Thursday, March 30, 2006

RP growth fails to feed the hungry

March 30, 2006

National (as of 2:13 PM)

World Bank: RP growth fails to feed the hungry

The Philippines is expected to grow faster this year compared to 2005 and the fiscal outlook looks promising, but more people consider themselves impoverished and hungry, the World Bank said on Thursday.

The country is expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2006 and 5.6 percent in 2007 compared to 5.1 percent last year due to rising consumption fuelled by strong remittances from Filipinos working overseas, the World Bank said in a twice-yearly review.

But the bank said despite two years of economic growth, surveys showed that 17 percent of the population reported hunger compared to 12 percent last year and over 49 percent considered themselves impoverished compared to 48 percent in 2005.

"Recent surveys indicate that more Filipinos are suffering from hunger ... suggesting that the positive growth performance in the last two years is not perceived to have been widely shared," the World Bank said.

The Philippines is one of Asia's biggest importers of rice, its main food staple, due to its rapidly rising population and poor local farming infrastructure.

Analysts estimate the Philippine economy needs to grow 7 to 8 percent per year to cut poverty significantly among its 85 million people. The population of the Philippines, a largely Roman Catholic country, is growing at around 2 million a year.

The economy's 6 percent expansion in 2004 was the strongest in 15 years with gross domestic product having grown by an average of around 3.5 percent from 1987 to 2004.

Improved state finances are needed to spur growth and the World Bank said the fiscal outlook for 2006 looked promising provided the government succeeds in collecting an additional P68 billion ($1.33 billion) this year from a higher sales tax.

In February, the country's budget deficit was P25 billion, well inside a target of P27.2 billion.

The Philippines, Asia's most-active issuer of sovereign debt after Japan, hopes to cut its budget deficit this year to P125 billion, or 2.1 percent of GDP, from last year's P146.5 billion, or 2.8 percent of GDP. Reuters

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Filipinos Across the US Participate in Peoples Actions

March 29, 2006

Filipinos Across the US Participate in Peoples Actions Denouncing Anti-Immigrant Legislations, Slam Malacanang's Silence on Issue; Keep the Pressure On As US Congressional Debate Continues

"For Filipinos in the US right now, the struggle for immigrant rights is being waged against the proliferation of anti-immigrant legislature in US Congress in the form of repressive bills such as the Sensenbrenner Bill, and at the same time the culpability of the anti-migrant Arroyo administration that has done absolutely nothing to assert protection for Filipinos in the US if these bills become law," stated Chito Quijano, labor union organizer and vice-chair of BAYAN USA, as he marched along with other Filipinos in the over one million-strong "Grand Marcha" in
Los Angeles last Saturday for immigrant rights.

The recent Los Angeles demonstration, recorded as the largest in the history of California, was one of several continuing to spark rapidly across the US as various immigrant rights groups are taking urgent measures to mobilize in droves while the Senate debate over the controversial Sensenbrenner Bill and other proposed immigration bills peaks early April with a vote.

Filipinos in several cities, under BAYAN USA and allied organizations, took action as early as late December, when the Sensenbrenner bill passed in the House of Representatives. BAYAN USA member organizations from New York to San Francisco have been active in creating critical Filipino community opposition to the said bill and demanding more comprehensive immigration reforms absent from the majority of Congressional bills such as a concrete path to legalization, workers rights, and swift family re-unification for those painfully separated because of visa backlogs.

They also highlighted how Filipinos remain an open target for such blanket repression in host countries abroad because the Philippine government has no real program of protection for overseas Filipinos. In fact, as the debate in Washington DC ensues, at least 11 labor-sending countries in Latin America have already sent representatives to Washington to lobby for immigration reforms. To the misfortune of the 4 million Filipinos in the US, factoring the undocumented population, the Arroyo government has remained silent on the issue.

The Philippines is currently the third highest labor-sending country with the largest percentage of its nationals, over 10%, living abroad. This 10% generates the $10.7 billion in annual dollar remittances that sustain the Philippine economy that would otherwise crumble.

The largest population of overseas Filipinos can be found in the US, as an average of 60,000 migrate from the Philippines each year. Earlier in 2006, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution commemorating 100 years of sustained Filipino migration to the US.

"It's sustained because the economic crisis in the Philippines remains unresolved," stated BAYAN USA chair Kawal Ulanday, who participated in hunger strike called by the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition in protest to Sensenbrenner. Ulanday made no qualms about accounting the Arroyo factor into the plight of Filipinos in the US today.

"Just as the inutility of the Arroyo administration plays a key role in creating national conditions so economically and politically unlivable that 3000 Filipinos leave the Philippines as a means of basic economic survival, it is also the culprit as to why overseas Filipinos as partly so vulnerable to such grave human rights violations from repressive laws abroad-- lack of initiative from the Philippine government to protect OFW's," Ulanday explained.

BAYAN USA vowed to nationally-coordinate Filipino opposition and action in the US as part of the broader struggle for immigration reform in the coming months. It also vowed to intensify its call for the "the US-subservient Arroyo regime" to step down.

A discussion guide on the Sensenbrenner Bill is available on ###

A Small Guy with Big Conviction

Human rights watch

Slain student leader Cris Hugo
A Small Guy with Big Conviction

Twenty-year old Cris Hugo was a small – only 4’11” tall – and humble person who led an exemplary life. He fearlessly fought for quality education and students’ rights – until bullets felled him last March 19.


I was aghast when my Bulatlat editor sent me a text message on Monday, asking if I could write something about the slain student leader from Bicol University. I then was in our province talking with my friends and taking a not so grand vacation while fixing my requirements for graduation.

“I’ll try to make a story about him. I don’t know the person,” I replied.

Cris Hugo

At about 6:30 p.m. of the same day, a friend sent a text message: “PLEASE PRAY FOR CRIS HUGO, A FOURTH YEAR JOURNALISM STUDENT OF BUCAL (Bicol University College of Arts and Letters). HE WAS SHOT DEAD LAST NIGHT AT WASHINGTON DRIVE. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE. PLEASE PASS GUYS.” Suddenly, it was difficult to breathe. I couldn’t believe that Cris was gone, that he was the student leader I was supposed to write about, until another similar text message came.

Cris, 20, was a student leader at BU’s College of Arts and Letters (BUCAL). He was regional coordinator and national council member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). He was also the newly elected Grand Chancellor of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO Fraternity) chapter at BU.

Cris was a classmate during my freshman year at the Institute of Communication and Cultural Studies (now CAL) in BU. I could not believe that he died in such a brutal way. He was a small – only 4’11” tall – and humble person who led an exemplary life, fighting for quality education and students’ rights. Nobody could have foreseen that he would be killed so violently.

Gremil Naz, a BUCAL professor, recalled how the murder took place on March 19 at Washington Drive, Bagumbayan (village), Legazpi City:

“Kausap ko si Cris habang naglalakad kami nang bigla akong nakarinig ng putok. Paglingon ko, nakahandusay na siya. (Cris and I were talking while walking, when I suddenly heard a gunshot. When I turned to him, he was already sprawled on the ground).”

Naz could not identify the gunmen because it was dark and he was slightly drunk. He ran to the Legazpi City Police Station to report the attack and Cris was rushed to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH). He was dead on arrival.

Cris was the first youth leader to be killed in the spate of political killings this year.

Fighting Spirit

In spite of being the smallest in class, he proved that he could beat all odds. Even as a freshman, he had shown a fighting spirit.

In the first semester, he joined the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. I was amazed at how he endured the trials of being a neophyte. I could not believe how this small guy, who seemed to be fragile, could have possibly passed the initiations.

Every time there were rallies, Cris was always visible. He would ask the students to join and fight for their aspirations.

Dan Orense, Cris’ mentor and fraternity brother, described him as “college student na parang Grade 6 (a college student who looked like a sixth-grade pupil.) Mabait na tao si Cris. A typical homegrown person pero malalim. (Cris is a kind person, a typical home-grown person but he was deep),” he said.

His colleagues from LFS and his other organizations said that despite having a small build, Cris had a big-enough conviction to fight for the students’ welfare.

During the interview with Cris’ mother Rowena Hugo, a public school teacher in Gallanosa National High School in the municipality of Irosin, Sorsogon (647 kms. south of Manila), grief was evident in her face. She said she felt restless last Sunday because she was alone at home. At 11 p.m.., she said, a BRTTH doctor called and told her what had happened to her son.

Cris’ mother recalled how he wanted her to stay with him when she went to the university on the afternoon of March 18. After a parents’ meeting, she said they went to the mall and the park and Cris even asked her to go to the movies. “It seems that he didn’t want me away from him,” she said.

“Gusto niya makasama ako sa pagtulog. Sabi niya pa nga huwag na daw muna akong umuwi. Sabi ko baka pagalitan ako ng papa mo. Pero sabi niya kahit pagalitan ka ni Papa, wala na siyang magagawa kasi andun na ‘yun, e,” (He wanted me to sleep at his boarding house. He asked me not go home yet. I said your father will be angry. But he said, even if Papa gets angry he can do nothing about it) she recalled.

Meryll Arcos, editor-in-chief of the BUCAL student publication Budyong (shell), said she saw Cris passing by their boarding house in EM’s Barrio almost every afternoon before the meeting of parents for ICT. “He was rushing to go to his boarding house before dusk, which he does not normally do, as if somebody was following him,” she said.

His fellow activists, who requested anonymity, said Cris had been receiving death threats a year before his death. During that time, they said, Cris tried vainly to alter his appearance by wearing polo and eyeglasses. It made him look like a seminarian and they just laughed at him.


