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Tanong at Sagot sa Meralco Rate Hike: Bakit Tataas pa ang Singil sa Kuryente Ko?

Posted on 04 March 2014 by admin

Nakaamba ang pinakamataas na pagsirit ng singil sa kuryente sa kasaysayan ng bansa. Alamin ang dahilan nito at kung ano ang magagawa natin.

Magkaano ang itataas ng singil sa kuryente ng Meralco?

Sa orihinal na plano ng Meralco, minsanang pagtaas na  P3.44/kWh sa generation charge ang nais nilang ipataw sa mga konsyumer ng kuryente. Kung kasama ang VAT, aabot ng P4.14/kWh ang itataas ng singil sa kuryente. Ito raw ay para sa billing period ng Nobyembre 2013.

Dahil sa public pressure, ginawa ng Meralco na staggered o hulugan ang rate hike. Inaprubahan ng (Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) ang mungkahi ng Meralco pero hindi nagkaroon ng public hearing. Ayon sa Meralco at ERC automatic pass-on o pwedeng basta na lang ipasa ang increase na ito at hindi na kailangan pang dumaan sa public hearing.

Naghain ng petition ang mga party list na Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan at ACT Teachers  sa Supreme Court (SC) para hilingin ang Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) sa increase. Kasama sa demanda ang Meralco at ERC. Naghain din ng petisyon ang Nasecore. Naglabas ng 60-day TRO ang SC kontra sa rate hike bago mag-Pasko. Ipinatigil ang koleksyon ng dagdag singil. Pinalawig naman ang TRO na ito hanggang Abril 22, 2014.

Samantala, naghain ng panibagong petition para sa pagtaas ng singil ang Meralco sa ERC nitong Pebrero 2014. Ang hinihinging dagdag na singil sa generation charge ay P4.56/kWh para naman daw sa billing period ng Disyembre 2013. Katwiran ng Meralco, at ayon na din sa SC,  hindi saklaw ng TRO ang rate hike para sa Diysembre 2013. Kung susumahin, hindi bababa sa P8.70/kWh ang maaring itaas ng singil sa kuryente, particular sa generation charge.

Ano ang dahilan ng pagtaas ng generation charge?

Sinasabing ang naka-iskedyul na  Malampaya gas plant shutdown ang naging salik sa pagtaas ng generation charge. Ang Malampaya, na nagsu-supply ng gas para sa paglikha ng kuryente, ay dumaranas ng  naka-iskedyul na maintenance shutdown kada 3 taon. Ibig sabihin ay alam na ng gobyerno at industry na mangyayari ito kaya dapat paghandaan para mapunuan ang magiging kakulangan sa supply ng kuryente.

Nagpasya ang Meralco na i-dispatch ang mga planta ng First Gas (ibig sabihin gamitin ang kuryente galing sa Generation Company (GenCo) na First Gas), na may supply contract sa Meralco, gamit ang liquid fuel sa halip na natural gas. Mas mahal ang liquid fuel nang doble sa natural gas. Nagresulta ito ng P1.04/kWh na pagtaas ng presyo.

Nangontrata din sa iba pang GenCos ang Meralco ng kuryente. Kumuha din ang Meralco ng 11.5% ng kuryente nito sa tinatawag na Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

Pero dahil sa mga naganap na magkakasabay at di inaasahang shutdown ng iba pang planta ng kuryente, sumirit ang presyo sa WESM. Ang 11.5% na kinuha ng Meralco sa WESM ay katumbas ng 70% increase sa generation rates. Napakaliit ng bahagi ng WESM sa kabuuang supply na kuryente ng Meralco pero ito ang nagtatakda ng napakalaking pagtaas presyo. Ang P2.38/kWh increase mula sa kabuuang P4.14/kWh ay dulot ng presyo sa WESM.

*Mga independent power producers nag nagsu-supply ng kuryente sa Meralco ayon sa isang pangmatagalang kontrata.

Para naman sa buwan ng Disyembre 2013, ang presyo sa WESM pa rin ang pinakamalaking bahagi ng rate hike.

Bakit napakataas ng kuryente sa WESM?

Ang WESM ang pinakamalaking nag-ambag sa napakatarik na pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente mula Nobyembre hanggang Disyembre 2013. Bukod sa Malampaya shut down, ang sabay-sabay na mga di naka-iskedyul na shutdown ng iba pang mga planta ay nagdulot ng pansamantalang “paghigpit” sa supply ng kuryente. Sinamantala ang kundisyong ito ng mga GenCos na nagbebenta ng kuryente sa merkado. Nagagawa nilang presyuhan ng napakataas ang supply ng kuryente dahil nga sa artipisyal na kakulangan ng supply.

Ang WESM ang isang bahagi ng deregulasyon sa industriya ng kuryente. Obligadong lumahok ang lahat ng GenCos dito sa pamamagitan ng pagtatakda ng kanilang presyo alinsunod sa kailangang supply ng kuryente sa isang takdang panahon. Maaaring umabot sa P62k/Wh ang maximum na presyo sa WESM. Sa panahon ng Malampaya shutdown, umabot sa P33/kWh ang average na presyo ng kuryente sa WESM, kaya kahit 11.5% lang ito ng kabuuang supply ng Meralco, ito ang may pinakamalaking epekto sa presyo.

Sino-sino ang may kinalaman sa pagtaas ng presyo sa WESM?

Ang Therma Mobile ay isa sa 3 GenCos na sinasabing nagtakda ng mataas na presyo sa WESM sa panahon ng Malampaya shutdown. Ang Therma Mobile ay may kontrata para mag-supply ng 0.6% ng kailangang kuryente ng Meralco. Ang presyo nito para sa Nobyembre, ayon sa kontrata, ay P8.65/kWh.  Ayon sa rekord ng WESM, ang Therma Mobile ay ilang ulit na nag-bid sa WESM sa presyong P62/kWh noong Nobyembre at Disyembre, na syang naging “clearing price” o presyo sa WESM.

Kahit nakakontrata na ang Therma Mobile sa Meralco, obligado pa rin itong mag-bid sa WESM. (Ito ay naaayon sa regulasyon sa WESM.) Bilang may hawak ng supply contract, ang Meralco ang may kontrol sa bid ng Therma Mobile. Ang Meralco ang nag-utos na mag-bid ang Therma Mobile ng P62/kWh sa WESM, sa kabila ng kumukuha din ang Meralco ng kuryente sa WESM.

Sasabihin ng Meralco at Therma Mobile na kapwa sila hindi nakinabang sa mataas na presyo sa WESM. Ang babayaran lang ng Meralco sa Therma Mobile ay ang napagkasunudan presyo sa kontrata, anuman ang kalabasan ang presyo sa WESM.

Pero may ibang mga planta na nag-bid sa WESM ang nakinabang sa mataas na clearing price. Hindi malayo na may magkakaugnay na interes ang mga may-ari ng Meralco, Therma Mobile (Aboitiz) at iba pang generation plants na nagbebenta ng kuryente sa WESM.  Mula nang isulong ang pribatisasyon ng kuryente sa ilalim ng EPIRA, ang kabuuan ng generation sector ay kontrolado na lang ng iilang korporasyon na may negosyo rin sa distribution.

Ano ang tinatawag na automatic recovery?

Sa ilalim ng EPIRA at patakarang deregulasyon, ipinatupad ang tinatawag na automatic recovery ng generation rates. Kaya kahit sumirit ng P62/kWh ang presyo ng kuryente sa WESM, ipapasa lang ng Meralco ito sa konsyumer. Maaari nilang gawin ito nang walang pagdinig pampubliko (public hearing).

Ang automatic recovery ay bahagi ng deregulasyon ng indusriya ng kuryente, partikular sa generation. Dahil may ganitong pakataran, hindi nagiging problema ng Meralco kung masyadong mataas ang kinokontrata nitong kuryente, o artipisyal na mataas ang presyo ng kuryenteng nakukuha nila sa WESM.

Ano naman ang ginagawa ng gobyerno?

Inaprubahan ng ERC ang staggered rate hike nang walang hearing. At huli na nang imbestigahan nito ang mga kakaibang sirkumstansya sa artipisyal na pagtaas ng singil sa WESM. Nauna pa ay dinepensahan na ng Malakanyang ang rate increase ng Meralco.

Paano ba naman, makikinabang ang gobyerno sa P3.44/kWh increase dahil may dagdag pa itong 70 sentimos na VAT kada kWH. Ipagpalagay na ang Meralco ay nakakabenta ng 2.8 billion kWh sa isang buwan, ang kikitain ng gobyerno sa VAT sa rate hike ay aabot sa P1.96 bilyon sa loob ng isang buwan. Tila binigyan pa ng premyo ang gobyerno ang sarili sa pagiging inutil nito na kontrolin ang sirit ng presyo.

Sa katanuyan, ang rehimeng US-Aquino, katulad  ng naunang rehimeng US-Arroyo, ay tagapagtaguyod ng neoliberal na patakarang deregulasyon at pribatisasyon na kinakatawan ng batas na Electric Power Industry Reform Act o EPIRA. Ang batas na ito ay bahagi ng dikta ng mga malalaking dayuhang bangko tulad ng IMF-WB at ADB, kapalit ng mga pautang. Ginamit din ang proyektong AGILE na pinondohan ng USAID para impluwensyahan ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno, kasama ang Kongreso.

Kung dati ay gobyerno ang nagpapatakbo ng generation at transmission ng kuryente, at ang distribution ay dumadaan sa regulasyon, ngayon ay naisapribado na ang halos buong industriya ng kuryente, mula generation, transmission at distribution. Tubo na ang gumagabay na prinsipyo sa industriya. Tanging dayuhang monopoly kapitalista at kanilang mga lokal na partner lamang ang may kakayanang mamuhunan sa mga planta ng kuryente.

Ayon sa EPIRA, hindi na rin maaaring magtayo ng bagong planta ng kuryente ang gobyerno kahit may inaasahang shortage sa supply sa hinaharap. Pinaubaya na ng gobyerno sa pribadong sektor ang seguridad sa supply ng kuryente, gaano man ito kamahal.

