Archive | October, 2011

Posted on 29 October 2011 by admin

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Posted on 28 October 2011 by admin

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Bayan slams WB chiefs visit to PH

Posted on 26 October 2011 by admin

News Release

Oct. 26, 2011

The planned visit of World Bank Group president Robert Zoellick to a poor community while in the Philippines for a two-day stay “smacks of irony”, as the World Bank itself is behind the many policies that caused worsening poverty in the country, multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today said.

Bayan issued the statement as Zoellick visited the country to meet with President Benigno S. Aquino III and his economic managers. Zoellick, who has already been in the Philippines in the past a Deputy Secretary of the US State Department, is also expected to visit a poor community and praise Aquino’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). 4Ps is the country’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program which was initiated in the Philippines by President Gloria Arroyo in 2007 through a $405-million loan from the World Bank.

The World Bank Group is a multilateral institution controlled by the US and other rich countries. It provides loans to member countries to implement programs supposedly for poverty reduction, such as the controversial CCT, and structural reforms. Many destructive globalization policies in the Philippines like the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), Oil Deregulation Law, and privatization of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), among others, have been designed and implemented with assistance from the World Bank.

In 2008, amid the escalating global prices of food that had already triggered riots in some countries, the World Bank warned against imposing price controls and instead intensified its push for so-called “targeted safety nets” such as the CCT.

Under Aquino, the scope of the CCT has been expanded tremendously and the program that started with just several thousand beneficiaries in 2007 now intends to cover 4.3 million households by the end of Aquino’s term. For 2012 alone, the CCT program targets 3 million households with a proposed budget of P39.5 billion (from just P10 billion in 2010 and P21 billion in 2011).

Bayan chair Carol Araullo noted that this massive expansion in scope and budget is not backed by any thorough assessment on whether the program has actually contributed to sustained poverty reduction.  “It should also be noted that the CCT is funded by $805 million in growing foreign debt ($405 million from the World Bank and $400 million from the Asian Development Bank),” she added.

“As it is, even the target of 4.3 million households is still just a fraction of the ever growing population crippled by joblessness or lack of livelihood amid ever rising cost of living – social ills that ironically are being aggravated by the same globalization policies being promoted by the World Bank,” Araullo said.

With the absence of programs that can produce long-term, productive jobs, and address the structural roots of poverty such as implementing genuine land reform and industrialization, the CCT at best, could only provide temporary dole to a small portion of the poor, according to Bayan.

“For Aquino, the CCT’s best purpose is to smokescreen the failed neoliberal policies that the World Bank actively supports through its lending and development assistance,” Araullo added. #

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Six years after Subic rape, still no closure on VFA controversy

Posted on 26 October 2011 by admin

New Release

October 26, 2011

November 1  will mark six years since the controversial “Subic rape” incident involving a Filipina and four visiting US Marines. The US is expected to say that no “rape” ever took place after the Court of Appeals reversed the earlier conviction of L/Cpl. Daniel Smith. The verdict of the CA was of course widely criticized by various sectors for disregarding the obvious facts of the case.

“What the Subic rape incident highlighted were the problems with the Visiting Forces Agreement, especially on custody issues. Up to now, these have not been resolved. The VFA continues to remind us of the special treatment accorded US troops,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The US has always publicly insisted that under the VFA, even convicted US troops will remain in US custody pending appeal of their case. This interpretation however has been struck down by no less than the Philippine Supreme Court, yet the Philippine government since the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has not taken any action to address this outstanding problem,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that issues related to the VFA should be taken up by the Aquino government with visiting Assistant of Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Kurt Campbell who arrives today and leaves on October 27.

“Beyond the verdict of the courts, the issue that will continue to haunt us is the patent one-sidedness of the VFA when it comes to US soldiers who have violated Philippine laws,” Reyes said.

“More than a year in office, and for reasons unknown, Aquino still has not shown the results of its so-called VFA review, if ever there is one,” Reyes added.

Wikileaks on Subic rape

The whistleblower website Wikileaks provides information on how the US embassy and the Philippine government acted to insulate and preserve the VFA during the Subic rape trial.

In a cable dated October 2008, then US ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney described the incident as having “serious consequences not only for LCpl Smith, but the most crucial elements of our diplomatic and military ties with the Philippines.”

When Makati RTC Judge Benjamin Pozon convicted Smith and ordered him brought to the Makati City Jail, the US embassy vigorously protested and put pressure on the Philippine government.

