreams because of Pantawid Pamilya, then look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I will take away the hope you now have for your future.”
The era where policy was based on the whims of the powerful has truly come to an end. For example, the previous leadership of TESDA generously distributed scholarship vouchers—but neglected to fund them. Naturally, the vouchers bounced. The result: over a thousand schools are charging the government 2.4 billion pesos for the vouchers. One person and one administration wanted to show off; the Filipino people are paying for that now.
When Secretary Joel Villanueva assumed the post, he was not daunted by the seemingly impossible reforms that his agency needed to enact. Despite the staggering debt inherited by TESDA, it still trained 434,676 individuals under the Training for Work Scholarship Program. The TESDA Specialists Technopreneurship Program likewise delivered concrete victories—imagine: each of the 5,240 certified Specialistas are earning 562 pesos a day, or 11,240 pesos a month. This is higher than the minimum wage.
From infancy, to adolescence, to adulthood, the system is working for our citizens. And we are ensuring that our economy’s newfound vitality generates jobs.
Let us keep in mind: there are about a million new entrants to the job market every year. The jobs we have produced within the past two years total almost 3.1 million.
As a result, our unemployment rate is declining steadily. In 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8 percent. In April 2011, it dropped to 7.2, and dropped further to 6.9 this year. Is it not an apt time for us to dream of a day where any Filipino who wishes to work can find a job?
Look at the BPO sector. Back in the year 2000, only 5,000 people were employed in this industry. Fast forward to 2011: 638,000 people are employed by BPOs, and the industry has contributed 11 billion dollars to our economy. It has been projected that come 2016, the year I will bid you farewell, it will be bringing in 25 billion dollars and will be employing 1.3 million Filipinos. And this does not include the estimated 3.2 million taxi drivers, baristas, corner stores, canteens, and many others that will benefit from the indirect jobs that the BPO industry will create.
A large portion of our job-generation strategy is building sufficient infrastructure. For those who have gone to Boracay on vacation, you have probably seen our newly christened terminal in Caticlan. The plan to expand its runway has also been laid out.
And we will not stop there. Before the end of my term, the New Bohol Airport in Panglao, New Legaspi Airport in Daraga, and Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental will have been built. We will also upgrade our international airports in Mactan, Cebu; Tacloban; and Puerto Princesa Airport, so they can receive more passengers; in addition to remodeling the airports in Butuan, Cotabato, Dipolog, Pagadian, Tawi-Tawi, Southern Leyte, and San Vicente in Palawan.
I am the fourth president to deal with the problems of NAIA Terminal 3. Airplanes are not all that take off and land here; so did problems and anomalies. Secretary Mar Roxas has already said: Before we convene at the next SONA, the structural defects we inherited in NAIA 3 will have been fully repaired.
This June, the LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension project began to move forward. When completed, it will alleviate traffic in Las Piñas, Parañaque, and Cavite. In addition to this, in order to further improve traffic in Metro Manila, there will be two elevated roads directly connecting the North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways. These will be completed in 2015 and will reduce travel time between Clark and Calamba to 1 hour and 40 minutes. Before I leave office, there will be high-quality terminals in Taguig, Quezon City, and Parañaque, so that provincial buses will no longer have to add to the traffic on EDSA.
Perceptions have also changed about a department formerly notorious for its inadequacies. I still remember the days when, during the rainy season, the Tarlac River would overflow and submerge the MacArthur Highway. The asphalt would melt away; the road would be riddled with potholes, until it ended up impassable.
As the representative of my district, I registered my complaints about this. The Department of Public Works and Highways’ reply: we know about the problem, we know how to solve it, but we have no money. I had to appeal to my barangays: “If we don’t prioritize and spend for this ourselves, no one will fix it, and we will be the ones who suffer.” Back in those days, everyone called upon the government to wake up and start working. The complaints today are different: Traffic is terrible, but that’s because there’s so much roadwork being done. May I remind everyone: We have done all this without raising taxes.
We will not build our road network based on kickbacks or favoritism. We will build them according to a clear system. Now that resources for these projects are no longer allocated haphazardly, our plans will no longer end up unfulfilled—they will become tangible roads that benefit the Filipino people. When we assumed office, 7,239 kilometers of our national roads were not yet fixed. Right now, 1,569 kilometers of this has been fixed under the leadership of Secretary Babes Singson. In 2012, an additional 2,275 kilometers will be finished. We are even identifying and fixing dangerous roads with the use of modern technology. These are challenges we will continue to address every year, so that, before end of my term, every inch of our national road network will be fixed.
We have fixed more than roads; our DPWH has fixed its system. Just by following the right process of bidding and procurement, their agency saved a total of 10.6 billion pesos from 2011 to June of this year. Even our contractors are feeling the positive effects of our reforms in DPWH. According to the DPWH, “the top 40 contractors are now fully booked.” I am hopeful that the development of our infrastructure continues unimpeded to facilitate the growth of our other industries.
The improvement of our infrastructure is intertwined with the growth of our tourism industry. Consider this: In 2001, the Philippines recorded 1.8 million tourist arrivals. When we assumed office in 2010, this figure had grown to only around 3.1 million. Take note: Despite the length of their time in office, the previous administration only managed to add a mere 1.3 million tourist arrivals—and we contributed half a year to that number. Under our administration, we welcomed 2.1 million tourist arrivals by June 2012. More will arrive during peak season, before the end of the year, so I have no doubt that we will meet our quota of 4.6 million tourist arrivals for 2012. This means that we will have a year-on-year increase of 1.5 million tourists. The bottom line: In two years, we would have had a bigger growth in tourist arrivals, compared to the increase charted by the previous administration in their nine years. We are not singing our own praises; we are merely stating the truth.
But Secretary Mon Jimenez is still not satisfied. He says: If 24.7 million tourists came to Malaysia in 2011, and around 17 million visited Thailand, would it be too far-fetched to have ten million tourists visiting the Philippines annually by 2016? And if the Filipino people continue to embody the same solidarity that allowed the Puerto Princesa Underground River to become one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, there is no doubt that we will be able to achieve this. As we have already announced to the entire world: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Secretary Mon Jimenez has been at his post for less than a year, but we are already reaping the fruits of the reforms we have laid down. So, when it comes to tourism, we are confident in saying, “It’s really more fun—to have Secretary Mon Jimenez with us.”
When it comes to growth and development, agriculture is at the top of our priorities. Secretary Alcala has been working nonstop to deliver us good news. Before, it seemed as though the officials of DA cultivated nothing but NFA’s debts. The NFA that our predecessors took over had a 12-billion peso debt; when they left office, they then bequeathed to us a debt of 177 billion pesos.
For so long in the past, we were led to believe that we were short 1.3 million metric tons of rice, and that we needed to import 2 million metric tons to address this shortage. They ordered rice as like it was unlimited—but because we had exceeded far more than what we needed, imported rice went to rot in the warehouses.
In just our first year, we redcued the annual shortage of 1.3 million metric tons to just 860,000 metric tons. This year, it is down to 500,000—including a buffer stock to dip into in times of calamity. And, if the weather cooperates, we’ll be able to export rice next year.
Secretary Alcala has said that key to our success is a feasible irrigation program and the assiduous implementation of the certified seeds program. What is galling is that this knowledge is not new—it simply wasn’t applied. If they had only done their jobs right, where could we have been by now?
Look at our coconut industry: Coconut water, once treated as a waste product, is now being utilized by our farmers. From 483,862 liters exported in 2009, to 1,807,583 liters in 2010, to a staggering 16,756,498 liters of cocowater exported in 2011. And where no one previously paid heed to coconut coir, we are now experiencing a shortage due to the high demand of exporters. We are not wasting this opportunity: We are buying the machines that will process the coco fibers. We have allocated 1.75 billion pesos to invest in, and develop, this sector.
My mother initiated the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. It is only just that this program sees its conclusion during my term.
We are improving the system, so that we can more swiftly and more efficiently realize agrarian reform. The government is doing everything in its power to ensure that our farmers can claim as their own the land they have tilled and nurtured with their sweat.
There are those, however, who wish to obstruct us. I say to them: We will obey the law. The law says, the nation says, and I say: Before I step down, all the land covered by CARP will have been distributed.
Let me shed some light on our advances in the energy sector. In the past, an electrical wire needed only to reach the barangay hall for an entire barangay to be deemed energized. This was the pretext for the claim that 99.98 percent of the country’s barangays had electricity. Even the delivery of so basic a service was a deception?
We challenged DOE and NEA, allocating 1.3 billion pesos to light up an initial target of 1,300 sitios, at the cost of one million pesos per sitio. And the agencies met the challenge—they lit up 1,520 sitios, at a total cost of 814 million pesos. They accomplished this in three months, instead of the two years it took the people that preceded them. Secretary Rene Almendras, I give you credit; you never seem to run out of energy. With public service, you are not only ever-ready, but like an energizer bunny too—you keep on going, and going, and going.
We have suffused the nation with light—and it is this light, too, that has exposed the crimes that occur in the shadowed corners of society. What the Filipino works so hard for can no longer be pilfered. Crime volume continues to decline across the country. In 2009, over 500,000 crimes were recorded—this year, we have cut that number by more than half, to 246,958. Moreover, 2010’s recorded 2,200 cases of carnapping has likewise been reduced by half—to 966 cases this 2011.
It is these facts that, we hope, will be bannered in headlines. We do not claim that we have ended criminality, but I’m sure no one would complain that it has been reduced. In the span of just a little more than a year, haven’t we finally put Raymond Dominguez in jail, after years of being in and out of prison? Charges have been filed against two of his brothers as well, and they are now serving time, too. Of the two suspects in the Makati bus bombing of the past year—one is dead, and the other is living in a jail cell. He shares the same fate as the more than ten thousand individuals arrested by PDEA in 2011 for charges relating to illegal drugs.
Pacquiao does not fight every day, and so we can’t rely on him to bring down the crime rate. Which is why we’re strengthening our police force. When this administration began, 45 percent of our police carried no guns and probably relied on magic charms as they chased criminals. But now we have completed the bidding—and we are now testing the quality—for an order of 74,600 guns, which we will provide our police, so that they may better serve and protect the nation, our communities, and themselves.
Let us now talk about national defense. Some have described our Air Force as all air and no force. Lacking the proper equipment, our troops remain vulnerable even as they are expected to be put in harm’s way. We cannot allow things to remain this way.
After only one year and seven months, we have been able to allocate over 28 billion pesos for the AFP Modernization Program. This will soon match the 33 billion pesos set aside for the program in the past 15 years. And we’re only getting started: if our proposed AFP modernization bill is passed in Congress, we will be able to allocate 75 billion pesos for defense within the next five years.
The 30-million dollar fund entrusted to us by the United States for the Defense Capability Upgrade and Sustainment of Equipment Program of the AFP is now ready as well. This is in addition to their assistance in improving the way we patrol our shores under the Coast Watch Center of the Philippines, which will soon be established.
At this moment, the Armed Forces is likewise canvassing equipment such as cannons, personnel carriers, and frigates. Before long, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, our second Hamilton class cutter, will drop anchor, to partner with the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. We are not sending paper boats out to sea. Now, our 36,000 kilometers of coastline will be patrolled by more modern ships.
And perhaps it is an apt time for our Armed Forces to clean up their hangars, because we will be having equipment arriving soon to further fortify our defenses. Finally, our one and only C-130 that has been roaming our skies for the past 36 years will have partners: Two more C-130s will once again be operational. Before this year ends, we are hopeful that the twenty-one refurbished UH-1H Helicopters, the four combat utility helicopters, the radios and other communication equipment, the rifles, the mortars, the mobile diagnostic laboratories, and even the station bullet assemblies we have purchased will be delivered. Come 2013, ten attack helicopters, two naval helicopters, two light aircraft, one frigate, and air force protection equipment will also be arriving.
And it is not only through better equipment that we demonstrate our commitment to help our police and our soldiers. We have eased their financial burdens through the 22,000 houses that have been built under the AFP–PNP housing program.
We are not doing this because we want to be an aggressor, we are not doing this because we want escalation. This is about keeping the peace. This is about protecting ourselves—something that we have long thought impossible. This is about the life of a soldier who risks his life every day; this is about his family, who awaits his safe return, despite the challenges that confront him.
Let’s listen to some of the beneficiaries of these programs tell us in their own words how their lives have been changed.
“We thank the Lord God for giving us this opportunity and these blessings. Also, because we have such a good President. Through these projects, we know he has the well-being of our armed forces and law enforcers at heart.” – SPO1 Domingo Medalla [PNP Housing Beneficiary]
“We’re doing our best to get by, and I’m doing my best to get my kids to go to school. That’s my only mission in life: to give my kids a proper education, so that they will do right in the world. They need good parenting for that. I’m thankful for the conditional cash transfer program. I learned a lot from it.” – Eva Neri [CCT beneficiary]
“It’s a great help that our family is one of—if I’m not mistaken, one of the first—beneficiaries of the Category Z Package of PhilHealth. I’m so thankful for this. My child getting sick is not something to look forward to, but if that happens, PhilHealth will be there to ease the burden.” – Kristine Tatualla [PhilHealth beneficiary]
“I was one of the participants of the Oakwood Mutiny. The change that is happening today, it’s what we’ve been fighting for. These days, because of President Aquino’s housing program, it’s possible for us to own our own homes.” – PFC Rolly Bernal [AFP Housing Beneficiary]
Now that the people care for them, the more impassioned our soldiers are in winning the peace. We consider the 1,772 outlaws whose violence has come to an end a great triumph. One example is the infamous terrorist, Doctor Abu, who will never again strike fear in the hearts of our countrymen. We also celebrate the peace and quiet that has returned to places where our countrymen were once deafened by gunfire. As a result of our solidarity: 365 barangays have been liberated from the enemy, 270 buildings and schools have been repaired, and 74 health centers have been built.
While we are on the subject of peace, let us talk about a place that has long stood as a symbol of frustrated hopes. Before our reforms in the ARMM began, what we had were ghost students walking to ghost schools on ghost roads, to learn from ghost teachers. Some of the apparitions that haunted OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman: Four schools found with ghost students; we are also investigating the teachers whose names do not appear in the list of the Professional Regulation Commission, as well as the government workers not listed in the plantilla. Fifty-five ghost entries have been taken off the payroll. The previous scheme of regraveling roads again and again just to earn money has been outlawed. To avoid abuse, we have ended cash advances for agencies. Now, the souls of the ghosts in voters lists can rest in peace. This is why, to OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman, we can say to you: You are indeed a certified ghost buster.
What we have replaced these phantoms with: real housing, bridges, and learning centers for Badjaos in Basilan. Community-based hatcheries, nets, materials to grow seaweeds, and seedlings that have benefited 2,588 fishermen. Certified seeds, gabi seedlings, cassava, rubber, and trees that are bearing fruit for 145,121 farmers. And this is only the beginning. 183 million pesos has been set aside for the fire stations; 515 million pesos for clean drinking water; 551.9 million pesos for healthcare equipment; 691.9 million pesos for daycare centers; and 2.85 billion pesos for the roads and bridges across the region. These are just some of the things that will be afforded by the aggregate 8.59 billion pesos the national government has granted the ARMM. Also, allow me to clarify: This does not include the yearly support that they receive, which in 2012 reached 11.7 billion pesos.
Even those who previously wanted to break away are seeing the effects of reform. Over the past seven months, not even a single encounter has been recorded between the military and the MILF. We recognize this as a sign of their trust. With regard to the peace process: Talks have been very open; both sides have shown trust and faith in one another. There may be times when the process can get a little complicated, but these are merely signs that we are steadily moving closer to our shared goal: Peace.
We likewise engaged stakeholders in a level-headed discussion in crafting our Executive Order on mining. The idea behind our consensus we reached: that we be able to utilize our natural resources to uplift the living conditions of the Filipinos not just of today, also of the following generations. We will not reap the rewards of this industry if the cost is the destruction of nature.
But this Executive Order is only the first step. Think about it: In 2010, 145 billion pesos was the total value derived from mining, but only 13.4 billion or 9 percent went to the national treasury. These natural resources are yours; it shouldn’t happen that all that’s left to you is a tip after they’re extracted. We are hoping that Congress will work with us and pass a law that will ensure that the environment is cared for, and that the public and private sectors will receive just benefits from this industry.
Let us talk about the situation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. Once, the government, which is supposed to give aid, was the one asking for aid. Today, even when the storm is still brewing, we already know how to craft clear plans to avoid catastrophe.
Talking about disasters reminds me of the time when a typhoon struck Tarlac. The dike collapsed due to the rains; when one of the barangay captains awoke, the floods had already taken his house, as well as his farming equipment. Fortunately, the entire family survived. But the carabao they had left tied to a tree wasn’t as lucky; it was strangled to death from the force of the flood.
Many of those affected by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, and Sendong were just as defenseless. We lost so many lives to these natural disasters. And now, through Project NOAH, all our anti-disaster initiatives have been brought inside one boat, and we no longer leave the evacuation of families up to mere luck. We now have the technology to give fair warning to Filipinos in order to prepare for and avoid the worst.
Our 86 automated rain gauges and 28 water level monitoring sensors in various regions now benefit us directly and in real-time. Our target before the end of 2013: 600 automated rain gauges and 422 water level sensors. We will have them installed in 80 primary river basins around the country.
Yet another change: Before, agencies with shared responsibilities would work separately, with little coordination or cooperation. Now, the culture of government is bayanihan—a coming together for the sake of the people. This is what we call Convergence.
There have always been tree planting programs in government—but after the trees have been planted, they were left alone. Communities that needed livelihood would cut these down and turn them into charcoal.
We have the solution for this. 128,558 hectares of forest have been planted across the country; this is only a fraction of the 1.5 million-hectare farmlands to be laid out before we step down. This covers the communities under the National Convergence Initiative. The process: When a tree is planted, the DWSD will coordinate with communities. In exchange for a conditional cash transfer, communities would take care of the trees; some would help nurture seeds in a nursery. 335,078 individuals now earn their livelihood from these activities.
The private sector has likewise taken part in a program that hands out special coffee and cacao beans to communities, and trains the townsfolk, too, to nurture those seeds into a bountiful harvest. The coffee is planted in the shade of the trees that in turn help prevent flooding and protect the people. The company that hands out the seeds are sure buyers of the yield. It’s a win-win situation—for the private sector, the communities with their extra income, and the succeeding generations that will benefit from the trees.
Illegal logging has long been a problem. From the time we signed Executive Order No. 23, Mayor Jun Amante has confiscated lumber amounting to more than six million pesos. He has our gratitude. This is just in Butuan; what more if all our LGUs demonstrated the same kind of political will?
The timber confiscated by DENR are handed over to TESDA, which then gives the timber to communities they train in carpentry. From this, DepEd gets chairs for our public schools. Consider this: What was once the product of destruction has been crafted into an instrument for the realization of a better future. This was impossible then—impossible so long as the government turned a blind eye to illegal activities.
To those of you without a conscience; those of you who repeatedly gamble the lives of your fellow Filipinos—your days are numbered. We’ve already sanctioned thirty-four DENR officials, one PNP provincial director, and seven chiefs of police. We are asking a regional director of the PNP to explain why he seemed deaf to our directives and blind to the colossal logs that were being transported before his very eyes. If you do not shape up, you will be next. Even if you tremble beneath the skirts of your patrons, we will find you. I suggest that you start doing your jobs, before it’s too late.
From the womb, to school, to work, change has touched the Filipino. And should a life of government service be chosen, our people can expect the same level of care from the state, until retirement. Our administration will recognize their contributions to our society as public servants, and will not withhold from them the pensions they themselves contributed to.
Consider: some retirees receive less than 500 pesos a month. How does one pay for water, power, and food, daily? Our response: With the New Year comes our resolution that all old-age and disability pensioners will receive no less than five thousand pesos monthly. We are heartened that we can meet their needs now, without jeopardizing their future benefits.
The face of government has truly changed. Our compensation levels are at par with the private sector’s at the entry level. But as you rise through the ranks, private-sector pay overtakes the government.
We will close that gap in time; for now, we have good news for government employees: Performance-Based Incentives. In the past, even poorly performing agencies would not have any employees with ratings lower than “very satisfactory.” To maintain smooth interpersonal relations, supervisors would have a hard time giving appropriate ratings. Exceptional employees are not recognized: their excellence is de-incentivized, and receive the same rewards as laziness and indolence.
Here is one of our steps to respond to this. Starting this year, we will implement a system in which bonuses are based on their agency’s abilities to meet their annual targets. Employees now hold the keys to their own advancement. Incentives may reach up to 35,000 pesos, depending on how well you do your jobs. This is in addition to your across-the-board Christmas bonus.
We are doing this not only to boost morale and to show due appreciation of our public servants. This is, above all, for the Filipino people, who expect sincere and efficient service—who expect that they will continue to be the sole Bosses of our workers in government.
There have always been people who have questioned our guiding principle, “If there is no corruption, there is no poverty.” They ask if good governance can put food on the table. Quite simply: Yes.
Think about it: Doing business in the Philippines was once considered too risky—the rules were too opaque and they were constantly changing. A person shaking your hand one day may pick your pocket the next.
Now, with a level playing field, and clear and consistent rules, confidence in our economy is growing. Investments are pouring in, jobs are being created, and a virtuous cycle has begun—where empowered consumers buy more products, and businesses hire more people so they can expand to keep up with the growing demand.
Prudent spending has allowed us to plug the leaks in the system, and improved tax collection has increased revenues. Every peso collected is properly spent on roads, on vaccines, on classrooms and chairs—spent on our future.
We have fixed the system by which we build roads, bridges, and buildings—they now go where they are truly needed. Our roads are properly paved; products, services, and people reach their destination quickly and with greater ease.
Because of good governance in agriculture, food production has increased, prices don’t fluctuate, wages are stable, and our economy is stronger.
It is true: A resilient and dynamic economy resting on the foundations of good governance is the best defense against global uncertainty. We have been dismantling the obstacles to progress for two years, and now, our success can only be limited by how hard we are willing to work for it.
We achieved all these things even as countries around the world were surmounting their own challenges.
We exist in this world with others. And so it is only appropriate that even as we attend to our own problems, we remain vigilant about some events that affect us.
The situation in Bajo de Masinloc has been the source of much discussion. Chinese fishermen entered our territory. Our patrol boats intercepted some of their ships, which contain endangered species. As your leader, it is my duty to uphold the laws of our country. And as I did, tension ensued: on one hand, the Chinese had their Nine-Dash Line Theory laying claim to almost the entire West Philippine Sea; on the other, there was the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea, which recognized the rights of many countries, including that of China itself.
We demonstrated utmost forbearance in dealing with this issue. As a sign of our goodwill, we replaced our navy cutter with a civilian boat as soon as we could. We chose not to respond to their media’s harangues. I do not think it excessive to ask that our rights be respected, just as we respect their rights as a fellow nation in a world we need to share.
There are those who say that we should let Bajo de Masinloc go; we should avoid the trouble. But if someone entered your yard and told you he owned it, would you agree? Would it be right to give away that which is rightfully ours?
And so I ask for solidarity from our people regarding this issue. Let us speak with one voice. Help me relay to the other side the logic of our stand.
This is not a simple situation, and there can be no simple solutions. Rest assured: We are consulting experts, every leader of our nation, our allies—even those on the other side—to find a resolution that is acceptable to all.
With every step on the straight and righteous path, we plant the seeds of change. But there are still some who are committed to uprooting our work. Even as I speak, there are those who have gathered in a room, whispering to each other, dissecting each word I utter, looking for any pretext to attack me with tomorrow. These are also the ones who say, “Let go of the past. Unite. Forgive and forget so we can move forward as a people.”
I find this unacceptable. Shall we simply forgive and forget the ten years that were taken from us? Do we simply forgive and forget the farmers who piled up massive debts because of a government that insisted on importing rice, while we could have reinvested in them and their farmlands instead? Shall we forgive and forget the family of the police officer who died while trying to defend himself against guns with nothing but a nightstick?
Shall we forgive and forget the orphans of the 57 victims of the massacre in Maguindanao? Will their loved ones be brought back to life by forgiving and forgetting? Do we forgive and forget everything that was ever done to us, to sink us into a rotten state? Do we forgive and forget to return to the former status quo? My response: Forgiveness is possible; forgetting is not. If offenders go unpunished, society’s future suffering is guaranteed.
True unity and reconciliation can only emanate from genuine justice. Justice is the plunder case leveled against our former president; justice that she receives her day in court and can defend herself against the accusations leveled against her. Justice is what we witnessed on the 29th of May. On that day, we proved that justice can prevail, even when confronted with an opponent in a position of power. On that day, a woman named Delsa Flores, in Panabo, Davao del Norte, said “It is actually possible: a single law governing both a simple court reporter like me, and the Chief Justice.” It is possible for the scales to be set right, and for even the rich and powerful to be held accountable.
This is why, to the next Chief Justice, much will be demanded of you by our people. We have proven the impossible possible; now, our task is reform toward true justice that continues even after our administration. There are still many flaws in the system, and repairing these will not be easy. I am aware of the weight of your mandate. But this is what our people tasked us to do; this is the duty we have sworn to do; and this what we must do.
Our objectives are simple: If you are innocent, you will appear in court with confidence, because you will be found not guilty. But if you are guilty, you will be made to pay for your sins, no matter who you are.
I would also like to thank Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, for accepting the challenges that came with the position. She could have turned down the responsibility, citing her retirement and volunteering others for the job—but her desire to serve the nation won out. This generosity was met with a grenade in her home. Ma’am, more challenges will come; in time, perhaps, they’ll give you the same monikers they’ve given me—a greedy capitalist who is also a communist headed toward dictatorship because of the reforms we have been working so hard to achieve.
I thank you for your work, and I thank you for being an instrument of true justice—especially at the height of the impeachment trial. I thank, too, the two institutions that form our Congress—the Senate and the House of Representatives—which were weighed and measured by the Filipino people, and were not found wanting.
To everyone that ensured that our justice system worked well: You weathered many challenges and criticism, and even misgivings; couple that with the anxiety over possible failure, of having to face the ire of those you went up against, after a mission lost. But you did not falter. The Filipino people were relying on you, and you proved that their faith was rightly placed. You did not fail the nation; you further brightened our futures.
Let me remind you that our fight does not end with the ousting of one corrupt official, with the suspension of an anomalous contract, or the systemic overhauling of a government office. I call upon Congress to pass our amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act, that we may strengthen our measures to hold the corrupt accountable.
Every town that has and will be lighted; the highways, bridges, airports, trains, and ports we have built; fair contracts; the peace in our cities and our rural areas; every classroom, desk, and book assigned to a child; every Filipino granted a future—all of these, we have achieved in just two years. We have advanced an agenda of reform in these last two years, a marked contrast to our suffering in the decade that came before.
If we share the same ideals and work for the same goals, then we are bound by a shared agenda. But if you are against us, it only follows that you are against what we are doing. Whoever stands against the agenda for genuine change—can the people really count them as being on their side?
Elections are fast approaching. You, our Bosses, will be our compass. I ask you, “Boss, what direction will we take? Do we continue treading the straight and righteous path, or do we double-back—toward the crooked road that leads to a dead end?”
I remember well those early days when we first started working. I was keenly aware of the heavy burdens we would face. And I was among those who wondered: Is it possible to fix a system this broken?
This is what I have learned in the 25 months I have served as your president: Nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible because if the Filipino people see that they are the only Bosses of their government, they will carry you, they will guide you, they themselves will lead you toward meaningful change. It isn’t impossible for the Philippines to become the first country in Southeast Asia to provide free vaccines for the rotavirus. It isn’t impossible for the Philippines to stand strong and say, “The Philippines is for Filipinos—and we are ready to defend it.” It is not impossible for the Filipino who for so long had kept his head bowed upon meeting a foreigner—it is not impossible for the Filipino, today, to stand with his head held high and bask in the admiration of the world. In these times—is it not great to be a Filipino?
Last year, I asked the Filipino people: Thank those who have done their share in bringing about positive change in society. The obstacles we encountered were no laughing matter, and I believe it is only right that we thank those who shouldered the burdens with us, in righting the wrongs brought about by bad governance.
To all the members of my Cabinet: my sincerest thanks. The Filipino people are lucky that there are those of you ready to sacrifice your private and much quieter lives in order to serve the public, even if you know that you will receive smaller salaries, dangers, and constant criticism in return.
And I hope that they will not mind if I take this opportunity to thank them today: to Father Catalino Arevalo and Sister Agnes Guillen, who have nurtured and allowed my spiritual life to flourish, especially in times of greatest difficulty: my deepest gratitude.
This is my third SONA; only three remain. We are entering the midpoint of our administration. Last year, I challenged you to fully turn your back on the culture of negativism; to take every chance to uplift your fellow Filipinos.
From what we are experiencing today, it is clear: You succeeded. You are the wellspring of change. You said: It is possible.
I stand before you today as the face of a government that knows you as its Boss and draws its strength from you. I am only here to narrate the changes that you yourselves have made possible.
This is why, to all the nurses, midwives, or doctors who chose to serve in the barrios; to each new graduate who has chosen to work for the government; to each Filipino athlete who proudly carries the flag in any corner of the globe, to each government official who renders true and honest service: You made this change possible.
So whenever I come face to face with a mother who tells me, “Thank you, my child has been vaccinated,” I respond: You made this happen.
Whenever I come face to face with a child who tells me, “Thank you for the paper, for the pencils, for the chance to study,” I respond: You made this happen.
Whenever I come face to face with an OFW who tells me, “Thank you, because I can once again dream of growing old in the Philippines,” I respond: You made this happen.
Whenever I come face to face with a Filipino who says, “Thank you, I thought that we would never have electricity in our sitio. I never imagined living to see the light,” I respond: You made this happen.
Whenever I come face to face with any farmer, teacher, pilot, engineer, driver, call center agent, or any normal Filipino; to every Juan and Juana dela Cruz who says, ”Thank you for this change,” I respond: You made this happen.
I repeat: What was once impossible is now possible. I stand before you today and tell you: This is not my SONA. You made this happen. This is the SONA of the Filipino nation. Thank you.