Noong isinasabatas pa lang ang EPIRA taong 2001, nangako ang gobyerno na bababa ang singil sa kuryente dahil magiging mas episyente ang power sector at mawawala ang kurapsyon na matagal nang bumagabag sa Napocor. Matapos ang 10 taon, dumoble ang presyo ng kuryente ng Meralco, at ang industriya ay kontrolado na lamang ng iilang lokal at dayuhang dambuhalang kompanya na gumagalaw na bilang monopolyo. Ang WESM naman ay ginagamit para sa artipisyal na pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente.

EPIRA at ang mga neoliberal na patakarang pribatisasyon at deregulasyon ang ugat ng problema. Ang privatized at deregulated na industriya, kung saan walang pananagutan sa publiko ang mga pribadong negosyo, ay laging magpapahirap sa mga konsyumer.

Kailangang ibasura ang EPIRA at magbalangkas ng bagong patakaran sa industriya ng kuryente; isang patakaran na maglalagay ng interes ng mamamayan at pambansang pag-unlad sa unahan ng pribadong tubo.

Sa kagyat, kailangang ubos-kayang labanan ang nakaambang pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente ng Meralco, kasabay ng paglaban sa mga di makatarungang mga singil at bayaran, kabilang na ang VAT sa kuryente. Dapat suportahan ang pagtutol dito sa Korte Suprema at sa ERC.

Kinalaunan, ang pangmatagalang sagot sa problema sa kuryente ay ang pagsasabansa ng industriya ng kuryente at pagbabalangkas ng plano kung saan and  industriyang ito ay nakaugnay sa pangangailangan ng mamamayan at ng pambansang industriyalisasyon. ###

TUTULAN ANG PAGTAAS NG SINGIL SA KURYENTE!

IBASURA ANG EPIRA! IBASURA ANG PRIBATISASYON AT DEREGULASYON!

ISABANSA ANG INDUSTRIYA NG KURYENTE AT PAGLINGKURIN ITO SA PAMBANSANG PAG-UNLAD!

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Biguin ang sabwatang Meralco at Aquino! Labanan ang pagtaas ng presyo ng kuryente!

Posted on 19 January 2014 by admin

Pahayag ng Bayan sa protesta sa Enero 21

Noong nakaraang Disyembre, muntik na naman tayong naisahan ng Meralco.

Kasabwat ang Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), nagpataw ito ng 4.15/kWh dagdgag na singil sa kuryente, pinakamalaking pagtaas sa buong kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. Katumbas nito’y P688 DAGDAG sa electric bill ng mga ordinaryong pamilya na kumokonsumo ng humigit kumulang 200KwH bawat buwan.

Pero agad natin itong hinadlangan. Nagsampa ng kaso sa Korte Suprema ang Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan at Act Teachers party list at nakakuha ng temporary restraining order (TRO) na PANSAMANTALANG PUMIGIL sa maitim na balak ng Meralco at ERC.

Sabwatan para itaas ang presyo

Pinapalabas ng Meralco at ERC na dapat lang itaas ang singil sa kuryente dahil tumaas din ang generation charge ng mga plantang pinagkukunan nila ng kuryente. Sabay-sabay kasing nag-shutdown ang Malampaya natural gas facility at walong planta ng kuryente sa Luzon. Dahil dito’y kinulang daw ang suplay ng kuryente kayat sumirit ang presyo nito sa merkado (ang Wholesale Electricity Spot Market o WESM).

Pero kahina-hinala ang nangyari.

Una, hindi dapat nagsasabay-sabay ang shutdown ng napakaraming planta. May kasunduan sila sa gobyerno na patuloy ang kanilang operasyon habang kinukumpuni ang Malampaya. Dahil hindi ito tinupad, nagawa nilang palobohin ng dalawang ulit ang presyo sa spot market - mula P33/KwH hanggang P62/KwH.

Pangalawa, ang Meralco mismo ay nagsamantala sa sitwasyon. Ang suplay ng kuryenteng nabili nito sa Therma Mobile sa halagang P8.34/KwH ay ibinenta nitong muli sa spot market sa halagang P62/KwH.

Pangatlo, mistulang nagsabwatan at nakinabang sa pagtaas ng presyo ang mga malalaking negosyanteng may monopolyo sa industriya ng kuryente tulad ng mga Aboitiz at Pangilinan pero ni hindi ito inimbestigahan ng gobyerno at sa halip ay pinayagan agad ang pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente. Dahil din ba nakikinabang din ang gobyerno sa pagtaas ng singil dahil sa VAT sa kuryente?

Maling patakaran, inutil at korap na gobyerno

Sa halip na bantayan ang interes ng publiko, ang gobyerno ay nagpapagamit sa Meralco at iba pang monopolyo sa kuryente. Malaki kasi ang utang na loob ni Pangulong Aquino, maraming pulitiko at korap na opisyal sa mga negosyanteng ito. Bukod sa malalapit na kaibigan at kamag-anak, sila ang nagpopondo tuwing eleksyon at naglalagay ng suhol bawat transaksyon.

Lubos ang sabwatang ito sa ilalim ng Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). Ito ang batas na nagbigay daan sa pribatisasyon ng buong industriya ng kuryente. Inalis din ng EPIRA ang limitasyon sa pagkamal nila ng tubo. Halos wala nang kontrol ang gobyerno sa industriya ng kuryente. Nagtayo pa sila ng spot market kuno na WESM kung saan libre ang mga pribadong generators na magpataasan ng presyo. Kaya’t sa halip na serbisyo publiko, puro tubo ang kanilang inaatupag. Kaya naman sa unang 10 taon ng impelmentasyon ng EPIRA, tumaas ng 112% ang singil sa kuryente ng Meralco!

Ang EPIRA ang salarin sa walang-tigil na pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente at sa pag-abandona ng gobyerno sa mga konsyumer. Ipinasa ito sa panahon ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sa dikta ng mga lokal na negosyante at mga imperyalista sa pangunguna ng International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) at Asian Development Bank. Ang patakarang ito ay ipinagpapatuloy sa ilalim ni Noynoy Aquino.

Ibasura ang EPIRA, singilin si Aquino!

Ang pagpigil sa pagtaas ng kuryente ay pansamantala lamang, 60 araw ayon sa Korte Suprema. Pagdedebatehan pa ito sa Enero 21. Kayat kailangan ang ating paglaban at pagkilos.

Sa susunod na mga linggo at buwan, paalingawngawin natin ang ating panawagan laban sa pagtaas ng presyo ng kuryente at laban sa sabwatan ng malalaking negosyo at gobyernong Aquino. Bumuhos tayo sa kalye upang ipadama ang ating pagkakaisa at paninindigan!

No to power rate hike!

Ibasura ang pribatisasyon at deregulasyon ng industriya ng kuryente

Buwagin ang WESM! Ibasura ang EPIRA!

Labanan ang sabwatang Meralco at Aquino!

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

Enero 2014


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Download Bayan, #abolishpork Movement SC petition vs DAP

Posted on 04 November 2013 by admin

On October 17, anti-pork groups and legislators from party list groups filed with the Supreme Court today the latest challenge against the pork barrel system, particularly the so called “Disbursement Acceleration Program” or DAP.  The petitioners from the #Abolishpork Movement, included Dr. Carol Araullo and Renato Reyes of BAYAN, UP Prof. Judy Taguiwalo of PAGBABAGO, Henri Kahn of Concerned Citizens Movement, Manuel Dayrit of Ang Kapatiran Party, Vencer Crisostomo of Anakbayan and Victor Villanueva of Youth Act Now.  The petitioners from among legislators were Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon.

Download Petition here

The Petition asked the Court to declare void and without effect the Disbursement Acceleration Program and DBM Budget Circular 541 and prayed for a Temporary Restraining Order over the DAP while the petition is pending.  The Petition asserts that the DAP and Budget Circular 541 are unconstitutional and illegal because these grant the President billions in pork barrel each year by unilaterally impounding the budget approved by Congress, and realigning funds to projects selected by the President.

The Petition attacked the DAP and Budget Circular 541 on two fronts, the unconstitutionality of (i) withdrawing budget allotments from their intended projects under the GAA and (ii) realigning them to favorite projects and beneficiaries of the President, many of which were not even provided in the GAA approved by Congress.

“ The DAP funds could never be considered savings because under the law, including the GAA itself, there can be no savings if the projects from which the funds were withdrawn have not been completed or abandoned.  In fact, the law requires that savings may be had if the project was implemented at a lesser cost due the efficiency of the agency. This is not however the case with DAP” said the Petitioners.

“The funds withdrawn mid year even if the projects have not been completed, were due to the inefficiency of the under-spending agencies.  The DAP funds  are, therefore, not savings and could not be realigned by the President under the Constitution and the General Appropriations law,” the Petitioners added.

The Petitioners also questioned the complete disregard of Pres. Aquino of congressional power to approve the budget by simply realigning the GAA and dangling the funds to senators and other public officials to get their support for executive plans and actions. They listed as questionable many disbursements in the DAP such as those given to legislators during the Corona impeachment trial, the P4.5 Billion released to DOTC to supposedly buy additional train cars, the P1.82 Billion  given to the CPLA and the MNLF considering that these items were not in the GAA, P625 Million merely to conduct a survey on farmers, the P 8.5 Billion “stimulus fund” for ARMM on top of its budget approved in the GAA and P 26.9 Billion for GOCCs.

“The issue of the pork barrel system is within the judicial ambit of the Supreme Court because it is not an issue of discretion or wisdom but a question of whether Pres.  Aquino violated the Constitution and laws passed by Congress in his obsession to maintain and enlarge his pork barrel.  The DAP is the worst form of presidential pork barrel because it does not pretend to abide by the Constitution but blatantly and directly circumvents not just the Constitution but the appropriations and laws passed by Congress.’ said the petitioners.

“If the Court will not intervene then we will have a president which will completely control the legislature because he holds the power to propose the budget, approve the budget, realign the budget and implement the budget.  This budget dictatorship must not be allowed to continue, that is why the Supreme Court is asked to strike down the Budget Circular 541, DAP and the pork barrel system in general, both the congressional and presidential pork barrel,” the groups said.

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BUWAGIN ANG DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM AT ANG PORK BARREL SYSTEM

Posted on 04 November 2013 by admin

Ano ang DAP?

Batay sa paliwanag ng Malacanang, ang DAP ay isang paraan upang mapabilis diumano angpaggastos ng mga ahensya at maitulak ang pag-unlad ng bansa sa gitna ng pagdating ng maraming kalamidad at mabagal na paglago ng pandaigdigang ekonomiya.  Noong 2011, naglahad si Aquino, sa pamamagitan ni Budget Secretary Butch Abad, ng intensyong pondohanang mga dagdag na proyekto gamit ang P72.11 bilyon mula sa “unused appropriations” noong 2010 at 2011.

