Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Subverting Privacy: The Human Security Act Ushers in Big brother

Subverting Privacy: The Human Security Act Ushers in Big brother
by Dr. Giovanni Tapang
Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan (AGHAM)

We're all being watched.

In the guise of searching for criminals and terrorists, there are invisible eyes and intricate surveillance networks that can follow you as you walk the streets, go into establishments and invade even our own homes. Everyone leaves personal electronic tracks that reveal who we are, what we do and what we like to the prying eyes of law enforcement officials. They even use your own cellphone to track where you go and who you talk to. Adding to this real threat is a law that allows the government to "legally" pry your bank accounts, listen to your conversations and strip you of your right to privacy at its whim.

With the Human Security Act, Big Brother has indeed arrived.

The Arroyo administration's latest effort to combat terrorism raises concern that Filipinos are now at greater risk of intrusion from their own government. The legislation, popularly known as the Anti-Terrorism Act, contains provisions that build on law enforcement's ability to peek at e-mail, to use wiretaps, monitor credit card purchases and bank transactions and conduct searches of suspected terrorists.

The Human Security Act (HSA) was foisted upon us during the preparations for the May 2007 elections. On February, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the bicameral version of the bill and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed it into law in a matter of days on March 6, 2007.

The HSA not only subverts our right to privacy under the guise of security and anti-terrorism, it also endangers the general citizenry with a dangerously vague definition of terrorism and a cabal of implementors that has a record of wanton disregard for human rights.

It has also worrying prospects of being prone to abuse as it has vague definitions for terrorism that undermines our freedom of association, assembly and movement. The definition of “terrorism” is deliberately made vague and broad. Section 3 defines “terrorism” as an act of “sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand.”

The terror law can violates a person’s right to privacy. In Section 7 of the law, surveillance of terror suspects is allowed and authorities can use any means to intercept and record all communications of suspected terrorists and their alleged conspirators. Ostensibly, law enforcement officials need to get the Court of Appeals approval to conduct wiretapping and other forms of electronic surveillance but with the Hello Garci scandal, we know that they can perform this even without any such approval.

Your personal “Hello Garci” experience: Tracking and listening on your cellphone

Current technologies that make our day to day communications are vulnerable. The discovery of a crude telephone wiretap in the phonebox near the Aquino residence during election time is but a reminder how easy it is to listen in another's conversation. In the Hello Garci phone conversations, all those who called were recorded as clearly as they were heard by the user.

Cellular telephones, introduced as early as the 1980s, are still essentially radio devices. The cellphone service area is divided into small "cells" where an antenna tower is located to receive and transmit signals. A phone inside that “cell” monitors the strongest signal from the surrounding towers and attempts to register with it. If it can't find a usable paging channel or the registration fails in all available networks, the phone would show NO SERVICE. A cellphone has to register with a cell site to use its services and be useful to end users.

As long as a mobile phone is turned on, it periodically broadcasts a signal to the nearest cell sites to register itself to the network so it can receive phone calls and SMS. This very same technology that allows cellphones to function, also allows one to measure differences in the signal arrival time and thus locate the unit relative to the cell sites.

As cell phone units are but spruced up radios, they are subject to triangulation making every phone a physical locating device. There are newer phones with GPS chips but triangulation will work with every cellphone. It only has to be turned on and can be tracked even when not in a call. This is inherent in the way cellphones work. The only way to avoid tracking is to turn off your unit.

Furthermore, the police and military have boasted of their capability to monitor cell phone calls and track the locations of criminals that have led to their arrests. In a television interview last month, an officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) warned that advanced wiretapping capabilities may have been used in the midterm elections

In Europe, SIM (subscriber identification modules) were used to locate and break up Al Qaeda cells. SIM cards connect cellphones to networks. Investigators were able to match the numbers with terror suspects and track some down in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and several countries in Europe. Even without personal information, the authorities were able monitoring other phone conversations by building on the phone network of a single surveilled phone. The perception of anonymity in obtaining a new SIM card can give a false sense of security.

Registration of SIM cards will also not work. It acts on the false logic that “if you tell me your name, then I can tell if you are a terrorist”. SIM registration is only an additional burden to the public and does not in any way ensure that terrorists will be caught. As Hon. Crispin Beltran said, “Cellphones are not deadly weapons like guns that need to be registered”.

As terrorists are now able to use other methods to communicate, it is the public that is left to the mercy of authorities and law enforcement officials. A normal cellphone user in the Philippines sends on the average 10 SMS to other friends, co-workers and family. If a person is thus suspected of terrorism, at least 10 other people would be implicated with him.

Under the terror bill, once you are made a suspect, even without proof or conviction, your location, messages and conversations are now subject to recording and tracking. Your phone list, messages and conversations are now compromised together with those in contact with you.

We are all under threat to have our personal Garci experience. While we don't fix electoral results and receive phone calls from the President, an increasingly distrustful and paranoid government such as the current one can cause you trouble and put you under surveillance because of mere suspicion. The Hello Garci issue, far from being resolved, is bound to multiply with arbitrary surveillance under the HSA.

Internet and Computer (in)security makes you vulnerable to snoops

The internet is a complex network with a lot of security holes. In early May, the PNP lamented the lack of cybercrime laws even as it has its own IT forensics lab. It is not technically difficult to sniff on a computer network. Internet service providers (ISPs) can be required to provide client information that can be used to track your browsing and emailing activities.

Viruses, trojans and back doors can maliciously email files from your computer by exploiting the current weaknesses of the operating system. These viruses can be brought to your computer in many ways, through floppy disks, CD-ROMs, email, web sites, and downloaded files. Those wanting to put you on surveillance can just send you an email that can compromise your whole system.

The well known “Love Bug” virus that spreads by e-mailing copies of itself to everyone in an infected computer's address book forced many companies in May 2000 to shut down their mail servers to prevent it from spreading. Even without the intent of destroying any data, under the broad definition of terrorism in the Terror law, inadvertent release of such a virus can cause you 40 years of no parole.

Emails are believed to be by many as secure and private because of its use of a password to log in. However, your email travels from the originating host computer to the destination and often passes through several relaying hosts. At each point in the transmission, your email can be read, changed and even deleted.

The US has a network of listening points, collectively known as ECHELON that screens out data sources and forward it to the US National Security Agency for analysis. The PNP and the NBI recently has formed its Task Force on Cyber Crime and was trained by the FBI. In the recent ASEAN meeting there were agreements for sharing security information under the eASEAN security pact. In the recent arrest of Indonesian terror suspects, the tracking of cell phone transmissions by Australian police via U.S. satellites was important.