Benigno S. Aquino III, Third State of the Nation Address, July 23, 2012
State of the Nation Address
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines
[Delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City, on July 23, 2012]
Maraming salamat po. Maupo ho tayong lahat.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay; mga dating Pangulong Fidel Valdez Ramos at Joseph Ejercito Estrada; ang ating mga kagalang-galang na mahistrado ng Korte Suprema; mga kagalang-galang na kagawad ng kalipunang diplomatiko; mga kagalang-galang na miyembro ng Kamara de Representante at ng Senado; mga pinuno ng pamahalaang lokal; mga miyembro ng ating Gabinete; mga unipormadong kasapi ng militar at kapulisan; mga kapwa kong nagseserbisyo sa taumbayan; at, siyempre, sa akin pong mga boss, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.
Ito po ang aking ikatlong SONA, at parang kailan lang nang nagsimula tayong mangarap. Parang kailan lang nang sabay-sabay tayong nagpasyang tahakin ang tuwid na daan. Parang kailan lang nang sinimulan nating iwaksi ang wang-wang, hindi lamang sa kalsada kundi sa sistemang panlipunan.
Dalawang taon na ang nakalipas mula nang sinabi ninyo, “Sawa na kami sa korupsyon; sawa na kami sa kahirapan.” Oras na upang ibalik ang isang pamahalaang tunay na kakampi ng taumbayan.
Gaya ng marami sa inyo, namulat ako sa panggigipit ng makapangyarihan. Labindalawang-taong gulang po ako nang idineklara ang Batas Militar. Bumaliktad ang aming mundo: Pitong taon at pitong buwang ipiniit ang aking ama; tatlong taong napilitang mangibang-bansa ang aking pamilya; naging saksi ako sa pagdurusa ng marami dahil sa diktadurya. Dito napanday ang aking prinsipyo: Kung may inaagrabyado’t ninanakawan ng karapatan, siya ang kakampihan ko. Kung may abusadong mapang-api, siya ang lalabanan ko. Kung may makita akong mali sa sistema, tungkulin kong itama ito. [Applause]
Matagal nang tapos ang Batas Militar. Tinanong tayo noon, “Kung hindi tayo, sino pa?” at “Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?” Ang nagkakaisang tugon natin: tayo at ngayon na. Ang demokrasyang ninakaw gamit ang paniniil at karahasan, nabawi natin sa mapayapang paraan; matagumpay nating pinag-alab ang liwanag mula sa pinakamadilim na kabanata ng ating kasaysayan.
Ngunit huwag po nating kalimutan ang pinag-ugatan ng Batas Militar: Kinasangkapan ng diktador ang Saligang Batas upang manatili sa kapangyarihan. At hanggang ngayon, tuloy pa rin ang banggaan sa pagitan ng gusto ng sistemang parehas, laban sa mga nagnanais magpatuloy ng panlalamang.
Mula sa unang araw ng ating panunungkulan, walang ibang sumalubong sa atin kundi ang mga bangungot ng nawalang dekada.
Nariyan po ang kaso ng North Rail. Pagkamahal-mahal na nga nito, matapos ulitin ang negosasyon, nagmahal pa lalo. Sa kabila nito, binawasan ang benepisyo. Ang labingsiyam na train sets naging tatlo, at sa mga estasyon, mula lima, naging dalawa. Ang masaklap pa po, pinapabayaran na sa atin ang utang nito, now na.
Nariyan ang walang pakundangang bonus sa ilang GOCC, sa kabila ng pagkalugi ng kanilang mga ahensya. Nariyan ang isang bilyong pisong pinasingaw ng PAGCOR para sa kape. Nariyan ang sistemang pamamahala sa PNP na isinantabi ang pangangailangan sa armas ng 45 porsiyento ng kapulisan, para lang kumita mula sa lumang helicopter na binili sa presyong brand new.
Wala na ngang iniwang panggastos, patung-patong at sabay-sabay pa ang mga utang na kailangang bayaran na. Mahaba ang iniwang listahan na tungkulin nating punuan: Ang 66,800 na backlog sa classrooms, na nagkakahalaga ng tinatayang 53.44 billion pesos; ang 2,573,212 na backlog sa mga upuan, na nagkakahalaga naman ng 2.31 billion pesos. Nang dumating tayo, may halos tatlumpu’t anim na milyong Pilipinong hindi pa miyembro ng PhilHealth. Ang kailangan para makasali sila: maaaring umabot sa 42 billion pesos. Idagdag pa po natin sa lahat ng iyan ang 103 billion pesos na kailangan para sa modernisasyon ng Hukbong Sandatahan. Sa harap ng lahat ng ito, ang iniwan sa ating pondo na malaya nating magagamit: 6.5 percent ng kabuuang budget para sa natitirang anim na buwan ng 2010. Para po tayong boksingerong isinabak sa laban nang nakagapos na nga ang mga kamay at paa, nakapiring pa ang mga mata, at kakampi pa ng kalaban ang referee at ang mga judge.
Kaya nga sa unang tatlong buwan ng aming panunungkulan, inaabangan namin ang pagdating ng Linggo para maidulog sa Panginoon ang mga bangungot na humaharap sa amin. Inasahan naming mangangailangan ng ‘di bababa sa dalawang taon bago magkaroon ng makabuluhang pagbabago. Bibigyan kaya tayo ng sapat na pag-unawa ng taumbayan?
Subalit kung may isang bagay mang nakatatak na sa ating lahi, at makailang ulit na nating pinatunayan sa buong mundo: Walang hindi makakaya ang nagkakaisang Pilipino. Nangarap po tayo ng pagbabago; nakamit natin ang pagbabago; at ngayon, karaniwan na ito. [Applause]
Ang kalsadang pinondohan ninyo ay tuwid, patag, at walang bukol; ang tanging tongpats ay aspalto o semento. Karaniwan na po ito.
Ang sitwasyon kung paparating ang bagyo: nakaabang na ang relief, at hindi ang tao ang nag-aabang ng relief. Nag-aabang na ring umalalay ang rescue services sa taumbayan, at hindi tayo-tayo lang din ang sumasaklolo sa isa’t isa. Karaniwan na po ito.
Ang wang-wang sa lansangan, galing na lang sa pulis, ambulansya, o bumbero—hindi sa opisyal ng gobyerno. Karaniwan na rin po ito. Ang gobyernong dating nang-aabuso, ngayon, tunay na kakampi na ng Pilipino. [Applause]
Nagpatupad po tayo ng reporma: tinanggal ang gastusing hindi kailangan, hinabol ang mga tiwali, at ipinakita sa mundong open for business under new management na ang Pilipinas.
Ang dating sick man of Asia, ngayon, punung-puno na ng sigla. Nang nagkaroon tayo ng positive credit rating action, ang sabi ng iba, tsamba. Ngayong walo na po sila, tsamba pa rin kaya? [Applause] Sa Philippine Stock Exchange index, nang una nating nahigitan ang 4,000 na index, may mga nagduda. Ngayon, sa dami ng all-time high, pati economic managers, nahirapan yata sa pagbilang, at ako rin po ay nagulat: nakakaapatnapu’t apat na pala tayo, at bihira nang bumaba sa 5,000 ang index. [Applause] Nito pong first quarter ng 2012, ang GDP growth natin, 6.4 percent; milya-milya ang layo niyan sa mga prediksyon, at pinakamataas sa buong Southeast Asian region; pangalawa po ito sa Asya, sunod lang tayo sa Tsina. [Applause] Kung dati po, tayo ang laging nangungutang, ngayon, hindi po birong tayo na ang nagpapautang. [Applause] Dati po’y namamalimos tayo ng investments; ngayon, sila na ang dumadagsa. Ang mga kumpanyang Hapon, sa isang pagpupulong po namin, ang sabi ay, “Baka gusto n’yo kaming silipin. Hindi nga kami ang pinakamura, pero una naman kami sa teknolohiya.” Pati pinuno ng isa pong malaking bangko sa Inglatera, kamakailan nakipag-usap sa atin, ang sinabi, maisali sana sila sa ating kinukunsulta sa usapang pinansyal.
Sa bawat sulok ng mundo, nagpapakita ng paghanga ang mga komentarista. Ayon sa Bloomberg Businessweek, and I quote: “Keep an eye on the Philippines.” Ang Foreign Policy magazine, pati isa sa mga pinuno ng ASEAN 100, nagsabing maaari daw tayong maging, and I quote, “Asia’s Next Tiger.” [Applause] Sabi ni Ruchir Sharma, pinuno ng Emerging Market Equities and Global Macro ng Morgan Stanley, I quote: “The Philippines is no longer a joke.” At mukha naman pong hindi siya nambobola, dahil tinatayang isang bilyong dolyar ang ipinasok ng kanyang kumpanya sa atin pong bansa. [Applause] Sana nga po, ang kaliwa’t kanang paghanga ng taga-ibang bansa, masundan na rin ng lokal na tagapagbalita. [Applause]
Sinisiguro po nating umaabot ang kaunlaran sa mas nakakarami. Alalahanin po natin: Nang mag-umpisa tayo, may 760,357 na kabahayang benepisyaryo ang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Tinarget [target] natin itong paabutin sa 3.1 million sa loob ng dalawang taon. Pebrero pa lang po ng taong ito, naiparehistro na ang ikatlong milyong kabahayang benepisyaryo ng Pantawid Pamilya. [Applause] Sa susunod na taon naman, palalawakin pa natin ang sakop nito sa 3.8 milyong bahay; limang beses po ang laki niyan sa dinatnan natin.
Pangmatagalan po ang impact ng proyektong ito. Hindi pa kumpleto ang mga pag-aaral, pero ngayon pa lang, maganda na ang ipinapakita ng numero. Base sa listahan ng DSWD: may 1,672,977 na mga inang regular nang nagpapacheck-up. Idagdag pa natin, 1,672,814 na mga batang napabakunahan laban sa diarrhea, polio, tigdas, at iba pa. 4.57 million na estudyanteng hindi na napipilitang mag-absent dahil sa kahirapan. [Applause]
Sa kalusugan naman po: Nang dumating tayo, animnapu’t dalawang porsiyento lamang ng mga Pilipino ang naka-enrol sa PhilHealth. Ang masaklap, hindi pa masiguro kung lahat sila ay kabilang sa mga totoong nangangailangan ng kalinga ng estado, o buwenas lang na malapit sa politiko. Ngayon po, 85 percent ng lahat ng mamamayan, miyembro na nito. [Applause] Ang ibig pong sabihin, 23.31 million na Pilipino ang naidagdag sa mga saklaw ng PhilHealth mula nang bigyan tayo ng mandato. [Applause]
Ang maganda pa rito: ang 5.2 million na pinakamahirap na kabahayang tinukoy ng National Household Targeting System, buong-buo at walang-bayad nang makikinabang sa benepisyo ng PhilHealth. [Applause] Dahil po sa No Balance Billing policy ng Department of Health, ang lunas para sa dengue, pneumonia, asthma, katarata, gayundin ang pagpapagamot sa mga catastrophic disease tulad ng breast cancer, prostate cancer, at acute leukemia, makukuha na nang libre ng mga pinakamahirap nating kababayan. [Applause]
Ito po ang proseso ng pagpapagamot para sa kanila: Papasok ka sa alinmang ospital ng gobyerno. Ipapakita mo ang iyong PhilHealth card. Magpapagamot ka. At uuwi kang maginhawa nang walang inilabas ni isang kusing.
Sabi nga po sa isa sa mga briefing na dinaluhan natin, apat sa sampung Pilipino, hindi man lamang nakakakita ng health professional sa tanang buhay nila. Sa iba po, mas malaki pa: may nagsasabing anim sa bawat sampung Pilipino ang pumapanaw nang malayo sa kalinga ng health professional. Anuman ang ating pagbatayan, hindi po maikakaila: nakakabahala ang bilang ng mga Pilipinong hindi naaabot ang serbisyong pangkalusugan ng pamahalaan. Tinutugunan na po natin ito. Mula sa sampung libo noong dumating tayo, umabot na sa 30,801 ang mga nurse at midwife na ating nai-deploy sa ilalim ng RNHeals Program. [Applause] Idagdag pa po natin sa kanila ang mahigit labing-isang libong Community Health Teams na nagsisilbing tulay upang higit na mapatibay ang ugnayan ng mga doktor at nurse sa komunidad.
At kung dati tutungo lamang ang mga nurse kung saan makursunadahan ng kanilang hepe, ngayon, dahil sa tamang targeting, kung saan sila kailangan, doon sila ipinapadala: [applause] sa mga lugar na matagal nang naiwan sa laylayan ng lipunan. Ipinadala po natin ang ating mga health professional sa 1,021 na pook na saklaw ng Pantawid Pamilya, at sa 609 na pinakamahihirap na lungsod at munisipyo, ayon sa pag-aaral ng National Anti-Poverty Commission. [Applause]
Dalawang problema po ang natutugunan nito: bukod sa nagkakatrabaho at nabibigyan ng work experience ang libu-libong nurse at midwife na dati ay walang mapaglalaanan ng kanilang kaalaman, nagiging abot-kamay din ang dekalidad na kalinga para sa milyun-milyon nating kababayan.
Subalit hindi pa po tayo makukuntento rito, dahil ang hangad natin: kalusugang pangkalahatan. Nagsisimula ito hindi sa mga pagamutan, kundi sa loob mismo ng kanya-kanya nating tahanan. Ibayong kaalaman, bakuna, at checkup ang kailangan upang mailayo tayo sa karamdaman. Dagdag pa po diyan ang pagsisikap nating iwasan ang mga sakit na puwede namang iwasan.
Halimbawa: Nabanggit ko ang mosquito traps kontra dengue noong nakaraang taon. Alam naman po ninyo, ang mga siyentipiko mahigpit sa pagsisiyasat. Kaya maaga pa para sabihing siguradong-sigurado na tayo, pero nakakaengganyo po ang mga paunang resulta nitong programang ito.
Sinubok natin ang bisa ng mosquito traps sa mga lugar kung saan naitala ang pinakamataas na insidente ng dengue. Sa buong probinsya ng Bukidnon noong 2010, may 1,216 na kaso. Nang inilagay ang mga mosquito trap noong 2011: mukhang nakatulong dahil bumaba ito sa tatlumpu’t pito; 97 percent raw po ang reduction nito. [Applause] Sa mga bayan ng Ballesteros at Claveria sa Cagayan, may 228 na kaso ng dengue noong 2010. Pagdating ng 2011, walo na lang ang naitala. Sa Catarman, Northern Samar: 434 na kaso ng dengue noong 2010, naging apat na lang noong 2011. [Applause]
Panimulang pag-aaral pa lamang po ito. Pero ngayon pa lang, marapat na yata nating pasalamatan sina Secretary Ike Ona ng DOH at Secretary Mario Montejo ng DOST, [Applause] Wala ho tayong masyadong umento, baka sa palakpak n’yo’y ganahan silang lalong magsaliksik at mag-ugnayan.
Marami pa po tayong kailangang solusyonan. Nakakabahala ang mataas pa ring maternal mortality ratio ng bansa. Kaya nga po gumagawa tayo ng mga hakbang upang tugunan ang pangangailangan sa kalusugan ng kababaihan. Nais din nating makamit ang Universal Health Care, at magkaroon ng sapat na kagamitan, pasilidad, at tauhan ang ating mga institusyong pangkalusugan.
Sa pagtugon natin sa mga ito, malaki ang maiaambag ng Sin Tax Bill. Maipasa na po sana ito sa lalong madaling panahon. [Applause] Mababawasan na ang bisyo, madadagdagan pa ang pondo para sa kalusugan.
Ano naman kaya ang sasalubong sa kabataan pagpasok sa paaralan? Sa lilim ng puno pa rin kaya sila unang matututo ng abakada? Nakasalampak pa rin kaya sila sa sahig habang nakikipag-agawan ng textbook sa kaklase nila?
Matibay po ang pananalig natin kay Secretary Luistro: Bago matapos ang susunod na taon, ubos na ang minana nating 66,800 na kakulangan sa silid-aralan. [Applause] Uulitin ko lang po, next year po ‘yan; 40,000 pa lang ho this year. Ang minana po nating 2,573,212 na backlog sa upuan, tuluyan na rin nating matutugunan bago matapos ang 2012. [Applause] Sa taon din pong ito, masisimot na rin ang 61.7 million na backlog sa textbook upang maabot na, sa wakas, ang one is to one ratio ng aklat sa mag-aaral. [Applause] Sana nga po, ngayong paubos na ang backlog sa edukasyon, sikapin nating huwag uling magka-backlog dahil sa dami ng estudyante. Sa tingin ko po, Responsible Parenthood ang sagot dito. [Applause]
At para naman po hindi mapag-iwanan ang ating mga State Universities and Colleges, mayroon tayong panukalang 43.61 percent na pag-angat sa kanilang budget para sa susunod na taon. [Applause] Paalala lang po: lahat ng ginagawa natin, may direksyon; may kaakibat na kondisyon ang dagdag-budget na ito. Kailangang ipatupad ang napagkasunduang SUC Reform Roadmap ng CHED at ng kaukulang mga state universities and colleges, upang siguruhing dekalidad ang magiging produkto ng mga pamantasang pinopondohan ng estado. Kung mataas ang grado ninyo sa assignment na ito, asahan naman ninyong dodoblehin din namin ang kayod para matugunan ang mga natitirang pangangailangan po ninyo. [Applause]
Panay addition po ang nagaganap sa ating budget sa edukasyon. Isipin po ninyo: ang budget ng DepEd na ipinamana sa atin noong 2010, 177 billion pesos. Ang panukala natin para sa 2013: 292.7 billion pesos. [Applause] Noong 2010, 21.03 billion pesos ang budget para sa SUCs. Taunan po iyang dinagdagan upang umabot na sa 37.13 billion pesos na panukala natin para sa 2013. [Applause] Pero sa kabila nito, ngayon pa lang, may nagpaplano nang magcut-classes para mag-piket sa Mendiola. Ganito po kasimple: ang 292.7 ay mas malaki sa 177, at ang 37.13 ay mas malaki sa 21.03. Kaya kung may nagsasabi o magsasabi pa ring binawasan natin ang budget ng edukasyon, kukumbinsihin na lang namin ang inyong mga paaralan na maghandog ng remedial math class para sa inyo. [Laughter and applause] At sana naman po, sa mga klaseng ‘to, pakiusap po namin, sana itong klaseng remedial na nga eh pasukan naman po ninyo.
Nang maupo tayo, at masimulan ang makabuluhang reporma, minaliit ng ilan ang pagpapakitang-gilas ng pamahalaan. Kundi raw buwenas, ningas-kugon lang itong mauupos rin paglaon. May ilan pa rin pong ayaw magretiro sa paghahasik ng negatibismo; silang mga tikom ang bibig sa good news, at ginawang industriya na ang kritisismo.
Kung may problema kayo na bago matapos ang taon, bawat bata ay may sarili nang upuan at aklat, tingnan ninyo sila, mata sa mata, at sabihin ninyong, “Ayaw kong makapag-aral ka.”
Kung masama ang loob ninyo na ang 5.2 million na pinakamahihirap na kabahayang Pilipino ay maaari nang pumasok sa ospital nang hindi iniintindi ang gastos sa pagpapagamot, tingnan ninyo sila ulit, mata sa mata, at sabihin ninyong, “Ayaw kong gumaling ka.”
Kung nagagalit kayo na may tatlong milyong pamilyang Pilipino nang tumutungo sa katuparan ng kanilang mga pangarap dahil sa Pantawid Pamilya, tingnan ninyo sila, mata sa mata, at sabihin ninyong, “Ibabalik ko kayo sa kawalan ng pag-asa.” [Applause]
Tapos na ang panahon kung kailan choice lang ng makapangyarihan ang mahalaga. Halimbawa, ang dating namumuno sa TESDA, nagpamudmod ng mga scholarship voucher; ang problema, wala palang nakalaang pondo para rito. Natural, tatalbog ang voucher. Ang napala: 2.4 billion pesos ang sinisingil ng mahigit isanlibong eskwelahan mula sa pamahalaan. Nagpapapogi ang isang tao’t isang administrasyon; sambayanang Pilipino naman ang pinagbabayad ngayon.
Pumasok si Secretary Joel Villanueva; [applause] hindi siya nagpasindak sa tila imposibleng pagbabagong dapat ipatupad sa kanyang ahensya. Sa kabila ng malaking utang na minana ng TESDA, 434,676 na indibidwal pa rin ang kanilang hinasa sa ilalim ng Training for Work Scholarship Program. [Applause] Kongkretong tagumpay din po ang hatid ng TESDA Specialista Technopreneurship Program (mas mahirap pong bigkasin kaysa sa resulta). Biruin po ninyo, bawat isa sa 5,240 na sertipikadong Specialistas, kumikita na ngayon ng 562 pesos kada araw o 11,240 pesos kada buwan. Mas malaki pa po ito sa minimum wage. [Applause]
Mula sa pagkasanggol, hanggang sa pagkabinata, gumagana na ang sistema para sa mamamayan. Sinisiguro nating manganganak ng trabaho ang pagsigla ng ating ekonomiya.
Alalahanin po natin, para tumabla lang, kailangang makalikha taun-taon ng isang milyong bagong trabaho para sa mga new entrants. Ang nalikha po natin sa loob ng dalawang taon: halos 3.1 million na bagong trabaho. [Applause]
Ito po ang dahilan kung bakit pababa nang pababa ang unemployment rate sa bansa. Nang dumating tayo, eight percent ang unemployment rate. Naging 7.2 ito noong Abril ng 2011, at bumaba pa lalo sa 6.9 ngayong taon, sa buwan rin ng Abril. [Applause] ‘Di po ba makatwirang mangarap na balang araw, bawat Pilipinong handang magbanat ng buto, may mapapasukang trabaho?
Tingnan na lamang po natin ang BPO sector. Noong taong 2000, limanlibo katao lang ang naempleyo sa industriyang ito. Fast forward po tayo ngayon: 638,000 katao na ang nabibigyang trabaho ng mga BPO, at labing-isang bilyong dolyar ang ipinasok nito sa ating ekonomiya noong taong 2011. [Applause] Ang projection nga po ng industriya, pagdating ng 2016, kung saan ako po ay magpapaalam na sa inyo, 25 billion dollars na ang maipapasok nito, at makakapag-empleyo ng 1.3 million na mga Pilipino. [Applause] Hindi pa po kasama rito ang tinatayang aabot sa 3.2 million na mga taxi driver, barista, mga sari-sari store, karinderya, at marami pang ibang makikinabang sa mga indirect jobs na malilikha dahil sa BPO industry.
Malaking bahagi din po ng ating job-generation strategy ang pagpapatayo ng sapat na imprastraktura. Sa mga nakapagbakasyon na sa Boracay, nakita na naman ninyo ang bagong-binyag nating terminal sa Caticlan. Nakalatag na rin po ang plano upang palawakin ang runway nito.
Magkakaroon pa po ‘yan ng mga kapatid. Bago matapos ang aking termino, nakatayo na ang New Bohol Airport sa Panglao, [applause] New Legaspi Airport sa Daraga, at Laguindingan Airport sa Misamis Oriental. [Applause] Ia-upgrade na rin po natin ang ating international airports sa Mactan, Puerto Princesa, at Tacloban. [Applause] Dagdag pa po diyan ang pagpapaganda ng mga airport sa Butuan, Cotabato, Dipolog, Pagadian, Tawi-Tawi, Southern Leyte, at San Vicente sa Palawan. [Applause] Kami po sa Tarlac ay maghihintay na lang. [Laughter]
Pang-apat na Pangulo na po akong sasalo sa problema ng NAIA 3. Hindi lang po eroplano ang nag-take off at nag-landing dito: maging mga problema’t anomalya, lumapag din. Nagbitiw na po ng salita si Secretary Mar Roxas: bago tayo magkita sa susunod na SONA, maisasaayos na ang mga structural defects na minana natin sa NAIA 3. [Applause]
Nitong Hunyo po, nagsimula na ring umusad ang proseso para sa LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension project, na magpapaluwag sa trapik ng Las Piñas, Parañaque, at Cavite. [Applause] Dagdag pa diyan, para lalong mapaluwag ang traffic sa Kamaynilaan at mapabilis ang pagtawid mula North Luzon hanggang South Luzon Expressway, magkakaroon ng dalawang elevated NLEX–SLEX connector. Matatapos po ang mga ito sa 2015. [Applause] Magiging one hour and 40 minutes na lang ang biyaheng Clark papuntang Calamba oras na makumpleto ang mga ito. Bago po tayo bumaba sa puwesto, nakatayo na rin ang mga dekalidad na terminal sa Taguig, Quezon City, at Parañaque na paparadahan ng bus biyaheng probinsya, [applause] upang hindi na sila makisiksik pa sa EDSA.
Nagbago na po ang takbo ng usapan tungkol sa ahensyang dati’y itinuturing na pugad ng kapalpakan. Naalala ko po dati: Kapag tag-ulan at umapaw ang Tarlac River, nalulunod ang MacArthur Highway. Tutunawin nito ang aspalto; magbabaku-bako ang kalsada hanggang sa tuluyan na nga itong mawawala. Bilang kinatawan noon ng aking distrito, inireklamo ko po ito. Ang tugon ng DPWH: alam namin ang problema, alam namin ang solusyon, pero wala kaming pera. Kinailangan ko pong makiusap sa aking mga barangay, at ang sabi ko po sa kanila ay “Kung hindi natin ito uunahin, walang gagawa nito, at tayo rin ang mapeperhuwisyo.” Dati, panay ang “hoy, gising!” sa gobyerno, bakit wala daw kasing ginagawa. Ngayon ang reklamo, “Sobra namang trapik, ang dami kasing ginagawa.” [Laughter and applause] Paalala lang din po: naisasaayos na natin ang mga kalsadang ito nang hindi nagtataas ng buwis. [Applause]
Bubuo tayo ng mga daanan, hindi ayon sa kickback o kursonada, pero ayon sa isang malinaw na sistema. Dahil hindi na bara-bara ang paglalagak natin ng pondo para sa mga proyekto, hindi na ito mapapako sa plano, totoong kalsada na ang pakikinabangan ng Pilipino. Nang maupo po tayo sa puwesto, 7,239 kilometers sa ating national road network ang hindi pa naisasaayos. One thousand five hundred sixty-nine kilometers na nito ang naipaayos natin sa ilalim ng pamamahala ni Secretary Babes Singson; [applause] sa 2012, 2,275 kilometers pa ang maidadagdag na natapos na rin po. Pati po ang mga kalsada at kurbadang mapanganib, tinutukoy at inaayos na gamit ang pinakabagong teknolohiya. Taun-taon po nating bubunuin ito, upang bago matapos ang aking termino, bawat pulgada ng ating national road network, maayos na po. Siyempre ‘wag lang po n’yo dagdagan ang national road network.
Hindi lang kalsada, kundi pati sistema, isinasaayos sa DPWH. Dahil sa pagsunod sa tamang proseso ng bidding at procurement, 10.6 billion pesos na ang natipid ng kanilang ahensya mula 2011 hanggang nitong Hunyo. [Applause] Maging mga kontratista, batid ang positibong bunga ng reporma sa DPWH. Sabi nga po nila, “Ang top 40 na kontratista, fully booked na raw po.”
Sana po hindi maantala ang pagpapatayo natin ng iba pang imprastraktura para hindi rin mapurnada ang paglago ng ibang industriya.
Kaakibat ng pagpapaunlad ng imprastraktura ang paglago ng turismo. Isipin po ninyo: Noong 2001, ang tourist arrivals sa ating bansa, 1.8 million. Nang dumating po tayo noong 2010, naglalaro ito sa 3.1 million. Mantakin po ninyo: sa hinaba-haba ng kanilang administrasyon, ang naidagdag nilang tourist arrivals, 1.3 million lamang; may ambag pa kaming kalahating taon diyan. Tayo naman po, Hunyo pa lang ng 2012, 2.1 million na turista na ang napalapag. [Applause] Mas marami pang dadagsa sa peak season bago matapos ang taon, kaya hindi ako nagdududang maaabot natin ang quota na 4.6 million na turista para sa 2012. [Applause] Ibig sabihin po, 1.5 million na turista ang ating maidadagdag. Samakatuwid, sa dalawang taon, mas malaki ang magiging paglago ng ating tourist arrivals, kumpara sa naidagdag ng pinalitan natin sa loob ng siyam at kalahating taon. Hindi po tayo nagtataas ng bangko; nagsasabi lang po tayo ng totoo. [Applause]
Pero hindi nakuntento rito si Secretary Mon Jimenez. Sabi niya, kung sa Malaysia may bumisitang 24.7 million na turista noong 2011, at kung sa Thailand naman tinatayang 17 million, sa dinami-dami ng magagandang tanawin sa ating bansa, hindi naman siguro suntok sa buwan kung mangarap tayong pagdating ng 2016, sampung milyong turista na ang bibisita sa Pilipinas kada taon. [Applause] Kung patuloy na magkakaisa ang sambayanang Pilipino, gaya ng ipinamalas nating hirangin ang Puerto Princesa Underground River bilang isa sa New Seven Wonders of Nature, walang dudang makakamtan natin ito. Ang pahayag nga po natin sa daigdig: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” [Applause] Kahit wala pang isang taon sa puwesto si Secretary Mon Jimenez, nagagapas na natin ang positibong bunga ng ating mga naipunlang reporma. Masasabi nga po nating pagdating sa turismo, “It’s really fun—to have Secretary Mon Jimenez as our Secretary.” [Applause]
Kung paglago po ang usapan, nasa tuktok ng listahan ang agrikultura. Kayod-kalabaw po si Secretary Alcala upang makapaghatid ng mabubuting balita. [Applause] Binisita po niya ang lahat ng probinsya hindi para mangampanya sa sarili pero para ikampanya ang programa ng Department of Agriculture. Dati, para bang ang pinapalago ng mga namumuno sa Department of Agriculture ay ang utang ng NFA. Twelve billion pesos ang minana nilang utang; ang ipinamana naman nila sa atin, 177 billion pesos.