Pagdating ng 2012, pinalawig ni Abad ang kapangyarihang ito ng administrasyon na likumin ang mga pondong di nagamit ng mga ahensya at gastusin para sa “priority projects” nito.  Binigyan ni Abad ang sarili ng awtoridad na kunin ang unobligated allotments (o mga pondong nalipat na mula sa DBM tungo sa mga ahensya pero di nagamit ng huli) sa kalagitnaan ng taon at gamitin ang mga ito “to augment existing programs and projects of any agency and to fund priority programs and projects not considered in the 2012 budget but expected to be started or implemented during the current year.”

Ang “stimulus fund” na ito ay ang tinuturong pinanggalingan ng karagdagang pondong binigay noong 2012 sa mga kongresista’t senador sa gitna ng impeachment proceedings laban kay Corona (mahigit P530 milyon) at ilang buwan matapos ito ma-convict (mahigit P1.27 bilyon). Ayon sa gobyerno, 9% ng pondong mula sa DAP, o mahigit P12 bilyon sa loob ng dalawang taon, ang napunta para iba’t ibang proyekto ng mga pulitiko. May ilang  mga pagtaya na nagpapakitang napunta din sa mga kwestyunableng proyekto ang DAP, halimbawa na lang sa mga Napoles NGO’s.

Bakit ito iligal at masama?  Bakit dapat tutulan?

Nakasaad sa Konstitusyon na walang pondong mula sa pampublikong kaban o National Treasury ang maaaring gastusin kung walang pahintulot ng batas gaya ng taunang General Appropriations Act o isang special appropriations law.[1] Ang Kongreso lamang ang may kapangyarihang magtalaga ng appropriations o pondong inilaan para sa natatanging pakay o proyekto (purpose).  Dahil dito, sinasabi rin ng Konstitusyon na hindi maaaring ilipat ng isang opisyal ang isang appropriation liban na lamang sa realignment—kung pinahihintulutan ng batasang mga pinuno ng mga piling ahensya—ng savings o mga pondong di nagamit ng ahensya sa dulo ng taon.[2]

Ang mga probisyong ito ang basihan ng sinasabing power of the purse ng Kongreso, laluna ng Mababang Kapulungan na kinabibilangan ng mga direktang kinatawan ng mamamayan.

Hindi si Aquino bilang Presidente, hindi rin ang kanyang mga alter ego gaya ni Abad, ang maaaring magdesisyon kung saan mapupunta ang pondo ng bayan.  Ang proposed appropriations na hinahapag niya kada taon ay mga mungkahi lamang na maaaring oo-han o hindi-an ng Kongreso.  Mula sa oras na naging batas o Appropriations Act na ito, walang kapangyarihan itong paglaruan ng Presidente gaya ng ginawa ni Aquino simula nang siya ay maluklok sa poder.

Iligal ang DAP dahil ang “stimulus fund” na ito at ang diumanong “savings” ng gobyerno ay hindi pinahintulutan ng anumang batas.  Ang “Disbursement Acceleration Program” ay sa panahon lang ni Aquino sumulpot; walang ganitong item sa anumang general o special appropriations law o kahit anong pahintulot mula sa Kongreso.  Ang kapangyarihan ng Presidente na mag-realign ng savings ay limitado sa yaong nasa sariling opisina niya at hindi sa buong gubyerno, at nagkakaroon lamang ng savings sa dulo—hindi gitna—ng taon.  Ang mga programa at proyektong pinondohan nito, kung totoong mayroon man, ay hindi dumaan sa pagsusuri ng mga mambabatas at naging bahagi ng isang appropriations act.

Masama ito dahil napatunayang ginamit sa malawakang korupsyon at pamamatron sa mga alyadong pulitiko na kumilos ng ayon sa nais ni Aquino.  Higit sa lahat, binigay niya sa kanyang sarili ang kapangyarihang hawakan, ng walang ligal na basihan, ang bilyun-bilyong pondo ng bayan bilang discretionary lump sum funds upang may maipamudmod sa kongresista’t senador, hindi raw suhol kundi “insentibo” at para palaguin diumano ang ekonomiya.  Dagdag pa, simula nang inimbento ang DAP ay hindi naisip ng administrasyon na i-account sa publiko kung saan napuntaang mga pondong napasailalim sa programang ito—ang unobligated allotments ay umabot sa P159.23 bilyon noong 2011 at P178.06 bilyon noong 2012.

Karapatdapat ang taguri kay Aquino na “Pork Barrel King” dahil nag-imbento pa siya ng sariling sistemang pork upang makapagkamal ng pondo mula sa pampublikong kaban para kontrolin ang Kongreso, palawigin ang patronage politics, at higit na payamanin ang mga kurap na opisyal. Matapos ang kanyang talumpati noong Oktubre 30 para depensahan ang DAP, malinaw na  si Aquino ang pangunahing tagapagtanggol ng isang bulok at kurap na sistemang pork barrel.


[1] Seksyon 29 (1) ng Artikulo VI (Sangay Lehislatibo)

[2] Seksyon 25 (5) ng Artikulo VI

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Smartmatic slammed for misleading website, Other countries warned

Posted on 04 June 2013 by admin

A PCOS machine that failed to function during the 2013 elections

Press Statement

June 4, 2013

Renato M. Reyes, Jr, Bayan Secretary General

Smartmatic is trying to dupe people again through the disinformation posted on its website according to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. If we are to believe the company’s posts found on Philippine site , it would appear that the elections in the Philippines were smooth, efficient, transparent and problem-free.

In its website, Smartmatic claims:

“Following the successful May 2010 General Elections, the Republic of the Philippines was set to conduct another massive e-voting project – the Midterm Elections of May 2013.

Once again, Smartmatic played a vital role in this year’s elections byproviding technology and services to contribute with the overall efficiency and transparency of the process.

Smartmatic also supplied the compact flash cards for the voting machines, and the modems to transmit data from precincts to tallying centers.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) recently bought from Smartmatic the 82,200 voting machines that were used. Those are the same machines which COMELEC leased and used to great success in 2010. The machines were deployed in most of the 7,100 islands comprising the archipelago nation. 18,022 national and local posts were decided by 52,333,801 voters.”

(all underscoring by Smartmatic).
Smartmatic makes the amazing claim that they provide technology for “better run elections”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As we have seen from our experience in 2013, there is neither transparency or reliability with the Smartmatic system. This foreign company sold us unreliable PCOS machines. Some 18,000 units failed to transmit results on election day. We also take not of the absence of transparency in the system as no real and credible source code review by interested parties were ever done. The source code in fact only arrived in the Philippines just a few days before the elections.  Smartmatic also failed to mention in its website the many documented problems with their CF cards during the 2013 polls. It failed to mention discrepancies in the electronic results and the random manual audit. It failed to mention that it will likely face a congressional probe for the conduct of the polls. Right now, so many groups have raised doubts about the results of the 2013 elections.

Smartmatic is now using the Philippines as a showcase for its international operations. According to reports reaching us, Smartmatic recently attended an international conference last week where it claimed that the polls in the Philippines were a huge success. Smartmatic now wants other countries to follow the Philippine example.

We call on other countries who may have been taken by Smartmatic’s initial PR pitch to exercise extreme caution and due diligence when dealing with this corporation. In the Philippines, we are now embarking on a campaign to junk the PCOS system provided by Smartmatic based on our experience in 2010 and 2013. We thus call on the people of other countries to reject Smartmatic and its automated election technology. ###

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Tutulan ang panibagong pagtataas ng singil sa tubig! Labanan ang pribatisasyon!

Posted on 01 June 2013 by admin

Gabay sa pagtalakay

Inihanda ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Hunyo 2013

Panimula

Kung masusunod ang plano ng mga pribadong kumpanya sa tubig at Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System – Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO), papasanin ng mga konsyumer ang panibagong pagtataas ng singil sa tubig simula sa Hulyo. Didisisyunan ng MWSS-RO sa mga susunod na linggo ang hinihinging P5.83 kada cubic meter (cu. m.) na pagtataas ng singil ng Manila Water Co. Inc. at P8.58 para naman sa Maynilad Water Services Inc. Tatamaan nito ang may 14.2 milyong kostumer ng mga pribadong kumpanya sa Metro Manila at mga karatig-lugar. Ang walang humpay na pagtaas ng singil habang marami sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga nasa mahihirap na komunidad, ang walang mahusay at maasahang serbisyo sa tubig, ang direktang epekto ng pribatisasyon ng MWSS.

Malaki rin ang pananagutan ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III sa problemang ito ng mamamayan. Agresibo nitong itinutulak ang ibayong pribatisasyon ng serbisyo sa tubig at iba pang mahalagang imprastruktura sa ilalim ng public-private partnership (PPP). Katunayan, ang mga malaking negosyante na nagmamay-ari sa Maynilad at Manila Water ang pangunahing mga imbestor din sa iba pang proyektong PPP ni Aquino. Pawang malapit sa administrasyon at masugid na taga-suporta ng Pangulo ang grupo ni Pangilinan (Maynilad) at pamilyang Ayala (Manila Water). Kaya walang aasahan ang mamamayan kay Aquino na malinaw na pumapabor sa interes ng mga pribadong kumpanya sa tubig.

Dapat mahigpit na tutulan ang nakaambang pagtataas ng singil at patuloy na labanan ang patakarang pribatisasyon. Kailangang panagutin ang Maynilad at Manila Water, lalo na ang administrasyong Aquino sa pagpapahirap sa mamamayan.

Magkano ang itataas ng singil at bakit daw magtataas?