Cris came from a devout family. His parents were lectors, or scripture readers in their church. He also acted in theatre productions of their parish church.

“Ang gusto ‘nya talaga ay maging pari (He really wanted to be a priest),” her mother said. She revealed that he spent two years in high school at the Peñafrancia Seminary in Sorsogon City. He went out of the seminary on his third year because his father didn’t want him to become a priest.

“Para lang kaming magbabarkada niyan. (We’re just like friends),” his mother said as she stared at her son’s casket. “I even join his company of friends every time they are here. We would go out to a videoke bar and sing and have fun.”

“Napakabait ng anak ko. Hindi ko matanggap na agad siyang mawawala. Kahit sa mga kapatid niya, ang bait niya. Minsan pag-umuuwi iyan, may dala siyang pasalubong. Kahit ano, tulad ng scented candles. Napaka-thoughtful niya. (My son was very kind. I cannot accept that he would suddenly be gone. Even with his siblings, he was so kind. He even brought gifts for the family when he came home, even simple things like scented candles. He was very thoughtful),” she added.

“Napakabuting bata niyang si Cris. Wala akong masabi diyan sa apo ko (He was a very good child. I could not find any fault in him),” said Socorro Hugo, Cris’ grandmother, as she wept.

"Sometimes,” his mother revealed, “he and his father would have petty fights and discussions because of his views, which his father disagrees with. One time he said, ‘kulugan mo na po ako Papa, suntukon mo ako, aakoon ko po pero dai mo po mamababago ang prinsipyo ko’ (Hurt me papa, knock me down, I will take it but you can never change my principles).”

Cris’ mother recalled that when he was arrested February 2005 during a protest rally on the occasion of President Arroyo’s visit, they were so enraged because she heard on the radio that Cris and other protesters were arrested on charges of illegal possession of drugs.

“Nagulat nga ako ng binalita sa radyo na na-detain sila sa Guinobatan (I was shocked when it was reported over the radio that they were detained in Guinobatan),” she said.

“Walang bisyo ang anak ko” (My son had no vice), she reacted.

Cris and his colleagues underwent drug tests, were found “negative,” and were released after 24 hours. The group learned later that they were framed-up by “men in uniform.”


“Ang suspetsa namin militar ang may gawa nun kasi nung Friday bago ‘yung meeting, inutusan siya ng papa niya na mag-withdraw ng pera sa AFPSLAI. Sabi niya,’ mama darating si Gloria. Siguradong may mga parak na magpapasikat’,“ (Our suspicion is that the military killed him because last Friday before his meeting, he was ordered by his father to withdraw money from AFPSLAI. He said, ‘mama Gloria is coming. For sure some police or military officers would want to create a good impression.) Rowena said.

“Hindi kami naninilawala na frat war ang dahilan kung bakit pinatay si Cris. Walang history ng frat war dito sa Bicol at kahit mga taga-ibang fraternity kaibigan niya” (We do not believe that Cris was killed because of a fraternity war. There was never a history of violent frat wars in Bicol. And he has friends from other fraternities), she said.

Accredited fraternities in Bicol University confirmed this in a press conference March 24 at the BU administration building.

Michael Malano, coordinator of the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) and incoming BU student council president, joined in condemning the killing.

“I challenge the authorities to widen their range of investigation. We are calling for (your) cooperation for immediate action and justice for Cris Hugo,” said Gerald Dino Caba of APO.

“Ang pagkamatay ni Cris ay may malalim pang rason. Tulad ng pagkamatay ni Joel Asejo , wala paring malinaw na resulta ang imbestigasyon,” (The death of Cris has a deeper reason. Just like the death of Joel Asejo, there were no clear findings resulting from the official investigation), LFS-BU chapter spokesman Rodcel Bontigao said.

Asejo was also a student at the BU College of Industrial Engineering. He was killed on October 2002 in Sto. Domingo, Albay. The suspects were military men from Tanay, Rizal. The court issued arrest warrants against the suspects but they are still at large.

“We will seek justice for him. I cannot accept the death of my son,” Cris’ mother said.

Students, organizations and other concerned individuals have been holding a protest vigil in front of Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City every 5 p.m. since Cris’ death

Cris’ remains will be interred on March 31. A tribute was scheduled by his family, friends and fellow activists on March 30. Bulatlat

Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza in Sunday Inquirer Magazine

Cover Story : The teeming ‘masa’ transformed this former ‘burgis’ into a Congresswoman worthy of her name
First posted 09:31am (Mla time) Mar 26, 2006
By Pennie Azarcon-dela Cruz

Editor's Note: Published on page Q1 of the March 26, 2006 issue of the
Philippine Daily Inquirer

YES, that’s her real name, her married name, Rep. Liza Largoza Maza says to skeptics who point to the almost cinematic aptness of her name to the sector she upholds as Gabriela Women’s Party list representative in Congress.

But by her own admission, Maza used to be a flighty and imperious burgis (petty bourgeoisie) who would have nothing to do with the sweaty coil of student demonstrators during her college days at the University of the Philippines.

She was also so quiet as a child that her mother thought she was autistic, adds Maza with a laugh. She is, after all, one of the Batasan Five, party list representatives accused of rebellion for their vocal attacks on the Arroyo administration. Put under the protective custody of the House after the Philippine National Police vowed to arrest them even without a warrant, “housemates” Maza, Bayan Muna representatives Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño and Joel Virador, and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano have been closeted in Congress since Feb. 27.

Being detained for masa-oriented sentiments was farthest from Maza’s mind when she was growing up in an upper middle class household. “My father, Antonio, was from Tiaong, Quezon, while my mother Alberta, a businesswoman from Bulacan, owned a grocery store in San Pablo City, Laguna,” says Maza, 48. They had land, rental apartments, a grocery and other properties. “We’re 10 siblings, all of us professionals. There are two doctors, two teachers and a banker in the family, while the rest have their own businesses or professions,” says this Business Economics graduate.

As part of the status quo, Maza did not take too kindly to the activists of the First Quarter Storm in the early ’70s. “Ang gugulo nila!” (They were so rowdy!) was how she used to describe them. It took Free Press and Graphic Magazines to change her mind, so that by the time she entered UP in the mid-’70s, she had hoped to become an activist. But the extent of her being anti-establishment then was, at best, self-indulgent, says Maza.

Women’s cause

“Everything came to a head when our dorm matron at UP threatened to expel me and a roommate from the Camia dorm for violating the curfew regulation and for going around the dorm in our nightgown. She said she wanted to talk to our parents. Ano kami, bata?” she recounts. Incensed, the two approached then Student Affairs dean Armando Malay, who successfully interceded for them. Maza’s complaint stirred up a virtual rebellion against the unpopular dorm matron, and her reputation as an agit-prop expert was made. From there, it was but a short step to the University Alliance which regularly visited depressed communities in Tondo. It was there that Maza saw another world vastly different from her comfortable background. After graduation, she worked as a researcher and later taught at the St. Scholastica’s College.

But Maza wasn’t quite ready to join the women’s movement, she had told then Gabriela official Nelia Sancho when the former beauty queen-activist tried to recruit her. “I come from a family of strong women and we never felt oppressed. My mother even single-handedly sent her siblings through school when they were orphaned. I also felt then that the women’s cause was too soft,” she recalls.

Things started to change after the assassination of Sen. Ninoy Aquino in 1983. Overnight, rallies supporting the Aquino widow bloomed in the streets, with Maza among the thousands of women marching. “That was when I met women from urban poor communities and heard about their oppression as women. I’d listen as they spoke of rushing through their work and their chores to attend the rallies and how they had to hurry back home because the children had been left alone.”

A research project among overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong convinced her further of the gender dimension of oppression. “I interviewed domestic helpers and uncovered stories of rape, sexual abuse and maltreatment,” Maza says of her stay in the former British colony in the 1980s. One account she could not forget was that of a former teacher who needed money so badly, she agreed to a sort of “retail” sexual harassment. “First, she agreed to let her employer hold her hand for which she got a raise. Then she allowed him to caress her arms and shoulders; again a raise. From there, he progressed to her breasts, one at a time… and all along, she calmed her disgust with thoughts of how the money could help her family back home.”

Her own experiences as a survivor of similar sexual harassment incidents prodded Maza to become actively involved in women’s issues in the late 1980s. “I know how these are unwanted acts and how a woman’s first reaction is just to freeze. I vowed then to fight for a society free from all forms of violence against women,” she says.

In 2001, Maza was tapped to represent women as one of the party list candidates of Bayan Muna. The party won handily. Since then, she has taken up the cause of Filipino women as the principal author of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 and the co-author of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004. She has also stirred up debates with such controversial bills as one legalizing divorce, another advocating reproductive health rights, and still another batting for equal sanctions between men and women when it comes to marital infidelity.

Public debates

“Our role is not just to pass laws, but also to challenge the very foundation of mainstream and traditional thinking by engaging in public debates,” she says. This is why she was so aghast with President Arroyo’s declaration of 1017 that put the country under emergency rule and allowed warrantless arrests, says Maza.

“1017 is political persecution of the Left,” she says. “It puts into question the party list law whose objective is to give space to marginalized sectors. It also tests the sincerity of the system in giving us space in the free marketplace of ideas. It raises the question `are we really ready for free and progressive discourse?’ ”

Apparently not, if her near-arrest on March 6 were any indication.