However, physical access to your computer should be of primary concern. In the recent illegal arrest of Pastor Berlin Guerrero, even without the Terror bill in force, soldiers who tortured the church worker forced him to yield the password to his email and computer. They deleted all his emails and put in other in its stead. This method might seem crude and without need of computer savvy but is also frighteningly effective.

Friendster anyone?

As the government seeks to reduce the privacy of suspected terrorists, it also has kept the so called Anti-Terrorism Council very powerful. It has powers to proscribe any organization as terrorist, put an individual as a suspect which immediately reduces his rights even without trial, open your bank accounts, listen in your conversations and even extend this to your friends. Never has been putting your friendship network in cybercircles like Friendster and MySpace have been dangerous to all involved.

If only one of them is suspected of terrorism, everyone in the network is subject to the Terror bill's peering eyes and ears. With so much power concentrated into a cabal of government officials, who under recent experience has not shown any reasonable respect for human rights, there is more than enough reason to worry. These situations make the Terror Act a bill of attainder, which criminalizes and punishes individuals on the basis of guilt by association.

The Anti-Terrorism Council has also powers to build and profile anyone or any organization it sees fit under the vague definitions of terrorism as Section 54 allows it to "Establish and maintain comprehensive data-base information systems on terrorism, terrorist activities, and counter-terrorism operations". It can also "Freeze the funds, property, bank deposits, placements, trust accounts, assets and records belonging to a person suspected of or charged with the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism".

The security risks of this information database is enormous. It is a myth that if only we knew who everyone was, we could pick out the terrorists amongst us. Huge amounts of private information will be overseen by the Terror Council which allows a select group of people to possess too much information and power.

Only a committee that includes the DOJ and the Solicitor General stands as a grievance committee that evaluates any complaints to the police and law enforcement officials. These are the same people that the government would mobilize to implement the Terror bill.

Your personal money trails

Every time you check your salary in your bank's ATM, or encash a check, or buy with a credit card, you leave an electronic trace that can be recorded and put into a database. Under Sec. 27 of the Terror law, bank deposits, accounts and records of suspected terrorists and their alleged conspirators can be examined by authorities. All information involving a suspected account, including transactions with other accounts, can also be opened up and investigated.

In addition, the existing Anti-Money Laundering Act will flag transactions involving more than PhP 500,000. The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) can freeze that account pending verification and further investigation. There have been reports of opposition candidates whose transactions during the campaign and elections were investigated by the AMLC to the detriment of these candidates. These capabilities to freeze and open accounts are often abused by those who can wield it.


That the Orwellian scenario ushered in by the Human Security Act is not fiction is bolstered by the events since the Garci scandal. From the Calibrated Pre-emptive Response, to PP1017, EO464, the arrest of Cong. Beltran and the experiences of the the Batasan 6, we have seen the extent to which the current government has tried to stretch legal boundaries to obtain its political ends. Together with the resistance of the people to these edicts and actions, the Supreme Court has struck down at these attempts to undermine civil liberties.

Under this context, we can view the Terror law as an attempt to silence all forms of political dissent under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Because the threshold for suspicion is vague, anyone is under threat. Groups like TXTPower who harness the texting generation in issues ranging from opposition to text tax to the Garci issue can be labeled terrorists if its advocacy for consumer rights have run counter to the current government's subservience to the whims of foreign financial institutions such as the IMF.

The opportunities to attack the legitimate rights of Filipinos are widespread under the new law, from harassing opposition groups to the collection of massive quantities of data on all citizens, innocent and otherwise. The terror law has no assurances to reveal the criminals but it has all the power to invade our privacy and subvert our rights.

Finally, what is more dangerous is that the fight against terror as stated by George W. Bush and Gloria Arroyo is open-ended. This raises concern that the government's new authority will last indefinitely and impact more on innocent citizens than its avowed targets. With the Terror bill in place the threat to our freedom now comes from the government and no other: the state itself is our terrorist.###

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mining for the People, Not for Profit!

June 5, 2007

Mining for the People, Not for Profit!

We are rallying before the 7th Asia-Pacific Mining Conference and the Asean Federation of Mining Associations (AFMA) because we wish to protect our country, as well as other struggling countries throughout the Asia Pacific region, from the environmental tsunami brought about by foreign mining giants.

We are not anti-mining. We believe that mining has a fundamental role in national industrialization, that it can be responsibly utilized for the people's welfare: to meet the needs of hospitals and schools, homes and industries. Mining has its rightful place in a society where governance and science and technology is for the people, and not for corporate interests. We believe that mining can be made sustainable if pursued at a much balanced scale in contrast to the present practices of all-out mineral extraction, waste generation, and plunder.

But the kind of mining that the Arroyo administration and the AFMA is promoting will never serve the interests of the nation, nor of the majority of the toiling masses who do care for our lands and resources because they know that this is the only source of life for the people.

The kind of mining that Arroyo is rabidly promoting is based on greed, not on stewardship. It is based on a history of colonial plunder, not social change. Its overriding aim is profit, not the people's welfare. Its primary beneficiaries are foreign mining giants, rather than ordinary Filipinos. Its end is to extend Arroyo's precarious rule over the country by collecting enough backers from foreign big business, at a time when majority of the Filipino people have rejected her administration.

President Arroyo, as a principal author of the Mining Act of 1995 and as an active promoter of mining liberalization, is guilty of treason. These policies and programs practically sell the country's remaining mineral reserves, lands and waterways to foreigners. These are pursued at the expense of grave ecological destruction, threats to the people's health and livelihood, and dubious economic gains. When local communities oppose these foreign mining projects, the state uses its own military
forces--the arms which are supposed to protect the Filipino people--to intimidate,
threaten, or even kill.

The entry of the world's largest mining transnational corporations (TNCs) into the Philippines with the full backing of the Arroyo administration will bring this country into a state of calamity and will unleash an environmental tsunami that would engulf the people in a tide of unparalleled hardship.

Many of these mining giants encouraged by the government to invest in the Philippines--such as BHP Billiton and Anglo-American--are notorious in other countries for their role in grave environmental disasters, spotty human rights records, and anti-labor histories.

BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company which is eyeing a multi-million dollar nickel project in Pujada, Davao Oriental, faces a $4 billion class suit by the people of Papua New Guinea. For two decades, it dumped 80,000 tons of mine tailings filled with toxic heavy metals such as lead directly into the Fly and Ok Tedi rivers, ruining the livelihoods of the peopl, poisoning forests, and contaminating river systems. Anglo-American, the fourth largest mining company in the world, paid its South African laborers the world's lowest wages and was named as one of the main toxic lead polluters in North America. Now, it has numerous mining operations in the Cordillera and Mindanao, some of which have been even classified by the government as "priority projects".

We do not want this to happen in the Philippines. Certainly, we do not want these foreign mining giants to unleash its greed for profit and replicate the same human rights violations, anti-labor practices, health hazards, and environmental degradation here.

We resolve to unite against the presence of plunderous foreign mining firms and their collaborators in local governance and industry. We will struggle on until the Filipino people as well as all other mining-affected communities throughout the region will be able to forge a mining policy that will truly benefit the toiling masses of all lands.

Foreign mining TNCs out of Asia!
Scrap the Mining Act of 1995!
Defend our patrimony, promote a Peoples' Mining Policy!

DEFEND PATRIMONY! is a broad alliance comprised of organizations and individuals united in the defense of Filipino people's rights and national patrimony againt the wholesale plunder of our mineral and other natural resources. Our unity is based on the principles of goodwill and solidarity, cooperation and consensus, and independence and initiative.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

They may have me put in jail, but my spirit is free and firm because God is with us always --Pastor Guerrero

Statement of Pastor Guerrero

What does it take a government to have the nerve to abduct, torture, and terrorize my family on the basis of an old inciting to sedition case and a baseless murder charge?

Far more absurd is the accusation that I am the Secretary of the CPP Provincial committee in Cavite . This lie that they tried to extract from me by means of physical, mental and psychological torture and projecting me in public as a “hand-gun and grenade carrying rebel.”

I am a Pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and never participated in any killings, illegal or unlawful activities, or any common crime.

My family and I have just taken a tricycle from the local church which I have served for two consecutive years (June 2006-2007) where we just celebrated UCCP’s and the local church’s 59th and 72nd anniversaries respectively (On May 27, at around 5:30 pm, a white van cut the tricycle’s path and military-looking men quickly alighted to grab me; despite my plea that they show me the warrant they said they had. I was man-handled and forcefully shoved inside the van, put a handcuff on my hands behind me, covered my head with a cloth and packing tape, was beaten, punched and kicked repeatedly.

They brought me to a place I didn’t know. Here, still handcuffed, men would take turn interrogating and beating my head with their fists and blunt objects. (Like a 1,000 ml mineral bottle and other objects). All throughout, layers of plastic bags covered my head. My torturers would tighten the bag until I could no longer breathe. I passed out two times and urinated in my pants.

They made me shake my head for about an hour and beat me whenever I stopped they said they would do these things to my family if I did not cooperate. I was forced to give names and addresses of my whole family, officers of church and conferences, name of my administrator at Union Theological Seminary where I am studying theology, leaders of progressive labour and peasant organizations in Southern Tagalog.

They opened my computer by forcing me to give the password, got my e-mail password. They erased all of my church, school and personal files and replace it with documents that belong to the so-called underground left.

After about twelve hours, they put me back on the van still handcuffed and blindfolded. They threatened to kill me, burn me or bury me. They continued to beat me and make new names for me. They got my sim card.

They called me Pastor-Impostor. And lectured me on the “evils” of communism and how the church, legal people’s organizations are “used” to create trouble by criticizing the government.

When the van stopped, it took an hour before they led me down, made me sit down and lie down. After an hour, they removed my blindfold. Here I learned I was in Imus, Cavite specifically at Camp Pantaleon Garcia, Cavite Provincial Police Office (PPO).

Later on in the afternoon, that was the only time I saw the warrants of arrest and to what unit of the PNP I was turned over to by my abductors.

Now that I have the time to collect my thoughts and view my situation inside what police offices “call a subhuman” cell, let me make a preliminary analysis of my unfinished ordeal.

(1) The unit which abducted me is an organized AFP unit which operates covertly or below the law. It is composed of elements coming from different units of AFP’s Intelligence Community. As a counter-insurgency unit, it uses ex-NPAs. They are lawless enforcers.

(2) Making use of court cases which involves suspected personalities of the left, no matter how weak, these cases may be served and used to make the arrest legitimate. In my case, I am implicated in a Murder Case in 1990. Case files show that I do not have a direct or indirect link to the crime.

(3) To bring me to the court by means of the arrest warrants is secondary. Their primary objective is to extract information from me by means of torture.

(4) It is also meant to terrorize my family, my relatives, friends, church members and
practically everyone I know and who know me. It creates a thinking that this repeated attack on a person’s right, which may end in incarceration or death, can happen to anybody.

I am outraged by their branding me as a “Pastor-Impostor” because it is an affront to the sacred office I have sworn to serve God Almighty who knows every heart and mind.

Finally, I hold the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government responsible for the abduction and torture I have suffered and the subhuman captivity I am forced to accept. The GMA Administration should listen to the repeated cries of the people to stop violation of human rights and the political killings.

They may have me put in jail, but my spirit is free and firm because God is with us always.

United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Inside the Camp Pantaleon Garcia
Cavite Provincial Police Office
Imus, Cavite
May 30, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Expose the truth about the G8 Summit agenda


By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle

3 June 2007

The 33rd G8 Summit will be held in the isolated Baltic resort of Heiligendamm in Germany from June 6-8, 2007. The G8 or Group of 8 is the most powerful alliance of the monopoly capitalist states. The G8 process is the most important way by which these states coordinate on policies for dominating the rest of the world, especially the semi-colonies and dependent countries, particularly in economic matters. Decisions taken by the G8 are subsequently carried forward and implemented by their state agencies (economic, political and military) domestically and internationally as well as bythe major US-controlled multilateral organizations, financial institutions and forums.

This year's summit is held at a critical time for imperialism. On one hand, the economic and financial crisis of global capitalism continues to deepen and its adverse effects are mounting which makes it increasingly difficult for them to maintain their superprofits. US imperialism has unleashed brazen wars of aggression, such as those against Iraq and Afghanistan, to advance its economic interests. On the other hand, the worsening condition of billions of the world's people is generating resistance and struggle against imperialist domination.