Humihirit ang Manila Water ng dagdag-singil na P5.83 kada cu. m. habang P8.58 naman ang hinihingi ng Maynilad. Ipapatong ang dagdag-singil na ito sa basic tariff ng mga nasabing kumpanya. Bahagi ang pagtataas ng singil ng tinatawag na “rate rebasing”. Ito ay iskemang binuo ng kontrata sa pribatisasyon – o ang Concession Agreement – na pinirmahan ng MWSS at ng mga konsesyonaryo nito – ang Maynilad at Manila Water noong 1997. Sa Concession Agreement, nakasaad na dapat dumaan sa rate rebasing ang mga konsesyonaryo kada limang taon sa buong panahon ng 40-taong kontrata (orihinal na 25 taon lang pero pinahaba pa nang 15 taon sa ilalim ng administrasyong Arroyo). Sa rate rebasing, magkasamang nirerepaso ng MWSS-RO at mga konsesyonaryo ang performance ng huli sa nakalipas na limang taon at ang kanilang business plan sa susunod na limang taon. Ito ang magiging basehan ng bagong singil sa tubig. Ang rate rebasing ay isang iskema para tiyakin o garatiyahan ang tubo ng mga pribadong korporasyon sa tubig.

Malaki ang hinihinging pagtataas ng Maynilad at Manila Water sa rate rebasing. Kumpara sa kasalukuyan nilang basic tariff, nais ng Manila Water na pataasin ang kanilang singil nang 21% – mula P28.29 kada cu. m. paakyat sa P34.12. Sa kabilang banda, pinipitisyon naman ng Maynilad ang 25% na pagtataas ng basic tariff – mula P33.97 kada cu. m. paakyat sa P42.55. Pero kung tutuusin, mas malaki pa ang lalabas na rate hike at aktwal na papasanin sa huli ng mga konsyumer dahil sa iba pang bayarin na nakabatay sa basic tariff tulad ng foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA), environmental charge at value added tax (VAT).

Halimbawa, kung ikakarga ang iba pang bayarin, lumalabas na ang itataas ng singil (all-in tariff) ng Manila Water ay P7.81 kada cu. m. (hindi lamang P5.83). Para naman sa mga kostumer ng Maynilad, taas ang singil (all-in tariff) nang P11.41 (hindi lamang P8.58). Samakatwid, ang isang ordinaryong kabahayan sa service area ng Manila Water (East zone) na kumukonsumo ng 30 cu. m. kada buwan ay maaaring tumaas ang bayarin nang hanggang P234.30; sa Maynilad naman (West zone), ito ay aabot sa P342.30.[1]

Bakit hindi makatwiran ang pagtataas ng singil?

Hindi makatarungan ang hinihinging pagtataas ng singil sa tubig. Ang napaulat na P5.38 kada cu. m. na pagtataas ng singil ng Manila Water at P8.58 naman sa Maynilad ay paniningil hindi lamang sa mga nakaraang ipinuhunan ng mga ito kundi para rin sa kanilang mga planong puhunan sa darating na limang taon. Ibig sabihin, sa bulsa ng konsyumer kukunin ang gastos sa mga proyektong hindi pa naman ipinatutupad.

Inaabuso ng ganitong sistema ang mga konsyumer lalo na sa mga pagkakataong hindi naman natutuloy ang mga planong proyekto. Halimbawa, sa dalawang nakaraang rate rebasing ng Manila Water at Maynilad noong 2003 at 2008, ipinasok sa kwenta ng singil sa tubig ang ilang proyektong paglaon ay hindi naman natuloy. Noong 2003 rate rebasing, isinama sa kwenta ang P732 milyong Wawa Dam Project; P52 milyong feasibility study ng Laiban Dam Project; at P100 milyong 300 MLD Water Supply Project sa Laguna Lake na pawang mga naisantabing proyekto. Noon namang 2008 rate rebasing, isinama sa kwenta ang mga proyektong hindi rin naipatupad tulad ng P5.4 bilyong 15 cms Angat Reliability Project; P45.3 bilyong Laiban Dam Project; at P4.13 bilyong Earthquake Contingency Project.

Dagdag pa, lampas-lampas sa 12% rate of return base (RORB), na siyang dapat ay maximum na tubo para sa mga public utilities, ang tinutubo ng Manila Water at Maynilad dahil sa kanilang napakamahal na singil. Binibigyang katwiran ito ng mga konsesyonaryo sa pagsasabing hindi naman sila public utilities kundi mga “ahente” lamang ng MWSS na siyang public utility. Pero napakaliwanag na ang gumagawa ng tungkulin ng MWSS bilang public utility, kasama na ang paniningil sa mga konsyumer, ay ang Manila Water at Maynilad. Sa taya, umaabot hanggang halos 14% ang RORB ng mga pribadong kumpanya sa tubig. Higit pa itong mataas kung tutuusin dahil isinasama ng Manila Water at Maynilad sa pagkwenta ng kanilang RORB maging ang mga dati nang ari-arian at mga nakatayong pasilidad ng MWSS.

Bakit sumirit nang husto ang singil sa ilalim ng pribatisasyon?

Sa likod ng nakaambang panibagong pagtataas ng singil ang programang pribatisasyon. Sa ilalim nito, ginawang malaking negosyo para pagtubuan ng mga malaking lokal na burgesya kumprador kasabwat ang mga dayuhang korporasyon at bangko ang serbisyo sa tubig. Isinapribado ang MWSS noong Agosto 1997 sa panahon ni dating Pangulong Fidel Ramos. Ito ay direktang imposisyon ng mga dayuhang bangko tulad ng IMF-WB-ADB para buksan ang mga public utilities hindi lamang sa lokal na mamumuhunan kundi pati sa dayuhang negosyante. Para maging kaakit-akit sa investors ang pribatisasyon ng MWSS, tiniyak sa concession agreement ang pana-panahong pagtaas ng singil sa tubig at ang recovery ng mga investors sa halos lahat ng kanilang mga gastusin.

Sa simula ng bawat taon, halimbawa, awtomatiko silang nakapagtataas ng singil batay sa galaw ng consumer price index (CPI) o implasyon. Ibig sabihin, dobleng hambalos para sa konsyumer. Ang implasyon ay pagtaas ng presyo’t bayarin ng mga batayang kalakal at serbisyo (kabilang ang tubig) pero ginagamit itong dahilan para itaas pang lalo ang sinisingil ng Maynilad at Manila Water.

Samantala, sinasalo rin ng mga konsyumer ang epekto ng pagbabago-bago ng palitan ng piso at dolyar (forex) para proteksyunan ang mga pribadong kumpanya sa tubig mula sa pagkalugi sa kanilang dayuhang utang. Binabayaran ng mga konsyumer ang foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) na nagbabago-bago kada tatlong buwan (quarterly). Bukod pa rito ang kahalintulad na bayarin – ang currency exchange rate adjustment (CERA). Nakapako ito sa piso kada cu. m. Kaya naman kahit lumakas ang piso laban sa dolyar at bumaba ang singil dahil sa negatibong FCDA, bawing bawi pa rin ang Maynilad at Manila Water dahil sa CERA. Ayon sa mga konsesyonaryo, binabawi ng CERA ang forex losses mula sa mga utang ng MWSS bago pumasok ang mga pribadong kumpanya noong Agosto 1997. Maituturing itong double-charging. Tinatayang aabot sa P7.2 bilyon ang kinamal ng Maynilad (P3.4 bilyon) at Manila Water (P3.8 bilyon) mula sa double-charging ng CERA mula nang ito ay ipatupad.[2]

Dagdag na pasanin din ng mga konsyumer ang iba pang buwanang bayarin sa tubig gaya ng environmental charge (na katumbas ngayon ng 20% ng basic charge) at value-added tax (katumbas ng 12% ng basic charge). Ang environmental charge ay para raw sa paglilinis ng mga septic tank at iba pang gastusin sa paglilinis ng kalikasan. Isa itong kabalintunaan lalo’t mismong Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) na ang nagsabi kamakailan na ang pangunahing lumalabag sa Clean Water Act of 2004 ay ang MWSS, Maynilad at Manila Water. Dahil ito sa kawalan o kakulangan ng mga pasilidad sa wastong koleksyon, treatment at pagtatapon ng maruming tubig na responsibilidad nito. Kumukulekta ang Maynilad ng P6.93 per cu. m. na environmental charge habang P5.64 naman ang Manila Water. Dahil sa rate rebasing, maaaring tumaas pa ang environmental charge sa P6.80 (Manila Water) hanggang P8.97 (Maynilad) per cu. m. (Tinatalakay ang VAT sa susunod na tanong)

Bukod sa implasyon at forex, mayroon ding taunang extraordinary price adjustment (EPA) kunsaan lahat ng maaaring makaapekto sa tubo ng Maynilad at Manila Water ay maaaring ipapasa sa mga konsyumer, kabilang ang pagbabago sa patakaran o batas, kalamidad, at iba pa. Subalit ang pinakamatatarik na pagtaas ng bayarin sa tubig ay nagaganap sa kada limang taon na rate rebasing na siyang isinasagawa ngayon ng MWSS-RO. Mula nang isapribado ang MWSS, lumobo na ang basic charge nang halos 585% sa Maynilad at halos 1,120% sa Manila Water. Nang magsimula ang pribatisasyon noong Agosto 1997, nasa P4.96 per cu. m. ang basic charge ng Maynilad; ngayong taon, sumampa na ito sa P29.01. Ang Manila Water naman ay nag-umpisa sa P2.32 per cu. m. at nasa P25.92 na ngayon. Ibayo pa itong lolobo sa napipintong pagtataas dahil sa rate rebasing.

Sino ang nakikinabang sa pagtataas ng singil?

Mahaba na ang karanasan ng bansa sa pribatisasyon at napakarami nang patunay sa masamang epekto nito sa masang anakpawis at maging sa ekonomya ng bansa. Tanging mga malaking negosyante at mga katambal nilang dayuhan ang nakikinabang sa pribatisasyon sa pamamagitan ng garantisadong tubo at pagtataas ng singil habang buong-buong pinapasan ng mamamayan ang pataas nang pataas na mga bayarin. Sa gitna ng pagtaas ng presyo ng iba pang bilihin at serbisyo, mababang sahod at kawalan ng trabaho, ang walang humpay na pagtaas ng singil sa tubig ay nagpapalala sa kahirapang dinaranas ng milyun-milyong pamilyang Pilipino.

Masahol pa, hindi rin nangahulugan ng mas mahusay na serbisyo ang pribatisasyon. Napakarami pa ring komunidad sa Metro Manila ang walang sariling kuneksyon o kaya naman ay de-oras, sa halip na 24/7, ang suplay ng tubig. Bukod pa diyan kawalan ng malinis at ligtas na suplay ng tubig kunsaan samu’t saring sakit ang dinaranas ng mga mahirap na komunidad.