“We were warned that we’d be arrested once we stepped out of Congress,” Maza says of the Batasan Five. But on that day, she had to attend a bicameral conference on the Juvenile Justice bill at the Senate. As one of the bill’s principal authors, she said she wanted to argue for the merits of placing minor offenders 15 years and below under the care of the Social Welfare department. “As things stand, young offenders are put in jail with hardened criminals even when they’re as young as 7!”

A House resolution questioning her arrest without any preliminary investigation however prevented her arrest, and so did her formidable chaperones to the Senate: Representatives Cynthia Villar, Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Timmy Chipeco, Gilbert Remulla, Mayong Aguho, and Rene Magtubo. The group’s convoy from the House was composed of 30 cars. The Senate provided her security going back.

“After all, I was only performing my responsibility as an elected official of the land,” says Maza.

But there was little she could do on March 8, celebrated world-wide as International Women’s Day, when she had to stay put at the House instead of marching with the other women. It’s something that she has done every March 8 since 1987, and what she missed most during her House arrest, says Maza. She also misses her two sons, aged 21 and 15, who can only visit her on weekends.

Except for those emotional contretemps, Maza continues her advocacy for women with the same zeal as perhaps only a former street activist can muster and maintain.

“She’s doing a very good job,” says Las Piñas representative Cynthia Villar of her colleague. “She always takes charge of all photo exhibits and cultural activities for the Women’s Month and any other event that seeks to promote consciousness and responsiveness to the cause of improving the quality of life among Filipino women.”

A firm stand

Villar also approves of Maza’s performance as a legislator. “A legislator’s performance may be measured in two ways: the projects they are able to deliver to constituents, and their ability to take a firm stand on issues they consider vital to the integrity of our nation.” Maza, she says, has made a “positive contribution” through the second option.

Meanwhile, life inside the House for this women’s representative has settled into routine past the 20th day: up at 6 a.m., yoga, then breakfast. This morning, the fare was eggs, dilis, plain rice, coffee and corned beef with potatoes. Then Maza reads the papers and does her ablutions. By 9, she’s at her office for a series of radio interviews. “I eat interviews for breakfast,” she says, smiling. Sessions start at 10 and can last until 10 p.m. By 11, she treks off to the conference room where she and the rest of the Batasan Five sleep, some with their families.

Maza, who has never been detained even during martial law, finds it ironic that her first and only jailer would be another woman, “who put the supremacy of the police and military above that of an elected branch of government.” The situation seems to put into question a favorite issue among women advocates: that of putting more women in governance.

“But the case of President Arroyo and former President Aquino shows that the issue of women in politics goes beyond gender,” says Maza. “Politics is an interplay of forces and that includes the background of the candidate. Both Cory and GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) come from elite, privileged backgrounds. We also need to look at their motive for running. Are they governing with the interest of the people at heart?”

She continues: “We’re here to connect the government with the people. Under traditional politics, the voters are forgotten until the next election. But under the party list system, there’s constant consultation with our constituents on what agenda to push. We can’t leave the people’s movement outside the halls of Congress. That’s how we avoid being co-opted by the system.”

Personal pursuits

Although her days are filled with visitors (“Mostly mothers from the communities”), press conferences, interviews, and endless bills to study, Maza has found time and space for personal pursuits inside the confines of her gilded cage.

“I can’t live without books,” she says, waving a copy of Gioconda Belli’s “The Country Under My Skin,” her current leisure reading. There are also volumes by Paolo Coelho, Isabel Allende and poetry by Pablo Neruda. There are music tapes galore on her desk—from classical to rock, and they help fight the ennui of the sameness of days. At times, she imagines herself back in her kitchen, whipping up her specialty dish: kaldereta. “I also miss my cats,” she reveals. “Right now, we have 12!”

But despite the deprivations of her House arrest, Maza says she has no regrets. “Wala akong masyadong angst (I don’t have much angst). I want to be a perennial student so that whatever mistakes I make, I can treat as lessons learned.” She adds: “I’m a very positive person. If I were not such a positivist, I doubt if I’d survive the negative things happening to our country.”


By Joel G. Virador
Representative, Bayan Muna


First of all I would like to congratulate the organizers and the participants of this historic event for you have proven that Marinduqeños are united against large-scale mining and foreign plunder.

Today, the eyes of the world are watching Marinduque. They are eager to know what the Marinduqueños would do after suffering extensive loss due to the infamous Boac River disaster that took place ten years ago.

Along with this unfortunate event, the province of Marinduque is likewise marking the 30th Anniversary of the Dumping of Mine Wastes in Calancan Bay and the 13th year of the collapse of Maguila-Guila Siltation Dam in Mogpog.

These series of tragedies were known to be the country’s worst mining disaster that ever happened in Philippine history with Boac River as a sample of such. Up to this day, this river remains hosts to almost a million tons of mine wastes from processed ore, which are still leaching out acids and heavy metals. Justice remains elusive for the residents of Marinduque.

Marinduqeños, until now, live in Cavalry after Marcopper Mining Corporation, a Canadian mining firm, turned its back and played Pontius Pilate over the mine tailings that spilled into Boac River. For years, the locals of Marinduque suffered the ill consequences of irresponsible large-scale mining while the Philippine government, on the other hand, abandoned its duty by allowing the erring company to pack its bag and say goodbye to the desolated province.

This case of clear neglect and abandonment concretizes the pitfalls of Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

The Philippine Mining Law is a clear case of how this government tailor-fits its own law to serve the interests of foreign multinationals and to be consistent with GATT and the rules of World Trade Organization.

In this line, I am one with you in your pursuit to delist San Antonio Copper Project from the mining priority areas of this administration and to resist all pending mining applications in your province, as embodied in Bayan Muna resolutions 730 and especially 1139

Indeed, it is high-time for us to combine our strength and together say no to the plunder of our finite natural resources.

Once and for all, let us all reject the encroachment of big mining corporations in our lands and demand the government to repeal RA 7942 which poses grave threat to our environment and undermines our national sovereignty.

Through our collective strength, let us show the world that Philippine resources are not for sale and the lessons of Marinduque tragedy serves as our inspiration and strength to pursue this struggle.

Once again, I extend my sincere congratulations to all Marinduqueños.

Mabuhay kayo at ang bayang lumalaban sa dayuhang pandarambong! #

Host of axed radio show cries gov’t suppression

Host of axed radio show cries gov’t suppression

First posted 05:56am (Mla time) Mar 28, 2006
By Alcuin Papa

Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the Mar. 28, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

A HOST of a radio program on dzRJ yesterday claimed the “warm relations” between the Jacinto family owners of the station and the family of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was the reason his show was canceled.

Bernie Ramos, host of “Buhay Manggagawa,” which has been on the air since 1987, also said the cancellation was part of efforts to silence criticism of the Arroyo administration.

“DZRJ axed Buhay Manggagawa because we refused to become an instrument and mouthpiece of Malacañang,” Ramos told the Inquirer. “The oppression of media and attempts to limit free speech that is critical to this administration is the reason (our show was canceled). We don’t see any other reason.”

The station’s financial comptroller, Erlinda Legaspi, gave a different explanation.
“The real reason why the program was canceled was because their contract was not renewed. Pinapalaki nila ang issue (They are exaggerating the issue),” she said.

Asked why the contract was not renewed, Legaspi said: “I have no comment about that.”

The Inquirer called station owner Ramon Jacinto, the rock musician, but was told he was out of his office. The Inquirer asked for a return call.

Program executive director Daisy Arago asserted the contract’s termination was “directly related to the crackdown on progressive workers’ organizations and critics of Ms Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”

“The station wants us out simply because of our difference in political standpoint,” said Arago.

According to Ramos, the first wife of Jacinto was a sister of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

“So there was probably pressure on RJ. It’s also related to [Presidential] Proclamation No. 1017 to make sure all the scandals would not get out to the public,” Ramos alleged.

He added: “Although PP 1017 or the state of national emergency was already lifted, the suppression of progressive and critical media organizations and programs continues. Apparently, the Arroyo administration continues to silence those who oppose and criticize her. We are deeply saddened and disappointed that dzRJ was forced to serve as an instrument of denying the workers a venue to air their causes, issues and sentiments.”

He said that as far back as July 2005, the station’s managers told him and his co-host, Me-Ann Yazon, to tone down their commentaries and stop playing parts of the “Hello Garci” tapes and songs critical of the Arroyo administration.

The tapes dealt with an alleged collusion between Ms Arroyo and former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to rig the results of the 2004 election. Ms Arroyo and Garcillano have denied the allegation.

“We were told then that whatever the stand of management is, it should also be our stand. Of course, we didn’t agree,” Ramos said.

On March 6, Ramos said Legaspi informed him that the program was being canceled. He said Legaspi told him the station was “repackaging” its programs.

Last show

Ramos said the program still had up to March 31 to air, based on the quarterly contract. He was later told the program’s last airing date would be March 26.

“Even before we got off the air, we got text messages this month saying we (the hosts) and our guests should avoid criticizing President Arroyo. But we are an advocacy program focused on labor problems. If there are policies that affect laborers, like the EVAT (expanded value-added tax) and Charter change, we criticize them.”

Ramos also reacted to statements made by the station management that it had the prerogative to cancel their program.

2nd to fall

“Management says it’s their prerogative to cancel programs that are not constructive. So that means issues like wage increases and increases in electrical bills are not constructive for them. But it’s constructive for all,” Ramos said.

“Buhay Manggagawa” was the second program taken off the air on dzRJ in recent weeks.

The award-winning “Ngayon na Bayan” lost its block time on dzRJ hours after Ms Arroyo declared a state of national emergency on Feb. 24.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Slow Moving Government

"We are not criminals, we are human!"