Crisis of "Neoliberal Globalization" Reflected by Agenda

The official motto of "Growth and Responsibility" is unable to conceal the critical situation reflected in this year's G8 Summit agenda. The biggest capitalist powers are forced to confront the adverse consequences of recent decades of increasing "neoliberal globalization". Global growth has become uneven, slower and more volatile. Since the "globalization" of the 1980's, the growth rates of the world gross domestic product (GDP) have fallen to less than half of the more than 5 percent annual average in the first three decades after World War II.

Over a hundred countries have suffered 5-year periods of sustained declines in per capita income growth, not only in Africa but also in Asia and Latin America. Unrivaled speculative excesses and financial instability persist. At any time, only 2-5 percent of international financial transactions are related to trade and the productive economy. The US itself is confronted by historically large twin deficits in fiscal and trade transactions. Europe is saddled with collapsing domestic demand, while Japan remains mired in its decades-long slump.

In the face of all these and the resulting threat to their profits, the main objective adopted by the big powers is to push measures to further increase the imperialist export of capital by hastening the removal of investment barriers and of course to accelerate the remittance of profits and repatriation of capital. The number of liberalizing bilateral investment treaties alone has more than doubled from 1,100 in 1995 to nearly 2,400 a decade later.

The global total of foreign direct investment (FDI) has already risen nineteen-fold since 1990 and stands at over US$10 trillion. Yet unbridled greed and the need to combat the ever-present tendency for profits to fall have meant that even this is not enough. Foreign investment regimes in general, mining and natural resource extraction, and the plunder of the African continent are the real key areas for discussion in Heiligendamm.

The G8 is pushing for more open investment policies in the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America which still retain vestiges, however scant, of controls on foreign capital. At the same time they aim to ensure their scientific and technological monopolies in the name of "intellectual property rights" and "promoting and protecting innovation". The big powers will however retain their investment protections for their own monopoly capitalists even as they decry similar efforts of their rivals. US and European monopoly capitalists have already opposed attempted investment incursions and takeovers in their vital industries.

They also want to further open up the mineral and energy resources of neocolonies to foreign plunder under cover of "sustainable mining practices". They will try to do all these through the resumption of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks. Apart from this they will continue pushing bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) as well as take more determined efforts in this regard through inter-governmental venues, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Much-hyped by the imperialists and imperialist-funded "civil society" organizations are pretended measures to counter the adverse social effects of "globalization", climate change and volatility in financial markets. Yet there is no recognition or acknowledgment that these are among the inevitable consequences of irrational capitalism and its central dynamic of profit-making. The G8's efforts here are nothing more than embellishments on the system of plunder and peddling of the deception that capitalism can be "humanized" and "refined" to sugarcoat the dire and dismal results of "free market" policies. The misery and problems caused by "globalization" have become so obvious that the big powers have to make a show of addressing these.

Two years ago, during the G8 summit in Gleneagles, the deception peddled by the imperialists and pro-imperialist "civil society" organizations and some rock stars was the supposedly "historic" deal of US$55 billion in debt cancellation for a handful of deeply indebted countries. And yet today the whole of that trifling amount has not been canceled. Indeed, international usury and the crushing neocolonial debt burden of over US$2.8 trillion remain. Today the deceptions include such self-contradictions as "corporate social responsibility" and monopoly capitalists "promoting and developing social standards". But the limits are clear and the G8 cannot but incongruously assert that the only "social protection systems" it is after are those based on privatized "self-responsibility and accountability".

The declarations of concern over accelerating global warming likewise ring hollow. The fundamental cause of adverse changes in the climate is the unrelenting drive for profits of monopoly capitalism which aggressively pushes reckless consumption as well as production heedless of the long-term impact on the planet's finite resources -- including its forestry and energy resources -- and fragile ecology.

Reflecting this, the single greatest source of destructive greenhouse gas emissions is US imperialism both in its homeland and through its plundering economic operations in semi-colonies and dependent countries, including China, India and Brazil. But not only is the G8 unable to address either of these, indeed it is even trying to use the specter of ecological catastrophe as a bogus basis of unity to further befuddle, co-opt and captivate the less critical segments of social movements.

The instability of financial markets is likewise also a matter of grave concern because of the adverse impacts on the real economy. However financial speculation has served as an increasing and important source of paper profits for monopoly capitalism confronted by its crisis of overproduction. This instability will then remain and can only worsen for as long as the big powers are after such profits. There is no historical precedent for any kind of mutual arrangement by monopoly capitalists to voluntarily reduce their profits. As it is, net capital outflows from the neocolonies or semi-colonies have been drastically increasing since the mid-1990s to the level of US$670 billion in 2006 alone.

The G8 and "Neoliberal Globalization"

The G8 was first organized as the G6 in 1975 with the US, Japan, United Kingdom (UK), West Germany, France and Italy. Canada joined, at the behest of the US, in 1976 to form the G7. And then nuclear power Russia joined in 1998 to form the G8. The alliance was put up as the global crisis of capitalism started to deepen further in the wake of US imperialism's defeat in the Vietnam War. "Neoliberal globalization" and the renewed imperialist offensive on the people of the world soon got underway in 1979 upon the sudden spike of interest rates upon the initiative of the US.

Following the Third World debt crisis of the early 1980s, the G7 used its domination of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) to force "free market" policies on neocolonies through stabilization programs and structural adjustment programs (SAPs). At the same time, monopoly capitalism squeezed the wages, benefits and social services to the detriment of the working people. Come the 1990s, the biggest G8 powers extorted more and more bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) as well as used the WTO to come up with multilateral trade and investment agreements of unprecedented global scope.

The G8 countries constitute some 14 percent of the world population (with 856 million combined) and account for 63 percent or nearly two-thirds of world gross domestic product (GDP) at the level of US$28 trillion combined. The US is far and away the biggest economic power taking up 28 percent of world GDP followed by Japan (10 percent) and Germany (6 percent). The G8 accounts for half of worldwide trade in goods and, reflecting their increased direct investments in production networks in the neocolonies, import slightly more than they export. They completely dominate the IMF by taking up nearly half of its voting power (48 percent), and likewise the WB by the same measure. In the WTO the biggest factor determining the direction of talks is whether and how far the US and the European Union (EU) give or withhold their assent.