Hindi po ba’t noon, pinaniwala tayo na 1.3 million metric tons ang kakulangan sa bigas, at para tugunan ito, ‘di bababa sa two million metric tons ang kanilang inangkat noong 2010. Parang unlimited rice sila kung maka-order ng bigas, pero dahil sobra-sobra, nabubulok lang naman ito sa mga bodega. Ang 1.3 million metric tons, unang taon pa lang, napababa na natin sa 860,000 metric tons. [Applause] Ngayong taon, 500,000 na lang, kasama pa ang buffer sakaling abutin tayo ng bagyo. [Applause] Huwag lang po tayong pagsungitan ng panahon, harinawa, sa susunod na taon ay puwede na tayong mag-export ng bigas. [Applause]
Ang sabi po ni Secretary Alcala: ang susi dito, makatotohanang programa sa irigasyon at masigasig na implementasyon ng certified seeds program. [Applause] Ang masakit po, hindi bagong kaalaman ito; hindi lang ipinapatupad. Kung dati pa sila nagtrabaho nang matino, nasaan na kaya tayo ngayon?
Tingnan rin po natin ang industriya ng niyog at ang cocowater na dati tinatapon lang, ngayon, napapakinabangan na ng magsasaka. Noong 2009, 483,862 liters ng cocowater ang iniluwas natin. Umangat po ito ng 1,807,583 liters noong 2010. Huwag po kayong magugulat, noong 2011, 16,756,498 liters [applause]—puwede ho bang ulitin iyon?—16,756,498 liters ng cocowater ang in-export ng Pilipinas. Ang coco coir naman, kung dati walang pumapansin, ngayon may shortage na dahil pinapakyaw ng mga exporter. Hindi natin sasayangin ang pagkakataong ito. Bibili pa tayo ng mga bagong makinang magpoproseso ng bunot para makuha ang mga hiblang ginagawa mula sa coco coir. Sa susunod na taon, lalo nating mapapakinabangan ang industriya ng niyog. Naglaan na tayo ng 1.75 billion pesos upang mamuhunan at palaguin ito. [Applause]
Sinimulan po ng aking ina ang Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Nararapat lamang na matapos ang programang ito sa panahon ng aking panunungkulan. [Applause]
Isinasaayos na po ang sistema upang mapabilis ang pagpapatupad ng repormang agraryo. Ginagawa ng pamahalaan ang lahat ng hakbang upang maipamahagi sa ating magsasaka ang mga lupaing diniligan at pinagyaman ng kanilang pawis. Subalit mayroon pa rin pong ayaw paawat sa pagtatanim ng mga balakid. Ang tugon ko sa kanila: susunod tayo sa batas. Ang atas ng batas, ang atas ng taumbayan, at ang atas ko: Bago ako bumaba sa puwesto, naipamigay na dapat ang lahat ng lupaing sakop ng CARP. [Applause]
Liwanagin naman po natin ang nangyayari sa sektor ng enerhiya. Mantakin po ninyo: Dati po, umabot lang ang kawad ng kuryente sa barangay hall, “energized” na raw ang buong barangay. Kaya ganoon na lang kung ipagmalaki nilang 99.98 percent na raw ng mga barangay sa bansa ang may kuryente. Pati ba naman sa serbisyong dapat ay matagal nang napapakinabangan ng Pilipino, nagkakagulangan pa? Kaya nga po, para subukan ang kakayahan ng DOE at NEA, naglaan tayo ng 1.3 billion pesos para pailawan ang unang target na 1,300 sitios, sa presyong isang milyong piso bawat isa. Nang matapos sila, ang napailawan sa inilaan nating pondo: 1,520 sitios, at gumastos lamang sila ng 814 million pesos. [Applause] Nagawa nila ito sa loob lamang ng tatlong buwan, at mas marami pa pong gagawin sa taong ito hanggang maubos ‘yang 36,000 na sitiong walang kuryente. Kay Secretary Rene Almendras, bilib talaga ako sa iyo; [applause] parang hindi ka nauubusan ng enerhiya. Sa paghahatid-serbisyo, hindi ka lang ever-ready, nagmistulang energizer bunny ka pa—you keep on going, and going, and going. [Applause]
Nangingibabaw na nga po ang liwanag sa ating bayan—liwanag na nagsiwalat sa krimeng nagaganap sa madidilim na sulok ng lipunan. Ang pinagsisikapang kitain ng Pilipino, hindi na magagantso. Patuloy po ang pagbaba ng crime volume sa buong bansa. Ang mahigit limandaan libong krimen na naitala noong 2009, mahigit kalahati po ang nabawas: 246,958 na lamang iyan nitong 2011. Dagdag pa rito, ang dating dalawanlibo’t dalawandaang kaso ng carnapping noong 2010, lampas kalahati rin ang ibinaba; 966 na lang po iyan pagdating ng 2011.
Ito nga po sana ang dalhin ng ating mga headline. Hindi po natin sinasabing wala nang krimeng nagaganap, pero palagay ko naman po, wala dapat magalit na nangalahati na ito. Si Raymond Dominguez na matagal nang labas-masok sa kulungan, hindi ba’t sa loob lamang ng mahigit isang taon, nasentensyahan at naipakulong na? Ang dalawa pa niyang kapatid ay sinampahan na rin natin ng kaso at kasalukuyan na ring nakabilanggo. May dalawang suspect sa bus bombing sa Makati noong nakaraang taon, ang isa po’y pumanaw na; ‘yung isa, humihimas na ng rehas. Kakosa niya ang mahigit sampung libong sangkot sa ilegal na droga na inaresto ng PDEA nitong 2011. [Applause]
Alam po nating hindi araw-araw ang laban ni Pacman, at hindi puwedeng iasa dito ang pagbaba ng krimen. Kaya nga po pinalalakas natin ang puwersa ng kapulisan. ‘Di po ba, nang dumating tayo, apatnapu’t limang porsyento ng ating kapulisan ang walang baril at umaasa sa anting-anting habang tumutugis ng masasamang-loob? [Laughter] Mayroon pong nanalo na sa bidding, tinitiyak na lamang nating dekalidad ang kanilang mga produkto. Pagkatapos ng proseso, at itong taon po nating inaasahan ito, maipagkakaloob na ang 74,600 na baril na magagamit nila upang ipagtanggol at alagaan ang bayan, lipunan, at sarili. [Applause]
Dumako naman po tayo sa usapin ng pambansang tanggulan. May mga nagsabi na po na ang ating Air Force, “all air, at no force.” [Laughter] Imbes na alagaan ng estado, para bang sinasadyang ilagay sa alanganin ang ating mga sundalo. Hindi po tayo makakapayag na manatiling ganito.
Makalipas nga lang po ang isang taon at pitong buwan, nakapaglaan na tayo ng mahigit dalawampu’t walong bilyong piso para sa AFP Modernization Program. Aabutan na nito ang tatlumpu’t tatlong bilyong pisong pondo na ipinagkaloob sa nasabing programa sa nakalipas na labinlimang taon. [Applause] Bumubuwelo pa lang po tayo sa lagay na ‘yan. Kapag naipasa na ang panukala nating AFP modernization bill sa Kongreso, makakapaglaan tayo ng pitumpu’t limang bilyong piso para sa susunod na limang taon.
Kasado na rin po ang tatlumpung milyong dolyar na pondong kaloob ng Estados Unidos para sa Defense Capability Upgrade and Sustainment of Equipment Program ng AFP. Bukod pa po ito sa tulong nila upang pahusayin pa ang pagmanman sa ating mga baybayin sa ilalim ng itatayong Coast Watch Center ng Pilipinas.
Nagka-canvass na rin po ang Sandatahang Lakas ng mga kagamitan tulad ng mga kanyon, armored personnel carrier, at frigates. Hindi magtatagal, dadaong na ang karelyebo ng BRP Gregorio del Pilar sa ating pampang. Sa Enero, aangkla na po sa Pilipinas ang BRP Ramon Alcaraz, ang pangalawa nating Hamilton class cutter. ‘Di na po bangkang papel ang ating ipapalaot; [applause] ngayon, mga hi-tech at dekalidad na barko na ang tatanod sa 36,000 kilometers nating coastline.
Mainam na rin po siguro kung maglilinis-linis na ng mga hangar ang ating Sandatahang Lakas, dahil darating na ang mga kagamitang lalong magpapatikas sa ating tanggulan. Sa wakas, may katuwang na po ang kaisa-isa nating C-130 na tatlumpu’t anim na taon nang rumoronda sa himpapawid. Dalawa pang C-130 ang magiging operational ulit sa taong ito. Bago matapos ang taong ito, inaasahan nating maide-deliver na ang binili nating dalawampu’t isang refurbished UH-1H Helicopter, apat na combat utility helicopters, mga radyo’t iba pang communication equipment, rifles, mortars, mobile diagnostic laboratories, kasama na ang bullet station assembly para sa arsenal. [Applause] Pagdating naman po ng 2013, lalapag na ang sampung attack helicopters, dalawang naval helicopters, dalawang light lift aircraft, isang frigate, at mga force protection equipment. [Applause]
At hindi lang po natin sa armas ipinaparamdam ang pagkalinga sa ating pulis at kasundaluhan. Nabawasan na rin po ang mga pasanin nila sa pamumuhay dahil sa mahigit dalawampu’t dalawang libong bahay ang naipatayo na sa ilalim ng AFP–PNP housing program. [Applause]
Hindi po ito tungkol sa pakikipaggirian o pakikipagmatigasan. Hindi ito tungkol sa pagsisiga-sigaan. Tungkol ito sa pagkamit ng kapayapaan. Tungkol ito sa kakayahan nating ipagtanggol ang ating sarili—isang bagay na kay tagal nating inisip na imposible. Tungkol po ito sa buhay ng isang sundalong araw-araw sumasabak sa peligro; tungkol ito sa pamilya niyang nag-aabang na makabalik siyang ligtas, ano man ang kanyang makaharap. Hayaan nating ang ilang mga benipisyaryo ang magsabi sa pagbabago ng buhay po nila:
“Nagpapasalamat sa Poong Maykapal. Binigyan kami ng ganitong pagkakataon—binigyan ng blessing na ganito. Pangalawa, ‘yung pagkakaroon natin ng mabait na pangulo. Itong proyekto na ito ay hindi niya kami pinababayaan—mga kapulisan at mga sundalo—sandatahan ng ating Pilipinas.” – SPO1 Domingo Medalla [PNP Housing Beneficiary]
“Kinakaya namin, ma’am. Pero ginagawan ko talaga ng paraan na makapasok sila [sa eskuwela]. ‘Yun lang talaga, ma’am, ang misyon ko sa buhay na mapaaral sila, maibigay ko ‘yung tamang edukasyon, na hindi maging gusgusin ang anak ko, hindi kaawa-awa[an] ng mga tao, may magulang na dapat magtaguyod. At, napapasalamat ako sa Pantawid [Pamilya Program], ma’am, dahil may natutunan ako ditong malaki.” – Eva Neri [CCT beneficiary]
“Malaking tulong na isa kami—ang alam ko kauna-unahan na nakinabang at nakikinabang pa sa package na ‘to na Category Z Package ng PhilHealth. Nagpapasalamat kami nang sobra at hindi man maganda na nagkaroon ng sakit ang anak ko, pero mayroong PhilHealth na tutulong at handang tumulong sa mga gastusin namin.” – Kristine Tatualla [PhilHealth beneficiary]
“Noong araw na nasama ako sa isang Oakwood Mutiny—‘yung pinaglalaban namin, ito na po ‘yung hinihintay namin para sa pagbabago at ito na po ang pagkakataon natin para magkaroon tayo ng sariling bahay lalong lalo na sa programa ng ating presidente na si Benigno Aquino III.” – PFC Rolly Bernal [AFP Housing Beneficiary]
At ngayon ngang inaaruga na sila ng taumbayan, lalo namang ginaganahan ang ating kasundaluhan na makamtan ang kapayapaan. Tagumpay pong maituturing ang dalawandaan at tatlong rebeldeng sumuko at nagbabalik-loob na sa lipunan, at ang 1,772 na bandidong nawakasan na ang karahasan. Halimbawa po, ang kilabot na teroristang si Doctor Abu, na hindi na makakapaghasik ng kaniyang lagim. Nagpupugay rin po tayo sa panunumbalik sa katahimikan sa mga lugar na matagal nang biningi ng putukan. Ang resulta nga po ng bayanihan: 365 na barangay ang naagaw sa kamay ng kaaway, 270 na gusali’t paaralan ang naipaayos, at 74 health centers ang naipagawa. [Applause]
Kung kapayapaan na lang din po ang usapan, dumako naman tayo sa lugar na matagal naging mukha ng mga mithiing ‘di makamtan-kamtan. Bago po magsimula ang mga reporma natin sa ARMM, at alam naman po n’yo, may mga ghost students doon, na naglalakad sa isang ghost road, tungo sa isang ghost school, para magpaturo sa isang ghost teacher. Ang mga aparisyon pong gumulantang kay OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman: [applause] Apat na eskuwelahan na natagpuang may ghost students; iniimbestigahan na rin ang mga teacher na hindi lumilitaw ang pangalan sa talaan ng Professional Regulation Commission, gayundin ang mga tauhan ng gobyernong hindi nakalista sa plantilya. Limampu’t limang ghost entry ang tinanggal sa payroll. Ang dating paulit-ulit na pagsasaboy ng graba sa kalsada para lang pagkakitaan ng pera, bawal na. Wala nang cash advance sa mga ahensya, para maiwasan ang pagsasamantala. Ang mga multo sa voters list, mapapatahimik na ang kaluluwa. [Applause] Kaya nga po kay OIC Gov. Mujiv Hataman, ang masasabi natin: talaga namang isa ka nang certified ghost buster.
Ang pumalit po, at pinapalit na: pabahay, tulay, at learning center para sa mga Badjao sa Basilan. Mga community-based hatchery, lambat, materyales para maglinang ng seaweeds, at punlang napakinabangan ng 2,588 na mangingisda. Certified seeds, punla ng gabi, cassava, goma, at mga punong namumunga para sa 145,121 na magsasaka. Simula pa lang po iyan; nakalaan na ang 183 million pesos para sa mga municipal fishing port projects sa ARMM; 310.4 million pesos para sa mga istasyon ng bumbero; 515 million pesos para sa malinis na inuming tubig; 551.9 million pesos para sa mga kagamitang pangkalusugan; 691.9 million pesos para sa daycare centers; at 2.85 billion pesos para sa mga kalsada at tulay na babagtas sa rehiyon. Ilan lang po iyan sa patutunguhan ng kabuuang 8.59 billion pesos na ipinagkaloob ng pambansang gobyerno para isakatuparan ang mga reporma sa ARMM. [Applause] Lilinawin ko rin po, hindi pa kasama rito ang taunang suportang natatanggap nila, na ngayong 2012 ay umabot sa 11.7 billion pesos. [Applause]
Miski po ang mga dating gustong tumiwalag, nakikita na ang epekto ng reporma. Kinikilala natin bilang pahiwatig ng kanilang tiwala ang nakaraang pitong buwan, kung kailan walang nangyaring sagupaan sa pagitan ng militar at ng MILF. Sa peace process naman po, hayag at lantaran ang usapan. Nagpapamalas ang magkabilang panig ng tiwala sa isa’t isa. Maaaring minsan, magiging masalimuot ang proseso; signos lang po ito na malapit na nating makamit ang nag-iisa nating mithiin: Kapayapaan.
Mapayapang pag-uusap rin po ang prinsipyong isinulong natin upang mabuo ang ating Executive Order ukol sa pagmimina. Ang kaisipan sa likod ng nabuong consensus: mapakinabangan ang ating likas na yaman upang iangat ang buhay ng Pilipino, hindi lamang ngayon kundi pati na rin sa susunod na salinlahi. Hindi natin pipitasin ang ginintuang bunga ng industriyang ito, kung ang magiging kabayaran ay ang pagkasira ng kalikasan. [Applause]
Ngunit unang hakbang lamang ito. Isipin po ninyo, noong 2010, 145 billion pesos ang kabuuang halaga na nakuha mula sa pagmimina, subalit 13.4 billion pesos lamang o siyam na porsyento ang napunta sa kaban ng bayan. Ang likas na yaman, pag-aari ninyo; hindi tayo papayag na balato lang ang mapupunta sa Pilipino. Umaasa po tayo sa pakikiisa ng Kongreso upang makapagpasa ng batas na sisigurong napapangalagaan ang kalikasan at matitiyak na makatarungan ang magiging pakinabang ng publiko at pribadong sektor sa mga biyayang makukuha natin mula sa industriyang ito. [Applause]
Pag-usapan po natin ang situwasyon sa Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. Dati, ang gobyernong dapat tumutulong, nanghihingi rin ng tulong. Ngayon, nasa Pasipiko pa lang ang bagyo, alam na kung saan idedestino ang ayuda, at may malinaw nang plano upang maiwasan ang peligro.
Tuwing pag-uusapan nga po ang sakuna, lagi kong naaalala ang nangyari po sa amin sa Tarlac noong minsang bumagyo. Sa lakas ng ulan, bumigay ang isang dike. Nang nagising ang atin pong barangay captain, tinangay na ng baha ang kanyang bahay at mga kagamitang pangsaka. Buti nga po’t nailigtas ang buong mag-anak. Malas lang po ng kalabaw nilang naiwang nakatali sa puno; nabigti ito sa lakas ng ragasa.
Walang kalaban-laban din po ang marami sa tinamaan ng bagyong Ondoy, Pepeng, at Sendong. Napakarami pong nasawi sa paghagupit ng mga delubyong ito. Sa ilalim ng bagong-lunsad na Project NOAH, isinakay natin sa iisang bangka ang mga inisyatiba kontra-sakuna, at hindi na rin po idinadaan sa tsamba ang paglilikas sa mga pamilya. Gamit ang teknolohiya, nabibigyan na ng wastong babala ang Pilipino upang makapaghanda at makaiwas sa disgrasya.
Real-time at direkta na ang pakinabang ng walumpu’t anim na automated rain gauges at dalawampu’t walong water level monitoring sensors natin sa iba’t ibang rehiyon. Bago matapos ang 2013, ang target natin: animnaraang automated rain gauges at apatnaraan at dalawampu’t dalawang water level sensors. Ipapakabit po natin ang mga ito sa labingwalong pangunahing river basins sa buong bansa. [Applause]
Isa pa pong pagbabago: Dati, ang mga ahensya’y kanya-kanyang habulan ng numero, kanya-kanyang agenda, kanya-kanyang pasikatan. Ngayon, ang kultura sa gobyerno: bayanihan para sa kapakanan ng taumbayan. Convergence po ang tawag natin dito.
Dati pa naman po naglipana ang mga programa sa tree planting. Pero matapos magtanim, pababayaan na lang ang mga ito. Kapag nakita ng mga komunidad na naghahanap din ng kabuhayan, puputulin ang mga ito para gawing uling.
May solusyon na po rito. Mayroon na pong 128,558 hectares ng kagubatang naitanim sa buong bansa; bahagi lang po iyan ng kabuuang 1.5 million na ektaryang matatamnan bago tayo bumaba sa puwesto. [Applause] Nakapaloob po rito ang mga komunidad na nasa ilalim ng National Convergence Initiative. Ang proseso: pagkatanim ng puno, makikipag-ugnayan ang DSWD sa mga komunidad. Kapalit ng conditional cash transfer, aalagaan ang mga puno; mayroon ding mga magpapalago ng bagong punla sa nursery. Three hundred thirty-five thousand seventy-eight na po ang mga Pilipinong nakakakuha ng kabuhayan mula dito.
Sa isa nga pong programa, nakiambag din ang pribadong sektor, na nagbibigay ng espesyal na binhi ng kape at cacao sa komunidad, at tinuturuan silang alagaan at siguruhing mataas ang ani. Itinatanim ang kape sa ilalim ng mga puno, na habang nakatayo ay masisigurong hihigop ng baha at tutulong makaiwas tayo sa pinsala. Ang kumpanyang nagbigay ng binhi, sure buyer na rin ng ani. Panalo po ang mga komunidad na may dagdag kita, panalo ang pribadong sektor, panalo pa ang susunod na salinlahing makikinabang sa matatayog na puno. [Applause]
Matagal na pong problema ang illegal logging. Mula nga po nang lumapag ang EO 23, nakasabat na si Mayor Jun Amante ng mahigit anim na milyong pisong halaga ng troso. Nagpapasalamat tayo sa kanya. Sa Butuan pa lang ito; paano pa kung magpapakita ng ganitong political will ang lahat ng mga LGU?
Ang mga trosong nakukumpiska ng DENR, lalapag sa mga komunidad na naturuan na ng TESDA ng pagkakarpintero. Ang resulta: upuan para sa mga pampublikong paaralan na hawak naman ng DepEd. Isipin po ninyo, ang dating pinagmumulan ng pinsala, ngayon, tulay na para sa mas mabuting kinabukasan. Dati, imposible nga ito; imposible kung nagbubulag-bulagan ang pamahalaan sa ilegal na gawain.
Kaya kayong mga walang konsensya; kayong mga paulit-ulit isinusugal ang buhay ng kapwa Pilipino: maghanda na kayo. Tapos na ang maliligayang araw po ninyo. [Applause] Sinampolan na natin ang tatlumpu’t apat na kawani ng DENR, isang PNP provincial director, at pitong chiefs of police. Pinagpapaliwanag na rin po natin ang isang regional director ng PNP na nagbingi-bingihan sa aking utos at nagbulag-bulagan sa mga dambuhalang trosong dumaan sa kanilang tanawin. Kung hindi kayo umayos, isusunod namin kayo. Magkubli man kayo sa ilalim ng inyong mga padrino, aabutan namin kayo. Isasama na rin namin ang mga padrino ninyo. [Applause] Kaya bago pa magkasalubong ang ating landas, ako po’y muling makikiusap, mas maganda sigurong tumino na kayo.
Mula sa sinapupunan, sa pag-aaral at pagtatrabaho, may pagbabago nang haharap sa Pilipino. At sakaling piliin niyang magserbisyo sa gobyerno, tuloy pa rin ang pag-aaruga ng estado hanggang sa kanyang pagreretiro. Tatanawin ng pamahalaan ang kanyang ambag bilang lingkod-bayan, at hindi ipagdadamot sa kanya ang pensiyong siya rin naman ang nagpuhunan.
Isipin po ninyo, at ako po’y nagulat dito: may mga pensyonado tayong tumatanggap ng 500 pesos lamang kada buwan. Paano kaya niya ito pagkakasiyahin sa tubig, kuryente, at pagkain araw-araw? Ang atin pong tugon: Pagsapit ng bagong taon, hindi na bababa sa limanlibong piso ang matatanggap na buwanang pensyon ng ating old-age and disability pensioners. [Applause] Masaya tayong matutugunan natin ang pangangailangan nila ngayon, nang hindi isinusugal ang kapakanan ng mga pensyonado bukas.
Iba na po talaga ang mukha ng gobyerno. Sumasabay na po sa pribadong sektor ang ating pasahod para sa entry level. Pero kapag sabay kayong na-promote ng kaklase mong piniling mag-pribado, nagkakaiwanan na.
Mahahabol din po natin iyan; pero sa ngayon po, ang good news natin sa mga nagtatrabaho sa pamahalaan: Performance-Based Incentives. Dati, miski palpak ang palakad ng isang ahensya, very satisfactory pa rin ang pinakamababang rating ng empleyado. Dahil sa pakikisama, nahihirapan ang bisor na bigyan ng makatarungang rating ang mga tauhan niya. Nakakawawa tuloy ang mga mahusay magtrabaho. Nawawalan sila ng dahilan para galingan dahil parehas lang naman ang insentibo ng mga tamad at pursigido.
Heto po ang isa lamang sa mga hakbang natin upang tugunan ito. Simula ngayong taon, magpapatupad tayo ng sistema kung saan ang bonus ay nakabase sa pagtupad ng mga ahensya sa kanilang mga target para sa taon. [Applause] Nasa kamay na ng empleyado ang susi sa kanyang pag-angat. Ang insentibo, maaaring umabot ng tatlumpu’t limang libong piso, depende sa pagpapakitang-gilas mo sa iyong trabaho. Dagdag pa ito sa across-the-board na Christmas bonus na matatanggap mo.
Ginagawa natin ito, hindi lamang para itaas ang kumpiyansa at ipakita ang pagtitiwala natin sa ating mga lingkod-bayan. Higit sa lahat, para ito sa Pilipinong umaasa sa tapat at mahusay na serbisyo mula sa lingkod-bayan, at umaasang sila at sila lamang ang itinuturing na boss ng kanilang pamahalaan. [Applause]
Alam po niyo, sa simula pa lang mayroon nang mga kumukuwestiyon sa sinasabi nating, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Hanggang ngayon mayroon pa rin pong mangilan-ngilang nagtatanong: nakakain ba ang mabuting pamamahala? Ang simpleng sagot, “Siyempre.”
Isipin po natin ang ating pinanggalingan: Dati, parang “Wild West” ang pamumuhunan sa Pilipinas. May peligro na nga ang negosyo, sinagad pa ang risko dahil sa ‘di tiyak at nakalihim na patakaran. Kakamayan ka gamit ang kanan, kokotongan ka naman na gamit ang kaliwa.
Ngayon, dahil patas na ang laban, at may hayag at hindi pabagu-bagong mga patakaran, patuloy ang pagtaas ng kumpiyansa sa ating ekonomiya. Patuloy ang pagpasok ng puhunan; patuloy ang pagdami ng trabaho; patuloy ang positibong siklo ng pagkonsumo, paglago ng negosyo, at pagdami ng mamamayang naeempleyo. [Applause]
Dahil maayos ang paggugol ng gobyerno, walang tagas sa sistema. Dahil maayos ang pangkolekta ng buwis, lumalago ang kaban ng bayan. Bawat pisong nakokolekta, tiyak ang pupuntahan: Piso itong diretso sa kalsada, piso para sa bakuna, piso para sa classroom at upuan, piso para sa ating kinabukasan. [Applause]
Dahil maayos ang paggawa ng tulay, kalsada, at gusali, itinatayo ang mga ito kung saan kailangan. Maayos ang daanan, mas mabilis ang takbo ng produkto, serbisyo, at mamamayan.
Dahil maayos ang pamamahala sa agrikultura, tumataas ang produksyon ng pagkain, at hindi pumapalo ang presyo nito. Stable ang pasahod, at mas malakas ang pambansang ekonomiya.
Tunay nga po, ang matatag at malakas na ekonomiyang pinanday ng mabuting pamamahala ang pinakamabisang kalasag laban sa mga hamon na kinakaharap ng daigdig. Dalawang taon po nating binaklas ang mga balakid sa pag-unlad, at ngayon, tayo na lang mismo ang makakapigil sa ating sariling pag-angat.
Ginawa po natin ang lahat ng ito habang binubuno rin ng bawat bansa sa iba’t ibang sulok ng daigdig ang kani-kanilang problema’t pagsubok.
Hindi po tayo nag-iisa sa mundo, kaya’t habang tinutugunan natin ang sarili nating mga suliranin, angkop lamang na bantayan din ang ilang pangyayaring maaaring makaapekto sa atin.
Naging maugong ang mga kaganapan sa Bajo de Masinloc. May mga mangingisdang Tsinong pumasok sa ating teritoryo. Nasabat ng barko natin at nasabat sa kanilang mga barko ang endangered species. Bilang pinuno, kailangan kong ipatupad ang batas na umiiral sa ating bansa. Sa pagsulong nito, nagbungguan ang Nine-Dash Line Theory ng mga Tsino, na umaangkin sa halos buong West Philippine Sea, at ang karapatan natin at ng marami pang ibang bansa, kasama na ang Tsina, na pinagtibay naman ng United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea.
Ibayong hinahon ang ipinamalas natin. Ang barko ng Hukbong Dagat, bilang tanda ng ating malinis na hangarin, ay agad nating pinalitan ng barkong sibilyan. Hindi tayo nakipagsagutan sa mga banat ng kanilang media sa atin. Hindi naman po siguro kalabisan na hilingin sa kabilang panig na galangin ang ating karapatan, gaya ng paggalang sa kanilang mga karapatan bilang kapwa bansang nasa iisang mundong kailangang pagsaluhan.
Mayroon po tayong mga miron na nagsasabing hayaan na lang ang Bajo de Masinloc; umiwas na lang tayo. Pero kung may pumasok sa inyong bakuran at sinabing sa kanya na ang kanyang kinatatayuan ay sa kanya na, papayag ba kayo? Hindi naman po yata tamang ipamigay na lang natin sa iba ang sadyang atin talaga. [Applause]
Kaya nga po hinihiling ko sa sambayanan ang pakikiisa sa isyung ito. Iisa lang po dapat ang kumpas natin. Tulungan ninyo akong iparinig sa kabilang panig ang katuwiran ng ating mga paninindigan.
Hindi po simple ang sitwasyon, at hindi magiging simple ang solusyon. Magtiwala po kayo, kumokonsulta tayo sa mga eksperto, at sa lahat ng pinuno ng ating bansa, pati na sa mga kaalyado natin—gayundin sa mga nasa kabilang panig ng usaping ito—upang makahanap ng solusyon na katanggap-tanggap sa lahat. [Applause]
Sa bawat hakbang sa tuwid na daan, nagpunla tayo ng pagbabago. Ngunit may mangilan-ngilan pa ring pilit na bubunot nito. Habang nagtatalumpati ako ngayon, may mga nagbubulung-bulungan sa isang silid at hinihimay ang aking mga sinasabi; naghahanap ng butas na ipambabatikos bukas. Sasabihin nila, “Salita lang ito, at hindi totoo ang tuwid na landas.” Sila rin po ang magsasabing hayaan na, magkaisa na; forgive and forget na lang para makausad na tayo.