Protests against planned immigration law surge in US
First posted 02:59pm (Mla time) Mar 25, 2006
Agence France-Presse

PHOENIX, Arizona -- Up to 20,000 protesters marched through the southwestern US city of Phoenix on Friday in an explosion of Hispanic opposition to plans for a draconian crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Police said that 15,000 to 20,000 people took part in the Phoenix demonstration, as more than 2,000 high school students staged a classroom walk-out in Los Angeles and Latinos in the southern city of Atlanta rallied and boycotted businesses to protest plans for a legislative assault on immigration.

Fresh protests are scheduled to take place across the country in the coming days, including one in Los Angeles on Saturday that organizers claim will attract hundreds of thousands of people.

Friday's march in the Arizona capital of Phoenix paralyzed the city and surprised authorities, who had expected only about 2,500 protesters against the immigration reform bill to be debated in the US Senate next week.

Opponents have branded the legislation inhumane, unfair, and discriminatory.

"It's racist. The origins of this country are based on immigration. They (immigrants) are looking for a better way of life and to work hard and are a very good benefit to this country," said Mexican immigrant Daniel Ravella, a 42-year-old who has lived legally in the United States for four years.

"I don't agree with the way the immigration law is being passed through the Senate," he told AFP as he marched with his wife and two children.

People clogged the city streets as far as the eye could see, as police on horses, bicycles, and in cars scrambled to control the much larger than expected crowd of angry protesters.

The largely Latino demonstrators, waving US and Mexican flags, chanted and brandished banners and placards with slogans such as "We are not criminals, we are human."

"We march today because we are immigrants, we work hard and we love the USA," said illegal immigrant Carlos Diaz, 25, who has lived in Phoenix for the past five years.

"We are a part of the US. We want amnesty. We want to be residents," he told AFP.

In a possible sign of things to come, one banner unfurled by protesters read: "We are a lot, we will be more."

Some 35 million Hispanics, many of them from Mexico, live in the United States and form the basis of the human machinery that keeps the major cities humming.

Latinos who have gained US citizenship form an increasingly important part of the US electorate and make up 12.5 percent of the total population.

The immigration reform bill to be debated next week, House Resolution 4437, targets illegal immigrants, who number some 11.5 million, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and account for 24 percent of farm workers, 17 percent of cleaners, and 14 percent of construction workers.

The law would make all undocumented immigrants criminals and require all employers to verify the immigration status of their employees.

The US House of Representatives has already passed the bill, and Republican Senator Bill Frist has introduced a companion bill in the Senate that also would make it a felony to be in the United States without the proper paperwork.

It comes amid growing US security fears and as conservatives complain of illegals stealing American jobs.

In Latino-dominated areas of Los Angeles, thousands of high school pupils walked out of class en masse to protest the beefed up enforcement of immigration laws, marching through nearby streets.

"They're making laws for all immigrants to go back to their countries, and we just think that's not right," student Francisco Velazquez said. "We all want to stay here. We all want to get a good education."

In the southern city of Atlanta, where about four percent of the population is Hispanic, immigrant business owners closed their shops and boycotted those that remained open.

The proposed law would also increase penalties for immigrant smuggling, stiffen those on undocumented immigrants who reenter the United States, and crack down on anyone giving succor to undocumented residents, including churches.

Another proposition under debate is the construction of an 80-kilometer (50-mile) wall sealing part of Arizona's 320-kilometer (200-mile), porous border with Mexico.

Mexican framer and carpenter Martin Ramirez, 41, who has lived without papers in the United States for 23 years, said during the Phoenix march that he had not come to America to live off the state.

"I came to work for the kids, for a better life, I didn't come for food stamps," he said.

A wave of protests against the proposed law has rolled across the country, culminating in a protest of up to 30,000 people who marched through the streets of the Midwestern city Milwaukee on Thursday in a protest dubbed a "day without Latinos."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Financial fraud?

this story was taken from

Gov't revises 2005 trade data; reports bigger deficit
Posted: 11:11 AM | Mar. 24, 2006
Erik de la Cruz

THE TRADE deficit last year stood at 6.163 billion dollars, against a preliminary estimate of 3.903 billion, the National Statistics Office said.

Total revenue from exports last year stood at 41.26 billion dollars against an initial estimate of 41.006 billion, while total payments for imports amounted to 47.418 billion dollars compared with the preliminary level of 44.910 billion.

NSO officials said the adjustments took into account "late entries" or data received after cut-off dates, as well as some data excluded from the initial computation.

As a result of the revisions, the 2005 growth rates for exports and imports were adjusted to 4.0 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively, from preliminary estimates of 3.9 percent and 2.0 percent.

Exports receipts in 2004 totaled 39.681 billion dollars, while import expenditures totaled 44.039 billion dollars.

GDP, economic data flawed, says IMF
By Chito Lozada


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has noted flaws on the country's statistical agency's estimates of the gross domestic product (GDP) saying there exists large discrepancies between GDP estimates calculated from the expenditure and production sides, which the government uses.

The IMF, in a paper presented as a result of its latest review of the Philippine economy, said the discrepancy result in "consequent differences in estimates of GDP growth."

The IMF said despite the authorities' efforts to improve (data) quality, serious weaknesses remain in the national accounts.

The IMF stated that although data are generally published on a timely basis, "weaknesses in the statistical base continue to hamper surveillance."

The IMF said based on the 2004 Data Module of the Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC), which guides countries on data integrity, the most serious deficiencies "relate to the national accounts and balance of payments statistics."

It added deaths and births of establishments are not adequately captured.

In turn, this gap is of growing importance given the rapid structural change in the economy in recent years,with a large number of new establishments, in particular in the electronics and information technology industries, it said.

The IMF added compilation of data in the Philippines relies on an outdated benchmark year and fixed input-output ratios.

"The estimates are derived by extrapolation of the 1988 benchmark year using fixed input-output ratios. For example, GDP statistics for the electronic sector suggest that value added remained at 10 percent of exports over the past years in spite of industry evidence that the domestic component of exports has been rising sharply," it said.

The IMF, moreover, said statistical techniques in estimating the GDP at constant prices are inadequate.

"For most activities, not all components of the production accounts are compiled, instead only value added is estimated," it said.

In addition, the IMF noted the national accounts constant price estimates for merchandise exports and imports are arrived at by multiplying 1985 values by quantity data, by weights, from the foreign trade statistics for current years.

Because of this inappropriate method, implicit deflators, which take the difference between the real value and that including inflation, for electric machinery products appear high compared with developments in world market prices.

The IMF said it has fielded several technical assistance missions since 1995, including the assignment of an advisor in 2003.

In 2005, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas created a new Department of Economic Statistics, with one of its units to concentrate on compiling, analyzing and publishing the balance of payments and the international investment position.

It also noted major revisions to the 2003 to 2004 accounts in March 2005.

Statistics agencies have more than once revised trade data since 2001. In 2002, the Asian Wall Street Journal (AWSJ) reported the country window-dressed its current account data by understating imports.

The National Statistics Office later on admitted having erred in the computations of both exports and imports due to what it claims as missed data inputs from the country's free trade zones. The NSO also admitted having counted exports from the zones twice resulting in a better than actual trade and current account figures.

The problem then includes massive under-reporting of imported electronic parts, which are then assembled into semiconcductors, computer accessories and other finished goods that make up two-thirds of exports.

The AWSJ report hinted then the window-dressing was intentional since ratings agencies were then looking at the country's economic performance for a possible credit ratings upgrade.

Work to backtrack the series to 1999 to make the series comparable is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2006, it added.

Data revisions on imports have narrowed the gap between national trade data and those of partner countries on a net basis.

Since the deregulation program in the early 1990s, international transactions have increasingly flowed through nontraditional channels that are not adequately covered by the statistical reporting system.

The major gap relates to foreign currency deposit units (FCDUs), which account for about 70 percent to 75 percent of foreign exchange settlements.

Because of strict secrecy rules, banks are not mandated to report information, it noted.

Unless modifications are made to secrecy rules associated with FCDU accounts to facilitate the collection of data for statistical purposes, compilation of the balance of payments will continue to face challenges in securing adequate source data, the IMF said.

Weaknesses remain, however, including in the treatment of nonoperational banks, valuation of securities and treatment of accrued interest, the IMF said.

While the Philippines meets the requirements of fiscal transparency in many important respects, the recent fiscal and data ROSCs found areas that require strengthening, the IMF added.

An important problem is that the budget is presented on an obligations basis, while the deficit is reported on a cash basis, complicating comparisons of budgets and outcomes.

In addition, for levels of the public sector beyond the budgetary central government, consolidated fiscal outturns for items other than the fiscal balance are generally not available, the IMF said.

For comments about this
The Daily Tribune (c) 2006

Ex-Neda chief suggests padded growth figures
By Chito Lozada


Why do analysts almost always underestimate the country's economic growth figures, the latest of which was the 5.1 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth last year that was forecast at most a 4.7 percent growth?

Former National Economic Development Authority (Neda) director general and Socio Economic Policy Secretary Felipe Miranda said the surprising growth figure last year may be nothing more than the result of massaged data that was the result of a less conservative formula in estimating growth.

"Nearly every one of them (analysts) expected that record-high oil prices and the political crisis will result in a significant reduction in GDP growth in 2005, particularly in the fourth quarter but the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) came up with a growth rate of 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter and 5.1 percent for 2005," Medalla said.