Their military spending for defending and advancing their imperialist agenda is enormous and far beyond what might be legitimately needed for self-defense. Combined G8 spending in 2005 of US$707 billion is 71 percent of total world military expenditures. The US takes up the overwhelmingly largest share with US$478 billion in spending (48 percent of world total), distantly followed by the UK and France (5 percent each) and Japan (4 percent). Four of the G8 members -- US, UK, France and Russia -- together account for 98 percent of the world's some 100,000 nuclear weapons.

Imperialism has used this economic and military might for the last three decades to aggressively push policies of "neoliberal globalization": de-nationalization of neocolonial economies, trade and investment liberalization, privatization and deregulation. These "free market" policies aim to support monopoly capitalist profits and overcome the crisis of global capitalism that has intensified since the 1970s. The imperialists further exploit the cheap labor, natural resources and markets of neocolonial economies.

They have had great success in imposing their plunderous policies on the people. In the last two decades, worldwide cross-border direct investments have increased by some 14 percent annually while world investments have increased by around 10 percent. About a third of these investment flows have been to the neocolonies.

The propaganda that "globalization" would lead to development and a capitalist utopia is a deceit that cannot be sustained. It was not long before the utter failure of these policies to result in any sort of development as well as their real objective of feeding unbridled monopoly greed was exposed by the harsh reality of far worse capitalist oppression and exploitation, resulting from the accelerated concentration and centralization of capital in the global centers of capitalism and the consequent devastation of the general run of neocolonies.

Monopoly capitalists have reaped their profits in the only way possible for them: at the expense of the world's working people and, indeed, of the planet's fragile ecology. The removal of global investment barriers has already resulted in the effective doubling of the global cheap labor force that capitalism can prey on. Even as only scant millions are eventually employed, the effect of the bloated reserve army of unemployed labor is severe. Unions have been attacked to bring about declines in real wages and social entitlements, at the same time as welfare systems are privatized and dismantled. Since 1980, the share of labor's wages and benefits in national income in the G7 has fallen by 4 percentage points even as corporate profits as a percentage of GDP increased by the same amount to reach historical highs.

Backward neocolonial agricultural and industrial producers have been overrun at the same time as scarce natural resources have been exploited by big corporate mining and agri-business investments. Millions of peasants have been economically and physically displaced. This has caused human misery to continually expand. Global unemployment and poverty are massive. Some 3 billion people, or half of humanity, struggle to survive on US$2 or less a day. Over 750 million people are without jobs worldwide. And even among the employed labor force of the 2.8 billion, half are unable to earn enough to bring their families above the US$2 a day poverty line. Nearly a billion people are undernourished worldwide, most of which are in Asia, Africa and Latin America but also including some tens of millions even in the industrialized countries. All these expose the hypocrisy of the G8's showy declarations of pretended support for social standards and decent work for the laboring people.

The injustice of capitalism is affirmed by the worsening living conditions of the people. It is due to the rapacity of the monopoly bourgeoisie that controls the world's resources and production and corners the benefits of economic activity. "Globalization" has resulted in unprecedented inequality. The richest two (2) percent of adults worldwide own more than half of global wealth, while the poorest 50 percent own barely one (1) percent. Meanwhile, nine-tenths of the richest one (1) percent of adults worldwide live in the G7 countries. Indeed the net worth of the richest 500 monopoly capitalists of US$2.6 trillion is equivalent to the annual output of the world's 48 poorest countries or to the income of the world's poorest 416 million people.

The deteriorating plight of the world's people is intrinsic to capitalism and G8 shows of false concern and "social responsibility" cannot ever resolve these. Indeed all the G8 can do is endlessly repeat the deception that "free markets" and capitalism offer the only path to human development.

Resistance to the G8 and Imperialism

The unbearable situation wrought by "neoliberal globalization" has fueled ever-mounting people's mass actions and other struggles. There have been protests against the G8 since the mid-1980s with counter-summits held highlighting the crushing debt burden of the underdeveloped countries. Mass demonstrations began to grow in size since the mid-1990s when a broad range of trade unionists, peasant organizations, indigenous groups, women's organizations, church workers and other social activists started coming together to protest during the G8 summits.

By the G8 summits in Genoa (2001) and Gleneagles (2005), up to 200,000 protesters were taking to the streets. All these moreover occurred amidst worldwide and year-round mass actions opposing imperialist "globalization" including demonstrations, rallies, roadblocks and even general strikes involving hundreds of thousands up to millions of people. These struggles have been met with violent political repression and state terrorism not just in Asia, Africa and Latin America but in the imperialist countries themselves.

State security forces in Europe -- not just in Germany but also in France, UK and the Netherlands -- have been cracking down on anti-G8 organizations in the months leading up to the June summit. Civil and political liberties have been systematically violated and justified as part of "anti-terrorism" campaigns legally sanctioned by repressive post-9/11 laws. Groups that are preparing to hold or protest activities or have already launched build-up activities have been subjected to raids, arrests and detention.

Protest marches and actions have been broken up. In Germany, thousands of police have conducted synchronized raids in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen and other northern towns. Homes and offices have been ransacked and files, materials and equipment confiscated. As it is, the imperialist powers are forced to hold their summit and declare their more intense offensive against the people of the world from behind a 14 kilometer steel and concrete barrier.

Monopoly capitalism is increasingly desperate in its efforts to deal with the deepening global economic crisis. The limits of "free market globalization" have been exposed by the relentless worsening of the crisis since the late 1990s. Such a policy have only served to accelerate the concentration and centralization of capital in a few imperialist countries and have resulted in a series of grave economic and financial crisis.

No less than the US, the principal beneficiary of the neoliberal policy, is battered by its domestic economic crisis. It has resorted to "military Keynesianism" in a futile attempt to stimulate the US economy by stepping up military production and pouring state financial resources into gilded contracts with the military industrial complex. To this end, it has stepped up war hysteria, unleashed wars of aggression, engaged in foreign military intervention on a widening scale and promoted state terrorism and fascism on a global scale under the pretext of anti-terrorism.

US imperialism is using its military superiority to expand its economic territory and political hegemony. It tries to maintain the imperialist alliance against the proletariat and people of the world and against the semicolonies and dependent countries. But the crisis of the world capitalist system has become so grave that it disturbs the balance of forces among the imperialist powers and is generating sharper inter-imperialist competition and rivalries.

The pressures for a redivision of the world are growing. The US is facing increasingly strong demands from Russia which has nuclear weapons and massive oil resources as bargaining levers as well as from the European Union and Japan which are trying to overcome decades of military inferiority and submissiveness to the self-aggrandizing initiatives of the US. Direct hostile confrontations among the imperialist powers are not yet occurring but they wrangle more than ever before over the spoils in the semicolonies and dependent countries.