Hindi ko po matatanggap ito. Forgive and forget na lang ang sampung taon na nawala sa atin? Forgive and forget na lang para sa magsasakang nabaon sa utang dahil sa kakaangkat natin ng bigas, gayong puwede naman palang pagyamanin ang ating sariling lupa?
Forgive and forget na lang ba para sa pamilya ng isang pulis na namatay nang walang kalaban-laban, dahil batuta lang ang hawak niya habang hinahabol ang armadong masasamang-loob?
Forgive and forget na lang ba para sa mga naulila ng limampu’t pitong biktima ng masaker sa Maguindanao? Maibabalik ba sila ng “forgive and forget?” [Applause] Forgive and forget ang lahat ng atraso ng mga naglubog sa atin sa bulok na estado? Forgive and forget para maibalik ang lumang status quo? Ang tugon ko, “Ang magpatawad, maaari; ang makalimot, hindi.” [Applause] Kung ang nagkasala ay hindi mananagot, gagarantiyahan mo ang pagpapahirap muli sa sambayanan.
Ang tunay na pagkakaisa at pagkakasunduan ay magmumula lamang sa tunay at ganap na katarungan. Katarungan ang tawag sa plunder case na isinampa laban sa dating pangulo. [Applause] Katarungan na bigyan siya ng pagkakataong harapin ang mga akusasyon at ipagtanggol ang kanyang sarili. Katarungan ang nasaksihan natin noong ikadalawampu’t siyam ng Mayo. Noong araw na iyon, pinatunayan natin: Posibleng mangibabaw ang katarungan kahit na ang kabangga mo ay may mataas na katungkulan. [Applause] Noong araw na iyon, may isang Delsa Flores sa Panabo, Davao del Norte, na nagsabing, “Posible palang iisang batas lang ang kailangang sundin ng court interpreter na tulad ko, at ng Punong Mahistrado.” [Applause] Posible palang maging patas ang timbangan; maaaring isakdal at panagutin miski ang mayaman at makapangyarihan.
Kaya po sa susunod na magiging Punong Mahistrado, malaki ang inaasahan sa inyo ng sambayanan. Napatunayan na po nating posible ang imposible; ang trabaho natin ngayon, siguruhing magpapatuloy ang pagbabago tungo sa tunay na katarungan, matapos man ang ating termino. [Applause] Marami pong sira sa sistemang kailangan ninyong kumpunihin, at alam kong hindi magiging madali ito. Alam ko po kung gaano kabigat ang pasanin ng isang malinaw na mandato; ngunit ito ang atas sa atin ng taumbayan; ito ang tungkuling ating sinumpaan; ito ang kailangan nating gampanan.
Simple lang ang hangad natin: Kung inosente ka, buong-loob kang haharap sa korte, dahil kampante kang mapapawalang-sala ka. Kung ikaw ang salarin, anuman ang apelyido mo, o gaano man karami ang titulong nakakabit sa iyong pangalan, may katiyakan din na pananagutan mo ang ginawa mong kasalanan. [Applause]
Salamat din po kay Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, [applause] sa pagtanggap ng hamon na maging tunay na tanod-bayan. Kung tutuusin, puwede na niyang tanggihan ang responsibilidad at sabihing, “Retirado na ako, puwede bang ‘yung iba na lang?” Subalit nangibabaw ang kaniyang malasakit sa bayan. Sa kabila nito, may nagregalo pa rin sa kanya ng granada sa bahay. [Laughter] Ma’am, may mga darating pa pong pagsubok; baka po paglaon, magaya na kayo sa akin na tinatawag, sabay-sabay pang tinatawag, na ganid na kapitalistang kakuntsaba o komunista din patungong diktador dahil sa masigasig na mga repormang ipinapatupad natin.
Bilib po ako sa inyong pagpapakitang-gilas at maraming salamat sa pagiging instrumento ng katarungan, lalo na noong kasagsagan ng impeachment trial. [Applause] Salamat din po sa dalawang institusyong bumubuo ng Kongreso: Sa Senado at Kamara de Representante, na tinimbang ng taumbayan at nakitang sapat na sapat.
Sa lahat po ng tumulong sa pagpapagana ng mga prosesong pangkatarungan: Dumaan kayo sa matinding pagsubok, batikos, at agam-agam; kasama pa ang kaba na kung natalo tayo, kayo ang unang pupuntiryahin ng kalaban. Pero ‘di kayo natinag. Umasa sa inyo ang Pilipino, at pinatunayan ninyong tama ang pag-asa sa inyo. Hindi ninyo binigo ang sambayanan; ipinaliwanag ninyo lalo ang ating kinabukasan. [Applause]
Paalala lang po: Hindi natatapos ang laban sa isang tiwaling opisyal na natanggal sa puwesto, sa isang maanomalyang kontratang napigil ipatupad, o sa isang opisinang naituwid ang pamamalakad. Kaya naman nananawagan po tayo sa Kongreso na ipasa ang panukala nating sa pag-amyenda sa Anti-Money Laundering Act, upang mas mapaigting pa natin ang pagpapanagot sa mga tiwali.
Itong tinatamasa natin ngayon: ang bawat nailawan at iilawan pang sitio; ang bawat daan, tulay, paliparan, tren, at daungan; ang bawat kontratang walang bukol; ang kaligtasan at kapayapaan mula lungsod hanggang nayon; ang pagbalik ng piring sa sistemang pangkatarungan; ang bawat classroom, upuan, at aklat na napasakamay ng kabataan; ang bawat Pilipinong nahahandugan ng bagong kinabukasan—ang lahat ng ito, naabot natin sa loob lamang ng dalawang taon.
Pagtabihin po natin ang dalawang taon na ito, at ang nakaraang siyam at kalahating taon na ating pinagdusahan. ‘Di po ba’t sumusulong na ang agenda ng pagbabago? Ang kapareho namin ng adhikain, malamang, kasama namin sa agendang ito. At kung kontra ka sa amin, siguro kontra ka rin sa ginagawa namin. Kung kumukontra sila sa agenda ng pagbabago, masasabi ba niyang sila’y nasa panig ninyo?
Paparating na naman po ang halalan. Kayo po, ang aming mga boss, ang tangi naming susundan. Ang tanong ko sa inyo, “Boss, saan tayo tatahak? Tuloy ba ang biyahe natin sa tuwid na landas, o magmamane-obra ba tayo paatras, pabalik sa daan na baluktot at walang patutunguhan?”
Naalala ko pa po noong nagsimula tayo. Mulat na mulat ako sa bigat ng pasaning sasalubong sa atin. Kabilang ako sa mga nag-isip: Kaya pa bang ituwid ang ganito kabaluktot na sistema?
Heto po ang aking natutuhan sa dalawampu’t limang buwan ng pagkapinuno: Walang pong imposible. [Applause] Walang imposible dahil kung nakikita ng taumbayan na sila ang tanging boss ng kanilang pamahalaan, bubuhatin ka nila, gagabayan ka nila, sila mismo ang mamumuno tungo sa makabuluhang pagbabago. Hindi imposible na ang Pilipinas ang maging kauna-unahang bansa sa Timog-Silangang Asya na magbibigay at nagbibigay ng libreng bakuna laban sa rotavirus. Hindi imposible para sa Pilipinas na tumindig at sabihing, “Ang Pilipinas ay sa Pilipino—at handa kaming ipagtanggol ito.” Hindi imposible na ang Pilipinong kay tagal nang yumuyuko tuwing may nakakasalubong na dayuhan—ang Pilipino, ngayon, taas-noong tinitingala ng buong mundo. [Applause] Talaga naman pong ang sarap maging Pilipino sa mga panahong ito.
Noon pong nakaraang taon, hiniling ko sa taumbayan, magpasalamat sa mga nakikiambag sa positibong pagbabago sa lipunan. Hindi po biro ang mga pagsubok na dinaanan natin, kaya angkop lamang na pasalamatan ang mga taong nakibalikat, sa pagkukumpuni sa mga maling idinulot ng masamang pamamahala.
Sa lahat ng miyembro ng aking Gabinete: Maraming, maraming salamat. [Applause] Mapalad po ang sambayanan at may mga tulad ninyong handang isuko ang pribado at mas tahimik na pamumuhay para maghatid ng serbisyo-publiko, kahit pa batid ninyong ang kapalit nito ay mas maliit na sweldo, panganib, at pambabatikos. Kaya maraming salamat muli.
Huwag din po sana nilang masamain dahil personal ko silang pangangalanan: Kina Father Catalino Arevalo, at Sister Agnes Guillen, na dumidilig at nagpapalago sa aking buhay spirituwal, lalo na sa mga panahong sukdulan ang pagsubok sa amin, maraming, maraming salamat din po. [Applause]
Ito po ang aking ikatlong SONA, tatlo na lamang din po ang natitira. Papasok na po tayo sa kalagitnaan ng ating liderato. Noong nakaraang taon, ang hamon ko sa inyo: iwaksi ang kultura ng negatibismo; sa bawat pagkakataon, iangat ang kapwa-Pilipino.
Batid po sa tinatamasa natin ngayon: hindi kayo nabigo. Sa inyo nagmula ang pagbabago. Ang sabi ninyo: posible.
Humaharap po ako sa inyo bilang mukha ng isang gobyernong kayo ang boss at kayo pa rin ang lakas. Inuulat ko lamang ang mga pagbabagong ginawa ninyong posible.
Kaya nga po sa lahat ng nurse, midwife, o doktor na piniling magsilbi sa mga baryo; sa bawat bagong graduate na piniling magtrabaho sa gobyerno; sa bawat atletang Pilipinong bitbit ang watawat saan mang panig ng mundo; sa bawat kawani ng pamahalaan na tapat na nagseserbisyo: Kayo po ang gumawa ng pagbabago. [Applause]
Sa tuwing haharap ako sa isang ina na nagsasabing, “Salamat at nabakunahan na ang aking sanggol,” ang tugon ko: Ikaw ang gumawa nito.
Sa tuwing haharap ako sa isang bata na nagsasabing, “Salamat sa papel at lapis, sa pagkakataong makapag-aral,” ang tugon ko: Kasama ka sa gumawa nito.
Sa tuwing haharap ako sa isang OFW na nagsasabing, “Salamat at puwede ko na muling pangaraping tumanda sa Pilipinas,” ang tugon ko: Ikaw ang gumawa nito.
Sa tuwing haharap ako sa isang Pilipinong nagsasabing, “Salamat, akala ko hindi na magkakakuryente sa aming sitio. Akala ko hindi ko na aabuting buhay ang liwanag na ganito,” ang tugon ko: Ikaw ang gumawa nito.
Sa bawat pagkakataon na haharap ako sa isang magsasaka, guro, piloto, inhinyero, tsuper, ahente sa call center, karaniwang Pilipino; sa bawat Juan at Juana dela Cruz na nagsasabing “Salamat sa pagbabago,” ang tugon ko sa inyo: Kayo ang gumawa nito. [Applause]
Inuulit ko po, posible na ang dating imposible. Humaharap po ako sa inyo ngayon, at sinasabing: hindi ko SONA ito. Kayo ang gumawa nito. SONA ito ng sambayanang Pilipino. Maraming, maraming salamat po at magandang hapon po sa lahat. [Applause]
Radio workers union hailed the strike as pivotal to the resolution of the labor dispute saying that the “weight of workers’ strike (is) a valid and only option to defend the workers” interest, especially with the current “rampant wage freeze and wage hike moratorium among the yellow traditional labor unions.”
By JOHN RIZLE SALIGUMBA
Reposted by Bulatlat.com
DAVAO CITY – Striking radio workers lifted their week long work stoppage as they inked a two year-Collective Bargaining Agreement package worth $30,200 late Wednesday night.
In the CBA, the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) management agreed to grant the workers for the 2nd and 3rd year of the CBA a $0.47 to $0.93 wage hike, or an increase of $24 monthly for this year and $36 monthly for next year, according to Rey Fabe, RMN Davao Employees Union (RDEU) president.
Last year in November, after threatening to hold a strike, the union was able to clinch a deal with the management who granted the workers a lumpsum appropriation of $232.
RDEU, an affiliate of the militant National Federation of Labor Unions and Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU), hailed the strike as pivotal to the resolution of the labor dispute saying that the “weight of workers’ strike (is) a valid and only option to defend the workers” interest, especially with the current “rampant wage freeze and wage hike moratorium among the yellow traditional labor unions.”
In a statement, the RDEU-NAFLU-KMU said: “The workers strike demonstrated that only through the concerted action of workers can it overcome the limitation and inutility of the Philippine Labor Code and the Aquino government. Delaying tactics and other provisions in the conduct of Collective Bargaining negotiations have only favored the capitalist RMN and denied the workers its right to higher wages and benefits. The RDEU showed that it cannot be cowed and that it cannot wait for the mercy of the RMN management. It only has to rely on its own strength to protect its interest.”
IN UNION, THERE IS STRENGTH. Radio workers in Davao City hold a press conference Thursday as they declare victory on their struggle for their rights and benefits. (Photo by Ace R. Morandante / Davao Today)
The CBA package worth $30,664 comprised of two sacks of rice per year, $58 signing bonus, daily lunch subsidy, 3 days emergency leave and cash-convertible unused five days sick leave, 70 days maternity leave, Medicard health insurance and additional $116 for hospitalization, union’s educational research fund of $232 and 10 days union leave.
“At first, I was afraid that my colleagues would give up in the middle of the strike. But, I was proven wrong. Unity was the key amidst the management’s oppression. Even it was the first time we held a strike, slept in the streets and endured many sacrifices, we won,” remarked Gina Hitgano, RDEU Secretary.
For his part, “We also gained political gains like to invoke the last-in-first-out should any retrenchment occur. The union was also afforded a “close-shop” privilege, which means that all current employees and future new rank and file employees are automatic union members.”
“We thank all our colleagues for not giving up. We are truly one,” said Arnold Colama, RDEU Vice-president.
In a facebook post, columnist Patmei Ruivivar said, “Mabuhay ang mga manggawa sa media ng Davao! (Long live media workers of Davao!).”
For his part, National Union of Journalists in the Philippines officer Jeffrey Tupas, said “It shows that we can win a battle like that. It is inspiring as it was a wake-up call for journalists who are silent about their own experience of injustice–that something good can be achieved if only they rise above the situation. This brings me to the idea that there is really a necessity for journalists to come together and push for an industry-wide union for media.”
Journalist Germelina Lacorte also posted on her facebook status: “Long Live the RDEU! the RDEU’s triumph should serve as inspiration to all media workers living under the condition of exploitation and economic oppression, making them susceptible to corrupt interest groups whoever they maybe. May the RDEU’s triumph advance us further in our struggle for a just and humane society!”
Addressing to media friends who attended press conference at the strike camp Thurdsday, Fabe said “If you were not here, we cannot air our sentiments. Now we are urging all media workers to organize their own unions, face the big broadcasting and print companies and fights for media welfare and rights as workers.”
The RMN management meanwhile issued a memorandum to defer radio broadcast till Monday. The IFM station stopped airing since the start of the strike last July 10, while the top-rating DXDC ceased broadcast five days before the resumption of airing earlier today July 19.
“Regular broadcast operations shall commence officially by Monday, July 23, 2012 (so that) all personnel and staff be accorded sufficient time within which to obtain (their) much needed rest,” said the management’s memorandum as read by Fabe. (John Rizle Saligumba/davaotoday.com)
While the Radio Mindanao Network’s Davao workers are on strike and the Manila workers battling for the certification of its union, the management, the workers said, has been delaying the negotiations and has been trying to bust the union.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – In Davao City in Mindanao, workers of the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN)and other organizations of journalists and unionists slammed the Canoy family-run network for continuously violating its workers’ rights.
RMN reportedly ignored the provisions of a memorandum of agreement it had signed with its employees’ union last year, forcing the radio workers union to launch a strike for decent wages since July 10.
After many failed negotiations between the union and RMN at the labor department this week, the union aired complaints that since the first day of their strike, “all actions taken by RMN management against the striking workers were illegal.”
Despite the picket put up by the strikers, RMN reportedly tried to sneak three personnel – two technicians and an engineer – into the station.
“It committed a run-away shop by sneaking out from the studio three units of microphone stands, two units of microphones, a logbook, one unit of headset, one laptop adapter and one set of small speakers,” said Rey Fabe, president of the RMN Davao Employees Union. RMN is apparently trying to restart broadcasting even if its workers are on strike and it has yet to resolve the issues that led the workers to strike.
Aside from committing a runaway shop, the RMN has padlocked the studio’s main gate “in a blatant attempt to make it appear that the union is violating the egress and ingress provisions of the Labor Code pertaining to the strike,” Fabe said. He added that while the RMN management is harassing and intimidating the strikers, and manning a relay station despite the ongoing strike, “it sent representatives to negotiations with the union but it did not give it authority to make a decent offer and counter-proposal.”
Fabe questioned RMN’s sincerity in negotiating with the union. Apart from RMN’s proven record of having reneged on an agreement it had signed with the union, the two lawyers or representatives it is sending to talks with the union are making moves “that clearly smacks of the management’s callousness and insincerity,” said Fabe.
Even if the radio workers are already on strike, the management lawyers are delaying the scheduling of talks, a sign that it is likely not interested in resolving the labor dispute, the union said in a statement. The RMN management’s actions reveal its intentions to resume broadcasting sans the original, long-time workers.
Workers’ strike and demands justified
“We believe in the legitimacy of the demands raised by the workers knowing that the company (RMN) has been earning huge profits. It is but rightful that the workers be given an ample share in the profits they have produced for the company,” the NonoyLibrado Development Foundation Incorporated (NLDFi), a non-government organization advocating workers’ rights in Mindanao, said in a statement.
Emma Ricaforte, NLDFI’s executive director, said that “the workers’ hard labors have gained for RMN not only huge profits but prestige as the topmost radio station in the city and all throughout Mindanao. This is more than enough reason for the company to be considerate and concerned about the welfare of its employees.”
“It is clear that sheer greed is behind RMN’s refusal to sit down with the workers to discuss their demands,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement.
Radio workers from Radio Mindanao Network-Manila which also filed a strike notice due to a union-busting complaint, told Bulatlat.com that they are in support of their fellow workers in Davao.
Unlike the RMN Davao Employees Union, the newly formed union in RMN-Manila is still at the stage of getting certification as the employees’ sole bargaining agent. It has only recently received the labor department’s go-signal to its petition to hold a certification election.
Just the process of acquiring this go-signal had been met with resistance from RMN, as it responded by terminating some union officers, including the union president Michael Rogas. This week, as RMN is reportedly violating the RMN-Davao workers’ rights, it is trying to foil the efforts of the RMN-Manila employees’ union to get certification.
RMN has filed a perjury case against Rogas, and is reportedly conducting a “text-blast” to employees about the alleged perjury. RMN isclaiming Rogas has perjured himself when he identified himself as union president of RMN Manila employees even if he has been terminated from his job.
“This is pure harassment,” Rogas told Bulatlat.com. He explained that RMN is ignoring a labor department decision that said he has legal capacity to act as president of the union because he has a pending case before DOLE-NCMB (Department of Labor and Employment- National Conciliation and Mediation) against RMN’s union-busting.
RMN-Manila is set to hold its certification election on Aug 15. Meanwhile, the RMN Davao unionists vowed they would continue with their strike, “in a peaceful and legal conduct to press the RMN management to implement the Memorandum of Agreement and resume the CBA negotiations.”
“In the face of the management’s anti-worker and hardline stance, the RMN Davao Employees Union will pursue the progressive and vigilant means to demand to the management and to the state its rightful wages, benefits and jobsecurity,” Fabe said. The union stressed that only by conducting the strike can they defend the interest of the workers and protect press freedom. (http://bulatlat.com)
Cholera epidemic hits Bicol
July 19, 2012 by bicolmail in Top Stories with 0 Comments
By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY — Health authorities in Bicol have raised the alert status following the rising incidence of cholera that has already reached an epidemic level with 30 deaths and 3,158 people getting sick of the disease during the past two quarters of this year, a ranking official of the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.
Dr. Nestor Santiago in an emailed report said his agency has registered a total of 3,158 cholera cases from January to July this year or a 610 percent rise compared to 445 reported during the same period last year.
Already 30 persons have been reported to have died within the same period due to cholera which health authorities blamed on contaminated drinking water and dirty food.
Santiago said the number of fatalities and those hit by the disease were culled from reports of both government and private hospitals in the six provinces of Bicol.
The DOH Epidemiology Surveillance Unit said cholera incidences were reported high in the island province of Catanduanes with 1,831 cases and 14 deaths; followed by Camarines Sur with 811 cases and seven deaths; Sorsogon, 291 cases with five deaths; Albay, 168 cases with four deaths; Camarines Norte, 54 cases and zero death; and Masbate with only three cholera patients and no death reported.
The report indicated that except for Camarines Norte which posted a decrease of 36 percent from last year’s 84 cases to 54 this year, all the other five Bicol provinces showed an increasing trend.
Alarmed by the surging incidence, health authorities declared a cholera epidemic throughout Bicol.
Health Director Santiago on July 2 this year issued an advisory urging provincial, city, and town executives to take the necessary health interventions to avert the worsening scenario of the disease.
The health directive urges local government units in affected areas to step up campaign on food and environmental sanitation by requiring food handlers and vendors to undergo rectal swabbing before they could be issued health certificates.
DOH also asked the LGUs to make available chlorine stock solutions to ensure safe drinking water in the communities.
Santiago also reminded the local chief executives to activate and mobilize their respective Water Quality Monitoring Committees to regularly check on the water sources of their communities and observe preventive and control measures to avert further spread of the disease.
Sorsogon officials, bank execs charged for P350M LBP loan
July 19, 2012 by bicolmail in Top Stories with 0 Comments
By Danny O. Calleja
SORSOGON CITY – The Sorsogon governor, his vice-governor and nine members of the provincial legislative board including two top executives of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) have been charged for graft in connection with the P350M loan recently acquired by the province.
Charged for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 otherwise known as “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act” were Gov. Raul Lee, Vice-Gov. Antonio Escudero, and provincial board members Rebecca Aquino, Fernando David Duran III, Arnulfo Perete, Francisco Eric Ravanilla, Angel Escandor, Benito Doma, Bernard Hao, Patrick Lee-Rodrigueza, and Nelson Maraña.
Also included in the criminal complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman by Board Member Vladimir Frivaldo last week were LBP-Legazpi City Branch Manager Hil Benedict Manzanades and LBP Vice-Pres. Renato Eje for allegedly conspiring in the commission of the offense.
Administrative complaints for grave misconduct and serious dishonesty were also lodged by Frivaldo against the provincial officials.
The case stemmed from the P350M loan obtained from LBP by the provincial government in late 2011 which Frivaldo, in the complaint said “are illegal and grossly detrimental and disadvantageous to the provincial government of Sorsogon.”
The loan was applied for by Lee based on approved resolution by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan headed by Escudero as presiding officer authorizing him to do so in October 2011.
The loan with its proceeds supposedly for the implementation of various infrastructure projects of the provincial government was subsequently approved and the initial amount of P100M released in the same year.
As of last May 31, Efilda Nogales, the provincial treasurer and Mercedes Ativo, the provincial accountant said in a certification obtained by Frivaldo that over P72.9M of the fund were already spent by the province for the payment of infrastructure projects funded under the P350-million loan.
Release of the remaining P250 million is being awaited by the province and Frivaldo is asking the Ombudsman to immediately come up with measures to hold its release in abeyance and the released amount of P100M be returned to the creditor bank.
In accusing Lee, Escudero and the SP Membes of graft, Frivaldo said the accused directly violated Section 3 of RA 3019 which says: “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense” constitute corrupt practices.
“The respondent vice-governor who is also the presiding officer of the SP and the respondent board members violated a cardinal rule in the passage of resolutions and ordinances as provided for in Article 7 of Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code,” he claimed.
Further, he said the respondents did not even exert efforts nor initiate any actions necessary to secure concessional interest rates or such interest rates lower than the prevailing interest rate to justify their actions.
The interest rate of the loan acquired from the LBP was 5.061 percent while the rate earlier offered by the Philippine National Bank (PNB) for the same loan was only five percent, he said.
“It is noteworthy that there was neither a single official committee hearing held nor any public consultation done for this purpose– a glaring show of conspiracy because despite this, the SP expeditiously passed and approved the resolution allowing the governor to acquire the loan from LBP which has a higher interest rate,” according to Frivaldo.
In asking the Ombudsman that the loan agreement be declared “illegal, therefore null and void,” Frivaldo said the respondents provincial officials should be charged criminally and administratively before the Sandiganbayan and that they should be meted with preventive suspensions from office while investigations are being conducted.
Habang binabasa ko ang mga naglabasang komentaryo laban sa manggagawa sa sining-biswal na si Medio Cruz – mula sa mga magaganda at mahusay ang pagkakasaysay hanggang sa mga bobong halatang nakikisawsaw lang para “mapabilang”, napapa-iling ako.
Unang kita ko pa lang sa titulo ng exhibit, wala na akong nakitang problema.
Lumabas lang ang problema ng lumabas ang mga magkakaibang interpretasyon. Ang nakakalungkot nito, ang mga nag-interpret na ang mga kathang-sining ni Cruz ay nambababoy sa aming relihiyon, ang siya pang nanggagalaiti na para bang ang kanilang interpretasyon ang wasto at siyang dapat na masunod.
Ang interpretasyong nabubuo ng isang tao ay may kaugnayan sa kanyang sikolohikal na kalagayan na nakaugat sa mga partikular niyang karanasang personal. Ang isang bagay na hugis paru-paro halimbawa, ay maaaring maging isang maskara sa paningin ng iba. Mga magnanakaw naman ang maaaring maging tingin dito ng iba.
You see, kapag pinagmamasdan natin ang isang gawang sining, ang bawat manonood ay may nabubuong kanya-kanyang interpretasyon. Pero at the end of the day, ang interpretasyon ng lumikha ang siyang mangingibabaw. Kaya kung nakapasok na kayo sa mga art gallery, mapapansin ninyo na ang mga aficionados ay taimtim na nakikipagpalitan ng mga salita sa artist para isangguni ang kanilang interpretasyon.
Anyway, batay sa mga salaysay, ang titulo ng kay Mideo ay Politeismo (Polytheism). Doon pa lang sana, diffused na dapat ang tension at kalituhan. Malinaw naman siguro na hindi polytheism ang isinusulong ng Katolisismo(may nagkomentaryong debatable ang puntong ito). Kaya otomatikong nabasura na dapat ang kwestyon sa pambababoy sa relihiyon.
Pero itatanong ng ibang Katoliko, bakit ginamit ang mga imaheng may kaugnayan sa Katolisismo? Bakit pinatungan pa ng imahe ng titi ang isa? Bakit may condom ang isa?
Sagot: dahil ang ginamit na midyum sa obra ay hindi mga banal na imahe. Ibig sabihin, hindi benditado ang mga iyon. At dahil hindi benditado, ang mga imaheng iyon ay simpleng mga imitasyon lamang ng mga tunay na banal na imaheng may malaking puwang sa ating pananampalataya. Ang mga imaheng pilit “ipinagtatanggol” ng ilang self-proclaimed na Katoliko-sarado ay mga imaheng likha ng komersyo. Mga imaheng kumalat dahil sa dulas ng perang imbwelto. At dahil hindi benditado ang mga iyon, malinaw sa akin na walang naganap na pambabastos sa ating paniniwala.
Ngayon, dahil malinaw na walang nabastos na relihiyon, malinaw sa akin na ang naganap na pagtuligsa sa obra ni Mideo Cruz ay masasabing isang porma ng judging the book by its cover.
Ang nakakatakot pa dito, lumalabas na kung sino pa ang mga hindi naka-intindi ang siya pang may lakas ng loob na mang-bully at aktwal na gumawa ng krimen sa gitna ng maraming tao. And to think na ang mga ito’y buong yabang na nagdedeklarang sila’y mga Katoliko. Pinakahuli sa mga nam-bully ay si F Sionil Jose, kasama ang ilang mga hindi nakaka-unawa sa loob ng Senado.
Kaya sinisikap kong huwag mang-bully sa pyesang ito. Instead, papaliwanagan ko pa sila.
Una, ang “Kulo” ay isang “koleksyon” ng mga likhang sining. Dito pa lamang, ang aktitud na dapat ng mga apisyonado ay ganito: ang CCP ay isang kambas na nagtatampok ng isang likhang sining na tinawag na “Kulo”
Ang likhang sining na ito ay binubuo ng iba-ibang midyum, kulay, hugis at stroke(kasama ang ‘Politeismo’) na kapag naging isa ay kumukumpleto sa kabuuan ng mensaheng nais ihatid ng “Kulo”.
Ikalawa, Ang titulo ng kontrobersyal na gawa ni Mideo Cruz ay “Politeismo”. Dito pa lang ay malinaw nang sinasabi ng manlilikhang-sining na ang topiko ay hindi ang Katolisismo, bagkus ay ang Politeismo. Sa halip na anti-Catholicism, dapat ay alam ng mga nagbigay ng negatibong reaksyon kung ano ang makikita nila sa loob. Ang set up kasing mabubuo sa isipan natin kung nauunawaan natin ang polytheism ay isang panteon ng isang polytheist kung saan nakalagay ang mga imahe ng lahat ng mga sinasamba nila.
Ngayon, nakanino ang problema? Kay Mideo Cruz ba? Nasa Obra ba niya? O nasa isipan lamang ng mga kaibigan, kakilala, at kapatid sa pananampalataya natin na unang nagtapon ng bato kay Mideo?
I intend to state my take on Medio Cruz’ Politeismo later, but the craving to spell out my thoughts is huge. Thus this..
I think the anti-Medio Cruz mob got it all wrong. They seemingly judged the book by its cover. And sadly, it connotes to something: either we do not understand “polytheism” or we do not understand our faith — and in order to hide it from people’s view, we automatically flex our muscles and bare our “religious” fangs.
There are more cars that fail smoke belching test in Baguio
by Harley Palangchao
City Mayor Mauricio Domogan described as “alarming” the poor passing rate of vehicles subjected to smoke belching test with over 3,700 vehicles failing the test during a one-year period.