He noted that using the gross domestic expenditures approach, growth rates for last year would be much lower, or a mere 3 percent growth in the fourth quarter and 3.4 percent for the entire of last year.

Analysts and forecasters were right about the 2005 economic performance if the gross domestic expenditures were used as basis for growth, Medalla said.

Gross domestic expenditures are comprised of personal consumption, expenditures of both the private sector and the government and net exports, which are exports less imports.

The government used the production approach in estimating growth.

He said the statistical gap between expenditures and production growth rates has widened "and is abnormally high" during the last five years, or after Mrs. Arroyo took office in 2001.

"Either the economy is very resilient or GDP growth was significantly over-estimated," Medalla said.

Medalla, a School of Economics professor at the University of the Philippines, presented a paper entitled "Surprising Economic Growth or Puzzling Statistics? Implications on Financial Markets" to back up his assertions.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its recent assessment of the economy made a similar comment on the economic data.

The IMF noted large discrepancies between GDP estimates calculated from the expenditure � as espoused by Miranda � and the production side, on which the government bases the official GDP estimates.

This resulted, consequently, in "differences in estimates of GDP growth," according to the IMF.

The IMF attributed the discrepancies to the failure to adequately capture "deaths and births of business establishments, outdated benchmark year and fixed input-output ratios, and inadequate statistical techniques in estimating GDP at constant prices."

"The (GDP) estimates are derived by extrapolation of the 1988 benchmark year using fixed input-output ratios. For example, GDP statistics for the electronic sector suggest that value added remained at 10 percent of exports over the past years in spite of industry evidence that the domestic component of exports has been rising sharply," it said.

"For most activities, not all components of the production accounts are compiled, instead only value added is estimated," the IMF said.

The IMF said the national accounts constant price estimates for merchandise exports and imports are arrived at by multiplying 1985 values by quantity data, by weights, from the foreign trade statistics for current years.

Medalla said growth estimates based on production and expenditures
virtually even out over the long run, or over 20 years, but not
necessarily in the medium term such as in five years.

Medalla noted the main weaknesses in estimation of growth are found in agriculture and manufacturing.

Medalla said possible indicators that the economy has not grown as fast as reported was the slow growth in the demand for electricity and low expansion of domestic credit.

For comments about this
The Daily Tribune (c) 2006

BOP surplus seen to drop to $1.6B this year
By Des Ferriols
The Philippine Star 03/24/2006

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects the country's balance of payments (BOP) surplus to drop to $1.6 billion this year from $2.4 billion in 2005.

The BSP said yesterday that it had opted to take a conservative position when it ran the preliminary figures of dollar inflows from export earnings and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) this year.

"Although the National Government (NG) made a huge deposit into the international reserves, these funds would not stay there but they will be spent to pay maturing obligations, " BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said.

The NG generated $2.1 billion in January from global and euro bond floats, pushing the country's gross international reserves (GIR) to a record high of $2.029 billion in February.

However, Guinigundo explained that although the NG deposit pushed the BOP surplus to an all-time high, the funds would not stay in the reserves and actual inflows net of government borrowings could actually go down in 2006.

"There are factors we had to consider and we decided it would be better to make a conservative preliminary estimate rather than be tied to an unrealistically high number," Guinigundo said.

According to Guinigundo, the BSP was making room for a possible softening in the global demand for electronics which could lead to a weaker export performance for 2006.

Morevoer, Guinigundo said the BSP was not being overly optimistic about the possible inflows from OFWs which surged by 10 percent last year.

"Remittances were really strong in 2005 and we expect that to continue in 2006 although perhaps not by the same magnitude," Guinigundo said. "We don't know what could happen this year, immigration laws could tighten up further and curtail labor deployment."

According to the BSP's Department of Economic Statistics (DES), the deployment of workers had already declined in the first two months of the year and this could portend slower OFW remittances this year.

DES director Iluminada Sicat said the BSP did not want to over-estimate foreign exchange inflows, especially since there was no clear indication as yet of total foreign direct investment or portfolio investments.

Based on initial projections, Sicat said the BSP is expecting total export earnings to grow by only eight percent to $43.6 billion this year from $40.3 billion in 2005.

Imports, on the other hand, are expected to reach $52.6 billion, up from $48.3 billion. Guinigundo said this indicated that there would be capacity and materials for expansion in production if the demand actually materializes.

The projected GIR for this year is still $20 to $21 billion.

Copyright (c) 2005 . All rights reserved.

March 24, 2006
Business (as of 1:33 AM)
Bangko Sentral cuts RP's dollar surplus forecast
By MARICEL E. BURGONIO, The Manila Times Reporter

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) cut this year's forecast for the country's dollar surplus from last year's level, citing huge repayment of government's maturing debt and lower remittances by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

In a briefing on Thursday Iluminada Sicat, director of the central bank's economic statistics department, said the BSP expects the country to end the year with a balance-of-payments (BOP) surplus of $1.6 billion, higher than an earlier estimate of $900 million but down from $2.4 billion in 2005.

The BOP summarizes a country's economic transactions with the rest of the world, including its net proceeds from trade and investment flows. A surplus in the BOP means the country earned more foreign exchange than it gave up, thus boosting its dollar reserves and instilling confidence in the country's ability to weather global economic downturns.

"We made [a] conservative forecast due to different risks in the global economy [for] exports, the potential growth of the deployment of OFWs, as well as strict implementation of the Antimoney Laundering Act," Sicat said.

She said the national government decided to frontload its borrowings, which will be used to repay maturing loans.

The national government early this year raised $2.2 billion through the sale of global bonds or IOUs. This forms part of its $4-billion foreign borrowing program this year.

Late last year the government frontloaded by borrowing some $1 billion.

Besides commercial sources, the government also plans to borrow another $900 million from foreign donors.

The BSP expects some $650 million in loans to mature this year.

Its policymaking Monetary Board has decided to source some $500 million from the country's dollar or international reserves.

For this year, the BSP expects the country's reserves to reach $20 to $21 billion $18.5 billion last year. At end-February, this reached a record $20.6 billion.

OFW remittances, meanwhile, are seen to rise by 10 percent this year from $10.7 billion in 2005. Exports are expected to expand by 8 percent this year from $40.3 billion last year.

Deepening alliance?

By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Business World column

Unholy alliance?

Sometimes the truth comes out quietly in a most unexpected manner. What could be more ironic than it should now come out straight from the horse's mouth albeit quite unintended.

After months of repeatedly telling the public that the military chain of command is intact, that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is solid in upholding the constitution (and, presumably, the Arroyo regime because the official line is that it is still the duly constituted authority), the AFP Chief of Staff now admits matter-of-factly that we should expect more coup attempts in the near future...

Click here to read the entire article

JUSTICE FOR CRIS HUGO and other victims of political killings!


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dr. Steeve Godilano's letter on St. Bernard landslide

The following is an edited letter of Dr. Steeve Godilano to his brother, Fr. Celso Godilano, days after the St. Bernard, Southern Leyte, landslide occurred. Steeve would like to share this letter to as many people as possible so that more than simply informing them, a good number would be inspired to do something concrete for others.

The headings in this letter were added in order to help the readers easily locate salient points and better appreciate the contents of the letter at a glance.

The enclosed works of Steeve were done more than two years ago. A lot of changes may have occurred (for better or for worse), including assignments of persons mentioned in the letter.

26 February 2006

It Is Just A Matter Of Time!

I would like to share with you the frustration I have with our government specifically on how they have made a major blunder in disregarding the GIS modeling I developed two years ago. I have the maps and database showing that at least 573 Municipalities in the Philippines are directly prone to landslides. Collateral damage to other municipalities could also be determined through my work. What happened to Ormoc City, Liloan, San Ricardo and St. Bernard in Southern Leyte; to San Francisco in Surigao del Norte; to Dingalan in Aurora ; to Infanta and Real in Quezon; and to Tinambac in Camarines Sur could also happen to these municipalities. It is just a matter of time! The model I developed showed a perfect score so far. Since those responsible government officials disregarded my warnings for almost three years this has become a burden on my conscience that has become like a devil that needs to be exorcised.

Before I continue my story, let me thank you for all your help to guide me in bringing this out to the media. May God bless us for our efforts.

My Saddest Christmas Ever

In December 2003, three days before Christmas I saw in the BBC World the landslide that occurred in Liloan and San Ricardo, Southern Leyte and in San Francisco, Surigao del Sur. I was almost shocked by the footages that show dead people being pulled out of the mud and dumped like garbage into a common grave. Millions around the world have witnessed how unprepared we were for such a magnitude of disaster. Doon ko rin nakita na maraming gustong pumapel, especially our politicians in order to gain pogi points. On the other hand I, being a scientist, contemplated on how I can use my knowledge of the state-of-the-art tools that I have learned in graduate school. This is to predict the probable areas in the Philippines where such disaster could occur, given the historical events and information that I posses, such as extreme rainfall, landforms, geology, land use, land cover, slope, soil texture, and potential soil erosion that happened in the three areas including that of Ormoc City in 1991. I think that was the saddest Christmas I ever had and I was working furiously in my computer even until past midnight.

I have all these information in my Laptop and they cover the whole country. What was needed was to use GIS technology, plus common sense on how the above thematic maps would interact, given the extreme amount of rainfall that fell in those areas within 24-36 hours period. Historical evidence from PAGASA data showed a 500-700 percent above normal rainfall that fell in those areas. I went for the minimum limit to give leeway for errors since we are dealing here with human lives ( mas mabuti yong nasa safe side ka kaysa wala kang aatrasan if I aimed for a 100 percent probability). I created the criteria for the probable landslide occurrence and made an overlay analysis in a GIS environment. Bingo! I got the area of susceptibility to landslide. To make sure that I got the right criteria I matched the results of my analysis to the three areas that were devastated by landslide, including that of Ormoc City. The match was perfect. I then calculated the probable areas by Region, Provinces, and Municipalities, which then enabled me to generate those maps and database. The other question I had in my mind at that time was this: "What will I do with my findings?"