In a cable dated December 4, 2006, Kenney said that she and the Deputy Chief of Mission “protested vigorously to senior GRP officials over Smith’s detention in Philippine custody.”

The US protests seemed effective since Kenney also reported that “Philippine Cabinet officials are conferring with President Arroyo to seek a way out of the impasse over custody triggered by Judge Pozon’s order.  The Secretary of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs have released statements supporting the view that Smith should be in U.S. custody during his appeal, according to VFA”.

Through the Romulo-Kenney Accord, Smith was transferred back to the US embassy. This triggered groups to ask the Supreme Court to declare the VFA unconstitutional. The SC later on upheld the constitutionality of the VFA but struck down the Romulo-Kenney accord as “not in accordance with the VFA” and ordered that Smith be returned to Philippine custody after DFA negotiations with the US embassy. But before this Smith could be transferred to back to Philippine custody, the Court of Appeals acquitted him of the rape charges.

US admits VFA provisions ambiguous

The Wikileaks cables clearly show that there were problems in the custody provisions of the VFA. In one embassy cable dated April 27, 2009 (09MANILA903), or after the acquittal of Smith, US ambassador Kristie Kenney admitted that custody provisions of the VFA were ambiguous and that clarifications had to be made. And for all its insistence of keeping custody of Smith, the US embassy admitted that it was not capable of serving as a detention facility.

Given ambiguity in the VFA about both where custody lies following initial conviction of  U.S. servicemen and detention facilities where they should be held, we believe it is important that we begin discussions on how we clarify these undesignated requirements and whether there is a more workable, less debilitating, custody process.  The last three-and-a-half years have clearly demonstrated that U.S. Chancery grounds are not appropriate detention facilities to hold such servicemen in custody, not least because Mission personnel have neither the resources nor expertise to serve as jailors.  We believe that the unusual situation of having a diplomatic facility as a place for detention should be clarified in future discussions with the Philippine government,” Kenney said in the confidential cable.

In the same cable, then Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo told Kenney “that he was pleased with the outcome of the case, attributing the success on the excellent collaboration the Philippine government had enjoyed with the Embassy”.

Romulo said that “with several thousand U.S. servicemen currently in the Philippines for the Balikatan bilateral (military) exercises, it was imperative that both sides completely followed the letter of the VFA”.

In another cable dated September 18, 2009, Kenney again admitted the problems with the VFA but cautioned against renegotiation.

“Post would welcome a review by US Government lawyers to determine the best approach we can take to clarify the custody provisions.  Following such a review, Mission would aim to establish this clarification through quiet discussions that would allow us to reach a common understanding with the Philippine government without the need to formally renegotiate the entire VFA,” Kenney said.  ###

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Obama announces US troop withdrawal from Iraq but not from Philippines

Posted on 24 October 2011 by admin

News Release

October 24, 2011

The US government has announced the pull-out of 40,000 US troops in Iraq by the end of the year. Meanwhile, there remains to timetable for the pull-out of US troops in the Philippines according to the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

“The unilateral US troop deployment in the Philippines, unlike in Iraq, is open-ended and could last forever. This is an anomaly arising from the lopsided Visiting Forces Agreement with the US. This is clearly an affront to our sovereignty,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama announced that the 40,000 combat troops stationed in Iraq will be returning home at the end of 2011. The pull-out was also due to the failure to amend the Status of Forces Agreement between the US and Iraq after Iraqi authorities refused to grant US troops immunity from suit.

The US retains some 600 Special Forces operatives in Southern Philippines as part of a global deployment under the US Special Operations Command. On January 2012, the US troops in Mindanao would be marking one decade of permanent presence in the region, a feat unseen since the time of the

US military bases up to 1991.

US official to visit Manila

“At the very least, the Aquino government should raise the issue of the US permanent presence in Mindanao during the visit of US Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Cambpell. Our government should start invoking national interest and stop acting like puppets and wimps in the presence of the US,” Reyes said.

“Now is a good time to talk about the VFA and the US troops in Mindanao, considering they’ve been here for close to a decade. Moreover, after more than a year in office, Aquino has still not delivered on his promise of reviewing the VFA. No results have been made public as of now,” Reyes added.

Campbell is set to visit Indonesia and the Philippines from October 25-27. He will be in Manila on October 26 to “meet with senior government officials to discuss bilateral and regional issues,” according to a news release by Washington.