Records submitted by the city’s Roadside Inspection, Testing and Monitoring Team’s (RITMT) show that only 1,960 out of the 5,722 motor vehicles inspected passed the smoke belching test from July 2010 to June this year.
This means that there were 3,762 vehicles traversing Baguio that failed the test, which represent 65 percent non-compliance rate with the Clean Air Act.
“This figure is alarming. I therefore appeal to all motor vehicle owners to be considerate enough and comply with the Clean Air Act,” said Domogan, as he reminded motor vehicle owners and drivers to be considerate to the health of the public, especially children.
Every now and then, RITMT installs the testing machine along city roads where passing vehicles are flagged down once black smoke is noticed from their exhaust. Apprehensions and testing shall be done on flat terrain, it was emphasized, not on uphill drives.
Accordingly, the anti-smoke belching campaign shall go on continuously, to effectively clear the city’s air.
The poor passing rate, however, is not reflective of the whole air quality of Baguio as the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has time and again reported that the air quality of Baguio is good to fair.
Concerned quarters are closely monitoring the city’s effort to improve the air quality of Baguio being an environment issue and also, a health concern.
The Department of Health has reported that cars using diesel fuel emit toxic substances, which when inhaled for prolonged period of time at high concentration could be detrimental to the health.
In United States, studies show that fine particles from diesel shorten the lives of nearly 21,000 people each year in America plus almost 3,000 early deaths from lung cancer.
The studies also showed that US government health expenditure in 2010 was pegged at US$139 billion due to premature deaths and health damages caused by diesel fine particles.
The World Bank report noted that health costs due to exposure to particulate matters in Davao, Metro Manila, Cebu and Baguio reached about $430 million in 2002. – Harley F. Palangchao
YOuth rep asks NCIP to clarify description of IPs
by Rimaliza A. Opiña
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples is in hot water again.
Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president Karminn Yangot is asking the NCIP to rectify the agency’s supposed “misrepresentation” of the physical attributes of indigenous peoples.
Yangot said the NCIP’s website has inaccurately described IPs as to their phenotypes, present living conditions, and subsistence systems.
Yangot said the NCIP website describes Ibalois as “generally fair in complexion (with) well-developed bodies, usually standing four to five feet above in height,” with “medium and narrow noses (although) some have broad flat noses, (and) deep-seated brown and black eyes.” Ibaloi women on the other hand, have “straight long hair although there are also some who have curly hair;” and Ikalahans or natives of Nueva Vizcaya “as short people, fair complexioned, with black round eyes, and black straight and silky hair, (and) their noses are fairly developed.” It went on to describe Ifugaos as “of medium build, brawny and brown with black eyes, straight hair, and thin lips.”
The NCIP website describes the Ikalahans as shy people who “live in far flung areas, unreached by any type of transportation,” Bontocs are projected as headhunters whose men wear loincloth and whose women wear wrap-around skirts.
Yangot said these are “misrepresentations” that “create stereotypes, cultural biases, and ethnic prejudice, and perpetuate the alienation of the misrepresented indigenous communities from the mainstream.”
“The projection of indigenous communities as primitive peoples untouched by modernization is tantamount to the denial of the presence of indigenous issues regarding development aggression which have spawned forced eviction, economic dislocation, and cultural displacement, which denial may result in the non-resolution of these issues.”
Yangot reminded the NCIP’s mandate is to “protect and promote the interest and well-being of the indigenous cultural communities with due regard to their beliefs, customs, traditions, and institutions,” and not depict them as described.
In a proposed resolution, she also asked the NCIP to create a committee of experts to come up with accurate resource materials of IPs of the Philippines. – Rimaliza A. Opiña
There were many important things to the Filipino people that were missing in Aquino’s Sona, most speakers in the Sona rally said.
Aquino hit for embracing paramilitary group in Cordillera
“Wang-wang Sona: too much noise, too little substance” – KMU
Sona 2011 has little to report, less to look forward to – Ibon
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – The second State of the Nation Address (Sona) delivered by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino yesterday was buttressed in Metro Manila by a deployment of 7,000 policemen and 700 to 1,000 soldiers from the Philippine Navy and Philippine Army, plus some armored carriers in case it would be needed. These were to counter the mass of protesters who had sought permission earlier to conduct a “true Sona” rally near the Batasan grounds.
President Aquino had wanted the protesters to hold their program far from Batasan but the protesters persisted, reasoning that that would indeed show they are worse off than before. In the end, the Sona protesters led by the multi-sectoral alliance of progressive people’s groups BAYAN and the labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) managed to hold their program in front of St. Peter’s Church in Commonwealth Avenue.
Aquino has reportedly had a hand in drafting his Sona speech, which went through seven revisions by morning of his scheduled Sona. It was hyped to talk of “only the simple truth, without lies, in Tagalog,” as one of his communication secretaries, Sonny Coloma, promised on radio.
(Photo by Angelica de Lara / bulatlat.com)
On the day of the Sona, President Aquino reportedly woke up early to prepare, and for only the third time since he was sworn in as president, he had called for a Cabinet meeting.
But despite the numerous times Aquino had revised his Sona speech and conducted a cabinet meeting, protesters still found his Sona greatly wanting in substance. After a year of Aquino’s rule, progressive people’s organizations declared that they have seen and suffered enough from the policies Aquino just continued from where Arroyo left off. Their effigy of Aquino is that of a “smelly rotten egg”.
No change under Aquino
Aquino’s Sona was denounced as empty, for the Filipino masses at least, by leaders and members of progressive organizations that gathered for their main protest rally in Quezon City. More Sona protests airing “the true Sona” were simultaneously held in many other cities outside of Metro Manila. On the other hand, a single pro-Aquino rally was held and allowed to hold a program in front of the Batasan grounds.
“Aquino’s Sona may be better off entitled as State of the Wang-Wang,” Renato Reyes Jr., secretary-general of Bayan, commented, citing the repeated times the word wang-wang was mentioned in Aquino’s speech.
In fact, Aquino mentioned the word wang-wang 18 times in an hour-long speech marked by 79 applauses, 25 incidences of Aquino stuttering on his speech, and at least four coughing fits. In Commonwealth Avenue, Aquino’s stuttering and coughing were booed by protesters who pointed to it as signs of lying.
The protesters from Bayan paused their program to listen to Aquino’s Sona, but nearly halfway through they decided to shut it down, convinced that there was nothing good to expect from Aquino. Reyes of Bayan complained that he, meanwhile, had had to listen to Aquino’s full speech. He told the gathered protesters afterward that indeed, it was tiring to have to listen to Aquino’s hackneyed rhetoric, when Aquino’s Sona “did not offer any substantial reform.”
There were many important things to the Filipino people that were missing in Aquino’s Sona, most speakers in the Sona rally said. Reyes, for one, said Aquino’s Sona did not mention at all the issue of wage hike and peace negotiations, or even jobs generation.
George San Mateo, secretary-general of Piston, said Aquino did not mention at all the issue of oil deregulation and correcting the unmitigated overpricing of oil cartel in the Philippines. Neither did Aquino tackle the impact of his government’s Pantawid Pasada “stop-gap measure for the eroded earnings of drivers,” said San Mateo.
In fact, Aquino did not mention as well the issue of his government’s EVAT windfall on oil, even if he boasted about more than a hundred companies about to do oil and mineral exploration in the country.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez of Karapatan said she feared for the country’s human rights situation, as she noted that Aquino’s Sona failed also to discuss human rights, let alone resolving the cases of human rights violations.
Farmers groups likewise criticized the “lack of genuine agrarian reform in the country”, as the extension of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARPer) only “allowed for greater landgrabbing and land reconcentration,” said Danilo Ramos of Kilusan ng Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
Lito Bais, president of ULWU in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, attested to the failure of land reform in the country as he shared the still unresolved struggle for land in President Aquino’s family-owned hacienda in the province. Bais called on farmers and the Filipinos in general to support their Bungkalan-style of implementing land reform by themselves, “because nothing about land reform can be expected from the government” and it is “up to the farmers and the people to help themselves.”
Aquino’s positive is negative to the people (Same puppetry, mendicancy and state fascism)
Even the achievements cited by Aquino in his Sona, with statistics presented as seeming proof, only proved to progressive organizations the sufferings they would endure for “the long haul” under Aquino, as Marie Hilao-Enriquez of Karapatan put it.
While Aquino boasted in his Sona the increased credit-worthiness of the Philippines under his administration, this is only from the “investors’ point of view, and not of our ordinary fellow citizens,” said Reyes of Bayan. Reyes charged that this improved creditworthiness has hardly benefited the poor majority, who may even suffer from it later in the form of increased foreign debts and public-private projects.
A country’s improved credit-worthiness tends to bring down interest rates when it borrows money, encouraging the government to borrow more, and encouraging investors as well to come in with borrowed capital.
President Aquino also boasted about how his administration has brought down the number of hungry Filipinos by a million due to conditional cash transfers – a statistic which Aquino said would benefit from the saved P23billion ($542m) due to improved credit-worthiness. But protesters said Aquino, at the same time, evaded the issue of greater foreign debts, and the fact that most of the funds his administration is using for conditional cash transfers are actually funded from foreign debts which the Filipinos will eventually start paying soon.
Another boasted achievement that made it to Aquino’s Sona was the 4,000 housing units constructed for the police and soldiers. Reyes of Bayan asked how come the rest of the people’s need for housing was not considered. Lito Ustarez, vice-president of KMU, said that since Aquino took power, as much as 14 demolitions, many were violent, had been implemented. How would the affected people’s housing needs be ensured, Ustarez asked, if Aquino only looks at the needs of his soldiers and police?
In fact, Lana Linaban of Gabriela even criticized the Aquino government’s “corrupt-ridden so-called housing program.” She said that most of these housing programs are being run like a business, and so it is after profit, which, in turn, further takes housing away from the reach of ordinary low income earning Filipinos.
Aquino extolled how he had brought down the number of unemployed, but aside from not tackling even a broad sketch of his administration’s jobs generation strategy, as Reyes of Bayan had pointed out, Aquino was also only doing an Arroyo, said the protesters. In truth, approximately more than 11million Filipinos are jobless, but their number seems to have decreased because Aquino has done an Arroyo-like tinkering with statistics to exclude in the counting of unemployed those who, for various reasons, for example desperation, and scant job openings, had stopped seeking jobs.
Aquino’s Sona included a boast about Filipinos now being able to choose between working domestically or abroad. But Garry Martinez of Migrante International belied it, citing statistics too, such as the 4,040 Filipinos forced to leave for work abroad everyday, despite the tragic fact that six to 10 of them are coming back home as corpses everyday. Martinez also added that human trafficking continues to victimize Filipinos, despite the Aquino boasts that it had been licked. Martinez also said that some 7,000 OFWs are in jail in various countries, those with pending cases increased under Aquino to 122 from Arroyo’s last year of 108, and more are getting saddled with legal cases that the Aquino government cannot decisively act on because Aquino has slashed the budget for legal assistance of the OFWs.
Even Aquino’s boast of starting to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines and starting to stand up to neighboring bullies like China over the Spratlys dispute earned him the ire and scorn of progressive peoples’ groups. “Is the Philippines really learning now to assert its sovereignty?” asked Reyes of Bayan to loud boos from the audience. Reyes said that in the case of Spratlys, this sovereignty is apparently “not Philippine sovereignty vis-a-vis the US, nor about holding the US accountable to its violations of its Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines.”
Aquino’s vaunted energy projects were also criticized by spokespersons of indigenous peoples groups and advocates for the environment and science and technology. Saying Aquino has opened the country’s natural resources to multinational companies’ plunder, Pia Malayao of Kamp and Marge Pamintuan of Kalikasan said it can only continue degrading the environment and bloodily displacing the indigenous peoples from their ancestral domain. Ganni Tapang of Agham said the PPPs that seek to exploit the Philippines’ resources and sources of energies for the profit-taking of foreign companies not only displace the communities affected by it, and destroy the environment, it also stunt the country’s economy and industries.
Who has selective perception?
In his Sona, Aquino claimed the people remains as his boss. But he swiped at the progressive organizations protesting during his Sona, reportedly saying these critics are “too negative” and they only see the ugly side of things.
But the real question there is why Aquino is blind, mute and deaf toward these “many real, negative things,” shot back Reyes of Bayan who reminded Aquino that they are part of his vaunted “boss.”
The progressive people’s Sona concluded that there is nothing in the sphere of “change” that the majority of Filipino people can expect from the Aquino administration. “You’re all for boasting, yet you have done nothing,” Ferdinand Gaite, president of government employee organization COURAGE, said like a chant. Gaite urged the public and private sector workers to continue persevering in their “genuine unionism” and in participating in the people’s anti-imperialist movement.
Aquino’s once oft-repeated matuwid na daan (righteous path) is actually a killer highway, said Lana Linaban of Gabriela, after noting the unabated price hikes, wage erosion, joblessness, economic backwardness, etc., that are only some of Aquino’s “achievements.” She called on the people to “break this Aquino rotten egg before its stench kills all of us.”
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares revealed that there is no accountability and reporting of actual sales in the current system of the STL making it highly vulnerable to corruption.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office is mandated by Republic Act No. 1169 to help various government agencies that need financial assistance; it is also the main government agency responsible for raising and providing “funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character.”
In the last few months, however, the same agency has come under scrutiny because its ranking officials have been named in several corruption issues. Earlier this month, even leaders of the Catholic Church were criticized after several bishops were reported to have received sports utility vehicles from PCSO and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Now, it’s the PCSO’ Small Town Lottery (STL) that’s under scrutiny and how it is said to be bolstering corruption in the provinces.
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares revealed that there is no accountability and reporting of actual sales in the current system of the STL making it highly vulnerable to corruption.
The issue of the STL is currently being investigated in the senate after reports have come out that there has been massive fund misuse and illegal distribution of revenues to certain congressmen and officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP). There have been calls to scrap the STL, which the PCSO plans to re-launch as the Loterya ng Bayan within the year.
Colmenares said he had discussed the issue of STL sales with a supplier of the hand held STL machines.
“Supposedly under the STL charity fund sharing scheme, revenues accruing to STL will be divided as follows: city or municipality, 10 percent; provincial government, five percent; congressional district, 2.5 percent; and the PNP, five percent. The PCSO has also executed memorandum of agreements (MOAs) with local government units on how to disburse the funds given to them via STL. The remaining 7.5 percent of the charity fund will go to the PCSO, while the rest goes to the operator,” he said.
According to reports, by the end of 2007, the PCSO was able to launch the STL in 15 approved test run areas: Quezon province, Angeles City, Bataan, Occidental Mindoro, Pampanga, Laguna, Bulacan, Negros Oriental, Iloilo City, Tarlac, Oriental Mindoro, Ilocos Norte, Albay, Olongapo City, and Batangas. During this first year, STL generated revenues supposedly totaling more than P3 billion (US$69.7 milion).
“But the problem with this is that many of the hand held machines are not being used by the STL operators and the reporting capacity of their handhelds is not utilized because the STL operators do not want to report their real gross sales to the PCSO,” Colmenares said.
In her testimony during the senate Blue Ribbon investigations, PCSO Chair Margarita Juico said during the first half of the year, the agency collected “nearly P2 billion” (US$46.5 million) from STL, up from the P1.57 billion (US$36.5 million )in the same period last year. She said the PCSO intends to “fine-tune” the ST operations to raise PCSO revenues further. She said among the improvements to the system that are being considered are stricter screening and evaluation of STL franchise applicants, social security benefits for bet collectors; and increased transparency during draws.
According to the Colmenares however, the STL’s system makes it impossible for the PCSO and the Commission on Audit (CoA) to determine the actual amount that has to be divided and remitted. He said it’s highly likely that the actual sales of the STL operators are more than what they report.
“Why the old PCSO board allowed such a disadvantageous arrangement to exist for so long is highly questionable. It seems that this is an anomaly waiting to be unearthed,” he said.
Colmenares also scored the virtual lack of control by the PCSO over the STL and the lotto machines. “The old PCSO board has practically abandoned its power to oversee the STL and lotto operations. Sen. Enrile is right. We have no control at all of the lotto machines being operated by the PGMC. Now, we are informed that we also do not have control over the STL. I would not be surprised if billions are lost in the process.”
Anomalous PCSO deal on lotto machine rentals
The Bayan Muna lawmaker has been monitoring senate and congressional investigations concerning the PCSO and has already filed plunder and corruption cases against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte at the Office of the Ombudsman.
He said the irregularities in the PCSO include anomalous contracts, diversion of funds and overpriced machines and that these anomalies involve amounts much bigger than the $330 million national broadband network contract with Chinese firm ZTE Corp. and the P728-million fertilizer scam. He said that that he was exposing the issues in the PCSO because “the common denomination is that the victims are still the Filipino people, especially the poor who need medical and other assistance,” he said.
Earlier in June, Colmenares commended the PCSO for canceling what he said was the anomalous P42 billion (US$ 976,744,186) deal it forged with Australian firm TMA for thermal paper supplies. In a privileged speech, Colmenares said the thermal paper contract where the former PCSO board committed to purchase thermal paper for 50 years was termed as a “joint venture” with TMA Australia.
“ This joint venture is actually a contract requiring the PCSO to purchase its thermal paper from TMA for half a century! The estimated cost of thermal paper which PCSO will buy in the next 50 years is at least 42 billion pesos(US$ 976,744,186). PCSO must now trace whether TMA actually gave four billion pesos (US$93 million) to PCSO as its ‘contribution’ to the joint venture,” he said.
After the PCSO cancelled the contract soon after Colmenares brought up the issue and called for investigations, Colmenares insisted that Congress continue investigations.
“We must know how much of these amount have been given and where, as well how, this type of contract came to be,” he said.
Colmenares is now heading calls for the PCSO to cancel the Philippine Gaming and Management Corporation (PGMC)-Bergaya contract which cost PCSO billions of pesos in the lease of the lotto machines used in various lotto outlets. He said the PCSO must work for the revocation of this overpriced contract.
In 1995, instead of buying lotto machines, the PCSO executed a lease agreement with the PGMC for the lease of its lotto machines for eight years. It was said the PGMC will be paid an amount equivalent to 4.3 percent of the total gross sales of the lotto machines. The PCSO was also given the option to purchase the machines at the end of the eight-year contract in 2003 for P25 million (US$ 581,395)
“One would expect the PCSO to purchase these machines in 2003 and either take over the lotto operations considering that the PCSO should have developed the capacity to do so during the eight years of lotto operations. This, or at least open the operations for bidding to look for a better deal considering that 4.3 percent of the gross sales is not only steep, but is in violation of the PCSO charter which requires that operational expenses should be deducted from the net receipts and not the gross sale,” Colmenares said.
The PCSO, however, extended the lease contract with PGMC in 2004 for another eight years, without any bidding in the guise of “upgrading” the lotto machines.
Worse, Colmenares said, there was an increase in the rental rates to 6.85 percent of the gross sales of lotto tickets. PCSO also obligated itself to pay PGMC-Berjaya 0.15 percent of the gross sales of lotto tickets to maintain and repair the machines being owned and operated by PGMC-Berjaya.
The PCSO further gave PGMC another three percent for telecommunication services, practically giving PGMC a total of 10 percent of the gross sales of lotto tickets in its territory.
According to Colmenares, the PCSO has virtually wiped out its 15 percent share of the net receipts for its operations by giving PGMC 10 percent of the gross sales of lotto.
In 2009 the gross sales of Lotto amounted to 27 billion (currently US$627,906,976) and 10 percent of this is a staggering P2.7 billion (currently US$ 62,790,680) PGMC in one year alone.
“This amount could have helped at least 157,000 PCSO beneficiaries suffering from tuberculosis, diabetes, heart, lung and kidney diseases as well as other diseases. These could have bought 2,700 units of ambulances, or could have been used to fund 2,700 organ transplants,” he said.
The gross sales of lotto during the eight year agreement in 1995-2003 in Luzon was P56.4 billion (currently US$1.3 billion). This means that the PGMC was paid almost three billion ($69 million) for its 4.3 percent share.
The gross sale of lotto from 2004 to 2010 was is P82.7 billion or an equivalent of P8.2 billion for PGMC’s 10 percent share, giving it a total of P10.62 billion in rentals since 1995.
Through another amendment of the lease agreement, which is unclear as of now, the lease contract will end in 2015 instead of 2012.
“These lotto machines cost at most US$ 6,000 in 1995 which means that the 3,225 machines that the PCSO contracted would have cost P507, 937,560 at the exchange rate of P26.25 to one US dollar. The central computer system and software would have upped the expense to merely 1 billion pesos but would not have reached the P10.62 billion ( $246 million) that it cost the PCSO now.
Congress should immediately start its investigation on the PCSO so that the institution will no longer be used as a milking cow of unscrupulous officials and the billions can be used for the upliftment of the poor,” he said.
“We are calling on the Aquino government to increase the budget of all public hospitals, not just of the Philippine Heart Center. If high costs of medical treatment even in government hospitals become more prevalent, more patients will die without being seen or treated by doctors.” – Bonifacio Carmona Jr., PHC Employees Association Congress speaker and AHW-NCR Representative.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Health workers, medical staff, employees and friends of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) in Mandaluyong City held a picket protest last week and this week, in front of their hospital, to oppose the impending displacement of the public hospital due to a government-planned bidding and sale of the land where it is located.
Called Welfareville, the approximately 48-hectare lands in Mandaluyong City are being eyed for conversion into a mixed commercial and residential area, a move participated in by Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, a union official charged. The planned “development” of Welfareville would adversely affect as many as 4,800 charity patients and 1,500 pay patients, said the National Center for Mental Health Employees’ Association last week, not to mention the other Filipinos who stand to lose their minds as poverty and problems afflict them day by day.
Health staff of NCMH in last week’s protest vs sale of Welfareville.(Photos by Gregorio “Jhun” B. Dantes Jr. / bulatlat.com)
If the conversion pushes through, the NCMH has only one year before it would be transferred, reportedly somewhere in Antipolo. The target final bidding for Welfareville is on June 2 next year.
What will happen now to mental patients? asked their friends.
NCMH has a total of 1,700 work force, majority of whom are members of the employees’ association. In one of the protests it held last week in preparation for a bigger mobilization for the protest action during the president’s State of the Nation Address, its union vice-president, Arman Palaganas, told bulatlat.com that the employees are worrying about how the displacement of the mental hospital would adversely affect the thousands of people, especially charity patients, who have mental problems.
Palaganas warned that if mental health patients continued to be neglected, more of them may likely just end up wandering our streets.
As weekly protests break out in the National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City, in Quezon City, it is the Philippine Heart Center employees who have also been holding picket protests to call attention to the huge budget slash that has continued to afflict the hospital. According to the employees’ union, the 77-percent budget slash they had been forced to work with is pushing the hospital to indebtedness, lack of supplies and since this year, a strict decision of the hospital management to hold back on services to charity heart patients, even if servicing them remains to be the hospital’s supposed main mandate.
PHC employees reminded Aquino about his promises to take care of the people’s health.(Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
The Philippine Heart Center’s indebtedness has also placed it in danger of being auctioned off, as the Quezon City local government has begun to do since two weeks ago. Like the public mental hospital, the Philippine Heart Center has also been given just a year. In the Heart Center’s case, the Quezon City local government led by Mayor Herbert Bautista ordered it to pay off its taxes, or else face auction or takeover a year from now. Quezon City officials claimed the local government now owns the hospital after the supposed “auction” early this month.
Health workers warned that all these talks of auction only meant privatization, which would further make health services costlier and unreachable for the majority of Filipinos.
“We are calling on the Aquino government to increase the budget of all public hospitals, not just of the Philippine Heart Center. If high costs of medical treatment even in government hospitals become prevalent, more patients will die without being seen or treated by doctors,” said Bonifacio Carmona Jr., Philippine Heart Center Employees Association Congress speaker and Alliance of HealthWorkers NCR Representative.
Heart Center employees urge Aquino to have a heart, stop privatization and PPPs. (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
While president Aquino mentioned about helping the poor through the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), his administration is actually denying the same poor people access to health services, as a result of big budget cuts and privatization of public hospitals, like the Philippine Heart Center, Philippine Orthopedic Center and San Lazaro Hospital,” said Robert Mendoza, secretary-general of Alliance of Health Workers.
“We hope the government would listen to the health workers,” said Dr. Gene Nisperos, vice president of Health Alliance for Democracy. He praised the health workers for taking it upon themselves to fight for the interests of their patients for better services. Nisperos said the government has been doing the opposite – rather than ensuring that Filipinos are getting appropriate and sufficient health care, the government is implementing privatization, PPPs and rate increases. He urged the government to stop all these. And to revert to its promise of respecting health as a right.
Nisperos said for starters, the Aquino government can improve health care by giving its health workers humane wages and giving the country’s health a budget that is sufficient for the people’s health needs.
Theodore Te, lawyer and an advocate of freedom of information, noted that in the Aquino administration’s version of the Freedom of Information bill exceptions are longer than the list of information subject to mandatory disclosure.
Sidebar: Access to information more difficult under Aquino
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Groups advocating for the passage of a freedom of information law have been waiting for 15 years already but they would not settle for the Aquino administration’s version of the bill, which ironically, turns out to be more restrictive.
In a policy forum organized by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), journalists and other advocates expressed dismay at the dilly-dallying of President Benigno S. Aquino III on the freedom of information (FOI) bill and criticized the proposals of the executive, as articulated by Manuel Quezon III, undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office.
Several FOI bills have been filed in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Aquino tasked a study group to review it and come up with proposals. A draft is being worked on by the said team in consultation with various stakeholders, Quezon said.
Quezon admitted there are stumbling blocks to the passage of the FOI bill. On the other hand, Luis Tedoro, CMFR deputy director, could not accept the administration’s counter proposal, saying, “I feel that if the administration bill is passed, access to information may ironically be curtailed. If the admin bill gets passed, the FOI law may be one of those laws that are supposed to protect people’s rights but in actuality, do not.”
No clear signals
Advocates noted that Aquino did not mention FOI in his second State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday.
Malou Mangahas, executive director of PCIJ, said Aquino voted for the FOI bill when he was still a senator, and promised to push for an FOI law when he was still a presidential candidate. “In policy, Aquino and company [say they] support FOI but there are some concerns or is this an excuse?” Mangahas said, addressing Quezon.
In response, Quezon said Aquino wants the FOI bill to be passed, though there were concerns. He said that Aquino consulted with all sectors regarding the FOI legislation.
“PNoy asked me personally last Monday regarding the developments in the FOI discussion. He asked me about the next steps to be undertaken,” Quezon said.
Manuel Quezon III, undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office(right) seems to be comparing notes on the Freedom of Information bill with Nepomuceno Malaluan, lead convenor of Right to Know! Right Now! coalition (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
Mangahas said, “Since there is no signal coming from Aquino, the head of the Liberal party, Congress is sitting on the FOI legislation. The Congress is the battleground.”
“The Philippines proclaims that it is an open government, and it values transparency. Yet among four benchmarks on the openness of a government and its transparency, the Aquino administration is failing on two. Is this doublespeak?” Mangahas asked.
Quezon denied that the Aquino government is engaging in doublespeak. “The progress of the case is not as fast as you want. Rightly or wrongly, that is the way PNoy handles things… In government, the process [should be] thorough and exhaustive,” said Quezon.
Mangahas said that while Aquino certified as urgent the bill on whistleblowers’ protection, he did not mention in his Sona the need for an FOI law, which, she said, is a premise, predicate law.
Like Mangahas, Nepomuceno Malaluan, lead convenor of Right to Know, Right Now Network, share the same doubt. “We are unclear about the signal from the chief executive. Is he committed in passing the FOI bill?”
Malaluan said the President’s concerns are political and administrative in nature. “We heard there are concerns by the President that it will be used by the enemies of the righteous path. It is seen as a destructive measure. We hope that this is not true.”
“PNoy told us we are the boss, but on FOI, he’s saying ‘you wait until I’m ready,’” Mangahas said.
Malaluan, who sat down with the Malacanang study group on several dialogues, disclosed that the Palace wants initial changes on the bill filed by Rep. Erin Tañada (fourth district, Quezon) on deliberative process privilege, removal of criminal liability, expanding exceptions, among others.
National security is one of the grounds for invoking exception. Advocates are pushing for national security to be confined only to national defense. The executive wants a broader concept.
Luis Teodoro, CMFR deputy director, lashes out at the administration’s version of the bill. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
“National security should not be used as a catch-all phrase to evading release of information, especially because of the intelligence community’s antipathy to human rights, its policy has always been antithetical to citizen participation,” Teodoro said.
Quezon said another concern was there should be protection of personal privacy. The FOI law should be in harmony with other laws on privacy, he said.
Quezon said Aquino is also concerned with the executive communications privilege, saying that “frank and candid deliberations during meetings” may be affected. He said that during the deliberation of policies, information may not be disclosed. Only after the policy has been made can information be made available to the public.
“Executive communications privilege remains inviolable for the chief executive,” Quezon said, citing as example commercial/financial information that should be protected if it ‘would prejudice government’s ability to transact business.’
Teodoro criticized the removal of public interest override in executive privilege. Theodore Te, lawyer and freedom of information advocate, noted that in the Aquino administration’s version of the bill, exceptions are longer than the list of information subject to mandatory disclosure.
Theodore Te of University of the Philippines says exceptions are longer than the list of information subject to mandatory disclosure. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
“It is very ironic that the bill supposedly enhances liberty but actually diminishes it,” Te said, referring to the administration’s version. “You cannot have a bill that has so many restrictions.”
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño who also authored a version of FOI bill criticized the administration’s long list of exceptions, saying these can be easily invoked by government agencies to justify denial of access.
“Exceptions are bit numerous. Application of these exceptions from the administration’s version of the bill already hinders the public from getting information,” Casiño said.
Casiño added that based on the draft, the Aquino administration seems to have a “paranoid mindset.”
Teodoro said an FOI regime should have the following features: maximum disclosure, obligation to publish, promotion of openness and limited scope of exceptions.