At present, the US is most hard-pressed by its continuing failure to pacify the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and is unable to collect the prize for its wars of aggression. Instead, it is incurring heavy casualties and financial losses and is sinking in a quagmire. It is lessening its ability to pay adequate and timely attention to other countries and continents of the world. Conditions are favorable for the rise of anti-imperialist mass movements and revolutionary armed struggles for national liberation, democracy and socialism on a global scale.

The G8 summit is an opportune time to highlight the grave and insoluble problems faced by the imperialist powers and to bring forward the historic struggle against imperialist oppression and exploitation.

The International League of Peoples' Struggle calls on all its participating organizations to expand their ranks and build anti-imperialist and democratic united fronts at the level of national chapters, global regions and the whole world. The daily worsening conditions of oppression and exploitation require the ILPS to intensify its efforts to arouse, organize and mobilize the people in their millions for the cause of greater freedom, development, social justice and world peace against imperialism and reaction. ###

Friday, May 25, 2007

America Leads the World in War Profits

We're No. 1! America Leads the World in War Profits
By Frida Berrigan,
Posted on May 22, 2007, Printed on May 24, 2007
U.S. takes gold in arms olympics

They don't call us the sole superpower for nothing. Paul Wolfowitz might be looking for a new job right now, but the term he used to describe the pervasiveness of U.S. might back when he was a mere deputy secretary of defense -- hyperpower -- still fits the bill.

Face it, the United States is a proud nation of firsts. Among them:

First in oil consumption:
The United States burns up 20.7 million barrels per day, the equivalent of the oil consumption of China, Japan, Germany, Russia, and India combined.

First in carbon dioxide emissions:
Each year, world polluters pump 24,126,416,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the environment. The United States and its territories are responsible for 5.8 billion metric tons of this, more than China (3.3 billion), Russia (1.4 billion) and India (1.2 billion) combined.

First in external debt:
The United States owes $10.040 trillion, nearly a quarter of the global debt total of $44 trillion.

First in military expenditures:
The White House has requested $481 billion for the Department of Defense for 2008, but this huge figure does not come close to representing total U.S. military expenditures projected for the coming year. To get a sense of the resources allocated to the military, the costs of the global war on terrorism, of the building, refurbishing, or maintaining of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and other expenses also need to be factored in. Military analyst Winslow Wheeler did the math recently: "Add $142 billion to cover the anticipated costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; add $17 billion requested for nuclear weapons costs in the Department of Energy; add another $5 billion for miscellaneous defense costs in other agencies ... and you get a grand total of $647 billion for 2008."

Taking another approach to the use of U.S. resources, Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Business School lecturer Linda Bilmes added to known costs of the war in Iraq invisible costs like its impact on global oil prices as well as the long-term cost of healthcare for wounded veterans and came up with a price tag of between $1 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

If we turned what the United States will spend on the military in 2008 into small bills, we could give each one of the world's more than 1 billion teenagers and young adults an Xbox 360 with wireless controller (power supply in remote rural areas not included) and two video games to play: maybe Gears of War and Command and Conquer would be appropriate. But if we're committed to fighting obesity, maybe Dance Dance Revolution would be a better bet. The United States alone spends what the rest of the world combined devotes to military expenditures.

First in weapons sales:
Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have normally totaled between $10 and $13 billion. That's a lot of weapons, but in fiscal year 2006, the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion. It almost goes without saying that this is significantly more than any other nation in the world.

In this gold-medal tally of firsts, there can be no question that things that go bang in the night are our proudest products. No one makes more of them or sells them more effectively than we do. When it comes to the sorts of firsts that once went with a classic civilian manufacturing base, however, gold medals are in short supply. To take an example:

Not first in automobiles:
Once, Chrysler, General Motors and Ford ruled the domestic and global roost, setting the standard for the automotive industry. Not any more. In 2006, the United States imported almost $150 billion more in vehicles and auto parts than it sent abroad. Automotive analyst Joe Barker told the Boston Globe, "It's a very tough environment" for the so-called Detroit Three. "In times of softening demand, consumers typically will look to brands that they trust and rely on. Consumers trust and rely on Japanese brands."

Not even first in bulk goods:
The Department of Commerce recently announced total March exports of $126.2 billion and total imports of $190.1 billion, resulting in a goods and services deficit of $63.9 billion. This is a $6 billion increase over February.

But why be gloomy? Stick with arms sales and it's dawn in America every day of the year. Sometimes, the weapons industry pretends that it's like any other trade -- especially when it's pushing our congressional representatives (as it always does) for fewer restrictions and regulations. But don't be fooled. Arms aren't automobiles or refrigerators. They're sui generis; they are the way the United States can always be No. 1 -- and everyone wants them. The odds that, in your lifetime, there will ever be a $128 billion trade deficit in weapons are essentially nil. Arms are our real gold-medal event.

First in sales of surface-to-air missiles:
Between 2001 and 2005, the United States delivered 2,099 surface-to-air missiles to nations in the developing world, 20 percent more than Russia, the next-largest supplier.

First in sales of military ships:
During that same period, the United States sent 10 "major surface combatants" like aircraft carriers and destroyers to developing nations. Collectively, the four major European weapons producers shipped 13. (And we were first in the anti-ship missiles that go along with such ships, with nearly double [338] the exports of the next largest supplier Russia [180]).

First in military training:
A thoughtful empire knows that it is not enough to send weapons; you have to teach people how to use them. The Pentagon plans on training the militaries of 138 nations in 2008 at a cost of nearly $90 million. No other nation comes close.

First in private military personnel:
According to bestselling author Jeremy Scahill, there are at least 126,000 private military personnel deployed alongside uniformed military personnel in Iraq alone. Of the more than 60 major companies that supply such personnel worldwide, more than 40 are U.S.-based.

Rest assured, governments around the world, often at each others' throats, will want U.S. weapons long after their people have turned up their noses at a range of once dominant American consumer goods.

Just a few days ago, for instance, the "trade" publication Defense News reported that Turkey and the United States signed a $1.78 billion deal for Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter planes. As it happens, these planes are already ubiquitous -- Israel flies them, so does the United Arab Emirates, Poland, South Korea, Venezuela, Oman and Portugal, not to speak of most other modern air forces. In many ways, the F-16 is not just a high-tech fighter jet, it's also a symbol of U.S. backing and friendship. Buying our weaponry is one of the few ways you can actually join the American imperial project!