According to whistleblower Wikileaks, in October 2009, Campbell once threatened an Okinawa state official that US patience “would wear thin” over persistent comments by the Democratic Party of Japan to review all aspects of the US-Japan Military Alliance at once. Concerned that such calls for review undermined the US-Japan alliance, Campbell said “we need a positive visit by President Obama as part of the process of reaffirming the relationship.”

Wikileaks also revealed that Campbell once wrote the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The undated letter published by Wikileaks says that the “United States remains concerned that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has not completely severed its links with international terrorist organizations, and asks that the MILF dissolve those links immediately.” However, the US also promised support for the peace process through “political and financial means.” ###

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Deles should quit over fund misuse, OPAPP should be abolished

Posted on 19 October 2011 by admin

Press Statement

October 19, 2011

The revelations in the Senate yesterday that Presidential Adviser Teresita “Ging” Deles used public funds for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s presidential bid in 2004 should either compel her to resign from her current post, or compel President Benigno Aquino III to remove her.

This was the statement made today by the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan as it also called for the abolition of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process or OPAPP.

According to OPPAP consultant Ansari Alonto said he and Deles went around Metro Manila to campaign for Arroyo in 2004. Alonto was also a director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and a member of the Mindanao State University Board of Regents.
“Before the election, starting May 7 to May 10 we went around Metro Manila campaigning for GMA (Arroyo’s initials) because GMA was at the losing end,” Alonto said.

When asked by Senator Francis Escudero if OPPAP funds were used to campaign for Arroyo, Alonto answered, “Oo binigyan n’ya (Deles) ako ng konting panggastos.”

“From Alonto’s testimony, Deles may be liable for the misuse of public funds. That’s enough reason for her to quit her post or be removed by President Aquino. The President said he would uncover the anomalies of the past administration. There should be no exceptions. Even his cabinet officials who previously worked for GMA should not be exempted from accountability,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The OPAPP should also be abolished because it serves no real function or purpose. There are already existing peace panels for the negotiations with the MILF and NDFP. They can function even without an OPAPP.  The OPAPP is just another redundant layer of bureaucracy whose funds can be used for activities outside the peace process. Moreover, OPAPP’s overall track record apparently does not show any significant contributions to the advancement of peace talks with the MILF and NDFP,” Reyes said.

For 2012, OPAPP stands to receive P569.64 million in funds. Included here is the P329 million Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) project which OPAPP alleges is a program for “peace and development”.

“The P 329 million budget under OPAPP is part of the government’s P1.9 billion fund allocation for the PAMANA program for 2012 carried by three other government agencies. A big bulk of the P 329 million forms part of the Peace and Development Fund (PDF) to be given as a grant to PAMANA barangays from various conflict-affected provinces under Pillar 2, in which P 300,000 per barangay is allocated for community-driven peace building and development interventions,” the OPAPP said in a statement posted on its website.

“The PAMANA project, much like the Conditional Cash Transfer program, is essentially a counter-insurgency program masquerading as a peace and development program. Its implementation goes hand in hand with the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan internal security plan,” Reyes said.

“It is strange that OPAPP is given charge of such a huge amount considering it is not an implementing agency. It does not even have regular staffing yet it claims to be implementing a multi-million project covering 970 barangays,” he added. ###

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Groups hold emergency action to protest killing of Italian rural missionary

Posted on 18 October 2011 by admin

News Release

October 18, 2011

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan together with Karapatan and the Promotion of Church Peoples Response (PCPR) today held an emergency action in front of the Department of Justice to condemn the killing of Italian rural missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio in Kidapwan province yesterday.

The groups called on the Department of Justice to immediately investigate the killing and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“This killing underscores that the Aquino government, for all its human rights rhetoric, has done little in turning back the tide of extra-judicial killing sin this country.  The lack of serious investigation of EJKs under Arroyo and newest ones under Aquino– much less the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators and repudiation of the state counter-insurgency policy that fuels these EJKs– is the underlying reason for this latest assassination,” said Bayan chair Carol Araullo.

“Fr. Pops was clearly a pro-people and progressive priest who was a staunch advocate of peasant and lumad rights. His social involvement may have been what made him a target. He had previously survived an attempt on his life in 2003. We demand that the Department of Justice immediately investigate this latest case of extrajudicial killings and bring the perpetrators to justice,” she added.