Te said limitations should be strictly construed. “Burden of proof is on the person trying to deny access,” he said.
Malaluan said the executive also wants to delete criminal liability for those who will violate the FOI law.
Advocates also raised questions on the creation of an Information Commission.
For Casiño, it is but an additional process. Malaluan said it is the most viable body to resolve problems on access to information. Teodoro sensed danger if the Commission is allowed to rule on legitimacy of requests and to impose a temporary or permanent ban on release of information.
“The Information Commission is also problematic. If its members are to be appointed by the President, then it would be part of the Office of the President,” Teodoro said.
For Te, to address the issue of independence, the appointing power on the proposed Information Commission members should be guided by inputs from civil society or FOI advocates. He added that the role of the Commission should be defined more clearly, including composition of members.
Tañada is optimistic that the bill will be enacted into law. Advocates, meanwhile, could not settle for less. As Teodoro said, if the administration’s version would be adopted, FOI advocates should reject and condemn the passage of the bill.
“However long this takes, we will never give up. What is important is we get justice for what was done to us. We urge newly-appointed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to act on the cases we filed that aim to seek justice for victims of human rights violations.”
– Raymond Manalo, victim of torture and arbitrary detention
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Survivors of torture, their lawyers and supporters are confident that the new Ombudsman will act speedily to resolve the years-long complaints filed against several military officers for rights abuses.
Raymond Manalo and Oscar Leuterio filed today urgent motions to resolve the charges they filed against retired military officers Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., Maj. Gen. Juanito Gomez and other officials and personnel of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and members of the Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu). Palparan and others were charged with kidnapping, arbitrary detention, physical injuries, threats, and involuntary servitude, among others.
Both were taken by soldiers in separate incidents and were subjected to various forms of torture. The two are also witnesses to the abduction and torture of University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan and farmer Manuel Merino.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), whose members serve as lawyers of the complainants, noted that SC Justice Carpio-Morales was the one who penned the latest May 2011 decision granting the writ of amparo in favor of Cadapan, Empeño and Merino.
The group said the court found Manalo’s testimony as clear, categorical, consistent and credible. “Thus, with the evidence on hand, Manalo and Leuterio as well as other victims of human rights violations and their kin seek the speedy resolution of the charges against Palparan under the watch of Ombudsman Carpio Morales. “It is only through trying perpetrators and putting them behind bars that we can abate cases of abuse of state forces against innocent civilians,” Edre Olalia, NUPL secretary general, said.
L-R Oscar Leuterio, Erlinda Cadapan and Raymond Manalo are hopeful that the new Ombudsman will act on the cases filed against human rights violators. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
“We are encouraged as honour and integrity is somehow restored into our justice system. With the appointment of a new Ombudsman, we can now prosecute human rights violators without worrying that the interests of the victims will be compromised by patronage politics,” Olalia said.
Manalo filed the charges on September 12, 2008 and Leuterio filed his complaints on November 16, 2006 at the office of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
“However long this takes, we will never give up. What is important is we get justice for what was done to us. We urge newly-appointed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to act on the cases we filed that aim to seek justice for victims of human rights violations,” Manalo said.
The NUPL said that as far as the available records at the Ombudsman have shown, the cases have not moved beyond the initial stages of preliminary investigation. “In fact, this gross negligence and deliberate refusal to resolve the charges was one of the grounds that were supposed to be included in the impeachment complaint joined in by NUPL against Gutierrez in August 2010,” Olalia said.
The NUPL said the cases are ripe for resolution as some of the respondents in the Manalo case have already filed their counter affidavits, and position paper, while the other respondents are deemed to have waived the right to file and submit their counter affidavits.
In the case filed by Leuterio, no counter affidavits have been filed by any of the respondents. The NUPL asserted that since the Office of the Ombudsman has not resolved Leuterio’s case despite the fact that the complaint has been filed as early as November 16, 2006, the criminal and administrative complaint should be immediately resolved.
“After our cases were not acted upon by Ombudsman Gutierrez and President Arroyo, we still call for justice years after our ordeal. Nothing will happen if fear overcomes us, while so many victims are seeking justice,” Manalo said.
In an interview, Gerrard Boot, a judge from Amsterdam, the Netherlands who was part of an international fact-finding team that looked into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in 2006 and 2008 said that five years of waiting is too long.
“It’s difficult to understand how a court whose duty is to resolve cases would do nothing. That is just wrong,” Boot said, adding that the Melo Commission found Palparan responsible under the principle of command responsibility.
Asked about his perception on the new administration, Boot said: “Aquino said in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) that they take it seriously to look to the past. If indeed terrible things happened in the past, something must be done. I hope they will keep their words and will act accordingly.”
Erlinda Cadapan, mother of missing UP student Sherlyn Cadapan, joined the filing of the motions before the Ombudsman this morning.
“We hope that the new Ombudsman will look into the cases. We are only telling the truth,” Mrs. Cadapan told Bulatlat.
“There is a strong case for the complainants Leuterio and Manalo; their personal testimonies with regard to their abduction by the military were found forthright, consistent and credible by no less than the Supreme Court as it served as the basis of the its recent order for the military to immediately release university students Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño and farmer Manuel Merino,” Olalia said. “The integrity of their testimonies has been unshaken despite malicious aspersions cast by the military,” Olalia added.
Leuterio, together with his three companions, was abducted by military personnel on April 17, 2006 Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan. Leuterio was brought to Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan and eventually to Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, where he saw Empeño and Cadapan. He was released by the military after he pretended to cooperate with the military.
Manalo and his brother Reynaldo were abducted in San Ildefonso, Bulacan on February 14, 2006 and were detained in three military camps and two safehouses. Within 18 months of captivity, they suffered from severe torture, endured involuntary servitude and inhumane treatment in the hands of their military captors.
Ephraim Cortez, NUPL assistant secretary general for legal services, noted that the high court, in October 2008, unanimously affirmed the granting of the writ of amparo in favour of Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo, and found that they are in the custody of the military. “By pointing to them as the persons liable for the disappearance of Raymond Manalo, the Court itself gave credence to the charge of arbitrary detention of the Manalo brothers against Palparan et. al. The SC thus effectively submitted ‘probable cause’ in the criminal case against the accused,” Cortez said.
“The wheels of justice appear to be rolling and, finally, it is already catching up with Palparan to smash the arrogance and brazenness engendered by a climate of impunity,“ Olalia said.
Fortuno bill criminalizes fees
being asked from nursing apprenticeship
By Juan Escandor Jr.
NAGA CITY—With a bill filed criminalizing the practice of demanding fees from nursing apprentices, exploitation of these nurses by hospitals through the so-called on-the-job training may become a thing of the past.
Seeking to criminalize the on-going hospital practice of demanding fees from nurse apprentices in exchange of free service under the guise of training House Bill 4900, authored by Rep. Salvio Fortuno (5th District, Camarines Sur), also prohibits private and public administrators from collecting fees from nursing apprentices who will undergo training at their hospitals.
“Under the bill, the ‘Pay for Training’ scheme being implemented by most of the hospitals in the country will be considered a criminal act punishable by one year imprisonment and a fine of not more than P200,000,” Fortuno said.
He said the hospitals demand as much as P20,000 from nursing apprentices without any assurance that they can land a job after training.
“Since no hospitals will hire them, nursing graduates instead land in call centers and other jobs not related to their profession,” Fortuno said.
He considers the practice “Pay for Training” an exploitation of the highest order.
“These hospitals will no longer hire registered nurses because the nursing apprentices are doing the job,” Fortuno said.
He said the practice of “Pay for Training” has been so prevalent that even government hospitals have joined the fray in exploiting the nursing apprentices.
Under the bill, nursing graduates who passed and obtained licenses from the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) will undergo a 6-month on-the-job free of charge training in any government or private hospitals or medical centers.
The bill provides that a nurse will not be allowed to leave for employment abroad unless the prescribed training has been completed as certified by the hospital or medical center concerned.
Fortuno said due to lack of employment opportunities in the country many nurses are compelled to seek better future for themselves and their families abroad.
“Many Filipino nurses are accepting lower medical jobs abroad due to declining demands in the United States and in the United Kingdom. The nurses and their families have made huge financial sacrifices and yet they are at the losing end,” he said.
Fortuno said the objective of the bill is to criminalize the practice of demanding fees from nursing apprentices while they are in on-the-job training at hospitals.
Albay legislators’ incentives exposed
By Elmer James Bandol
LEGAZPI CITY — A private college in Guinobatan, Albay has certified in writing that Vice-Gov. Harold Imperial together with three provincial board members and a town councilor have received an amount as “incentive” for their participation in the recruitment of students specifically grantees under the loan program by the provincial government supposed to be just “the tip of the iceberg.”
Document from PLT College, Inc., San Francisco, Guinbatan town showed that Imperial has received P7,000; while Board Members Herbert Borja, P4,500; Ireneo Sales, P3,750; Ramon Alsua, P21,000 and Guinobatan Councilor Julio Tingson, P44,750. This is part of their allotted quota under grand educational program dubbed as Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme (AHECS) of Gov. Joey S. Salceda with funding support of P700 million loan from Land Bank of the Philippines.
The document signed by a certain Nenita R. Osia in lieu of the Acting College President, Ma. Nonette Osia-Tiam, states that the money was released in a form of checks to the local legislators in line with the college’s Recruitment Incentive Scheme for hosting student-grantees under AHECS that provides loan of P5,000 for every student for every semester until graduation depending on the course taken.
When asked to comment, Imperial said “I did not accept the amount, we don’t need it, though there is a contract signed with colleges and universities according to the choice of student-grantee but the provincial government will release the amount directly to the school.”
Imperial explained that under AHECS every Board Member is given 800 slots in 2010 and 300 each for 2011 while Salceda will have his own out of the 25,000 student-grantees targeted by the program aiming to have at least one college graduate for every poor family.
For local legislators alone, more than 13,000 students under their slots were accommodated since the program begun on June 16, 2010 and according to documents obtained by this paper, an amount of P120 million and P115 million were released by the government bank for the years 2010 and 2011 respectively.
The total amount of P235 miilion released is part of the P700 million loans by the provincial government payable in 12 years while paying for the initial draw down inclusive of two years grace period in principal and amortizing it in 40 equal quarterly payments with interest rate of 8.5% per year.
The proverbial hornets’ nest was stirred as “just tip of the iceberg” following the request for certification from PLT College, Inc., by Board Member Neil Montallana (Albay 2nd Dist.), regarding the amount of the “incentives” given to his fellows under AHECS which believed to have resulted to unplanned overhaul of the chairmanships of the different committees at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan during its regular session last Tuesday.
2 ‘human traffickers’ fall
By Jason B. Neola
OCAMPO, Camarines Sur — Two women wanted for human trafficking fell into the hands of anti-human trafficking operatives in Bicol and the composite team of the Goa and Ocampo municipal police stations in this province last July 20.
The arrest came following the complaints filed by victims earlier transported to Manila, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan who were promised with lucrative jobs in those places.
Randy Daria y Balcueva, 20, of Barangay Balayan, Goa, Camarines Sur stated in his affidavit dated July 21, 2011 that on May 2010 the suspects sent him to San Miguel, Bulacan on the pretext of good employment.
He said he ended up as caretaker of a vegetable plantation which job he described as “hell” because he had to work from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m and allowed only to stop from working “when I am taking my lunch” and “the worst thing that happened to me there was that they did not pay me even a single centavo from the time I was hired until I got the chance to escape.”
On board a green van from Goa town, Merly de Luna, aka Merly Casaldon Misamis and Mila Pirit Millesca, both of Tabgon, Goa, Camarines Sur, were flagged down in a checkpoint in Barangay Poblacion West, this town. Along with them were five “new recruits” reportedly on their way to Manila, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija.
The police made available the names of the new recruits, except for the 17-year-old juvenile, as: Raffy A. Oliveros and Romnick A. Buenavente, of Barangay Balayan, Goa, Camarines Sur and brothers Niño and Nitoy San Juan, of Barangay Del Carmen, San Jose, Camarines Sur.
Upon questioning, the recruits told the police that they were instructed earlier by one of the recruiter-suspects to say that “they are just on a joyride to Manila” in the event that police or anybody will inquire about the purpose of their travel.
Police Senior Inspector Samuel De Asis Villamer, Ocampo chief of police, said the arrest was conducted after a series of surveillance several months ago when formal complaints were filed at the office of Atty. Salvador B. Reyes III, operations officer of Anti-Human Trafficking Activities in the region.
He said complaints against De Luna (or Misamis) and Millesca also reached the office of Police Senior Inspector Rodel Pescuela, chief of Goa Municipal Police Station. It was Pescuela and his men who conducted a series of investigation on the case and operationalized the surveillance that led to the arrest of the suspects.
De Luna and Millesca were accordingly committed to the Tinangis Penal Farm, in Pili, Camarines Sur while charges of human trafficking were filed against them before the Regional Trial Court in San Jose, Camarines Sur.
In their sworn statements, the recruits claimed that they were promised by the suspects of domestic employment either as caretaker of a poultry farm or a vegetable plantation in Manila, Bulacan or Nueva Ecija which they found “to be very attractive” because they were poor and jobless most of the time.
Also known as Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, human trafficking is penalized under Sec. 4 (a) in relation to Sec. 6 (a) and (c) of Republic Act 9208 which provides that: “Any person found guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Sec. 4 shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of not less than P1,000,000 but not more than P2,000,000 and any person found guilty of qualified trafficking under Sec. 6 shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than P2,000,000 but not more than P5,000,000.”
CamSur declared under State of Calamity anew
PILI, Camarines Sur – Even as Typhoon Juaning has not yet left the country’s area of responsibility and still wreaking havoc in Central and Northern Luzon, CamSur chalked up close to 20,000 families composed of over 90,000 constituents of 19 barangays in 19 towns affected by the tropical storm.
This was disclosed during the meeting of Provincial Disaster Risk Management Council (PDRRMC) Tuesday, July 26 at the Provincial Capitol called by Gov. LRay Villafuerte and presided over by Provincial Administrator Fermin Mabulo, prompting the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to hold a special session the same afternoon and pass a resolution lifting the state of calamity declared after Typhoon Bebeng last May and place the province under a new state of calamity under Typhoon Juaning.
Only one casualty from drowning and four missing in Bato, however, were reported confirmed with a death in Calabanga from a heart attack that may have been indirectly typhoon-related.
Extensive losses in agriculture and infrastructure that have not been fully collated are also anticipated.
Of medium force but characterized by unusually heavy and prolonged rains, the initial effects of Typhoon Juaning were felt as early as Sunday before any intensity signal was announced in the province, mainly from floodwaters in riverine and lakeside localities and other low-lying areas.
Consequently, close to 5,000 families composed of around 25,000 constituents had to evacuate to more elevated places, many of them with very little preparations, if at all.
Gov. Villafuerte immediately activated contingency activities upon notice of typhoon warning and has mobilized and is presently personally directing rescue and relief operation in affected areas. GBC/MMEC
Salceda’s ma dies as floods hit Albay
By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LEGAZPI CITY — While attending to his constituents who were being threatened by deadly flashfloods, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda suffered the greatest loss when his mother died after slipping and falling in the darkness during the typhoon early morning Wednesday inside their old house in Polangui town.
Cielo Adelina Florin Sarte Salceda, a retired public school teacher died at 6:56 a.m. on July 27 due to multiple internal brain hemorrhage.
Salceda who left the Albay Public Safety Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) midnight of July 26 went home to his house in Daraga, Albay to take some rest. But the governor was soon to rush to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital before dawn after receiving a call that his mother was brought to the hospital due to an accident. At that time, floods spawned by typhoon Juaning had risen as high as five to seven feet from the ground in the towns of Polangui, Libon, Oas, Daraga, Malinao and the cities of Ligao and Legazpi.
“My mother Cielo Adelina Florin Sarte Salceda passed away today at 6:56 am (July 27) after vigorous efforts of BRTTH medical team to save her after massive and multiple internal brain hemorrhage resulting from severe injuries to her head when she slipped and fell on her back in the darkness of early morning in our old house in Polangui, Albay,” Salceda told Bicol Mail.
Salceda’s mother died on the same day and on the same hospital bed where her eldest son Raymundo, the governor’s brother died in 2007.
According to the report the governor’s mother went down the family residence’s ground floor early morning to check if the water had subsided.
But because it was still dark and there was no power supply, the governor’s mother slipped and fell, seriously hurting her frail head.
The Salceda matriarch was born on Jan. 10, 1922 to Judge Clemente Sapalicio Sarte and Rosario Florin. She was a teacher in her entire professional life and retired as a district schools supervisor in 1987.
She is survived by husband Jesus Saquido Salceda, a three-termer mayor of Polangui, formerly a Vice Mayor and a Councilor for 24 years, son Jesus Sarte Salceda, Jr., vice mayor of Polangui and former Board Member of Albay being the president then of Albay ABC Federation, daughter Anne Marie Salceda Mella who is based in San Diego, California and Gov. Joey.
Her remains lie at their ancestral home in Polangui, Albay. Date of interment will be decided upon the arrival of daughter Anne Marie from the US.
DAET, Camarines Norte — Lives were lost when Tropical Storm Juaning lashed this northernmost Bicol province with gusty winds and heavy rains early this week. (Bicol Mail)July 30, 2011
CamNorte bears brunt of Juaning
By Jonas Cabiles Soltes
DAET, Camarines Norte — Lives were lost when Tropical Storm Juaning lashed this northernmost Bicol province with gusty winds and heavy rains early this week.
In Jose Panganiban, five persons died when a landslide hit Barangay Santa Rosa Norte in the town proper early on Wednesday (July 27), at the height of the onslaught of Juaning.
Police Officer 1 Sammy Olit of Jose Panganiban police said that the house of the Casero family was buried by the landslide at about 1 am.
The fatalities were identified as Alfredo, 62; Ofelia, 56; Richard, 23; Marian, 18; and Edgar, 1.
The bodies of the victims were retrieved Wednesday morning.
Mayor Ricarte Padilla said floods also hit the coastal town, where evacuation was ordered on Tuesday.
In Labo, a small scale miner was found dead while another one was found injured in a collapsed mining tunnel in Barangay Benit Tuesday afternoon.
The fatality was identified as Marvin Barrios, 18. Ricardo Lilis, 33, sustained injuries and was immediately hospitalized. Both were residents of the said Barangay.
“The two were panning for gold amid downpour when the mining tunnel collapsed,” said PO1 Fernando Torres Jr. of Labo town Police.
In Vinzons, three fishermen, who are yet to be identified, were reported missing in the seas near Calaguas, which form part of Vinzons, said Governor Edgardo Tallado.
“Juaning” brushed Camarines Norte, which was placed under public storm warning signal number two, from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Packing 75 kilometer winds per hour, the storm then turned northwest in the general direction of Aurora province.
All municipal disaster risk reduction and management councils in the province were put on heightened alert on Tuesday as the storm closed in.
Government vehicles were put on standby as evacuation were ordered in several coastal towns.
P-Noy’s SONA praised, jeered
By Shiena M. Barrameda
NAGA CITY — While many praised the President for speaking the native tongue throughout his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, July 25, a good number of national and local leaders still believe that his administration remains wanting in terms of concrete long-term services for the people, especially the impoverished sector.
Militant groups in Bicol, particularly in the cities of Naga and Legazpi, braved the pelting rain brought about by tropical storm ‘Juaning’ to air their own version of the state of the nation which according to them did not speak well of the economy, and the promises that President Aquino made when he ran for office.
Karapatan-Bicol and Kabataan, and ordinary employees challenged P-Noy’s declaration of a decreasing percentage in the number of hungry Filipinos which, according to the President went down to 15.1% in June 2011 from 20.5% in March 2010.
His fellow Liberals
Mayor Antonio Chavez of San Jose, Camarines Sur, a known P-Noy ally because of his affiliation with the Liberal Party said that President Aquino’s most notable achievement during his first year in Malacañang is the reduction in the number of substandard public works projects, and probably the absence of ghost projects within his first year term of office, proving himself faithful to his vision of ‘Matuwid Na Daan’ under his term.
Naga City Vice-Mayor Gabriel Bordado, another Liberal Party member, stressed that P-Noy’s SONA was “generally OK.”
“P-Noy did the right thing when he underscored the upgrades made by Fitch and other international entities engaged in rating the economies of sovereign states. He should have provided, however, additional broad strokes to serve as guideposts or veritable roadmaps. I personally appreciate his concern for local governments,” Bordado said of P-Noy’s description of the Philippines’ triumph in the ranking of nations by such credible institutions such as Moody’s, Standard and Poors, Fitch, and Japan Credit Ratings Agency.
Bordado had admitted in his previous assessments that the first few months of P-Noy’s administration have arguably not been too rosy for the President and his Cabinet.
He stressed that the government is still on the right track despite the travails and pitfalls the Aquino administration experienced.
Meanwhile, Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe praised the President’s simple and clear speech.
“The SONA was concise and very definite as to what the President intends to do,” Batocabe said. “Above all else, his plan is to change the culture of corruption and inequity where the rich, powerful and well-connected can bend the law, justice and fair play to suit one’s interest. In other words, he wants a regime where the rule of law, fair play and equity reign supreme. These are, after all, the reasons why our people placed him there.”
Voices in the street
Jahn Cristopher Tapalla, 24, a mall employee and single father, admitted he was impressed by the President’s use of the national tongue.
But he was not convinced about the President’s declaration of progress taking place under his watch.
“They all shouted, ‘No. That’s not true! A lot of us are still hungry!’ I guess whatever he is doing is still not enough,” Tapalla said of the televised SONA on that day.
Dimple Viñas, a receptionist from Tinambac, Camarines Sur, commented on Facebook that Filipinos should try to understand P-Noy’s situation because he was elected into a position in a country with an almost irreparable political condition. She stressed that she was pleased with the developments she sees now, encouraging others to do their part in nation-building.
On the other hand, Congressman Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna voiced out that the President’s report is almost lacking in concrete long-term solutions and tangible progress.
Representing the view of the party-list, he said that the ‘Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program’ which the President was waving in pride is nothing more than a temporary solution that would only leave the coffers of the Republic missing a lot of money which could have been used to finance basic services and create more jobs.
“What the common man needs are long-term solutions and not cash on hand to spend,” Casiño said.
Despite this, Casiño commended the President for his relentless effort in running after corrupt officials and taking the initiative of cleansing the government of corrupt practices.
Death toll rises to 21
By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY — The death toll rises to 21, while five people are still missing as Tropical Storm Juaning left the Bicol peninsula, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) reported yesterday, July 27.
Director Bernardo Alejandro of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and chairperson of the RDRRMC said that the fatalities were buried by landslides, electrocuted, drowned, or hit by fallen trees and electric posts.
He said Albay recorded the biggest casualties with nine deaths, followed by Camarines Norte with five, five from Catanduanes and two from Camarines Sur.
The victims were identified as Noel Angeles, 49 of Viga town; Rolando Angulo,45, Bagamanoc; Sanito Diones Timato,49, of Viga; and Rey Vergara, 39, of Virac, and Rickson Isla, 30, of Panganiban, all in Catanduanes;
Josh, 4, Nichole and Bernard all surnamed Corteza from Polangui, Felix Berta Dacuba Clet, 74, Tiwi, Roque Sapico, 23, Tabaco City,Estring Leonisa, 76 of Libon, Rico Llamera, 33 of Daraga, Demetrio and Jr. Warde surnamed Nace from Pioduran, all in Albay.
Armando Molto, 28 of Tinambac, Camarines Sur and Nino Mora, 29, of Bato, Camarines Sur,
Edgar Ineta, one year and 6 months old, and Mariane, 18, Richard, 25, Ofelia, 56, and Alfredo, 63, all surnamed Casero, all of Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte.
Reported missing were Romeo Robles, 39, and Romeo Balanban, 37, both fishermen from Baras, Catanduanes; Salvador Dungaran Jr. 23, Emer Abas,27, and Elmer Balmaceda, 34, all fishermen from Rapu-Rapu, Albay.
Floodings in various parts of Albay and Camarines Sur have subsided as of Wednesday, Bernardo said.
Landslides were reported in the towns of Jose Panganiban in Camarines Norte, Buhi and Balatan in Camarines Sur, Polangui, Albay and Caramoran, Catanduanes.
The Albay Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said that 107,938 families were affected by the latest tropical storm which brought about heavy rains and strong winds that triggered landslides, floods, and lahar flow.
As the weather normalizes the PDRRMC began Wednesday the decampment of 27,018 families or 104,013 people housed in various evacuation camps across Albay province.
The Philippine Coast Guard said the no sailing order which remains in effect stranded 800 passengers, 14 trucks, 4 cars, 5 passenger buses, 18 sea vessels and 18 motor bancas in various major ports in Bicol.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), meanwhile, said all major highways going to Metro Manila are now passable to both heavy and light vehicles.
Air travel from Manila to Legazpi and vice versa resumed Wednesday morning.
All classes in private and public elementary and high schools in Albay remain suspended until further notice.
Landslide-prone areas identified
By FLORENCIO P. NARITO
LEGAZPI CITY —- The Office of Civil Defense has released the list of flood-prone municipalities and cities in Bicol with high, moderate and low degree of landslide hazards.
The Province of Camarines Sur tops the list with 16 towns with high degree of landslide hazards, seven moderate and 14 low degree of landslide hazards.
The OCD identified the 16 Camarines Sur towns with high degree of landslide hazards: Baao, Bato, Bombon, Buhi, Bula, Cabusao, Calabanga, Camaligan, Canaman, Gainza, Libmanan, Magarao, Milaor, Minalabac, Nabua, and San Fernando.
The province of Albay has only three municipalities with high degree of landslide hazards. They are Libon, Oas, and Polangui, all in the third district of Albay.
The cities of Legazpi and Tabaco and towns of Malilipot and Malinao, belong to the moderate degree of landslide hazards.
Ten municipalities and one city in Albay have been classified under low degree of landslide hazards. They are Bacacay, Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Jovellar, Manito, Pioduran, Rapu-Rapu, Sto. Domingo, Tiwi and Ligao City.
The Province of Camarines Norte has three towns with high degree of landslide hazards, five moderate and four low degree of landslide hazards. The municipalities of Mercedes, Talisay and Vinzons have high degree of landslide hazards.
In Catanduanes, two towns — Bato and Viga — are listed under high degree of landslide hazards, three moderate and six low.
The province of Sorsogon has one town –Juban — with high degree of landslide hazards, eight with moderate and six with low landslide hazards.
The island province of Masbate has no town with high degree of landslide hazard, one moderate and 20 low degree of landslide hazards.
Incidentally, July is celebrated as Disaster Prevention Month with “Makialam, Makiisa sa Pagsugpo ng Panganib, May Maitutulong Ka “ as slogan.
At nagsalita na ang simbahan.
Sa pangunguna ng CBCP, humingi ng paumanhin ang simbahang katoliko sa milyon nitong mga laiko,mga kleriko at relihiyoso, at sa mga hindi kasaping naniniwala sa kabutihan ng relihiyong ginagabayan ni Kristo at ng Amang Diyos.
Pero linawin natin ang lahat. Bakit nag-sorry ang CBCP? At gaano kalaki ang halaga ng paghingi ng paumanhing ito ng CBCP sa mata ng mga mananampalataya?
1.Ang pangunahing objective ng ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ay apulahin ang apoy ng pagkalitong maaaring kumalat sa hanay ng mga mananampalataya, sanhi ng mga kaganapang kinasasangkutan ng ilang iginagalang na Obispo at Kaparian.
2.Ang ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ay isang statement na nagsasabing hindi naman aksyon ng buong Simbahan ang mga wala sa tonong aksyon ng iilan lang sa hanay ng mga kleriko.
3.Isa rin itong simpleng pahayag na nagsasabing sa isang banda’y may pagkukulang din ang CBCP lalo na’t ilan sa kanilang hanay ang may direktang partisipasyon sa isyung komukonsumo ngayon sa atensyon ng buong sambayanan.
4.Ang ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ay hindi lang isang simpleng paghingi ng paumanhin. Kinalakipan din ito ng matibay na paninindigang panghawakan ang mga turo at aral ni Kristo, at ng Social Doctrine, sa pamamagitan ng paglalahad sa publiko na ang susunod na pangulo ng CBCP ay isang environmentalist at human rights advocate na si Archbishop Jose Palma, at ang pangalawang tagapangulo ay si Retired Archbishop Socrates Villegas. Ito, para sa akin, ay sapat nang paraan ng pagtutuwid sa mga pagkukulang ngayon ng CBCP, sa kanilang hanay, at sa buong simbahan.
5.Ang ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ay ‘sorry’ ng simbahan. Isa itong imbitasyon ng pagkakaisa ng buong simbahan (read: laiko at kleriko), para masikhay na itayo ang kaharian ni Kristo dito sa lupa, ngayon mismo.
Sa limang puntong ito, tumpak sabihing napakalaki ng halaga ng pag-sorry ng CBCP. Nagpakumbaba ang pastol sa kanyang mga tupa. At tama lang naman ito. Dahil katulad ng pangangailangan ng mga tupang magkapastol ang pangangailangan ng pastol na magkatupa. Ang esensya ng kaganapan ng isa ay matatagpuan nila sa bawat isa. Kung wala ang isa sa kanila, tiyak na wala naman ang isa.
Pero kung pagbabatayan ang pananaw ng mga Pilipino sa katarungan, ang pag-sorry ng CBCP ay purong aksyon lamang na nakatuon sa sarili nitong self-preservation. At tama lamang ito. Pero may hinahanap pa ang mga Pilipino, ang kaganapan ng katarungan at paumanhin, ang kaparusahan.
Para sa atin, hindi ganap ang katarungan kung walang karampatang kaparusahang maigagawad sa nagkasala. At dahil minimal ang kasalanan dito ng simbahan, madali lang tanggapin ang sorry nila.