Rubbing Elbows With The High And The Mighty

Reporting back to the DA-BAR In January 2004, where I am the Senior Technical Adviser for GIS and ICT, I saw an invitation letter on my table coursed through Usec. Poliquit. The Geohazard Tasks Force (GTF) was inviting the DA to participate in the 2nd Task Force Meeting. I found it strange that the DA was not included in the 1st Task Force meeting that was immediately organized by President G M Arroyo right after the event that happened in Liloan, San Ricardo, and San Francisco . I contended that the DA should have been included as the majority of those affected in any disaster are the farmers and fisher folks. I have learned that in the first meeting of the GTF they were directed to create the geohazard map of Region 5, 8 and 13. The second task force meeting was called to check on their progress.

I immediately sought a meeting with Usec. Poliquit and showed him the result of my GIS analysis. Convinced of the scientific merit of my work, he immediately confirmed our attendance to the GTF meeting and he insisted that I make a presentation. D-Day was 16 January 2004. I was the third presenter. After my presentation I got a standing ovation from the audience. The moderator was Usec. Geroche of the DENR and also the vice chair of the GTF. He declared that the GTF would adopt the methodology I developed for other disasters and that the two other presenters would no longer present their papers. I was even asked in public how much would be the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for my efforts and my consultancy fee. Usec. Poliquit even joked that they should negotiate my fee through him as he was the one who discovered my expertise. I was asked to give a digital copy of my presentation for Sec. Guzon . The head of the NDCC (whose name I am not so sure of) also asked for a copy of my presentation and he even asked my permission if he could use my materials in an international conference on disaster prediction and management. I agreed and requested him that he should recognize my efforts as a scientist in his presentation. He informed me a week later that he got praises for the initiative we have made in the country.

A Simple (Almost Naive!) But Very Economical Recommendation

One of my recommendations then was very simple. To prevent so much loss of lives, what is needed is an Early Warning System (EWS): an empty 1.5-liter soft drink container; cut this with a 2" opening and put it one (1) meter above the ground with no obstruction, within a radius of 20 meters (the 2" opening is the level of the liquid). If heavy rains come within 24 to 36 hours, and the bottle is half full, the community should initiate evacuation. Text brigade can be organized in the highlands just in case heavy rains would occur in those places and not in the lowlands. What PAGASA is recommending (this is during the NDCC meeting in 2005) was a rain gauge set-up for every Municipality at a cost of PhP10,000 each. If you search the Internet for rain gauges you can even purchase one for PhP500 only (I have even included this in my presentation). What a significant difference from a PhP35-peso cost of an empty 1.5-liter plastic container of soft drink (libre pa pag napulot mo sa basurahan), to PhP500 for a US-made rain gauge to PhP10,000 fabricated rain gauge by PAGASA. Since we have approximately 1,500 municipalities the total amount would be PhP15 million! How many schools/classrooms can we build with this amount? How many kilometers of farm-to-market roads can be built?

An exercise In Futility

What I was proposing at that time was to print the geohazard maps I developed and send these immediately to all the mayors of the 573 municipalities in my list and also to include the EWS I was recommending. I was just asking a budget of PhP50,000 to cover the cost of the printing materials (PhP100 per municipality). I also informed the group that my presentation and maps will be made available in the DA-BAR Web site (

A week after my presentation, I got a call from Usec. Poliquit telling me that Usec. Geroche called and requested him to contact me to write a project proposal on geohazard mapping using the methodology I developed. I immediately complied and submitted to Usec. Geroche in person the HC and the digital format of the proposal. I even told him that he could modify the costing as I am not familiar with the details on how the DENR allocate budget for a certain project. I even told him that my consulting fee included in the budget is negotiable. I have never heard anything from them after that.

It was indeed a big frustration on my part not to hear anymore what the GTF will do with my proposal considering that time was running out. Meanwhile I did not keep my silence but presented in many occasions the results of my analysis. Copies of which were given for free. I even traveled to Legaspi City on my own expenses just to present my paper to the Provincial and Municipal Planning Officers of Region 5 (inembita ako through a friend at wala din daw silang pera for my fare).

Information Is Awareness And Awareness Is Preparedness

Ten months (November2004) after my presentation to the GTF, the disaster in Aurora, Quezon, and Camarines Sur provinces happened with so much loss of lives and property (the landslide that occurred in Tinambac, Camarines was not highlighted in the news because this was also the time when FPJ died). Going back to my computer files I have examined the devastated areas and, lo and behold, all of them were in my list and maps. I felt emptiness in my heart and got sleepless nights for not walking the extra mile to disseminate the information I already have 10 months ago. I cursed the people who disregarded the information I was giving for free and even shed tears seeing those miseries on TV. I believed that if the information I have presented to the GTF was provided to the Mayors of Dingalan, Infanta, Real, and Tinambac, the number of deaths could have been drastically reduced (ang matotodas lang doon ay yong mga pasaway na matitigas ang ulo at ayaw umalis ng bahay at yong gusto magnakaw ). The dead and missing were approximately 1,600. For example, the building in Real where those people took refuge in the hope that they were safe was, in fact, shown in the map as the area prone to landslide. The story could have been different if they have known that that area was itself prone to landslide. INFORMATION IS AWARENESS AND AWARENESS IS PREPAREDNESS.

I Thought Trying Hard At It For The Second Time Around Would Produce Safer Results (If Not Sweeter)

Not willing to surrender, I again approached Usec. Poliquit and requested him if I could present my paper for the second time to the new NDCC and DA Secretary. My presentation to the DA Secretary was specific on the effects of landslide to the agricultural and fishery sectors. For example, I found out that 80% of the landslide prone areas, out of 800,000 hectares, are under the responsibility of the DA, specifically 85,000 hectares of coconut lands. There is a need for the DA to address this vital information; we should seek technologies to stabilize these landslide prone areas. At least three Usecs and four Asecs attended my presentation with the DA Secretary. The DA is now adopting a watershed concept in agricultural production but should fast track this kind of approach all over the country, especially in the identified disaster prone sites.

I was also able to present an updated version of my presentation to the NDCC command conference including the GTF in Fort Bonifacio. Again, Usec. Poliquit was there to support me. That was on 18 January 2005, exactly 367 days after my presentation to the GTF. Top government officials were present including NGOs. Three Secretaries were present at that time, namely, Sec. Cruz of NDCC, Sec. Soliman of DSWD, and Sec. Alabastros of DOST. Usec. Geroche of DENR was also there, representing Sec. Defensor. Others present were USecs and ASecs of their respective agencies, particularly PAGASA and PhilVocs. Majority in the audience were also present in my presentation last year. Similar to my presentation in 2004, I got a thundering applause and was even congratulated by Sec. Cruz for the simplicity of my recommending a cost-effective EWS and organizing a text brigade for a quicker response just in case heavy rains occur only in the upper barangays. In that presentation I also included the same proposal I had before for a comprehensive geohazard mapping of the country.

Adopting Costly Solutions To Simple Problems?

In that command conference, PhilVocs declared that Infanta is inhabitable and that people there should be relocated elsewhere. The Gawad Kalinga representative was there, too, and he supported the PhilVocs proposal. This was also supported by then Sec. Soliman. They identified the UPLB Land Grant in Laguna-Quezon area as the place for relocation, which is approximately 50 kms. from Infanta. I protested and informed them that when the tragedy in Ormoc City happened, there were 6,000 dead and the City was not relocated. I suggested instead that a diversion canal should be built at the back of the City as a mitigation measure. I suggested that they should visit and study what has been done in Ormoc City before implementing their not-so-well-studied plans. I told them that relocation is not an option for the majority of the people in Infanta. In three years' time that area will be a fertile land due to silt deposit brought about by the landslide. Minority of the people who lost everything would probably buy the idea of relocating. However, what will the fishermen do in the UPLB Land Grant since the area is in the uplands? I even presented to them satellite images of the area and pointed out that a diversion canal similar to Ormoc City could also be built with a length less that four (4) kms. To my mind they favor the relocation option because foreign donations are pouring in and the requirement is that the government should provide for the relocation area and the houses will be built for free. The question is: why are we always enticed to things that are free, can we not stand on our own as a people?

Endless Meetings, Fewer Practical Results

I was invited to two other NDCC meetings and afterwards I faded away from them. The discussions were too boring and the recommendations made by our policy makers were impractical, too expensive, and there was no synergy in planning. They were just wasting resources and going nowhere. For example, in highly agricultural areas, they wanted to rehabilitate the destroyed irrigation network so that the farmers could plant rice. Rehabilitation is not an option as the canals are deeply buried and the land configuration has change from lowland to an upland ecosystem. Besides, according to a NIA personnel, the fuel expenses for pumping water even before the landslide occurred was much more than what they could collect from irrigation fees. This means they are already operating at a loss. They could have planted camote right after the landslide for practical reasons. After four months they could have harvested it. The lack of foresight and imagination of our policy makers contributed to the dole-out mentality of our people. Six months after the disaster they were still dependent on noodles provided by donors. Camote is more nutritious!

The Mysterious Question:
How Come Many Government Projects Are So Costly?