Tentorio is already the third missionary from his order, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, to be killed in Mindanao. Before Tentorio, Fr. Tullio Favali was gunned down by a paramilitary group led by Nortberto Manero in April 15, 1985 while Fr. Salvador Carzedda was gunned down in Zamboanga City on March 20, 1992.

Reign of impunity continues

“The climate of impunity has not ended under the so-called ‘daang matuwid’ of the Aquino regime. The killings continue especially since human rights has not been a priority under this administration,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes Jr.

“The statistics are telling. From 2001 to August 2011, the conviction rate for extrajudicial killings is just 1%. A staggering 99% of the cases remain without conviction. If this isn’t impunity, what is? The Aquino government has not made a dent in these horrible statistics. The trend has not been reversed. The case of Fr. Tentorio shouldn’t be another statistic that would fall in the 99% of cases without conviction,” he added.

Bayan was citing a report by human rights lawyer Al Parreno who conducted an audit of 364 cases of extrajudicial killings from 2001 up to the present. “As of August 21, 2011, only 1.37% of the 364 extrajudicial killings audited are solved. 100% of perpetrators of enforced disappearances have not been jailed while only 5.88% of journalist killings have resulted in convictions. 6.31% of the 206 victims of disappearances have surfaced dead,” Parreno’s report said.

Bayan said that under Administrative Order 181, it was well within the powers of the DOJ to investigate the killings. The AO was signed by former president Arroyo in 2007.

The AO directed the National Prosecution Service (NPS) of the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police ( PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation and other concerned agencies of government to coordinate , cooperate and closely work together in all phases of the criminal proceedings from the beginning of the investigation until the termination of cases in court to ensure prompt, efficient and successful investigation and prosecution of cases involving political and media killings.

Later in the day, Bayan was informed by the DOJ that its special taskforce on extrajudicial killings has been assigned to investigate the killing of Fr. Tentorio.

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End imperialist plunder, repression and war! Defend Philippine sovereignty and patrimony against the onslaught of imperialism!

Posted on 17 October 2011 by admin

Press statement

October 15, 2011

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) today joins all anti-imperialist and democratic forces around the world in the global day of action to protest and resist imperialist plunder, state repression, and wars of aggression perpetrated by monopoly capitalism in the name of profits.

We condemn the government of President Benigno S. Aquino III for continuing the programs and policies that have allowed the wanton plunder and exploitation of the country’s natural resources by corporations from the imperialist countries. The reckless large-scale corporate mining for exports, for instance, such as the case of Japanese giant Sumitomo in the town of Claver, Surigao del Norte, has not only severely harmed our environment but has also escalated the violation of the human rights of the mining workers and adjacent communities of peasants and indigenous peoples. Yet mining remains among the priority areas of the Aquino administration as outlined in its Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 wherein mining was identified as one of the key priority areas of government to achieve supposed “inclusive growth” with the goal of increasing by 100% the country’s export of minerals by the end of Aquino’s term.

We also call on all Filipinos to continue resisting all attempts by members of the political elite, as pushed by the monopoly capitalists and their agents, to further open up the domestic economy for imperialist plunder and exploitation through the notorious Charter change (Cha-cha).  The latest revival of moves to tinker with the 1987 Constitution to introduce amendments that will allow 100% foreign ownership of lands, public utilities, media and educational institutions, etc. as well as further liberalize the participation of foreign companies in the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources could only be but the result of the persistent pressure from the imperialist powers. Note that groups such as the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), US Trade Representative (USTR), and the European Union (EU), among others, have consistently pointed out the need for Cha-cha to supposedly spur economic growth and development. If implemented, Cha-cha will not only satisfy the narrow, self-serving political agenda of the ruling elite but it will also facilitate the all-out attack to whatever little is left of our patrimony and sovereignty, of our lands, jobs, and industries.

We denounce the continuing military presence and intervention of the US in the Philippines and the puppetry of the Aquino administration to allow such blatant violation of our national sovereignty and the human rights of our people. We are further enraged that the US and the Philippines are even using natural disasters and the consequent sufferings of our people – which in the first place are aggravated by years of neglect and wrong policies of the national government – and the lack of development projects in the countryside to justify their joint military exercises. The latest of these war games, called the RP-US Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex), for instance, focuses on “the interoperability of the Philippine and US militaries in post-conflict response through the conduct of disaster rehabilitation and rural development projects.” These military exercises also serve to fan the raging territorial dispute in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China and other claimants, and exposes us to an unnecessary armed conflict with our neighbors, instead of promoting diplomatic means to resolve the territorial dispute. As part of the Phiblex, for example, joint marine exercises will be conducted by Filipino and American troops in Palawan, which is near the disputed Spratlys.