Pero ibang usapin na kung mapapatawad ba agad ang mga klerikong na-imbwelto, lalo na si Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos. Sa mata kasi ng publiko, hindi lang simpleng niregaluhan ang nabanggit na Obispo ng mamahaling sasakyan. Siya pa ang humingi ng ‘regalo’ sa taong lubhang nagpalugmok sa taumbayan sa kahirapan.
Kaya kung isasalarawan natin sa isang away ng mga tambay ang mga kaganapang kinasangkutan ni Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, ganito ang maaaring daloy ng usapan:
1: (kay Pueblos) Letse. Napagtripan mo ko! Grr. Kita mo nang may tao dito, dumura ka pa! ha?
2: (sa Tambay 1) Tol. Tol. Tol. Awat na. Sorry na. Di naman sinasadya ng kasama ko.
(Sa paulit-ulit na palitan ng dayalog ng dalawa, tahimik lang sa tabi ang inirereklamo)
Well, pagsasalarawan lang yan mga kaibigan. Dahil kung talagang naganap ito sa kalye, wala nang mangyayaring usapan, tiyak na bugbog sarado na agad ang nandura at damay ang kaibigan niyang humihingi ng paumanhin.
Na siyang magbibitbit sa atin pabalik sa ating punto. Hindi kayang maisalba ng ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ang mga klerikong nadawit sa kalokohang ito, pati na rin ang mga kaparehong kalokohang nagaganap sa mga diocese at parokya. Bagamat may pahaging ito ng pangungumbinsi na isabay na ang ilan nilang kasama sa mga mapapatawad.
Ito, sa tingin ko, ang pinakamababang sagad, sa ‘sorry’ ng CBCP. Pero di ko na ito papatulan. Sabihin na lang natin na ito’y isang porma ng “kung makakalusot lang” na paraan. Pero hindi ibig sabihing hindi seryoso ang CBCP sa kanilang pangkalahatang paghingi ng paumanhin.
Sa pagkakataong ito, na nakapagsalita na ang simbahan, oras naman nilang akuin ang responsibilidad at panagutan ang kanilang mga pagkakamali. Kumbaga, naihiwalay lang ng ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ang puti sa de-kolor. Saved na ang puti. Humanda naman ang de-kolor.
Dahil sa pagkakataong ito, katulad ng hinangad natin kay Gloria, hindi sapat ang ‘sorry’ lang.
(Pahabol na punto: ang korapsyon sa simbahan ay di lang solong responsibilidad at pananagutan ng mga kleriko at relihiyoso. Dahil may mga laiko ring involved sa korapsyon – sa loob at labas ng simbahan – marapat ding marinig natin ang kanilang sorry, at makitang panagutan nila ang kanilang mga kasalanan sa Diyos at sa taumbayan.)
Pahinga muna sa mga firsts.
Sa paglilibot ko sa kanayunan, isang nakapag-aalalang practice ang napansin ko. Ang mga kadalagahan, gaano man sila kaganda o katalino, ay karaniwan nang hindi nakakatungtong sa kolehiyo at bagkus ay maagang sumasabak sa pagtatrabaho. Wala silang pinipiling trabaho: kasambahay, saleslady, abroad.
Pangunahing dahilan nito ang kahirapan. Sa pagnanais na matulungang maihanon sa kahirapan ang kanilang pamilya, hindi na mahalaga sa mga dalagang ito ang laki o liit ng sweldong matatanggap, o ang posibilidad ng panganib na makakaharap nila sa proseso ng kanilang mga pakikipagsapalaran.
Sekundaryong dahilan na rin, at sa tingin ko’y siyang nagdudulot ng excitement sa kanila, ay ang ideya na pansamantalang mapapalayo sila sa hirap ng buhay sa kabundukan at kabukiran. Sa dahilang ito sumisingit ang nabubuo nilang pananaw sa kung ano ba dapat ang dapat nilang kinalalagyan bilang mga babae: magaang trabaho, akses sa mga produktong pampaganda (mula sa pananamit, pabango, at iba pang mga ‘feminine products’), na kadalasang wala silang akses kung sa kani-kanilang lugar lang sila mananatili.
Wala naman sanang problema dito. Pero napapansin kong dumadami na rin sa kanila ang nagkakaroon ng boyfriend na foreigner o kaya’y mga may asawa. Ang ilan ay minamalas pang mabuntis nang hindi pinapanagutan. Bilang lalaki, alam kong minimal ang kasalanan o pagkukulang ng babae sa usapin ng pagbubuntis. Madaling lokohin ang babae lalo na’t may pera at itsura ang lalaking nagbabalak sumingit sa kanilang pagkababae.
Anyway, sa pagpapaikli ng salaysay, nais kong tumbukin ang mga sumusunod na punto:
1. Napakalaki ng posibilidad na ang kadalasang pag-boyfriend o pag-aasawa ng foreigner ay hindi isang act of love (bagamat may iilang kaso na makapagpapatunay na mai ako) bagkus ay survival act. Sa proseso ng kanilang pagtatrabaho, napapansin ng mga dalaga na nagkakaedad na sila at di pa rin nakapag-iipon. At ang pinakamabilis na paraan para abutin ang dalawang dahilang nabanggit ko sa itaas ay ang pag-aasawa ng dayuhan, na mabilis nilang naitutugma sa dolyar at kung gayo’y kaginhawaan. Di bale nang makulong sa isang kontrata, kung ito naman ang magbibigay-daan sa kaginhawaan. Anila, nadedevelop naman ang pagmamahal lalo na’t nakapaloob ka na sa isang kasunduan. Tandaan ninyong ang praktis na ito ay matandang kagawian na: halimbawa na ang mga 16 yr old na pinapakasal sa kababaryong 40 yr-old dahil lang sa malaki ang lupa ng lalaki o nagbayad ito ng isang lata ng kamote hanggang sa dalawang fully-grown na baka.
2. Ang matagal na pagkawalay ng mga dalagang ito sa kanilang pamilya ay nagiging dahilan ng mas pagiging bulnerable ng mga ito sa kaway ng tukso, adbenturismo at mga pagkakamali. Humihina ang kanilang mga prinsipyo bilang babae at lumalakas ang pagsandig nila sa dahilang “para maka-ahon sa kahirapan”.
Sino ngayon ang dapat sisihin sa ganitong kalagayan ng ating mga kababaihan?
Ayaw kong magmukhang kontra sa gobyerno pero pangunahing kakulangan ng pamahalaan ang pagkakawatak-watak ng mga Pamilyang Pinoy at pagkasira ng mga indibidwal na kinabukasan ng ating kababaihan. Pangunahing dahilan o ahente ng kahirapan ang ating pamahalaan, lalo na’t ang mga mayor nilang polisiya mula agrikutura hanggang sa kalusugan at edukasyon ay pawang lihis sa tunay na pangangailangan ng sambayanan.
Ikalawang may sala ang relihiyon. Kadalasang ang simbahan (ano mang uri ng relihiyon sa bansa) ang ahente ng extreme na pagpapakumbaba at pag-asa sa “Diyos” sa halip na sa kani-kaniang mga sariling bisig. At bagamat may pagsisikap nang ipakilala ang Social Doctrine ng simbahan, iilan lang ang makikitang mga paring nagsusumikap para dito, at karamihan pa sa kanila ay may distorted na pag-unawa at makasariling dahilan sa pagpapatupad ng Social Doctrine.
Hindi ko tuloy maiwasang ituring ang mga dalagang ito na mga hayop na nasusukol ng panganib. At ang practice nilang ito ay hindi na isang pinag-isipang aksyon bagkus ay instinctive na pagkilos para lang maka-survive.
At siyang unti-unting pagkamatay naman ng ating mga Dalagang Pilipina.
A year ago today, the military and police illegally arrested and detained the “Morong 43″ health workers. While most of them have been freed and are now trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, many still have nightmares and still feel vulnerable and exposed to danger.
By MARYA SALAMAT
‘Morong 43′ Recall the Nightmare and the Struggle
Dr. Alexis Montes: ‘The Journey Is Not Yet Ended’
Lawyers Push for Immediate Release of One of Three Remaining Morong 43 Detainees
What Newsbreak Failed to Report About the ‘Morong 5′
More Morong 43 stories, photos and video
MANILA – Physically they are already free, they appear fine and they are picking up the patterns of their old life, but many of the Morong 43 health workers today seem to be still struggling with the memory of their abduction exactly a year ago today, Feb. 6, and their subsequent torture and detention.
“I still can’t sleep well,” said Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the Morong 43 who was released last December. Even when she manages to sleep, it is fitful at best. She told Bulatlat.com that what she is going through is common among the Morong 43 health workers. She still has nightmares when she is alone in the dark. She dreams of soldiers seizing one of them and spiriting a detainee out of jail in the dead of the night.
While most of them have gone back to work by now and are coping well with it, Dr. Clamor says, she still feels vulnerable whenever she is out in the street. The other freed health workers interviewed by Bulatlat.com also said they feel the same, although they are also quick to reassure everybody who asks that they are fine.
Lydia Obera, the eldest female Morong 43 detainee, told Bulatlat.com that, “Personally, I feel I’m okay. Everything is as it should be, as natural as can be.” She asked other health workers to tell her if they noticed something different with her. “They said I was just like before.”
At 62, Obera is slim, sprightly and cheerful. A gentle, fun-loving Waray, Mama Del, as she is affectionately called in the health sector and by the inmates at Camp Bagong Diwa detention facility, had for some reason been accused of illegal possession of firearms and of having violated the Comelec election gun ban a year ago. Mama Del is one of the health staff of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW).
Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, shown here while still in detention: “I can’t sleep well.” (Photo by Carlos H. Conde / bulatlat.com)
“My memory seemed to have sharpened,” Mama Del said. In fact, she said, she could now recall cellphone numbers, which she had difficulty doing before her arrest. Like the other members of the freed Morong 43, she said, she gets her strength from the warm welcome and support of friends, family, colleagues and all those organizations whose members visited them while they were in jail.
“When I visited the public hospitals where the members of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) are working, their welcome was truly heartwarming,” she said.
Mama Del no longer has nightmares; she said she only had them when she was in solitary confinement, which lasted 14 days, at Camp Capinpin. Others in her neighboring jail cell would try to wake her up when she was having those nightmares. “I was shouting in my sleep: ‘Why did you arrest us, we did nothing wrong!’”
Today, Mama Del’s eyes sparkle as usual when she animatedly tells stories about the good things that they managed to do even when they were in jail. But she apologetically admits that she still can’t shake off the feeling of vulnerability as she goes about her day-to-day activities. She said she feels that something bad might still be inflicted on her or to her loved ones, or that she might be slapped with yet another trumped-up charge by the military.
Lydia “Mama Del” Obera, back at work: “Everything is as it should be.” (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
“I never cried while I was in jail, not even at Camp Capinpin,” she said. She only shed tears of happiness when they won their freedom last December. But the memory of Camp Capinpin, where “mornings are so quiet you could hear only the chirping of birds,” can spoil her mood.
“I don’t want to go back to what happened in our health training in Morong and at Camp Capinpin. It makes me furious,” Mama Del said. It seems to remind her as well why she continues to feel vulnerable.
The same feeling of vulnerability or of being exposed to danger from the military marks the trips to and from work by Gary Liberal. An operating-room nurse at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRMMC), Gary, 44, has been at JRMMC for 20 years at the time he went to Morong, Rizal, on this day last year to serve as resource person in the training.
He, too, had been warmly welcomed back in the hospital by his co-employees. “So far, there’s been nothing untoward about my going back,” Liberal said. He resumed working as head operating-room nurse at JRMMC last January 17. He also reassumed his position as president of the employees’ union in the hospital.
Gary Liberal, at the JRMMC: “Things are the same.” (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
“The adjustment back to work had been easy – things are the same, there are the usual numerous patients to attend to, the usual SOPs (standard operating procedures). There were only slight changes in SOPs since I’d been gone, but essentially the mechanics are the same. There are now a few new colleagues here, too,” Liberal told Bulatlat.com.
Even if working in a public hospital is neither subversive nor illegal, Liberal said, he had received advice from well-meaning doctors to just go out of the country for his security. Freed along with the other Morong 43 last December, with all charges against them dropped, the concerned doctors nevertheless told him that “when the military has arrested you, it is like your head has been marked”.
Indeed, he could clearly remember how the military interrogators at Camp Capinpin had told him that “we know where you are working; where you live. When you get out, we can easily follow you. We can kill you even when you have been released.”
Today, Gary Liberal, Lydia Obera and Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor intend to resume everything they used to do as health workers before their arrest happened. Liberal said he is still willing to become a resource person in health trainings, though, jokingly, he said he prefers that it be conducted within Metro Manila. (Because their health training last year was held in Rizal, Liberal traveled to the place the night before his scheduled topic to avoid being late. The next morning the training was raided.)
They are trying to cope with insecurity when out alone by being attentive to their surroundings. Some, said Dr. Clamor, are consulting psychiatrists to help them cope with the trauma.
Gary Liberal on his way to the operating room at the JRMMC.(Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
All of them are fervently grateful for the outpouring of support from local and international organizations. These have strengthened them in their struggle for freedom. They are also grateful for the warm welcome that greeted them.
They lost 10 months of what would have been their normal life with their family, work and organizations. During those 10 months, Liberal, for instance, did not earn anything from JRMMC, even if it was not his fault that he was prevented from reporting to work.
While the probability of receiving compensation for the lost 10 months of their lives is still far-fetched – the military has so far refused to even apologize – the released health workers have to deal every single day with the dark memories of their illegal arrest, detention and torture. (http://bulatlat.com)
Residents of Pantukan, a coastal town in Compostela Valley province, are locked in battle against two large-scale mining companies attempting to wrest full control of the area’s mineral resources. They also bewail the unfair advantage the government gives to these companies at the expense of small-scale miners.
By CHERYLL D. FIEL
DAVAO CITY — Residents of Pantukan, a coastal town in Compostela Valley province, are locked in battle against two large-scale mining companies attempting to wrest full control of the area’s mineral resources.
The residents who belong to various small-scale mining associations have formed a group called “Save Pantukan Alliance.”
“This is our way of saying that we are now taking the cudgel in defending our land from plunder and destruction of large-scale mining,” said Belen Galleto, spokesperson of the group, during a press conference in Davao City.
The Save Pantukan Alliance identified Nationwide Development Corporation (Nadecor) and Napnapan Mineral Resources Inc. (NMRI) as the companies that have recently encroached into their area, claiming a total 6,575 hectares of land for extracting gold, bronze, copper and silver.
Galleto said residents of Nadecor are worried they could be displaced.
A map of Pantukan. (wikipedia)
Nadecor’s 1, 663-hectare claim covers areas where some 3,000 families of small-scale miners, indigenous peoples, farmers and small traders have established a living. Their livelihood centers on their small-scale mining operations.
The other company, NMRI, was granted rights by the government to claim a total of 4, 912 hectares of land in Pantukan for gold extraction through a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA). According to Galleto, there are about 5,000 families living within the NMRI claim.
Granted in June last year, the NMRI’s mineral agreement with the government covers the 81-hectare mining area of the Boringot, Biasong and Diat Small Scale-Miners Associations which was declared as “Minahan ng Bayan” (roughly, “peoples’ mines”) by the local government in 2009.
Work in the mines, said Galleto, earns the miner at least P1,300 ($30) for two to three days of toil, depending on the buying price of gold. Gold last December cost P2,000 ($45.44) per gram. Lately, it has gone down to P1,300 ($30).
This map shows the areas being claimed by mining companies. Go to the DENR-MGB’s website to view specific claimants of each area.
“We know that large-scale mining will destroy our current production setup. They will just hire us as cheap labor while they take away large profits,” Galleto said.
All Eyes on Pantukan Gold
At least 13 companies have applied for mining claims of large areas of Pantukan as of April 2009. Based on data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’ s (MGB), these companies claims range from 800 to 13,000 hectares of land. (See List of Mining Tenements/Companies in Southern Mindanao)
Residents fear landslides as large-scale mining are known for using environmentally destructive methods.
In 1996, a landslide occurred in Kingking Village where a Canadian company, Echobay Mining/Toronto Ventures Incorporated, had been drilling. Galleto recalled that many homes and farms were destroyed. Even the community church was wiped out.
Two years ago, a landslide also occurred In Barangay Masara, Maco, a nearby town, which, like Pantukan, is also part of the mineral-rich mountain ranges of the famous Diwalwal gold area.
The disaster that killed 24 people is still fresh in the minds of the residents. It happened right in the area being mined at the time by the British-owned Apex Mining Corporation.
“We cannot allow this to happen again,” Galleto said. She said they are better off mining ores with their bare hands than allowing heavy equipment that are proven to be more extractive and destructive of the environment.
Work in small-scale mining operations, as Galleto explained, basically means hard rock mining. A team of three miners usually work inside a tunnel for a few days. They pound the earth for ore with their bare hands and process them for gold extraction.
Unfair Mining Policies
Galleto laments that while the government granted mineral agreements to these large-scale mining operators, many of the small-scale miners associations’ requests for mining rights remain unheeded.
At least four other small-scale miners’ associations, namely, the Gumayan De Mano Mining Association, Panganason Miners’ Association, Inc., Lumanggang De Mano Miners’ Association and Minahan Mayantok na Katutubo, have pending requests with the local government for declaring their areas as “Minahan ng Bayan.”
A small-scale miner inside a mining tunnel. (Photo: davaotoday.com)
A large-mining corporation can strike a contract with the government to mine vast hectares of lands for a period of 25-50 years, while the contract term for small-scale miners lasts only two years.
“It is just unfair that the government gives outsiders far better deals compared to us when we are the ones who maintain and manage the mining areas. In the first place, this is our home. Why would we do anything that could endanger the lives of our own communities?” Galleto asked.
The entry of large-scale mining has largely been blamed on the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The law has been widely criticized for practically opening up the country to full control of mineral resources by large-scale mining companies.
Not only does the law provide foreign mining companies full equity and control of mining projects in the country, it also allows them generous agreements that are highly unfair to Filipinos, such as granting permission to exploit the mineral resources for as long as 50 years, permission to enter private lands and build structures, as well as the right to the water and timber resources within the mining areas.
Those in favor of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 claimed the law would provide a much-needed boost to the economy.
But a look at the provisions of the law shows that it guarantees large-scale mining operators unfair advantage over small-scale miners. For instance, the law allows 100 percent repatriation of investments by large-scale mining companies operating in the country.
The government also only starts to earn its share after the mining operator has fully recovered its operating expenses. The net profit of operation that goes to the government, which amounts to 60 percent, is also inclusive of corporate taxes, duties and other fees. The mining company gets a clean cut of 40 percent.
The small-scale miners of Pantukan are now asking the government to cancel permits given to Nadecor and NMRI.
They have joined the growing number of those demanding the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, owing to serious issues concerning national patrimony. (http://bulatlat.com)
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said it is ready for the resumption of peace talks with the Manila government this month even as the front confirmed reports of a split within its ranks.
In a phone interview, Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF peace panel, admitted that Ameril Umbra Kato wanted to create a separate military unit but the MILF leadership would not allow it.
“We are resolving the conflict,” Iqbal told Bulatlat.com. “He is accusing the MILF of revisionisn,” Iqbal said, adding that Kato is against any negotiation. “To him, a jihad is all about fighting, the use of arms.”
Kato, a senior MILF military commander, is known to have led the attacks in Mindanao after the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) in 2008.
Iqbal maintained the MILF can achieve its objectives with jihad as the main approach. “Fighting and negotiations are tactics,” Iqbal said. “If the negotiations will not serve the struggle [of the Bangsamoro people], we will fight endlessly.”
Formal talks are scheduled in Malaysia on Feb. 9 and 10.
Iqbal said the MILF will present its draft of a “comprehensive compact.” “Essentially, it is a harmonization of the issue of sovereignty and our right to self-determination,” he said, adding it would be in a form of “asymmetrical state-substate relationship.” Iqbal said that the proposal aims to provide powers for the central government and for the substate in Mindanao. There will also be joint jurisdiction over certain matters, he said.
The MILF will also demand the release of 25 MILF political detainees. “They have released the Morong 43, they should also release our detainees,” he said, referring to the 43 health workers arrested in February last year.
Iqbal said they would also want to raise the issue of security and immunity guarantees in the light of the peace talks. He said that the guarantees should not be limited to the members of the panel and must be extended to the MILF leadership.
In September last year, Edward Guerra, a member of the MILF central committee, was arrested at the Davao International Airport. The MILF said Guerra was tortured and is still detained at Camp Bagong Diwa. Key military commanders are also among those detained, Iqbal said. (http://bulatlat.com)
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Cause-oriented groups said today the death of former armed forces chief of staff Angelo Reyes should compel authorities to step up their investigation into the alleged massive corruption within the military.
Reyes, who was also former defense secretary, apparently committed suicide Tuesday morning. Reyes was implicated in the ongoing congressional hearings looking into corruption in the military and the plea bargaining deal between the Office of the Ombudsman and ex-military comptroller General Carlos Garcia. Reyes was supposed to attend a House hearing today.
In a statement, Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change said that the ongoing investigation should result in making those accountable to answer for their crimes.
“This is an unfortunate event and we condole with the family of Gen. Reyes. But it is in the national interest that his death should not in any way derail the investigations being conducted by the Senate and the House. On the contrary, these probes must intensify to get those involved, whether military or civilian officials, accountable”, said Father Joe Dizon, Pagbabago! spokesman.
The late Angelo Reyes (Photo by Aubrey Makilan / bulatlat.com)
Dizon said Reyes, who also served as a secretary of various Cabinet departments under the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, could have helped shed light on the systemic corruption not only within the military but also in the civilian bureaucracy of the previous regime.
Reyes was served as secretary for defense, environment, local government and energy, among others. He tried to run for Congress under the party-list 1-Utak but was disowned by the party.
In the same vein, Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino said the incident should not delay the investigation on the corruption cases involving Reyes himself and top government officials especially from the military.
“It is unfortunate that Reyes passed away for he could have been a vessel in solving these corruption cases. While we condole with his family and friends, I sincerely hope that the people’s quest for truth and justice will not be delayed by this sad incident,” Palatino said.
“Without a doubt, the House hearing today is tinged by the death of Reyes. However, it will be more tragic if the corruption cases will remain unsolved and those responsible will not be put to justice. I urge my fellow government officials to be more determined in putting an end to corruption. It is the people’s welfare and interest that is at stake here,” Palatino added.
Meanwhile, Karapatan spokesman Roneo Clamor said that Reyes’s death “should bear on the conscience of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly its officers’ corps.
“Reyes embodied the politicized military… The AFP leadership should rethink its role in society if his death would have relevance,” Clamor said.
Clamor said Reyes was the AFP chief when the bloody US-backed counter-insurgency Oplan Bantay-Laya was implemented. He was a key player in the EDSA 2 as he led the military in withdrawing support for then President Joseph Estrada.
“While we regret one unsolved mystery in the corrupt practices within the AFP, the on-going investigations into the AFP slush funds should be pursued in the interest of truth, justice, government accountability, and genuine civilian supremacy over the military,” Clamor added.
Marie Hilao Enriquez, Karapatan chairwoman, said Reyes, as one of the brains behind Oplan Bantay Laya, could have shed light on the cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
“Sadly, he chose to remain silent up to the very end. I hope that this will also serve as wake-up call to all those who must answer the people’s demand for justice. Only the truth can give us peace of mind,” Dizon of Pagbabago! said.
In reaction to Arroyo’s statement hailing Reyes for his patriotic service, Enriquez said: “Here she comes again, equating her narrow interests to patriotic service.” (http://bulatlat.com)
“Why do they keep on insisting that my husband Edwin is the Edwin Bustamante in the charge sheets? My husband is not a criminal,” Lyn Dematera said, in reaction to the continuing detention of her husband, one of the Morong 43.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Edwin Dematera turned 39 years old today. His only birthday wish is to be free and be reunited with his family. This has been frustrated by another attempt of authorities to prolong his detention.
Dematera is one of the three remaining male health workers among the Morong 43 who are still being detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. The Morong 43 refers to the 43 health workers arrested on Feb. 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and were branded as members of the New People’s Army, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). On Dec. 17, 33 of the Morong 43 were released upon the dismissal of charges against them by local courts. Two were subsequently released December 28. The other five have remained under military custody at Camp Capinpin.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) showed a list of so-called pending charges against Dematera and four other detainees. Included in the list are the two who were released December 28 but are supposedly facing charges of violating the anti-bouncing check law and illegal possession of drugs. The DOJ claimed that Dematera is facing rape charges before a Las Piñas court.
Dematera’s lawyers obtained records of the said rape case. They insisted that Dematera is not the same Edwin Bustamante accused in the criminal case. On Feb. 8, Dematera’s wife Lyn and his lawyers were told that another criminal case, this time a robbery case, was filed against Dematera. Again, the suspect’s name is Edwin Bustamante.
“Why do they keep on insisting that my husband Edwin is the Edwin Bustamante in the charge sheets? My husband is not a criminal,” Lyn told Bulatlat.com in an interview. Dematera is being accused of stealing a Nokia 8210 cellphone, cash amounting to P150 ($3.40) and a silver necklace. The incident allegedly happened in May 2008.
Back home in Juban, Sorsogon, Dematera’s children Bito, 4 and Bea, 2 have been waiting for their father for more than a year. They had hoped for their father’s return last Christmas but Lyn travelled back to Sorsogon alone.
In an affidavit filed before the Las Piñas Regional Trial Court Branch 255, Dematera categorically denied he is the accused in the said case. Dematera argued that the only similarity between him and the said accused is their first name and it just happened that his middle name “Bustamante” is the last name of the said accused.
“I would like to categorically state with utmost truthfulness that I have never committed any crime in my life. I am not the ‘Edwin Bustamante’ accused in Criminal Case No. 08-0459. All factual matters gathered from my birth certificate and from the records in Criminal Case No. 08-0459 clearly and convincingly show that I am not the person accused in the said case,” he said.
Dematera also said that while the accused is a resident of Basa Compound II, Zapote, Las Pi?as City, he has been a permanent resident of Juban, Sorsogon since birth. Attached in his affidavit is a copy of his birth certificate issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Juban, Sorsogon.
Dematera said the only time he had been to Metro Manila was when he attended the First Responders’ Training in Morong, Rizal in February last year and when he was detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. He added that the only time he set foot on Las Piñas was when he attended a hearing on January 18 on the rape case against Bustamante.
“My continued detention in the Metro Manila District Jail merely because there is a pending criminal case against a certain ‘Edwin Bustamante,’ whose full name and other personal circumstances are clearly different from mine, is unjust and indubitably gravely violates my constitutional rights,” Dematera said.
“It’s the second time he would spend his birthday in jail,” Lyn said. “Why can’t the authorities find and arrest the real Edwin Bustamante?” (http://bulatlat.com)
Ibon Foundation, Inc.
Posted by Bulatlat.com
Research group IBON criticizes government’s new poverty methodology as unreflective of the real situation of poor Filipinos, saying that the adjustments made on the already-flawed methodology has further distorted the picture of poverty in the country.
The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) yesterday released official poverty figures based on adjustments on the poverty estimation methodology, which the agency approved early this month. The new method supposedly estimates a food bundle, which is important because some three-fifths of the income of the poorest half of the population is spent on just food.
However, the estimates are based on a “least cost” food bundle, which the research group says may not be available to most Filipinos. This bundle apparently also relies on “revealed preference” which seems to mean that it reflects actual spending, but may be a pattern of spending not so much by choice but rather forced on Filipinos who adjust their spending according to their poverty.
Moreover, the revised methodology now pegs the official poverty threshold, or the amount supposedly necessary for a tolerable standard of living, at PhP37 per person per day. This is down from the previous national poverty line of PhP41 and effectively reduced the number of poor by 4.6 million without really improving the poverty situation.
The research group says it is also disappointing that the government will only generate parallel estimates according to the old and new methodologies for just three years. This will make poverty estimates over time even more incomparable aside from, perhaps intentionally, giving the impression that poverty has been markedly decreasing. IBON also asks how the new methodology will affect the formulation of future poverty alleviation programs, especially amid rising prices and joblessness.
The government should cut poverty by increasing the incomes of Filipinos instead of reducing the poverty threshold. This is a similar situation to the change in the definition of unemployment in April 2005 under the previous Arroyo administration which statistically reduces the number of unemployed by some 1.5 million and the unemployment rate by around 3.6 percentage points without actually reducing the number of jobless Filipinos.
IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues. (http://bulatlat.com)
Pamalakaya, the fisherfolk group, said the government should stop “the national auction of coastal resources to multinationals and transnational corporation,” saying such a policy would worsen the impact of climate change.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — Leaders of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) recently signed a collective manifesto calling on President Benigno S. Aquino III to stop national projects that convert coastal communities into business havens and hasten the disastrous impact of climate change.
The Pamalakaya leaders said the privatization and conversion of fishing grounds have eroded the capability and capacity of coastal communities to confront the challenge and impact of climate change and extreme weather phenomenon such as La Nina and El Nino.
The manifesto was signed by Pamalakaya leaders from Cagayan, Aurora, Bulacan, Bataan, Pangasinan, La Union, Navotas, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Mindoro Occidental, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, Leyte, Samar, Cebu and Bohol provinces during the group’s national council meeting held in its national headquarters in Quezon City.
Pamalakaya national chairMAN Fernando Hicap said several government projects that are primed for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects would continue thereby exacerbating the impact of climate change on coastal resources, water environment and the livelihood of the small fisherfolk.
(Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)
Stop Magnetite Mining
The group said that Aquino should immediately take action to ban magnetite mining in the coastal waters of Eastern Visayas region.
Based on reports from Pamalakaya-Eastern Visayas, of the 107 offshore mining applications in the regions, 17 are applied for magnetite mining which covers several municipalities of Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran.
Magnetite is a magnetic and very dense mineral of iron important for the steel industry. High-grade magnetite is used in many chemical processes including the production of iron sulfate, which is used to purify water in many major cities. Magnetite’s weight per volume makes it an important source of aggregate in the production of heavy concrete. Heavy concrete is used from the construction of baffles and containment tanks in nuclear power plants to things for everyday use such as counter weights in household washing machines.