Tanging ang mga negosyanteng lokal at dayuhan na nagpapatakbo sa serbisyo ng tubig ang nakikinabang sa pagtaas ng singil dahil sa kinakamal nilang tubo. Sa unang tatlong buwan ng 2013, halimbawa, lumaki ang tubo ng Maynilad sa P1.76 bilyon mula sa P1.64 bilyon sa parehong panahon noong 2012. Bukod sa Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) ni Manny Pangilinan (43%), hawak din ang Maynilad ng DMCI Holdings ng pamilyang Consunji (25%); ng MCNK JV Corp. (16%) na subsidyaryo ng Marubeni Corp., isang higanteng korporasyong Hapon; at ng Lyonnaise Asia Water Limited (16%), na bahagi ng Suez ng France, isa sa mga pinakamalaking kumpanya sa tubig sa buong mundo. Samantala, nagtala naman ng P1.33 bilyong tubo ang Manila Water sa unang tatlong buwan ng taon, halos katulad din ng tinubo nito (P1.34 bilyon) sa parehong panahon noong 2012. Hawak ng Ayala Corporation (43%) ang Manila Water kasama ang Mitsubishi Corp. (8%), dambuhalang korporasyong Hapon; International Finance Corp. (6%), ang investment arm ng World Bank; First State Investments ng UK (10%); at Philwater Holdings Co. Inc. (33%), isang korporasyong pag-aari rin ng Ayala Corp. (60%) at United Utilities (40%) ng UK.

Ano ang pananagutan ng administrasyong Aquino?

Kahit hindi ang administrasyong Aquino ang orihinal na nagpatupad ng pribatisasyon ng MWSS, ipinagpatuloy naman nito ang programang pribatisasyon sa kabila ng masamang epekto nito sa taumbayan. Katunayan, pangunahing programa sa ekonomya ni Aquino ang pribatisasyon o ang tinatawag nitong public-private partnership (PPP). Kabilang ang grupo nina Pangilinan at Ayala sa mga negosyong agresibong pinapasok ang PPP ng gobyerno. Nakuha na ng mga Ayala ang kauna-unahang PPP ng administrasyong Aquino – ang P1.96-bilyong Daang Hari – SLEX Link Road project. Samantala, nagtambal naman ang mga grupong Ayala at Pangilinan para sa P60-bilyong ekstensyon at pribatisasyon ng LRT 1, ang pinakamalaking proyektong PPP ng gobyerno na inaasahang matatapos ang bidding sa mga darating na buwan.

Malapit ang Pangulo sa mga negosyanteng ito. Ang pamilyang Ayala, halimbawa, ay matagal nang masugid na taga-suporta ng mga Aquino mula noon pang panahon ng namayapang dating Pangulong Cory Aquino. Di nakapagtataka na isa sa mga pinakamalapit na opisyal sa Pangulo ay si Cabinet Secretary Rene Jose Almendras (na unang itinalaga ni Aquino bilang Kalihim ng Department of Energy o DOE) na dating Presidente ng Manila Water. Samantala, itinalaga rin ni Aquino si Rogelio Singson, dating CEO ng Maynilad, bilang Kalihim ng Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) na syang nangagnasiwa sa MWSS-RO.

Tiyak na papaboran ni Aquino ang rate hike na hinihingi ng Maynilad at Manila Water para gawing mas kaakit-akit pa ang PPP sa mga negosyante at bigyan ng mas maraming pagkakataong tumubo ang grupo nina Ayala at Pangilinan. Dagdag pa dito, asahang isusulong din ng Malacañang ang mas mataas na singil dahil lalaki rin ang nakukulekta nitong VAT sa tubig. Kung matutuloy ang rate hike na hinihingi ng mga konsesyonaryo, tataas ang VAT ng Maynilad mula P5.00per cu. m. patungo sa P6.21; sa Manila Water naman ay P4.06 paakyat sa P4.90.

Ang malaking koleksyon sa buwis, kabilang ang VAT, ang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit “investment grade” na ang Pilipinas sa pamantayan ng mga credit rating agencies. Ito naman ang ipinagmamalaki ng administrasyong Aquino na indikasyon daw ng masigla at maunlad na ekonomya. Pero habang lalong pinapabigat ng VAT ang bayarin sa tubig ng mamamayan, napupunta naman ang kalakhan ng buwis sa pambayad-utang ng gobyerno at sa sistemikong kurapsyon sa burukrasya.

Paano isasagwa ang rate rebasing? Kalahok ba ang publiko sa proseso?

Ang determinasyon ng bagong singil ay hindi dumadaan sa anumang public hearing katulad nang ginagawa sa singil sa kuryente (ERC) o sa toll fees (TRB). Hindi inilalabas ang mga mahahalagang datos para makilatis natin ang mga batayan ng pagtataas. Walang anumang papel ang taongbayan sa prosesong tio. Ayon sa concession agreement, ang magananap lamang ay negosasyon sa pagitan ng MWSS-RO at mga pribadong kumpanya ng tubig. Pero nakatago ito sa publiko. Ang mga sinasabing “public consultation” ay mga pakitang-tao lamang na aktibidad para kunwari ay may kaunting partisipasyon ang publiko.

Dahil ang MWSS-RO ay tuwirang nasa ilalim ng DPWH, may ultimong pananagutan ang pangulo sa pagpapatupad ng pagtaas ng singil sa tubig. Sa katanuyan, dapat ay nasa kapangyarihan ng pangulo na pigilan ang pagtaas ng singil dahil ito ang hinihiling ng interes ng publiko. Pero dahil nga ang patakaran ng rehimeng Aquino ay tiyakin ang tubo ng mga pribadong korporasyon, at lakihan ang kolkesyon sa buwis, inaasahan nang pagtitibayin ng pangulo ang anumang pagtataas ng singil.

Ano ang ating mga tungkulin?

Kailangang salubungin ng malalakas na protesta at pagtutol ng mamamayan ang patuloy na pagtaas ng singil sa tubig. Kailangang kalampagin di lamang ang mga pribadong kumpanya saa tubig kundi lalo pa ang rehimeng Aquino na syang may hawak sa mga ahensyang nagpapatibay ng pagtaas ng singil.

Susi ang direktang pampulitikang pagkilos ng mamamayan. Ilunsad natin ang masigla’t tuluy-tuloy na pagdokumento’t pagtipon sa karanasan ng ating mga komunidad sa kawalan ng serbisyo sa tubig at ang epekto sa kanila ng mataas na bayarin. Mabisa itong gamitin upang lalo pang ilantad ang mapanlinlang na propaganda ng pribatisasyon at PPP ni Aquino. Isulong natin ang masigla’t tuluy-tuloy na propaganda-edukasyon sa mga komunidad upang maging matibay na tuntungan ito ng ating mga pagkilos laban sa mataas na singil sa tubig at pribatisasyon.

Upang higit na maging mabisa ang kampanya laban sa pagtaas ng singil sa tubig, kailangang epektibo’t mahusay nating maiugnay ito sa mga pakikibaka laban sa pagtaas ng singil at pribatisasyon ng kuryente at mga proyektong PPP ni Aquino gaya ng pribatisasyon ng Philippine Orthopedic Center at iba pang pampublikong ospital, ng LRT 1 at iba pang sistemang mass transportation, ng mga dam sa Mindanao at water districts sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa, at iba pa. Dapat mabisa ring mailantad ang kabulukan at anti-mamamayang katangian ng mapagpanggap na administrasyong Aquino na nakikipagsabwatan sa mga burgesya kumprador, dayuhang negosyo’t bangko sa pagpapahirap sa mamamayan.

Tutulan ang pagtaas ng singil sa tubig!

Ibasura ang patakarang pribatisasyon! Ibasura ang pribatisasyon ng MWSS!

Labanan ang programang PPP ni Aquino! Serbisyo, hindi negosyo!

Huwag ibenta ang patrimonya ng bansa sa mga kumprador at dayuhang negosyo!


[1] Nang isapribado ang MWSS noong 1997, hinati ang service area nito sa East zone at West zone. Hawak ng Manila Water ang East zone kunsaan kabilang ang Quezon City at Makati, timog-silangang bahagi ng Maynila, Taguig, Pateros, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, Mandaluyong at ang probinsya ng Rizal. Ang West zone naman, na hawak ng Maynilad, ay sumasakop sa ilang bahagi ng Maynila at Quezon City, kanluran ng South Super Highway sa Makati, Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas  at Malabon gayundin ang mga munisipyo ng Bacoor, Imus, Kawit, Noveleta at Rosario sa probinsya ng Cavite.

[2] Batay ito sa P1 per cu. m. na CERA multiplied by billed volume ng Maynilad at Manila Water mula 2002 (kunsaan nagsimulang maningil ng FCDA ang mga konsesyonaryo) hanggang Setyembre 2012 (na mayroong pinakahuling datos sa billed volume).

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Fight the Aquino regime’s Cybercrime Law! Defend our rights! Uphold free speech on the internet!

Posted on 01 October 2012 by admin

Press Statement

October 2, 2012

Reference: Renato M. Reyes, Jr. BAYAN secretary general

Today we join netizens and citizens in a Day of Action against the draconian Cybercrime Prevention Law. With its vague and overbreadth provisions that attack our constitutional rights and freedoms, it now becomes the duty of Filipinos to resolutely oppose this measure. While those who passed the law in Congress share responsibility for this repressive measure, the buck ultimately  stops with President Aquino, who signed the law last September 12.

Numerous provisions of this law infringes unconstitutionally and constitutes a sweeping intrusion into the people’s freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press, right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and right to privacy, and other fundamental freedoms.