In order to remain No. 1 in the competitive jet field, Lockheed Martin, for example, does far more than just sell airplanes. TAI, Turkey's aerospace corporation, will receive a boost with this sale, because Lockheed Martin is handing over responsibility for parts of production, assembly and testing to Turkish workers. The Turkish air force already has 215 F-16 fighter planes and also plans to buy 100 of Lockheed Martin's new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter over the next 15 years in a deal estimated at $10.7 billion. That's $10.7 billion on fighter planes for a country that ranks 94th on the United Nations' Human Development Index, below Lebanon, Colombia and Grenada, and far below all the European nations that Ankara is courting as it seeks to join the European Union. Now that's a real American sales job for you!

Here's the strange thing, though: This genuine, gold-medal manufacturing-and-sales job on weapons simply never gets the attention it deserves. As a result, most Americans have no idea how proud they should be of our weapons manufacturers and the Pentagon -- essentially our global sales force -- which makes sure our weapons travel the planet and regularly demonstrates their value in small wars from Latin America to Central Asia.

Of course, there's tons of data on the weapons trade, but who knows about any of it? I'm typical here. I help produce one of a dozen or so sober annual (or semiannual) reports quantifying the business of war making. In my case, the Arms Trade Resource Center report ";U.S. Weapons at War: Fueling Conflict or Promoting Freedom?" These reports get desultory, obligatory press attention, but only once in a blue moon do they get the sort of full-court press treatment that befits our No. 1 product line.

Dense collections of facts, percentages and comparisons don't seem to fit particularly well into the usual patchwork of front page stories. And yet the mainstream press is a glory ride, compared to the TV news, which hardly acknowledges most of the time that the weapons business even exists.

In any case, that inside-the-fold, fact-heavy, wonky news story on the arms trade, however useful, can't possibly convey the gold-medal feel of a business that has always preferred the shadows to the sun. No reader checking out such a piece is going to feel much, except maybe overwhelmed by facts. The connection between the factory that makes a weapons system and the community where that weapon "does its duty" is invariably missing in action, as are the relationships among the companies making the weapons and the generals (on-duty and retired) and politicians making the deals, or raking in their own cut of the profits for themselves and/or their constituencies. In other words, our most successful (and most deadly) export remains our most invisible one.

Maybe the only way to break through this paralysis of analysis would be to stop talking about weapons exports as a trade at all. Maybe we shouldn't be using economic language to describe it. Yes, the weapons industry has associations, lobby groups, and trade shows. They have the same trifold exhibits, scale models, and picked-over buffets as any other industry; still, maybe we have to stop thinking about the export of fighter planes and precision-guided missiles as if they were so many widgets and start thinking about them in another language entirely -- the language of drugs.

After all, what does a drug dealer do? He creates a need and then fills it. He encourages an appetite or (even more lucratively) an addiction and then feeds it.

Arms dealers do the same thing. They suggest to foreign officials that their military just might need a slight upgrade. After all, they'll point out, haven't you noticed that your neighbor just upgraded in jets, submarines and tanks? And didn't you guys fight a war a few years back? Doesn't that make you feel insecure? And why feel insecure for another moment when, for just a few billion bucks, we'll get you suited up with the latest model military, even better than what we sold them, or you, the last time around.

Why does Turkey, which already has 215 fighter planes, need 100 extras in an even higher-tech version? It doesn't, but Lockheed Martin, working the Pentagon, made them think they did.

We don't need stronger arms control laws, we need a global sobriety coach -- and some kind of 12-step program for the dealer nation as well.

Frida Berrigan serves on the National Committee of the War Resisters League.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fact Sheet Ukol sa Insidenteng Pagsunog ng Election Precints sa Taysan, Batangas

Some members of ACT, a national organization of militant teachers, went to Taysan to get facts on the school burning, which was immediately blamed by the PNP chief on the NPA but which days later found policemen to be the perpetrators.

Note that the news report did not list two other injured teachers and a child of the teacher who was killed, Nelly, who they found out was an outstanding teacher awardee; and that there were 6 classrooms that were burned, 5 of which were used as precincts.

Here is their fact sheet.

Fact Finding Mission
Taysan, Batangas
May 17, 2007

1:15pm dumating ang grupo sa Pinagbayanan Elementary School

- Mula sa principal na si Mrs. Manuelo, napag-alamaman na bukod sa yumaong si Nely Banaag ay may dalawa pang mga guro ang nasugatan. Ang isang guro ay si Rosalie Villena na naconfined sa Mediatrix Hospital at ang isa ay Maritess Ramona na natrauma sa naganap na insidente.

- Kasama rin sa nasugatan ang anak ni Nelly Banaag na si Ritchelle Banaag.

- Anim ang nasunog na classrooms, lima rito ay presinto.

- Ibinigay ng ACT ang MOA sa principal upang ipaalam na makakatanggap ng Php200, 000 insurance ang namatayan.

1:45pm dumating sa bahay ni Nelly Banaag

- Mula sa pakikipanayam sa pamilya ni Nelly Banaag, napag-alaman ang mga sumusunod:

* 42 years old na si Nelly
* Math Teacher at naging Outstanding Teacher din siya sa pinagbayanan ES
* Ipinanganak siya noong Disyembre 6, 1964
* Namatay siya n oong May 18, 2007
* 5 ang anak
* Election Supervisor siya noong eleksyon.
* Galileo Banaag ang pangalan ng asawa ni Nelly.

- Tapos na ang bilangan; nagtathumbmark na lang sila kaya natipon sila sa sa isang kwarto kung saan nagsimula ang sunog. Mga bandang 3:00am ito naganap.

- Nang lumiliyab na ang kwarto, hinila na lang ni Galileo ang kanyang anak na si Ritchelle, isa ring pollwatcher, mula sa nasusunog na kwarto.

- Kasama ni Nelly sa CR ang isang pollwacther na namatay rin na si Letecia Ramos.

2:20 dumating sa bahay ni Maritess Rabano, isa rin sa biktima.

- traumatized si Maritess sa nangyari. Nagtamo siya ng sunog sa kanang braso.