Aside from my presentation, the GTF also presented a proposal worth PhP90 millions for a geohazard mapping of selected provinces. The same activities in my proposal, covering the whole country, would only cost approximately PhP30 million. Of course, my proposal was more encompassing as these included institutional, capacity building, and empowering the community to make decisions based on factual information. These were calculated separately and could be implemented phase by phase. The priority was to generate a map showing a coincidence of all kinds of disasters for the whole country. For example, a map showing the coincidence of Landslide + Earthquake + Volcano Eruption + Storm Surge could be declared not suited for settlement area. Other combinations could be addressed by instituting mitigating measures and disaster preparedness. After the meeting Maj. Gen. Glen Rabunza (NDCC Director for Operation) approached me and asked why in the proposed mapping activities of the GTF, GIS was not included? He even insisted that the methodology I developed should be incorporated. Again after that meeting nothing happened.

I have modified my original proposal that was submitted to Usec. Geroche a year ago and again submitted this to him in person. In our meeting he informed me that the GTF was already implementing their PhP90M proposal. When I ask what happened to my proposal I submitted a year ago, he replied that my methodology was based on computer modeling while that of the GTF was based on actual field survey, which was more reliable.

Urgently Needed: New Technologies In This Age Of Smart Bombs And Stealth Planes

The methodology of the GTF is outdated and time consuming! What is needed is to further enhance the model I developed by pooling together experts from the various agencies involved in disaster to create a unified model and then verify the output in the field. In so doing, we have already the information in our hands before even going to the field (this was included in my paper which was praised by Usec. Geroche a year ago). I have argued this in my official letter to Usec. Geroche.

A survey was even conducted by students of the UP Diliman Geoscience group and found out that my methodology is more superior and efficient compared to what is being implemented, which is also costly and very slow. I also asked the help of Maj. Gen. Rabunza to help me in convincing Sec. Cruz to integrate my approach to that of the GTF. He gave me his assurance but again nothing happened.

I have also insisted that while the geohazard maps were being developed (which is too slow and covers only selected provinces), GTF should print the maps that I have generated two years ago for the same reasons mentioned above. Again nobody listened.

Who Will Be Next In My List?
And The Stakes Are Getting Higher And Higher!

What happened in Infanta, Real, Dingalan and, recently, in St. Bernard, particularly in Barangay Guinsaugon, is history. But how about the death of at least 2,000 people? How about those 1,600 dead and missing in November 2004? How about those 6,000 souls that perished in Ormoc in 1991? What a tragedy, what a shame! WHO WILL BE NEXT IN MY LIST?

Has the GTF made a "lapse of judgment" on this information? What is the GTF doing now and in the future? It started more than two years ago and people in the GTF said on TV that they have completed only ten provinces so far. Since we have about 80 provinces should we wait for another 7 years for the GTF to cover the whole country? ( Ang tanong ko kay Sec. Cruz noon ay "Sir ano ang gagawin natin bukas"? The "bukas" means papaano kung may ma landslide na naman na wala sa mapa nyo at nandito sa mapa ko? And it happened because they were mapping Region 5, 8, and 13 and the landslide occurred in Reg 4 ). Does this means an additional budget of approximately PhP630M? I did my analysis for only one week covering the whole country with no costs to the government and the score so far for landslide is 100 percent.

I have included in my presentation the proposal of mapping the entire county and the total amount would only be around PhP211M. The amount extends beyond mapping and includes technology transfer and empowering our people on how to use cutting-edge technology such as GIS, RS, GPS, and environmental modeling. We are already 20 years behind compared to developed countries in using these new tools!

I Am Just A Small Voice In This Highly-politicized And Disaster-prone World Of Ours

I have all the documents to support my claim that I did my best to warn our leaders. If I failed, partly to blame also are some of our people in government. By this act of mine, whether this will bring me personal advantage or not, spiritual and material, it does not really matter now. I can always go back to farming and keep my peace. What I did, hopefully, would make a difference in the lives of others and to this poor world of ours. I also believe that my entire family will be behind me 100 per cent and with the blessing of the Almighty, I would survive this ordeal. I'm trying my best to do what I have to do, even quite late for now. I could have done this two years ago. Perhaps this is one of my greatest blunders in life. Now there is no holding back. The devil is out of my mind and life must go on. Again, thank you very much for your help. In doing so, we have done our best.

All the best.


LFS (USA) Holds Arroyo Accountable for Cris Hugo's Murder

BAYAN-USA unites with the call of our youth demanding Arroyo be held accountable for Cris Hugo's murder. Please distribute the following statement to your networks. For the story on Cris Hugo's murder please go to

Official Statement
March 21, 2006


Josh Castro, Secretary General
Princess Bustos, Co-Mass Campaigns
Joal Vargas, Co-Mass Campaigns

LFS (USA) Holds Arroyo Accountable for Cris Hugo's Murder

San Francisco (USA) - The League of Filipino Students (LFS) at San Francisco State University (SFSU) immediately expresses grief and indignation condemning the atrocious killing of a student activist and leader in Bicol, Philippines, on the night of March 19, 2006.

Cris Hugo, a 4th year journalism student from Bicol University and National Council Member of the League of Filipino Students in Bicol, was shot dead in Legazpi City by unidentified armed men on his way home with friends.

"We are outraged and we hold the Arroyo administration accountable for the killing of Hugo and the continuous attacks against our fellow youth leaders. In the belly of the beast, we have been steadfast in protesting the Arroyo regime's brutal crimes against the Filipino masses including the abduction of Davao City Anakbayan chair Raunil Mortejo, the recent murder of Tirso Cruz Hacienda Luisita union leader, and GMA's continued political persecution of Crispin Beltran and the BATASAN 5," Joal Vargas, Co-Mass Campaign Officer of LFS-SFSU states.

Vargas continued "We hold Arroyo accountable for all the injustices committed under her administrations de-facto Martial law. As part of our work here as students we study the conditions under Arroyo's bankrupt presidency: the worsening economic crises, the escalating human rights violations, the record breaking mass killings of activists and journalists, and the warantless abductions. Cris is one of many
persecuted leaders in this movement for true and necessary social change."

In this time of critical resistance to the incredulous state terror and repression in the Philippines under the Arroyo-U.S. fascist regime, we stand militant and strong alongside our friends and fellow student activists in the homeland. We have learned through our exposures to the Philippines that to teach, organize and motivate the masses is necessary and crucial.

Irene Duller, Education Officer of LFS (SFSU). "The League of Filipino Students here in San Francisco is enraged by the loss of a young, just mass leader who worked in diligent address of Arroyo's tyranny for true democracy in the Philippines. It is an unfortunate event that intensifies the call for the ouster of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the U.S. puppet who is low enough to condone the killing of the youth- the future of our country. Arroyo cannot suppress the power of the youth. Her continuing
violation of human rights only fuels our determination in building People Power."

In this next week to come, LFS-SFSU will spearhead a JUSTICE for CRIS campaign condemning the injustice and holding fraudulently elected GMA accountable to this atrocity. A candle lighting protest and commemoration will also bring LFS alongside with other BAYAN-USA Bay Area organizations to condemn the political prosecution of youth activist leaders and the illegal targeting of other prominent mass leaders and activists.


good reading material on middle class'...

...indifference, and on a myth about Gloria Arroyo.

By Luis V. Teodoro

SENATOR Joker Arroyo is right. If there is anything about which everyone can agree when it comes to the present crisis of Philippine democracy, it is on the indifference of most Filipinos, particularly those we might safely describe as "middle class."

Senator Arroyo observed the other day that the government is "committing one violation of the Constitution after another" by dispersing demonstrations and rallies, intimidating the media, and arresting people without warrants.

A human rights lawyer during the Marcos dictatorship, Senator Arroyo should know a human rights violation when he sees it. Despite his identity as "an administration senator," he basically agrees with a legion of organizations and individuals from practically every sector of Philippine society that, unless there is widespread resistance, the Arroyo government is in the process of dismantling the democratic rights People Power 1 restored at EDSA in 1986 after 14 years of dictatorship.

But when Senator Arroyo said that Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is "gradually losing her democratic moorings," which "makes her easy prey to a fascist clique in place in Malacanang" he might have been less than accurate. This part of his observations could further feed the myth that if the Arroyo government is brazenly violating the Bill of Rights, it's because she's become the hostage of the police, the military, and like minded forces.

There was a variation of this myth during the Marcos period. Basically it said that Marcos himself was not only a competent leader, he was also an honest democrat. The problem, the story went, was his wife, whose appetites for jewelry, mansions and other earthly possessions was so vast they could only be sated through the exercise of absolute power.

Many people especially those from the middle class believed this story. The mass media and expert press agentry had created an image of Marcos as a charismatic war hero and as an efficient and knowledgeable administrator. It was far easier to despise Imelda Marcos. Among the stereotypes of women in Philippine culture is that of the seductress and manipulator responsible for bringing men to ruin. Imelda Marcos fit the bill in the popular imagination.

Marcos was of course his own man. While he was indeed charismatic and knowledgeable, and efficient when he wanted to be, his appetite for power and wealth was as boundless as that Imelda Marcos was accused of, and outweighed whatever virtues he might have had.

The middle class believed the myth because it was comforting and convenient. In a virtual repeat of history, it is displaying the same wishful thinking now that it did during the Marcos period. This time it's not only Mrs. Arroyo's husband who's being blamed for the corruption and arbitrariness of Mrs. Arroyo's government, but also the police and the military. This was already evident when the spate of killings of political activists broke into the media two years ago. Those who had any opinion on it at all tended to argue that the killings were a purely military initiative and that Mrs. Arroyo could not do anything about it.