Our opposition to the Cybercrime Law rests on the following:

  1. The law violates our right to privacy. The law allows the government to monitor and record real-time traffic data even without a court warrant and on the mere basis of “due cause”. We find no comfort in the provision of the law that states that only the origin, destination, size and not content and identity will be monitored and recorded without warrant. What is to prevent the authorities from actually prying into content and identity of traffic data when the opportunity presents itself? Furthermore, a law enforcement officer engaged in such collection or recording of traffic data can obtain information, in real-time, as to where anyone used a mobile phone or email, the destination of the call or text or message, the route, time, date, size, and duration thereof, or the type of underlying service that the user avails of. This is Big Brother watching our activities on the internet.
  2. The law increases the penalty for libel and other crimes when committed via the internet. The law is vague on how libel is actually committed over the internet. The law even allows a person to be charged with libel twice (one for internet and one for regular publication), based on the same article. One can even be charged with libel in any province of the country if the alleged libellous article was viewed there by the so-called offended party.
  3. The means of how a supposed crime is committed covers a whole range of devices. The supposed new offense of cybercrime of libel is  supposedly committed by means of “computer systems” which under this law includes cellphones and storage devices as well as “any other similar means which may be devised in the future”.  By not considering the complex, intricate and public interactive nature of cyberspace, the means employed by this provision makes ordinary conversations over mobile phones or the use of interactive functions of the internet (shares, comments, retweets) a target of imposition of the State’s immense powers.
  4. With the creation of a new offense called “cybercrime through data interference”, the law can be used to assault free speech.  The so-called unauthorized alteration of electronic photos used in internet memes  or posters–which is now a common way of expressing political criticism–  can be penalized under this law. In the complex and infinite universe of cyberspace,  the law does not state whether “authority” is based on “ownership” of a computer data (e.g. a person’s ownership over online photos or articles) or by  “mere interest” therein (e.g. a person’s interest over an online photo or article as that person is the one depicted on the said photo or article).
  5. The law violates our right to free speech and due process by allowing the DOJ to take down websites even without a court order. The DOJ becomes “The Great Firewall” as it is able to restrict access to or takedown websites on the mere determination by the DOJ that the website is prima facie in violation of the cybercrime law.
  6. The law violates due process when it penalizes one’s “failure to comply” with orders from law enforcement authorities, even if the non-compliance is valid. This non-compliance is penalized with imprisonment or a fine of P100,000, or both, for every act of non-compliance.

We shall take the fight online, on the streets, in the courts and in Congress. As the law takes effect on October 3, we call for continued public vigilance and sustained actions as our best defense against this blatant assault on our rights. In a time when our freedoms are threatened, we should all the more aggressively exercise those freedoms. Our people’s fight for freedom online is part of a larger struggle against all forms of  state-sponsored political repression that targets dissent and supports the preservation of the corrupt status quo.  ###

DOWNLOAD BAYAN ET AL SUPREME COURT PETITION HERE

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RISE AND FALL OF MARCOS FASCIST DICTATORSHIP: CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES UP TO THE PRESENT

Posted on 11 September 2012 by admin

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Chief Political Consultant, NDFP Negotiating Panel
September 11, 2012

(NOTE: This article originally appeared at www.josemariasison.org. We are reposting it as part of the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the US-Marcos dictatorship).

September 21, the formal date of the proclamation of martial law forty years ago, reminds us of the Marcos fascist dictatorship that the Filipino nation had to suffer for 14 long years until 1986. In our forthcoming commemoration, we honor the people and all the martyrs and heroes for their resolute and courageous struggle against the dictatorship. We reflect on the rise and fall of this dictatorship and on the causes and consequences up to the present, in order to know what we as a nation have achieved and how much more we need to do in order to complete the people´s struggle for national freedom and democracy.

It is highly important to undertake such reflection because the political heirs of Marcos and even quite a number of those who benefited politically from the assassination of Ninoy Aquino want to obfuscate the real and most important causes of the Marcos fascist dictatorship and shift the blame for the rise of the dictatorship to the revolutionary movement of the people. It is in the self-serving nature of the reactionaries to engage in deception and violence to preserve their ruling system and to blame the people for resisting oppression and exploitation.

The political operatives of the ruling classes of big compradors and landlords continue to pursue and carry out anti-national and anti-democratic policies against the people. They have consistently failed or refused to render justice to the victims of human rights violations under the Marcos fascist dictatorship as well as compensate them in accordance with the decision of the US court system in the human rights case against the Marcos estate. They have been deliberately blind to the millions of people who suffered deprivation, indignities and death as a result of military operations and forced evacuations and evictions.

I. Causes of the Rise of the Marcos Fascist Dictatorship

At the reestablishment of the Communist Party of Philippines (CPP) in 1968, we the proletarian revolutionaries recognized the worsening social crisis and the increasing inability of the ruling classes of big compradors and landlords to rule in the old way, the growing desire of the people for a change of system and the urgent need for a revolutionary party of the proletariat to lead the people.

In 1969 we became aware of the growing trend towards fascism in the pronouncements and actions of Marcos; and the book, Philippine Society and Revolution, dared to predict that he would impose a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people. We became more convinced that he was up to something terribly evil, the louder he talked of the social volcano about to explode, the greatness he was poised to achieve for the nation and the need for a bigger military force to protect the country.

The two biggest causes of the Marcos fascist dictatorship chronologically were firstly the objective conditions and chronic crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system and secondly the subjective factor, Marcos´ overweening ambition to perpetuate himself in power. Marcos estimated that he could use his presidential powers to manipulate the entire system to his personal advantage and invent the compelling reasons for using violence and deception to suppress the opposition and achieve his despotic purposes.

Marcos had a good estimate that the US imperialists would allow him to stay in power for so long as he served their economic, political, military and cultural interests; and so long as he acted to suppress the patriotic and progressive forces demanding national independence and democracy. After all, such forces did not yet have the strength to really threaten US dominance and the ruling system. Behind the scenes, he even encouraged the Supreme Court to issue certain decisions against US interests. But surreptitiously, he assured the US that he would undercut and reverse such decisions.

He also had a good measure of the mettle of his political rivals among his fellow reactionaries.
The latter loved to orate against Marcos but they had no more than platoons and companies as private armies. Many of them also fell for the illusion Marcos himself conjured that they could reform and improve on the system through a constitutional convention. Marcos´ ulterior motive was to have a new constitution to do away with the limit of two consecutive four-year terms for the presidency and to rewrite further the new constitution under conditions of martial rule and fascist dictatorship. He also anticipated that Cardinal Santos and the Catholic hierarchy would welcome the martial law proclamation and give him the chance to undertake reforms.

From 1969 to 1972, Marcos demonstrated his propensity for violence against the workers, peasants and youth. He viciously attacked the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and carried out a series of massacres in Tarlac (in the barrios of Culatingan, Paraiso, Sta. Lucia, etc). He and his ruling clique perpetrated the Plaza Miranda bombing of August 21, 1971 and yet within a few hours and without any investigation he immediately scapegoated his arch political rival Benigno Aquino and the New People´s Army (NPA) and declared the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in 1971. This suspension of the writ was the dress rehearsal for the premeditated proclamation of martial law in 1972.

The fake assassination attempt on Enrile on the eve of the martial law proclamation was just a little piece of drama, a sop to media sensationalism. The biggest lie in Marcos´ martial law proclamation was the exaggeration that the NPA had an armed strength of 10,000 rifles. There were no more than 400 rifles at that time. But Marcos excelled at conjuring the illusion of communists, separatists and anarchists threatening the ruling system and giving cause to his slogan of “save the republic and build a new society.”

II. Struggle Against Fascist Dictatorship

Even before Marcos proclaimed martial law in 1972, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People´s Army had been waging the new democratic revolution through people´s war against the US-directed Marcos regime. They integrated the revolutionary armed struggle with genuine land reform and mass base building by setting up organs of political power on the basis of the worker-peasant alliance and the mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth, children and cultural activists.

The legal movement of patriotic and progressive forces had developed since the early 1960s, much ahead of the revolutionary armed struggle which started in 1969. After the proclamation of martial rule in 1972, the aforesaid legal forces went underground, retained some of their activists aboveground and encouraged others to join the people’s war in the countryside. The Preparatory Commission of the National Democratic Front (NDF) continued in urban areas in order to develop new forces and new opportunities for continuing resistance.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the CPP, NPA, NDF and other revolutionary forces were the most outstanding in fighting the Marcos fascist dictatorship along the antifascist, anti-imperialist and anti-feudal line. They grew in strength and advanced in all regions of the country during the 14 years of dictatorship, even as they paid a heavy price for their victories with daily hard work, militant struggle and bitter sacrifices.

Among those who dared to fight the dictatorship and join the NPA were the best and brightest youth and students at the time. These included Edgar Jopson, Gregorio Rosal, Lorena Barros and Maita Gomez, to name a few among the thousands upon thousands of young men and women who took up arms against the dictatorship.

They were among those who suffered the most such criminal acts of the fascist regime as abductions, forced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings. But they inspired and assured the people that the overwhelming power of the dictatorship was being opposed effectively by the armed struggle in the countryside and the revolutionary urban underground.

The broad masses of the people waged heroic resistance, even as the dictatorship engaged in zonings in urban communities and bombardments to evict people from their homes and farms and grab their land in favor of plantations owned by foreign-owned agro-corporations and big comprador-landlords. Most of those who suffered illegal detention, torture, summary executions and massacres were workers and peasants.

Marcos imprisoned his fellow reactionary politicians in the opposition whom he regarded as most dangerous to the stability of his autocratic rule. But many of those whom he did not imprison or he would release from prison tended to wait for a change of US attitude towards Marcos and seek compromise by recommending to him new elections under the 1935 constitution or under the fascist constitution. They consistently refused the NDF offer of forming a broad united front and a government in exile.

The Marcos regime was also confronted by the armed Bangsa Moro secessionist movement led by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The AFP had to deploy in the early years of martial rule about half of its combat forces in the Moro areas, especially in Southwest Mindanao, where it suffered heavy losses. The armed struggles of the Filipino people and Bangsamoro against a common enemy objectively helped each other, even in the absence of a formal alliance. When the MNLF signed the Tripoli Agreement with the Manila government in 1976, the MILF arose to wage armed struggle.

After Cardinal Santos died and Cardinal Sin succeeded him, the Catholic hierarchy opened up to listen to the complaints of human rights violations and became more active in demanding that justice be rendered. It took some strenuous efforts by the Christians for National Liberation and the NDF to persuade the majority of bishops to stand up for human rights and publicly denounce the violations

The US government supported the Marcos fascist dictatorship for as long as it served US interests and remained more of an asset than a liability. The retention of US military bases in the Philippines, the enlargement of privileges for US investments and the prerogative of US corporations to hold land and exploit natural resources were reasons for the US to provide economic and military aid to the fascist regime. But ultimately in 1982, the US recognized that Marcos was hopelessly isolated and hated by the people for his extreme brutality and corruption; that he had become seriously ill, with the line of succession unclear and risky; and that the revolutionary movement could benefit from the tenuous situation. Thus, the US arranged the return of Aquino to the Philippines.