According to environmental group Kalikasan-PNE, if these magnetite mining applications are approved by the DENR and Malacañang, it would promote widespread community displacement, further diminish the coastline, reduce fish catch to rock bottom levels, and decrease productivity since magnetite mining in coastal areas are inherently destructive to the environment.
Many studies reveal that black sand mining in coastal areas results to coastal erosion, inundation of communities, and degradation of marine ecosystem. 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.
The Department of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR) is now processing the applications of magnetite giants like Nicua Corporation which would cover 5,390 hectares of coastal areas in the towns of Tanauan, Tolosa, Julita and Dulag in Leyte; Kando Mining Company, 3,945 hectares (Dulag, Mayorga and Julita towns in Leyte); Rushfield Mining Company, 5,309 hectares (Palo, Tanauan and Tacloban City, Leyte); and Minoro Mining and Exploration Corporation; 6,375 hectares (Alang-alang, Sta. Fe, Jaro, Pastran and Palo, Leyte).
Other exploration firms entering the fray are Citygroup Philippines Corporation which is applying for 1,694 hectares (Caibiran, Biliran and Naval in Biliran); Asian Mines Incorporated, 769 hectares (Motiong, Samar); Bridestone Mining and Development Corporation, 7,252 hectares (Hinunangan, Hinundayan and Silago, Southern Leyte); Lazarus Mining Corporation, 6,205 hectares (Carigara and Capoocan, Leyte); Oregon Mining and Development Corporation, 5,099 hectares (Babatngon and Barugo); Grand Total Exploration and Mining Corporation, 11, 686 hectares (Babatngon, Barugo, Carigara and Capoocan, Leyte).
Grand Total Exploration and Mining Corporation also has another application covering 5,752 hectares in the municipalities of Biliran, Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Culaba and Leyte, all in Leyte. Then there is Mt. Mogan Resources and Development Corp. applying for operations covering 3,022 hectares (Dulag, Leyte), another 15, 781 hectares in Tanauan, Tolosa, Dulag, Mayorga, MacArthur and Abuyog.
Mt. Mogan Resouces also has an application for exploration involving 25,312 hectares covering the coastal towns of Basey, Marabut and Tacloban City.
Another Pamalakaya affiliate, the Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) also urged DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to disapprove the application of the US-Korean firm Bogo Mining Resources Corporation. The mining firm has a pending application for offshore mining for magnetite before the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR Region V dated November 20, 2009.
The exploration for magnetite would cover more than 17,000 hectares of municipal coastal waters in San Miguel Bay that would encompass five coastal municipalities in Camarines Sur—Sipocot, Cabusao, Calabanga, Tinambac and Siruma.
Pamalakaya vice chairperson and Lambat-Bicol regional chair Salvador France said the exploration will be conducted within the 15 kilometer municipal fishing waters.
“Magnetite exploration will result in a complete ban of municipal fishing activity and the destruction of fishing resources in San Miguel Bay,” he said.” We strongly urge the DENR chief in the national office to reject the application of Bogo Mining Resources and order the mining firm to get out of San Miguel Bay,” said France.
The Pamalakaya leader said that while still waiting for the approval of the DENR permit for exploration, the technical personnel of BMRC has already started drilling operations in the five coastal municipalities to determine potential of magnetite. France said about 30,000 holes were drilled by mining personnel of Bogo since it applied for permit on November last year.
Environmental Destruction and Climate Change
Pamalakaya also named several other projects which they said contribute to the devastating effects of climate change. Among said projects were the offshore mining activities in Cebu-Bohol Strait and Palawan waters that would destroy the marine and ecological balance in the waters of Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Masbate and Palawan provinces.
“ The government is set to award 30 more contracts for unbridled exploitation of marine waters for oil and gas explorations. These contracts should be junked and the projects permanently shelved,” Hicap said.
(Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)
In Cebu-Bohol Strait, a total of 445,000 hectares of marine waters will be laid bare to oil hunters and gas contractors looking for oil and gas reserves. In Palawan, more than one million hectares of waters will be explored for oil and gas exploration. This is apart from the oil and gas exploration being conducted by Exxon Mobil off Sulu waters in Mindanao.
Hicap also cited the reclamation project involving more than 7,000 hectares of coastal areas in Cavite. He said another 5,000 hectares of coastal areas adjunct to the expressway project will be reclaimed for the construction and modernization of Sangley naval port, which entails eco-tourism projects and construction of gambling and entertainment centers.
Other leaders of Pamalakaya also sounded the alarm against projects in their areas:
1)The 54,000 hectare Cagayan Export Processing Zone project in Cagayan province. The project involves development of a major Freeport zone, magnetite mining and the creation of world class international and seaport in Northern Philippines. The prime mover behind the project is Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
2)The offshore magnetite mining in Camarines Sur, Lingayen Gulf and Cagayan provinces which will cover several coastal municipalities in each province. The offshore mining of magnetite materials will affect the livelihood of more than 20,000 fishing families in the Camarines Sur province alone, aside from its huge environmental cost.
3) The widespread conversion of coastal municipalities of Nasugbu, Lian, Calatagan, Calaca, Lemery and Tuy into eco-tourism areas, all in first district, province of Batangas in Southern Tagalog region. More than 20,000 hectares of fishing and farming areas are covered by this district wide eco-tourism project.
4)The eco-tourism project in Taal Lake, Batangas which seek to develop the lake into a major tourist destination in Southern Tagalog region under the Metro Taal Development Project. More than 30,000 residents, mostly lake fishermen will be affected by this public-private partnership project on eco-tourism.
“The national auction of coastal resources to multinationals and transnational corporations should be put to an end. If this national policy of denationalization, privatization and conversion would continue, this country will forever be battered by the extreme impact of El Nino and La Nino,” said Hicap. (http://bulatlat.com)
She became known as the small but firebrand speaker during the protest actions leading to the People Power II uprising that ousted then president Joseph Estrada. Protesters from all walks of life, from the urban poor to well-dressed women from the elite, went near the stage whenever she spoke during rallies.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — On February 8, among the thousands who celebrated their birthday in the country and around the world, one person stood out in the hearts and minds of urban poor Filipinos.
“I hope God would give me a longer life so I could continue serving the Filipino people,” Carmen “Nanay Mameng” Deunida told Bulatlat.com on Tuesday as she celebrated her birthday together with residents of Sitio San Roque, an urban poor community in Quezon City where threats of demolition still loom. Food were brought by Nanay Mameng’s colleagues.
Nanay Mameng is an icon of the urban poor struggle in the Philippines. Having been born and raised in an urban poor community, herself, she understood well what they need from the government. For more than three decades of active participation in the people’s movement, Nanay Mameng said it is her comrades and entire urban poor communities who inspire her.
Residents of San Roque in Quezon City offer a song for their beloved Nanay Mameng.(Photo by JANESS ANN J. ELLAO / bulatlat.com)
“They were hurt and some were jailed. But they continued to fight (for their rights),” Nanay Mameng said. When asked about her birthday wish, Nanay Mameng said, without hesitation, victory for the people’s struggle to eradicate poverty in the country.
Nanay Mameng became an activist at the age of 50, making her the oldest member of the former urban poor youth group Kabataan para sa Demokrasya at Nasyunalismo (Kadena or Youth for Democracy and Nationalism) during the Marcos dictatorship.
In 1983, she became a community organizer of urban poor women’s group Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (Samakana or Association of United Urban Poor Women) where she later became its chairwoman for 11 years. She became known as the small but firebrand speaker during the protest actions leading to the People Power II uprising that ousted then president Joseph Estrada. Protesters from all walks of life, from the urban poor to well-dressed women from the elite, went near the stage whenever she spoke during rallies.
“At that time, there were attempts to bribe Nanay Mameng to the tune of P1 million or around $23,000, with promises of jobs for her children and grandchildren to stop her from joining rallies but she did not accept it,” Bea Arellano, chairwoman of urban poor group Kadamay where Nanay Mameng is emeritus chair, said. In fact, Nanay Mameng continues to live in Leveriza, an urban poor community in Pasay City.
Arellano said Nanay Mameng, despite her old age, remains to be sharp in her analysis of issues. She continues to participate in protest actions and is a known critic of the nine-year rule of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who she dubbed as “Gloria Macapal-ang-mukha Arroyo.”
When President Benigno S. Aquino won during the May 2010 elections, Nanay Mameng warned that if his administration would be no different from the previous one, she would be among the very first to denounce the newly installed government.
Wanting to Reschedule Her Birthday
A simple birthday celebration for Nanay Mameng.(Photo by JANESS ANN J. ELLAO / bulatlat.com)
Nanay Mameng is so frustrated with the Aquino administration that she wanted to move her birthday, which fell on February 8, to another date as it also coincides with Aquino’s birthday. “But If we are talking about the fact that my birthday also coincides with that of Joma’s, (referring to International League of Peoples’ Struggle chairman Jose Maria Sison) and nationalist Claro M. Recto, I would jump with joy,” she told Bulatlat.com. The two were also born on the same day.
For the urban poor, the Aquino administration is insensitive to their conditions because his programs consist mainly of the conditional cash transfer scheme, public private partnerships, budget cuts on basic social services, railway fare hike. Urban poor groups also criticized Aquino’s decision to buy himself a “third hand” Porsche.
But no matter how much Nanay Mameng wished her mother had given birth to her earlier or later than February 8, Carlito Badion, vice chairman of Kadamay, said that there is a reason why her birthday coincides with Aquino’s. “This is to show how the two chose to serve the interest of the masses, but one, Nanay Mameng, is genuine, and the other one, Aquino, is not.” (http://bulatlat.com)
Fr. Joe Dizon of Pagbabago said the recent expose´ on corruption inside the military is another test to the current administration. “This is a golden opportunity to show that he is serious [in fighting corruption].”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – In the light of a series of revelations on corruption within the military, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should also be investigated.
“The previous government allowed this sordid practice to remain because it kept the generals happy at a time when Arroyo’s rule was being threatened by calls for her ouster. Apart from the corrupt generals, the corrupt commander-in-chief should also be probed for her possible complicity in all this,” Renato Reyes, Jr., Bayan secretary general, said.
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Fr. Joe Dizon, spokesman of Pagbabago!, said corruption inside the military was tolerated by Arroyo in exchange for their allegiance and loyalty. “She overused the military compared to Ferdinand Marcos even if there was martial law then. Arroyo did not only use the military to get rid of her critics but also to stay in power,” said Dizon citing the 2004 election fraud. “Not even Marcos did that.”
The 2004 elections were marred with massive fraud. Not a few military officers were implicated in the controversial “Hello Garci” tapes, the wiretapped conversations allegedly between former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and Arroyo.
Dizon said the recent expose´ on corruption inside the military is another test to the current administration. “This is a golden opportunity to show that he is serious [in fighting corruption],” Dizon said but noted that the Aquino government is “too slow” in resolving the problems of corruption.
Dizon said Arroyo should have been arrested since the day she stepped down from power. He said there is enough evidence to prosecute Arroyo, citing the evidences gathered for the many impeachment complaints filed against her but were seemingly swept under the rug.
“He [Aquino] is projecting that he is clean. But it is unacceptable to be just clean without doing anything decisive. If he wants to convey a strong message then it should be as loud as the wang-wang (referring to sirens that Aquino ordered banned),” Dizon said.
The activist Catholic priest added that if Aquino has strong political will, he could prosecute Arroyo and other corrupt officials as well as retired AFP comptroller Major General Carlos Garcia and his cohorts.
“Reform in the government does not start from eradicating corruption alone. There has to be an overhaul in the social structure, in which the government is led only by the elite,” Dizon said during an interview with Bulatlat. He pointed out that for as long as the leaders of the government have their personal interest in mind other than serving the Filipino people, there would always be corruption.
“Anti-corruption is a continuing advocacy. People should be vigilant even if there is a new government,” Dizon added.
In a separate statement sent through email, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said: “There can be no rectification of past crimes without true accounting and punishment of top criminals in the government and military.”
Foot Soldiers and Junior Officers
“The large-scale corruption and luxurious lifestyle of top government military officials and their families have always hit a sensitive nerve among the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s foot soldiers and junior officers who bear the brunt of reduced and delayed salaries; unpaid life insurance; lack of housing, medical, pension and other social benefits; theft of their combat rations and substandard field equipment bought with huge kickbacks,” the CPP said.
CPP said widespread demoralization exists among the middle and lower ranks of the AFP, “not only because such mega-plunderers are in command, but also because rank-and-file and junior officers are the ones being used as cannon fodder in a losing war.” (Bulatlat.com)
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said agriculture agencies and government-ran agricultural schools are mandated by the law to promote organic farming. So why are they promoting genetically modified crops like Bt eggplant?
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA – Government agencies and institutions that are supposed to promote organic agriculture in the Philippines are violating the law because these, too, are proponents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said this week.
Casiño said Congress should investigate the involvement of these agencies and institutions in promoting GMOs, which critics deem harmful to humans and the environment.
“Congress, through its Committee on Agriculture and Food, has to look into the cases of testing and releasing genetically modified organism (GMO) crops into the Philippine environment,” Casiño said.
He expressed incredulity that the proponents of Bt eggplant in the Philippines, particularly the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Plant Industry and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and other state colleges and universities, are the same entities tasked to spearhead organic agriculture in the Philippines.
Bt eggplants. (Photo from whybiotech.com)
“Field tests on Bt eggplant runs counter to organic agriculture law and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a protocol to which we are a signatory,” Casiño said. “By allowing the field tests and even by merely planning to sell Bt eggplant in the market, these agencies are breaking the law and, much worse, they are putting public health at risk.”
Among the schools that participated in recent field tests of Bt eggplant is the University of the Philippines- Mindanao, which was forced to uproot and destroy the crops after the local government issued a cease and desist order in December.
Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act was signed into law on April 6, 2010. The main premise of this law was that the government should promote, propagate, develop and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the country.
Casiño said the National Biosafety Framework of the Philippines and the Local Government Code of 1991 were also ignored when it came to government decisions relating to Bt eggplant.
Article 2 of the Cartagena Protocol states that the “development, handling, transport, use, transfer and release of any living modified organisms are undertaken in a manner that prevents or reduces the risk to biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.”
An anti-GMO poster from Bayan Muna.
Organic Food Festival
Last week, party-list groups Bayan Muna and Anakpawis party-lists opened the Organic Food Festival at the House of Representatives to showcase sustainable agriculture produce such as organic red rice, organic lettuce and organic basi wine.
There were also organic plants in lightweight pots, such as aloe vera, spinach, oregano, tarragon, and lemon grass. Bunches of organic pechay were also sold, as well as tomatoes, chili, and bottles of organic honey. The produce were sold in booths sponsored by various people’s organizations and sponsors.
The festival also featured a forum on safe and sustainable food, and planting techniques which organizers said can help the country attain food self-sufficiency and bio-safety. There was also a lecture on urban farming and organic agriculture.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño emphasized the need for organic farming.
The activity was also co-sponsored by Resistance and Solidarity against Agrochem TNCs (Resist), Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa pag-unlad ng agrikultura (Masipag), Sibat, TFIP, Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Searice.
Casiño said that they held the event to popularize their advocacy on food security and biosafety issues among other legislators as well as employees in congress. He said there is a serious need to look into the government’s programs when it came to attaining food security while keeping tabs on bio-safety that involves public health and has impact on the environmental.
In the last decade, progressive farmer organizations led by KMP and scientist groups have been campaigning against the commercialization of GMOs — hybrid rice, BB Rice, Bt Corn, hybrid papaya and other genetically altered produce because of serious health and environment concerns.
In September last year, Bayan Muna launched what it called an all-out war against the Bt eggplant, a genetically engineered eggplant that is allegedly resistant to a local pest, the Fruit and Shoot Borer.
Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis) is a toxin-producing germ which, when embedded into the eggplant, makes it resistant to the insect. The Bt eggplant is a GMO designed to produce an insecticide that is present in the whole plant and concentrated in the eggplant itself. Bt eggplant was introduced for field testing in the Philippines by Maharastra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd (Mahyco) in a few areas, but this 2011, it’s being introduced to the commercial market.
Mahyco is affiliated with Monsanto, the same US-based biotech company that introduced Bt corn in the country and is foremost proponent of GMO.
Casiño said the Department of Agriculture should not have allowed Bt eggplant field trials in different sites across the country in the drive to commercialize it this year. Through the DA, the Bureau of Plant Industry has been given the go signal to conduct Bt eggplant field trials in Sta. Maria, Pangasinan; Bae, Laguna; Pili, Camarines Sur; Baybay, Leyte; Sta. Barbara, Iloilo; UP Mindanao, Davao City; and Kabacan, North Cotabato.
Casino said that it was good that residents and local governments were putting up a fight against the field trials. “We support the LGUs of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo and Davao City in their opposition to the ongoing field test trials in their area. They are all against the planting of Bt Eggplant in their areas,” he said.
Casiño has already filed House Resolution 237 which directs the Committee on Agriculture and Food to investigate the current field trials as it violates the laws on organic farming as well as regulations on environmental safety.
An anti-Monsanto crop circle in Mindanao. The bio-tech company has been accused of propagating GMOs and of using force and intimidation to corner its market. (Photo by Melvyn Calderon / Greenpeace)
“It is high time that Congress look into this issue to come up with better government policies on bio-safety that will help us attain long-term safe and sustainable food for the people,” Casiño said.
Organic agriculture versus GMOs
Organic farming is said to help condition and enrich soil fertility, increase farm productivity, reduce pollution and destruction of the environment, prevent the depletion of natural resources, further protect the health of farmers, consumers and the general public, and save on imported farm inputs.
A specific section of the law, Section 3(b), defines organic agriculture as including all agricultural systems that promote the ecologically sound, socially acceptable, economically viable and technically feasible production of food and fibers.
While it also includes the use of biotechnology and other agricultural practices, it was explicitly stated t that biotechnology does not include GMOs.
According to research of anti-GMO groups, Bt genes could cause cancer and tumors once ingested into the human body.
The group Masipag said there should be an immediate stop to the field trials as these may pose irreversible damage to the surrounding native crops and potential health hazards to the communities.
“Even now we have yet to receive reports if the said crop would be safe to eat and would offer no harmful effects to the environment. If there are no safety data, it is imperative that the field tests be stopped to protect the surrounding communities from the potential hazards of GMOs, Bt eggplant in particular,” it said.
Unfortunately, as a counter-effort to the proliferation of GMOs, organic farming has yet to fully take off in the Philippines. Advocates find it ironic because prior to the arrival of foreign transnational and multinational corporations (TNCs and MNCs) during the American occupation in the 1940s, agriculture in the Philippines was purely organic.
Workers prepare to uproot Bt eggplant at the University of the Philippines-Mindanao after Davao City mayor Sara Duterte stopped the field tests. (Photo from upmin.edu.ph)
“Philippine agriculture is heavily dependent on these TNCs and MNC, and many of them are pesticide manufacturers,” said Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano. He added that the effects of pesticide use on the environment also had tremendous impact on the small farmers.
“Before the widespread application of agrochemicals, their rice farms also provided them with fish, snails and other viands for free. It’s the TNCs in agriculture and the full support the government gives them that makes it very hard for farmers to return to organic farming.”
According to Mariano, nine out of 13 big pesticide companies in the country are foreign firms, including Monsanto, Dow, Novartis, Aventis and Bayer. They control 85 percent of the market. Even the few Filipino pesticide companies have to import almost all materials.
Organic farming against climate change
Organic farming does not use any synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. This does not put pressure on the soil and the environment at large. The process makes extensive use of natural fertilizers like manure and bio-fertilizers composed of helpful microorganisms which are capable of providing nutrients to the plants.
In the meantime, proponents and consumers of organic food testify that organic food is tastier and more nutritious than conventional food. They cite various experiments that have reportedly confirmed that organic foods have more amounts of vitamin C and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron than their conventional counterparts. Organic foods are also rich in phenolic compounds and other antioxidants which play a protective role in heart diseases and cancers.
“So not only eating is planting organic food good for the environment, it’s also good for you,” said Casiño.
Finally, the festival organizers said that the call to switch to organic farming has become more urgent in the face of climate change as the Philippines is considered a vulnerable spot for the phenomenon’s effects, which include massive flooding, sea-level rise and drought.
Experts from Masipag and TNC Resist said that organic agriculture production systems are less prone to extreme weather conditions. It increases the soil’s organic matter content and improves water holding capacity and makes crops more resistant to drought.
Organic farming also contributes to the fight against climate change as it reduces carbon emissions from farming system inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, methane, CO2, and CO emissions in lowland rice paddies because of effective water management. (http://bulatlat.com)
Residents of Jones, Isabela, told a fact-finding mission that the soldiers would present themselves as New People’s Army guerrillas and try to extract information from them. Human-rights advocates called it harassment and that it illustrates the extent the Philippine military has gone to try to suppress the 42-year-old communist movement.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Sidebar: In Davao, ‘New’ Military Tact Vs. NPA Terrorizes Residents
JONES, Isabela – What gave the men away was their behavior. “They looked intimidating and asked questions arrogantly,” said Marjun Dacuso, a 29-year-old resident of sitio Dibulod in this town in the northern Philippines.
The men, around 20 of them, came to the house of Marjun’s brother Marvin on January 7. They disguised themselves as members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), wearing camisa de chino, the poor man’s shirt, and parachute pants, supposedly a favorite pants of guerrillas. Some wore combat boots and were carrying firearms.
“But we had a feeling that they were soldiers because of their approach,” Marjun said.
Jones resident Marjun Dacuso: “They were arrogant.” (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
The incident, which the Dacusos related to members of a recent fact-finding and mercy mission to Isabela, illustrates the extent the Philippine military has gone to try to suppress the 42-year-old communist movement. Human-rights advocates say this visits by soldiers is a form of human-rights violation.
“President Benigno S. Aquino III said his government’s new internal security plan is different. Well, based on what we found during our mission, it is not that different from what happened in the previous administrations. There rights of civilians are still being violated,” said Nardy Sabino, secretary-general of the Promotion of Church People’s Response.
Sabino’s group was among those that organized the fact-finding and mercy mission in Isabela on January 21. Led by the human-rights group Karapatan, Manila-based and organizations from Isabela visited this town to gather data on human-rights violations allegedly committed by members of 77th Infantry Battalion.
Marvin Dacuso says the soldiers destroyed his crops. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
In the case of the Dacusos, it was pure harassment.
Marjun said his wife, Malou, 30, rushed to him in the morning of January 7 about the men who arrived at his brother’s house. “When I came to the house, two men, who introduced themselves as commanders, approached me. They were convincing me to go first to a hut but I refused. Then they asked me where the anniversary celebration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was held. I told them I don’t know anything about it,” Marjun told the mission.
The CPP marked its 42nd anniversary on Dec. 26 and held public celebrations in several parts of the country. The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.
The two men, according Marjun, kept asking him about the whereabouts of their “comrades” because they would continue the celebration. He stood by his first answer. Then they asked him to guide the men around his house. “They looked around the house, they saw my camouflage hats, and one of them said, ‘You have these? Maybe you’re an NPA?’”
That’s when Marjun confirmed that these men who were representing themselves as rebels were not NPA guerrillas.
“Because I kept telling them that I knew nothing about the anniversary, one of them put aside his firearm and came toward me as if about to hit me. When I sensed it, I immediately distanced myself from him,” Marjun said.
The men stayed for about an hour. They ransacked house. “When I came to my brother’s place, it was already messy. The men cooked rice and took it with them,” he said. Marjun said his wife was so traumatized “she was shaking.”
The soldiers also destroyed the Dacusos’ crops. “It’s okay if they cooked our rice, maybe they were really hungry, but they should not have ruined our place,” Marjun’s brother, Marvin, told the mission.
Residents of Jones, Isabela, complain to members of the fact-finding mission. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
Other residents, whose identities are withheld for their security reasons, related to the mission and to Bulatlat.com that on Jan. 10, four armed men approached some 12 farmers working in their farm. The men, according to the farmers, asked them if they have seen their “kadua” (comrades). They said they got separated from the others.
The farmers said they saw no one, but the men stayed for an hour just the same. One of the four men even took a video of the four farmers. Later, the farmers saw the same men with a group of about 30 soldiers in their uniforms.
Fernando Dumalawon, another resident, also narrated that his son Rene, 24, and his companion Ronald Agustin, 22, were slapped by men who introduced themselves as members of NPA on Jan. 6.
Fernando said a neighbor told him that he witnessed how armed men hurt Rene and Ronald. The neighbor “said the two were being forced to tell the men where the camp of the NPA was. But since they did not know, they were slapped.”
Rene and Ronald were formers rebels and immediately left their place after the incident and have not gone back since, according to Fernando.
Part of the mission was a discussion on human rights. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
The PCPR’s Sabino said most of the residents that they interviewed were all scared to talk about the militarization in their area. Some said that while soldiers are not seen in the morning, they know that they roam at night because the dogs would bark. Out of fear, many of the residents moved to other villages.
Marvin Dacuso also said members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) accompanied these soldiers. “Some of the Cafgus were from the Visayas who are now living in sitio Dima, barangay Minori,” Dacuso said.
As part of the mission, the participants held discussions with residents about basic human rights. The mission also provided relief goods and schools supplies to the residents. A medical mission was also held, benefiting some 300 residents. (http://bulatlat.com)
“We stand not at a crossroad, but at a precipice.” — Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno
By BENJIE OLIVEROS
MANILA — Impunity, according to human-rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno is the “dark side of accountability.” It is, he said, a thousand guns aimed at perceived enemies of the state.
Impunity, said Frank La Rue, a Guatemalan academician and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, is a state policy. La Rue cited as reasons for the prevalence of impunity: a weak state, state negligence, or a conscious policy of the state. By not investigating a case, the state gives the message that it could be repeated over and over again. Thus, said La Rue, impunity multiplies geometrically.
To end the culture of impunity in the country is the call of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Mindanao as they spearheaded a protest rally and liturgy together with the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines and other progressive groups gathered around Rizal Park, Davao City a day before the 1st anniversary at of the Ampatuan Massacre that killed 58 individuals. (Photos by Jose Hernani / bulatlat.com)
To stress his point on impunity, Eric Mallonga of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law and the UP Law Center Institute of Human Rights, cited the massive violations committed during the implementation of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Lambat Bitag during the administrations of Cory Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos and how this “total war” policy of the Philippine government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines is being implemented up to now.
Malloga said there is no clear policy statement that this “total approach” to counterinsurgency is no longer being implemented. “Low intensity conflict intensifies,” he said. Low intensity conflict refers to the counterinsurgency strategy developed by the US Armed Forces, which is still the framework of counterinsurgency operations being implemented up to the present, especially by countries that are allies of the US and hosts of its troops, such as the Philippines.
This was how impunity was defined and dissected in a forum with the title “Journalism Asia Forum 2010: Media and the Culture of Impunity,” which was held at the Manila Hotel last November 23 and was sponsored by the Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA). The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism are the Philippine members of SEAPA. Representatives from Indonesia Ms. Bina Bektai of Tempo, a Jakarta based news magazine, and Thailand Mr. Anucha Charoenpoh, a senior reporter of the Bangkok Post shared their experiences with impunity in their own countries. The forum was also participated in by SEAPA delegates from the different Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar, among others.
While the forum was meant to discuss the problem of impunity in the killings of journalists — especially on the day which marked the first year anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre that claimed the lives of 58 people, inlcuding 32 journalists — and the legal remedies available in the pursuit of justice, it could not help but touch on the whole question of justice, or the lack of it, in the country up to the present.
To end impunity in the country, Diokno, Mallonga, and La Rue were one in saying that there is a need to pursue justice and strengthen the justice system in the country.
In the massacre site, progressive groups join the families of the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre in commemorating the 1st anniversary as they call to end impunity, to seek justice for all of the victims of human rights violations in the country and to trial former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the primary violetator. (Photo by Jose Hernani / bulatlat.com)
Diokno pointed to the excruciatingly slow grind of justice in the country as the reason behind the dismal record of convictions of those responsible for the killings and the need to amend the rules of court through legislation or by an act of the Supreme Court. Specifically, Diokno said, the courts should allow the “perpetuation of testimony” so that witnesses could have their testimonies recorded immediately to be able to move on with their lives. According to Diokno, a case that normally takes two to three years creates a tremendous amount of pressure on the witness who has to endure being under confinement for his or her protection while the accused roams freely. What happens is that witnesses decide to get out of the program and are either killed or intimidated. He also pushed for the strengthening of the Witness Protection Program (WPP). Not like in the US, Diokno said, the Witness Protection Program in the Philippines does not provide for the relocation of witnesses and their families. After the case, the witness is practically left on his or her own. Mallonga added that not only are there very few convictions, those convicted are only the truggermen and not the masteminds. He also batted for the plugging of loopholes in current laws and available remedies.
La Rue said the formation of an international body such as the Comision Internacional Contra Impunidad en Guatemala that would investigate the killings of journalists and activists could contribute a lot in pursuing justice for the victims and strengthening the state and its justice system toward ending impunity. However, he said, it would require a lot of humility on the part of the government and the president to admit that the justice system is weak and that it needs outside assistance. Also the government needs to formally request for a partnership with the United Nations and to solicit the support of a group of funders.
Meanwhile, La Rue said, to push press freedom forward, there is a need to decriminalize the freedom of expression, referring to laws that constrict it such as laws on libel and censorship.
On the other hand, journalists should professionalize and be accountable to the public, not to the state because that would constitute censorship, said La Rue. Journalists should also be wary of media conglomerates, which control what and how news would be broadcasted and published.
In any case, La Rue stressed, violence against journalists must end, citing reports that the Philippines ranks first in the list of countries with the most number of cases of violence against journalists. Joining the Philippines in the top five are Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Mexico. Somalia is under a violent civil war; Iraq and Afghanistan are being occupied by the US, which has been encountering stiff resistance from local armed groups; in Mexico the drug war has turned increasingly violent.
The speakers called on journalists, organized groups and the general public to continue the fight against impunity. “We stand not a crossroad but at a precipice,” Diokno concluded. (Bulatlat.com)