What's closest to the truth is that Mrs. Arroyo is her own woman. But she has shrewdly given the police and the military near-blanket authority to trample on the Bill of Rights, lie through their teeth, and make any claim no matter how outlandish for so long as it will help keep her in Malacanang.

The myth of Mrs. Arroyo's hostaging also permits Mrs. Arroyo's lackeys to occasionally declare that she's not responsible for such atrocities as the raid on the Daily Tribune, the continuing threats against the media, the totally unconstitutional ban on public assemblies, and the arrest-- both actual and potential-- of some of the country's representatives.

To middle class people, however, whether it's Mrs. Arroyo who's accountable for what's going on, or the police and the military, is at most a matter of curiosity and gossip easily dismissed at the dinner table or in social gatherings. The dismantling of Philippine democracy occupies the last place in the scale of their interests. Those interests are singularly focused on their jobs and whether they will continue to live their accustomed ways of life, which can be summarized as having the wherewithal to send their children to school, to go malling during the weekends, and to advance steadily as they age so they can acquire a house and a car, or probably two or three. When all else fail-if the job goes sour, for example-they can always leave.

The basic middle class value is thus that of self-centeredness and self-interest, as amply demonstrated in 1972 when with one voice the middle class approved of martial law because it meant the end of demonstrations that tied up traffic, and assured housewives that their husbands would be home on time because of the curfew.

The poor are equally self-centered. But the difference is that for the latter it is a matter of survival rather than advancement. The poor have to guard their livelihoods with their lives, for example, because their loss could literally mean starvation and having to live in the streets-which many are in fact already experiencing.

The poor also admit that they're too focused on survival to care. Middle class people invent all sorts of seemingly rational justifications for their indifference. In this they will not be moved, and they couldn't care less if Mrs. Arroyo were to make it illegal tomorrow for more than three people to assemble. As one letter- to-the -editor writer said, others "can out-fact me, they can out-argue me, they can out-debate me. That still does not make me wrong," demonstrating to one and all that it's not the facts or the validity of the arguments that matter, but self-interest which makes your middle class person angry.

But he's not angry at the corruption and dishonesty and the lawlessness that permit the systematic violation of the Constitution. He's angry at those who point these out and who want these to end. He's angry because free _expression messes up the traffic, and makes his making it to work on time difficult. He's not really indifferent. What he is is selfish, self-seeking, venal, and ultimately mercenary.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Norway expresses great concern

Norway expresses great concern over arrests and threats to freedom of expression, says it is closely watching human rights situation in the Philippines

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry in Oslo has expressed great concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines and said it is closely following the developments in the country after the brief imposition of emergency rule by Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a letter of reply sent to Norwegian Parliament member Anette Trettebergstuen of the Arbeiderpartiet (Labor Party), Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre wrote, "Norway is closely monitoring the human rights situation in the Philippines and looks with great concern at the latest developments of disputed arrests and threats to freedom of expression."

Støre also wrote that the Norwegian government has urged the Philippine government to respect human rights and is regularly in contact with the Philippine government.

"Through our embassy in Manila, we are in close contact with human rights organizations and human rights activists in the Philippines. Through these organizations, Norway is supporting different projects with focus on human rights, humanitarian law and especially on freedom of expression. As an example, the embassy in Manila has arranged a meeting with the visiting delegation from Amnesty International to have a clearer picture of the Philippine situation in general and to hear their experience and views on the situation regarding the emergency rule", Støre further wrote.

In a report this month, Amnesty International expressed grave concern at "reports of an ongoing pattern of political killings of members of legal leftist organizations in various provinces nationwide." While it welcomed the lifting of the emergency rule, it reminded the Philippine government that "during a genuine public emergency that indeed threatens "life of nation"-any restriction of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and assembly must be both necessary and strictly proportional to the dangers posed to the rights and freedoms of others."

As part of Norway's role as third party facilitator between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Philippine government (GRP), Støre pointed out that "we are supporting the Joint Monitoring Committee, a control mechanism for human rights agreement on both parties" and added that "a politically negotiated solution would be very important for the human rights situation in the country." He also mentioned that "there had been no formal negotiation since the autumn of 2004 between the GRP and the NDF and it remains unclear how the situation around the declaration of emergency rule will affect the resumption of the formal peace negotiations."

Trettebergstuen wrote a letter to the Foreign Minister to inquire about what the foreign minister is doing to demonstrate Norway's opposition to human rights abuse in the Philippines following the emergency rule. Trettebergstuen contacted the Oslo-based Filipino Resource Center to inform them of her letter to the foreign minister and has agreed to meet and discuss political developments in the Philippines.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Defensor is out of line

March 21, 2006

Defensor is out of line – Virador

BAYAN Muna representative Joel Virador today slammed one of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s pet talking heads over his defense of the illegitimate president.

“Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor is clearly out of line in his defense of Mrs. Arroyo. We did not declare that her meetings with progressive groups and even active military generals were illegal nor were these for a violent overthrow of former president Joseph Estrada. We are wondering how this administration has attained the logic that the Batasan 6 and other individuals ever committed rebellion for calling for the ouster of Gloria,” Virador said.
Defensor also challenged the party-list representatives to denounce the communist New People's Army, which was identified as being part of an alleged conspiracy in a foiled attempt to topple the Arroyo administration last February 24.
“Defensor is using the communist bogey on us. He must not insult his own intelligence by believing that we can be legally and honestly be pinned down by manufactured witnesses and wild imaginations of the administration,” Virador said.
The militant solon also gave Defensor some advice: “follow your conscience if you still have any of it and make the decision former Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo took. Stop defending an illegitimate president and resign,” Virador said.

The current Mining Act has to be repealed

March 21, 2006

The current Mining Act has to be repealed

A law that favors foreign interests over the nation’s long-term needs and sustainability of natural resources must be immediately repealed.

The recent disaster of one of government’s flagship mining projects in Rapu-rapu island in Bicol is a portent of worse things to come when foreign companies are allowed by the State to proceed with unbridled commercial mineral extraction.

The Supreme Court’s reversal of its ruling on the 1995 Mining Act (RA 7942) that described the law as a wholesale plunder of the country’s finite resources and a betrayal to national patrimony is actually a betrayal to the aspirations of the common people to progress while protecting our already fragile ecosystems.

The Macapagal-Arroyo administration’s claim that large-scale foreign mining would free the country from economic instability is certainly suspect.

The US$6.5 billion worth of mining investments that the administration imagines will bring us out of the economic rut is far from being realistic since the broad array of incentives is favorable to foreign mining investors but detrimental to the domestic economy. We are not assured of the tax revenues from the mining sector since the government can only collect taxes after the mining companies have earned their capital which can take at least seven years. We must also remember the Marcopper tragedy in 1993 and 1996. The mine tailings rendered the Boac and Makulapnit rivers biologically dead and rendered 823 hectares of farmland useless in Mariduque.

The Philippines is the fifth most mineralized country in the world. Opening the country’s mineral and natural resources to foreign exploitation does not necessarily denote economic progress. Historically, even the United States, Canada and Australia did not develop and attain economic growth driven by mining and mineral extractive endeavors as mining’s share in their respective annual GDPs is only 1 to 5 percent.

What we need is the national development of upstream and downstream industries that will use the processing of mineral products for domestic manufacturing and production. No substantial economic improvement will happen with the 1995 Mining Act because it is the transnational mining companies which will gain from it. That is why we are working to repeal the said law.

The liberalization of the mining industry as legalized in the Mining Act will only lead to massive dislocation of our cultural minorities and further degradation of our natural resources. This is more expensive for the country compared to the billions of dollars in investments that the government has been harping on. We have to develop a responsible, ecologically-sound and nationalist mining industry. RA 7942 runs counter to this national need and therefore must be repealed.

Only then can we start at charting a better path to the wise use of our finite natural and mineral resources that the people shall cherish and reap the utmost long-term benefits. #

Crusade for Cris Hugo

March 21, 2006

Youth groups launch 'Crusade for Cris'
Vows to organize protests that the 'government will never forget'

'CRUSADE FOR CRIS (HUGO),' A CAMPAIGN CALLING FOR justice, was launched by national youth organizations led by the League of Filipino Students (LFS) today, with protest activities marking several campuses.

Cris Hugo, a 20 year-old student leader, was shot dead last Sunday, March 19, making him the first student killed in the series of political assassinations this year.

"What is most alarming here is that, this time, the victim is a young student. This is what angers us so much, the fact that the target now extends to our friends and fellow students," said Vencer Crisostomo, LFS national chairperson.

Joining the crusade are national youth groups College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), Kabataan Party, Anakbayan, Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (KARATULA) and the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP).

The groups kicked-off the campaign with series of protest activities in several campuses.

The CEGP, a nationwide alliance of college publications, trooped to the University Belt and conducted information dissemination activities regarding the killing.

Students from the University of the Philippines, meanwhile, held room-to-room discussions and a noise barrage protest in the afternoon.

"Now we are really pissed. We promise to generate a student movement that will claim justice for Cris and will bring down this fascist government. We will avenge the killing of our fellow student and bring Arroyo a protest she will never forget," said Crisostomo.

The youth groups are holding a protest action on March 22, and are planning to march on March 23, together with other organizations.

"We will post his picture on the walls of our student offices and classrooms. He will serve as reminder of how wicked the Arroyo is and will be our inspiration to further intensify our efforts to oust her government immediately," Crisostomo said. ###