But Marcos and his closest cronies and generals decided to assassinate Aquino upon his return in 1983. They tried in vain to conjure the illusion that a “communist assassin” killed Aquino. The people understood that Galman was just a stage prop in a scene fully controlled by General Ver and other generals in various services of the AFP. The assassination sparked the upsurge of the anti-fascist mass movement from 1983 until Marcos fell from power in 1986. For three years, the armed revolutionary movement and the legal forces of the national democratic movement played a crucial role in the groundswell of the anti-fascist movement which led to the fall of Marcos.

III. Causes of the Fall of the Dictatorship

Even before the assassination of Aquino, the Washington top officials were already seriously concerned that the longer Marcos stayed in power, the armed revolutionary movement led by the CPP would become stronger and the US would face bigger problems in the future. US inter-agency meetings were being held as early as 1982 to study and draw up recommendations on how to preempt the further growth of the armed revolutionary movement in the Philippines and how to make a soft landing from the fascist dictatorship to sham democracy. Clearly, the continuing advance of the people´s war led by the CPP was a major cause of and compelling factor for the US decision to prepare for getting rid of Marcos.

After Aquino was assassinated in 1983, the US officials became even more worried by the persistence of Marcos in power and were angered that Aquino was assassinated despite assurances to Solarz and Wolfowitz by regime officials that he would not be harmed. The US State Department was the most offended and went gung-ho for the overthrow of Marcos. The Pentagon resisted for a while by arguing that the overthrow would entail a serious split in the reactionary armed forces in the Philippines. Eventually it accepted the “Armacost formula” which would indeed allow a calibrated split calculated to be repaired in due course. Thus, Reagan signed the national security directive for getting rid of Marcos.

As in the earlier overthrow of Duvalier in Haiti, the US devised the Laxalt proposal for a snap presidential election of 1986 to trick Marcos into calling for it (“make him a part of the solution” was the cynical US catchphrase) and then to accuse him of cheating in order to pave the way for his overthrow through a military mutiny and paralysis of the reactionary armed forces; and through mass actions of the people. As early as November 1985, the US instructed Cory Aquino to keep out of her campaign organization the leaders of the Left, not to touch the issue of US military bases and not to appoint anyone from the Left to her prospective cabinet. By his own Comelec count and pseudo-parliament proclamation, Marcos was the electoral winner but a predictable series of events would overthrow him and nullify his claim.

Immediately after the sham results of the snap presidential election, the CPP ran ahead of all forces in denouncing the results and calling for people´s uprisings, contrary to latter-day claims that the CPP was paralyzed by its boycott policy in the elections. Only subsequently, after several days, did Cory Aquino call for civil disobedience. The third powerful blow that fell on the head of Marcos came from the Catholic bishops who, in their pastoral letter, denounced the Marcos regime as immoral and illegitimate. Then, the Reform the AFP Movement (RAM) launched its failed coup attempt. But Cardinal Sin, Butch Aquino and BAYAN called on the people to go to EDSA highway to support the military mutineers and frustrate the anticipated military offensive of Marcos.

During the last few days of the life of the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the forces of the national democratic movement mobilized large masses of people to converge on EDSA and in front of Malacañang Palace and in so many other public places in the country, especially in provincial capitals and major cities. At least 20 per cent of the hundreds of thousands of people at EDSA were mobilized by BAYAN, with the rest being mobilized mainly by the calls of Cardinal Sin and broadcasts of Radio Veritas. But 85 per cent of the thousands upon thousands of people in front of Malacañang palace were mobilized by the KMU and LFS.

In the provinces, BAYAN was the dominant force in organizing the mass actions. Let us mention a few notable examples. BAYAN of Angeles city was outstanding for stopping the army tanks of General Palafox which came from Tarlac. In the Bicol region, the close friend of Ramos, General de Villa could appear big as an opponent of Marcos only because he was backed up by BAYAN, aside from his military followers. It is absurd for anyone to claim that because of the election boycott policy the forces of the Left kept themselves not only out of the farcical elections but also out of the people´s uprising that overthrew Marcos.

It can be concluded that in the long haul of 1969 to 1986 as well as in the short haul of 1983 to 1986 of the struggle to overthrow the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the armed revolutionary movement led by the CPP and the legal forces of the national democratic movement encompassed by BAYAN were the most consistent, most important and most effective in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people. The US and the most rabid pro-US reactionaries started to do their best to fight the dictatorship only in 1983, after the Aquino assassination. It can be said that in the short haul the contradictory forces of the national democratic movement, the US, the Catholic church hierarchy and the anti-Marcos reactionaries converged to overthrow Marcos.

It is true that so far the Aquino family and its associates (like Ramos and Macapagal-Arroyo) have benefited most from the overthrow of Marcos in terms of acquiring reactionary political power and accumulating wealth. But this does not give the hangers-on and propagandists of the Aquino regime the license to claim that the forces of the national democratic movement were nowhere in the struggle to overthrow Marcos. The revolutionary movement led by the CPP greatly benefited from the process of overthrowing the Marcos dictatorship but the gain it made was neither for getting a share of reactionary power nor jockeying for some posts in the reactionary government but for accumulating strength for the overthrow of the entire ruling system.

IV. Consequences Up to the Present

The people´s struggle to overthrow the Marcos fascist dictatorship was not strong enough to overthrow the entire ruling system of big compradors and landlords. Thus, the brazen fascist dictatorship has been succeeded by a series of anti-national and pseudo-democratic and anti-democratic regimes. They are essentially similar to the Marcos regime in terms of puppetry to the US, exploitative class character, corruption and brutality against the people. The only obvious difference of these post-Marcos regimes from the Marcos fascist regime is the fact that they have carried out state terrorism without having to proclaim martial law.

It is of crucial importance to the anti-Marcos reactionaries, especially the Cojuangco-Aquino big comprador-landlords, their allies and their propagandists, to deny the role of the revolutionary movement in the overthrow of the Marcos fascist dictatorship and to claim more than their share in the process in order to misrepresent themselves as the saviors of the people and as champions of democracy and continue the counterrevolutionary role of Marcos in trying to destroy the revolutionary movement of the people for national liberation and democracy.

When the Cory Aquino regime was still consolidating its power against the Marcos, Enrile and other reactionary cliques, it offered ceasefire negotiations to the CPP, NPA and NDF and signed a ceasefire agreement. But it cast away the ceasefire agreement and “unsheathed the sword of war” after the Mendiola massacre of peasants and their urban supporters in 1987. It followed the US-dictated neoliberal economic policy and prated much about trade liberalization. It carried out a series of strategic military campaign plans in a vain attempt to destroy the revolutionary movement. After some years, when it was faced with further coup threats in 1989, it offered to engage the revolutionary forces in peace negotiations.

The US skilfully prepared and made Ramos the president in order to realize the “Armacost formula” and patch up the splits that had occurred in the reactionary armed forces before and after the overthrow of Marcos. Ramos amnestied the anti-Aquino military mutineers and the political prisoners in a show of dealing evenly with the Right and the Left. In its full course the Ramos regime used the two-handed policy of military force and peace negotiations. It went full-blast in carrying out the neoliberal economic policy to the great detriment of the Filipino people.

The armed revolutionary movement slackened in the first half of the 1990s, not because of the peace negotiations or effectiveness of enemy military campaigns but because of major errors in the revolutionary movement since the 1980s and the need to rectify these and revitalize the CPP and other revolutionary forces through the Second Great Rectification Movement. In the second half of the 1990s, the NPA was carrying out and winning more tactical offensives on a nationwide scale. The neoliberal economic policy of Ramos was thoroughly discredited when the “Asian financial crisis” of 1998 struck the Philippines hard.

Estrada succeeded Ramos and continued the policy of repression, going to the extent of terminating the peace negotiations with the NDFP and waging a costly and disastrous “all-out war” against the MILF, with adverse effects on the economy. His regime was in the backwash of the global and domestic economic crisis wrought by neoliberal economic policy. Estrada could not conceal his direct culpability for corruption as he took cash from jueteng and raided the social security funds for shady deals. As in the overthrow of Marcos, the national democratic movement employed the broad united front to isolate Estrada, call for his ouster; and to actually oust him through a people´s uprising. His term of office was cut short as he was compelled to resign by tens of thousands of youth massing at the gates of the presidential palace at the decisive moment.

The US-Arroyo regime ran for 10 years, exceeding the ousted regime in puppetry, rapacity, corruption and brutality. The policy of the broad united front succeeded in isolating Arroyo but failed to oust her from power. Upon the prompting of the US and the Vatican, the reactionary classes, their major institutions (schools, churches and mass media) and the pro-Arroyo and anti-Arroyo reactionary politicians spread the line that the people had been stricken by protest fatigue and that the best way to achieve regime change was through elections.

In fact they were frightened that the revolutionary movement could further gain strength from the extra-constitutional process of ousting one regime after another thorough mass uprisings, even if unarmed. The forces of the national democratic movement was not able to exercise independence and initiative in order to enlarge their own protest mass actions aside from those with the participation of reactionary allies and did not overcome the repeated tactics of the anti-Arroyo reactionary allies to keep the focal mass protest actions in Ayala, Makati as well as the regime´s consistent tactics of harassing, delaying and disrupting lakbayans and intra-city marches. Arroyo was able to prevent sizeable rallies of students at the university belt and marches converging on and occupying the vicinity of the presidential palace.

The current Aquino regime is good at capitalizing on the ritualistic celebration of people power (like manpower or horse power, not people´s power) insofar as it brought down Marcos and brought to power the reactionary Aquino faction of the exploiting classes. In addition, the current Aquino regime is good at pretending to denounce the corruption and human rights violations under the Arroyo regime. But corruption remains rampant at all levels of the reactionary government. The Aquino regime has condoned and supported the gross and systematic human rights violations under the Arroyo regime. And it is now culpable for the escalation of such human rights violations.

Under the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan, Aquino deceptively calls military operations “peace and development operations” and emboldens the military, police and paramilitary forces to carry out forced disappearances, illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial killings and the forced eviction of entire communities for the benefit of mining, logging and plantation companies. He is obsessed with seeking to destroy the revolutionary movement by military force and has gone so far as to paralyze the peace negotiations between his government and the NDFP.