The Filipino people’s struggle for national democracy and independence, and against imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism forms part of the greater and wider anti-imperialist and democratic struggles happening around the world. We are in solidarity with the youth and unionists occupying the Wall Street in New York to protest against corporate greed and bank bailouts while ordinary Americans remain homeless and jobless, to the pro-democracy and anti-imperialist forces in the Middle East and North Africa. The still raging crisis of overproduction of the global monopoly capitalist system continue to create the most favorable conditions to arouse, organize, and mobilize the greatest number of people worldwide to bring an end to imperialism and build a truly just and humane economic and political system.

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Statement on the killing of Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio

Posted on 17 October 2011 by admin

Press Statement

October 18, 2011

Reference: Carol Araullo, Bayan chairperson

Bayan condemns in the strongest terms the killing of Italian rural missionary and indigenous peoples advocate Fr. Fausto Tentorio in Kidapawan today. He is already the third missionary from his order, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, to be killed in Mindanao. Before Tentorio, Fr. Tullio Favali was gunned down by a paramilitary group led by Nortberto Manero in April 15, 1985 while Fr. Salvador Carzedda was gunned down in Zamboanga City on March 20, 1992.

This killing underscores that the Aquino government, for all its human rights rhetoric, has done little in turning back the tide of extra-judicial killing sin this country.  The lack of serious investigation of EJKs under Arroyo and newest ones under Aquino– much less the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators and repudiation of the state counter-insurgency policy that fuels these EJKs– is the underlying reason for this latest assassination.

Fr. Pops was clearly a pro-people and progressive priest who was a staunch advocate of peasant and lumad rights.

We demand that the Department of Justice immediately investigate this latest case of extrajudicial killings and bring the perpetrators to justice.

More importantly, the Aquino government must make serious headway in convicting perpetrators of other EJK’s in order to end the reign of impunity in the Philippines. ###

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More protests expected this week

Posted on 17 October 2011 by admin

News Release

October 17, 2011

Expect more protests in the Philippines this week in the aftermath of the successful global protests against corporate greed and in solidarity with “Occupy Wall Street”. This week’s actions will be against foreign corporate control of land and resources according to the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Last October 14, Bayan and the International League of Peoples Struggles led solidarity actions at the Philippine Stock Exchange and the American Chamber of Commerce in Makati. On October 15, Bayan and ILPS led a protest action in front of the US embassy in Manila to coincide with the “global day of action against imperialist war and plunder”.

“The global reality we are facing is that of the growing demand for a new system that puts people ahead of private profits. The system of monopoly capital and finance oligarchy is totally bankrupt and has impoverished hundreds of millions worldwide. It has plunged developed countries into debt and unemployment and has kept oppressed countries like the Philippines underdeveloped,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Whether you’re in New York, London or Tondo, Manila, we face a common problem in the domination of the big banks, big corporations and multilateral financial institutions. These are the entities that impose on the global economy,” Reyes said.

Bayan called the Aquino government to rethink and reverse Philippine economic policies that make the country dependent on foreign investments, foreign loans and OFW remittances.

“Aquino’s dole-out economics will not be enough to stop the worsening crisis, that’s for sure,” he added.

This week, farmers fighting for genuine land reform are expected to enter Manila in the run up to mass protests on October 21 led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. One of the issues that will be raised in the protests is the proposal to allow 100% foreign ownership of land. This part of the proposals to change the constitution that are now pending before the Lower House.

“In a time when the evils of the monopoly banks and corporations are being assailed worldwide, it’s just plain ridiculous to allow these same banks and corporations to own land, resources and utilities in the Philippines. The effects would be disastrous. The Philippines should not be put up for sale,” Reyes said.

Bayan also warned that “greedy oil companies” are also targets of protests because of their “unbridled profiteering”.

“The big oil firms are no different from the big monopoly banks. They bleed the people dry. The recent pronouncement on ‘transparency’ made by the oil firms is another attempt to cover-up the cartelized nature of the industry. The next round of price increases will be met with protests,” Reyes said. ###

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