The exploitative and violent character of the post-Marcos regimes from Cory to Noynoy Aquino clearly shows that no social revolution occurred in 1986. The Marcos fascist dictatorship which arose in 1972 did not result in a new society different from the semicolonial and feudal system of big compradors and landlords. Neither did the fall of such dictatorship in 1986 result in the national and social liberation of the Filipino people. The perseverance of the revolutionary movement remains valid and just against the persistence of the reactionary ruling system under US hegemony.

The revolutionary struggle is bound to strengthen and grow as the Aquino regime shamelessly collaborates with the US and in return benefits from the recently announced US strategic balance shift to Asia-Pacific region. This is meant to tighten US hegemony over the region. It entails the increased military presence and interventionism of the US, aggravation of political and economic domination, and intensified exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people.

As the crisis of the world capitalist system and the ruling system worsens, the reactionaries continue to engage in a bitter struggle for power and bureaucratic loot among themselves. As the Filipino people suffer more exploitation and oppression, more poverty and misery, they are driven to intensify and advance their revolutionary struggle for national liberation, democracy, development through national industrialization and genuine land reform, social justice and world peace.###

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Private defense contractor helps US regain foothold in former PH base

Posted on 14 June 2012 by admin

Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

June 12, 2012

A private defense contractor has posted the first US Navy-related job opening in 20 years in Subic, Zambales, Philippines. From the job description, it appears that US warships will be frequenting the former US naval base. The position of project manager is open only to US citizens and requires a Secret-level security clearance and about 15 years experience in the US Navy.

Umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), who campaigned for the rejection of the US bases in 1991, says the private contractors are being used to circumvent the Philippine constitutional ban on US bases by making it appear that military operations are mere commercial transactions. US warships, including an advanced nuclear attack submarine, have had frequent port calls in the Philippines this year.

The job opening was issued by AMSEC, a subsidiary of private military contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries which is the biggest builder of nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the US Navy and Coast Guard. AMSEC is in partnership with Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines to provide maintenance, repair and logistics services to the U.S. Navy and other customers in the western Pacific region.

“For more than a century, HII has built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder,” HII’s website says.

“This is a part-time position with a focus on growing U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command maintenance work at a commercial ship construction ship yardWork hours are expected to grow as maintenance work increases, and occasional travel to the U.S. or Singapore may be required,” the AMSEC job placement says.

From this ad, it appears that the US is serious in using Subic for its warships. In a subtle way, the US is transforming a civilian facility back into a military hub through the use of private defense contractors. The use of these contractors to provide logistics and other support services for US warships may also be intended to circumvent the Constitutional ban on US bases absent a treaty ratified by the Senate. US bases were kicked out from the Philippines in 1991 and both the US and PH governments are careful not to indicate that they intend to bring back the bases now.

Instead of the US Navy itself that operates maintenance and logistics support services, they get a private contractor to do it so it won’t be so obvious that the US bases are back.

The US would make it appear that these are mere commercial transactions between the US Navy and private firms, but there is no mistaking the military character of the operations that will be conducted in Subic. The high-level security clearance and lengthy US navy experience required for the position of AMSEC project manager shows the sensitive nature of the job. The private contractor HII is the biggest producer of US nuclear and non-nuclear warships.

It won’t be long before full-blown logistics and servicing operations for US navy warships are conducted in Subic.

According to the job advertisement a successful candidate will have “a thorough knowledge of U.S. Navy readiness organizations, budgets, and leaders; a familiarity with surface ship maintenance industry competitors; and an in-depth knowledge of U.S. Navy contracts and programs. The candidate will participate in assessing shipyard repair capability, development of the strategy to grow this capability, and then drive the execution of the strategy”.

This is not the first time private military contractors have operated in the Philippines. DynCorp, a logistics provider for the US military has done work in the past for US military facilities in the Philippines, including the building of US forward bases in Mindanao. A DynCorp subsidiary recruited Filipino translator Gregan Cardeno, who later died under mysterious circumstances a day after he started work with US troops in Marawi province in Mindanao. The notorious Blackwater private military contractor was also reported by media to be operating out of Subic in the past. Private contractor Corporate Training Unit, an affiliate of Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR)-Haliburton meanwhile operated in the former Clark Airbase.

Privatize military/defense contractors make the US government a bit removed from any direct accountability to the Philippine government. They however remain part of the US military machinery and we may be seeing their increasing involvement in the Philippines as the US shifts most of its warships to Asia in the next ten years. ###

See links below

http://bamboobugle.blogspot.com/2012/06/first-us-navy-job-to-return-to-subic.html

http://bamboobugle.blogspot.com/2012/04/hanjin-subic-queued-up-to-be-us-navy.html

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Silverio Compound: A fight for the right to live

Posted on 27 April 2012 by admin

The Silverio Compound demolition in Parañaque City was the most brutal in recent memory, leaving at least one dead and some 36 hurt, mostly by gunshot wounds. Some 33 residents and protesters were also arrested, including seven minors and two women. Twenty-nine of them were eventually charged with resistance and disobedience to a person in authority and disturbance of public order. While some of the wounded were brought to various hospitals, many others refused to seek proper medical attention out of fear of being arrested or simply due to lack of money.

Negotiations

On April 23, residents blocked certain portions of Silverio Compound as early as 5 a.m. The main barricade was set up at Purok 4, which fronts the SM Hypermart. By 7 AM, five 6×6 trucks each carrying 30 to 40 policemen from the Parañaque City Civil Disturbance Management Unit (CDMU) along with two fire trucks began arriving in the area. They were backed by several members of the police’s Special Weapons and Tactics unit (SWAT) who were armed with high-powered assault rifles. By around 7:30 AM, many residents had already occupied Sucat Road, which was meant to cause traffic and delay the demolition. A demolition team of some 50 men arrived at about 8 a.m.

Initial findings of the emergency fact-finding mission (FFM) conducted by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) several hours after the bloody incident show that members of the CDMU provoked the violent confrontation. Prior to the hostility, leaders of the residents and local politicians Cong. Edwin Olivarez, former Cong. Ed Zialcita, and Councilor Eric Olivarez were negotiating with the police (talks began at around 9 a.m.) to suspend the demolition as the Silverio compound is the subject of a pending court case. The CDMU, on the other hand, was asking the protesters to free up a portion of the road to let vehicles pass.

Gun shots

Despite ongoing negotiations to suspend the demolition and willingness of residents to heed the police’s request to allow traffic flow, the CDMU prepared to turn toward the direction of the protesters at past 10 a.m. Witnesses also said they saw men secure the local politicians, which indicated that the police was getting ready to move. Thinking that the CDMU was about to disperse them, the residents started to hurl stones at the police. Eventually, the police responded by firing teargas toward the direction of the protesters. Accounts claimed that the police fired more than 10 teargas canisters.

The CDMU and SWAT members were forced to backtrack a bit but moments later, gun shots were heard, apparently fired by the police, sporadic at first and then in succession. The string of gun shots forced protesters to back down and run away while the CDMU and SWAT teams advanced and began arresting people. One person – later identified as 21-year old Arnel Leonor, a resident of Silverio Compound – was seen lying on the pavement, with what appeared to be a fatal gunshot wound in the head. He was brought to a hospital by the police many minutes later but was declared dead on arrival.

Violations galore

The atrocities committed by the police did not end in the indiscriminate shooting of the residents that killed Leonor and wounded others. Many of those who were already apprehended or subdued were still assaulted by the angry police. They were truncheoned, punched, kicked and slapped at whim by the arresting officers. These were captured by the media who were covering the incident. Worse, the arrests were arbitrary; the police picked up anyone they wanted. Some of those arrested and assaulted by the police were mere onlookers. They said they did not run away because they did not participate in the protest and thus thought will not be arrested, much less assaulted by members of the CDMU.

Arbitrary house-to-house searches were also carried out by the police to look for more people to pick up. Witnesses claimed that some police officers again fired their guns during these house searches. The demolition team, meanwhile, pushed through with the demolition of several stalls and houses.

Private profits over public housing

This bloody incident could have been prevented had Mayor Florencio Bernabe respected the original agreement between Silverio Compound residents and former Mayor Joey Marquez that the entire 9.7-hectare property will be used for socialized housing. This means that the 28,000 families occupying the property will just amortize the land to the Parañaque City government. It was Marquez who, in 2003, initiated the expropriation proceedings by virtue of an ordinance against Silverio Compound’s private owner Magdiwang Realty Corp. But Bernabe changed the plan, reduced the size for socialized housing to 3 hectares, and pushed for the construction of 32 medium-rise condos that can only accommodate some 1,900 families.

Bernabe is pushing for a public-private partnership (PPP) project for Silverio Compound, eyeing big developers including SM Development Corp. (SMDC) to build the medium-rise buildings and other infrastructures in the area. The remaining 6.7 hectares of the property will also be devoted for commercial development in a bid to entice private investors in the city. Clearly, this is a case of the local government prioritizing private profits over the people’s basic right to shelter.

Impunity

The blatant disregard for human rights displayed by the police involved in the incident speaks volume of how deep the culture of impunity has been ingrained among our law enforcers and security forces. To end this culture of impunity, those who are involved, directly and indirectly, and not only members of the SWAT and CDMU but even police and civilian officials, in the tragic Silverio Compound demolition must be held liable.

What is alarming is that recent developments point to the regrettable possibility of a whitewash. National officials, for instance, are now seemingly conditioning the public mind that Leonor could have died from a bullet fired by one of the protesters. Supposedly, one of those arrested tested positive for gunpowder. Only an independent probe of the incident, including a re-autopsy of Leonor’s body by an independent party, could provide a more credible finding.

There is no doubt that the police used excessive force in enforcing the demolition order. Their abuses have been well-documented by media outfits who covered the incident and their identities could be easily established. Bernabe, on the other hand, clearly abused his power in insisting to implement the demolition. There are more than enough grounds to immediately make these people accountable.

Call for support

While the residents of Silverio Compound remain undaunted by oppression and brutality, they need all the support that they can muster to ensure that justice will be served. At the same time, they also need assistance – medical, legal, etc. – to help them cope with the tragedy inflicted on them by institutions that are supposed to uphold their rights and promote their interests.

The people of Silverio Compound, like those in other urban poor communities who have been dislocated or threatened by PPP projects that only profit the few, are fighting not only for their homes but for their right to live as human beings. All those who value this very fundamental human right could not allow them to fail. (end)

Photo from Tudla Prod

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