* 27 years old na si Maritess
* 4 na taon na sa pagtuturo
* Graduat sa Batangas University sa kursong Industrial Education
* Unang beses niya magserve sa election.
* Poll clerk siya noong eleksyon; BEI chair niya si Rosalie Villena at 3 rd member ang isa ring sugatan na si Angelo Sara. Hindi guro ang 3rd member.
* Sa precinct 77A siya nadestino
* Sa Pinagbayanan HS siya nagtuturo

- Ayon sa kanya nagtathumbmark na lang sila sa tally sheets nang may nakita siyang nagbuhos ng gasolina at lumiyab ang kwarto kung saan naroon sila..

- Hindi niya napansin ang mga gasolina dahil ito'y nasa 1.5 na coke. Akala niya'y meryenda ito ng mga guro.

- Php1,500.00 pa lang ang natatanggap niya. Ang kalahati ay hindi pa nababayaran dahil wala pa siyang maisasauling ERs dahil nasunog nga ang mga ito.

- Ayon kay Maritess, 161/169 ang nakaboto. Panalo si Villena sa kanyang presinto at walong boto lang ang nakuyha ng kalaban nitong si Portugal.

- Nakalabas siya dahil may humawi ng apoy sa magy pintuan.

- Nang tanungin kung magsislbi pa siya sa eleksyon hindi ang isinagot niya.

4:30pm dumating sa Mediatrix Hospital para dalawin si Rosalie Villena

- Nagtamo siya ng sunog sa kaliwa at kanang braso, 2nd degree burn. Papauwi na si Maritess at hinihintay na lang ang kanyang mga papel ng dumating ang grupo.

- Mula sa pakikipanayam sa kanya, nakalap ang mga sumuysunod na datos:

* 36 years old na si Rosalie.
* BEI chair siya nuong eleksyon.
* Nagtuturo sa San Isidro Natl HS
* Math and Science Teacher
* Dalaga
* May malayong rerlasyon siya sa sa tumatakbong si Villena kaya hindi siya pinayagan na magserve noong 2004 election, ngunit dahil sa kakulangan ng tao ngayong eleksyon, pinayagan na siya.

- Sinagot ng Deped ang higit 14k na bill niya sa hospital ngunit hindi ang professional fee at mga niresetang gamot.

- 3 araw na siyang nakaconfined.

- Ayon sa kanya, basta na lang daw may nagliyab na apoy at may sumigaw daw na dito ang daan palabas.

- paglabas niya ay may nakita siyang apat na military na hindi naman sila tinutulungan.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Elections in the Philippines: Illusion of Democracy?


The closing of voting precincts sees the end only of the first salvo of election cheating with the wholesale manufacturing of the eventual outcome still to come. This is bad enough, but unfortunately the problem with the Philippine electoral exercise actually goes much deeper.

By Sonny Africa
IBON Research Head

IBON Features--No one disputes that the Philippines is mired in economic and political crises. There is endemic poverty that despite government hype everyone knows is nowhere near being overcome. Around 65 million Filipinos struggle to live on P96 or less a day, according to the latest 2003 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) of the National Statistics Office (NSO). The net worth of just the ten richest Filipinos is equivalent to the combined annual income of the poorest 49 million Filipinos. The situation can only get worse with corporate profits rising even as joblessness is at a sustained historic high.

At the same time is public dismay over a political landscape strewn with issues: illegitimacy, continuing bureaucratic corruption, patronage and self-serving politicians. Worst of all are the unabated political killings and disappearances of over a thousand Filipinos daring to struggle for a more humane future and an end to the country’s chronic crises. This is just in the last six years.

There are perhaps those who believe that the May 2007 mid-term elections offer a path to resolve the country’s ills. They are unlikely to be very many. Probably much more common is a well-founded sense of despair that the elections are a momentary spectacle that in the end won’t mean any real change in governance much less in the country.

The most attention is given to the widespread electoral fraud and violence which are barefaced subversions of the democratic process. These are things already familiar to most Filipinos whether of the fading generation with a recollection of the so-called two-party system pre-Martial Law, of those born during the Marcos dictatorship, or of the generation who believed that they were favored for growing up amid a flawed but at least restored democracy under Aquino.

Unfortunately the despair actually has much deeper roots that strike down to the essential character of “democracy” in the Philippines: it is in many essential respects a false democracy that cannot but result in perpetual social crisis. The fraud and violence during elections are just some of the symptoms of the deep-seated social problem of elite domination of Philippine political life. Even including the appalling phenomenon of political dynasties, of trapo patronage and of brazen opportunist turncoatism still only gives part of the picture.

The problem with the country’s politics is that it remains fundamentally elite-dominated and so overwhelmingly about governance for and by elites. This is a problem that dates from the birth of the Philippine Republic at the turn of the century, continued through the American colonial period, and has alarmingly persisted under post-war neocolonialism until today. On the face of it the last hundred years appears to have seen democracy unevenly but surely taking root with, despite the Martial Law interregnum, inexorable forward progress. However the Philippines regrettably has yet to make the truly qualitative democratic breakthrough.

This is not to deny the many partial gains that have taken place for there is certainly an accumulation of positive steps. It is rather to underscore that, despite all these and the opportunities they open up, the essentially undemocratic character of the country’s politics remains. Philippine politics is changing, but it has yet to really change. Forces for democracy and more broad-based citizen’s participation in governance that genuinely serves their interests are increasing, but they have yet to overcome elite power.

Great resistance

Fortunately the undemocratic character of Philippine politics is being challenged. In ever-increasing numbers, Filipinos have defied the false “freedom of choice” offered by elite-dominated elections. Indeed the increasing violence with which this challenge is put down is back-handed testament to their ever-mounting successes. These all build up towards the much-desired qualitative change in Philippine politics.

At the core of this challenge is the understanding that Filipinos are kept in grinding poverty by elite domination of economic and political life. At the national level this is a set-up that big foreign powers such as the US favor. Lasting Philippine economic backwardness guarantees them a source of cheap labor and natural resources, as well as an outlet for recycling their surplus capital. It also guarantees that the country is weak enough to be subordinated to larger imperialist
geopolitical and strategic objectives in the East Asian region.

However this unjust situation is also what has given rise to the greatest hope of overturning it. Social movements have formed and gather strength with the aim of replacing elite domination with a more democratic system that gives primacy to the interest of the majority of Filipinos.

The rise of social movements is important in the country’s attempt to establish a democracy. Their most vital contribution is the painstaking attention to building political consciousness at the grassroots. This is a political awareness that pays rigorous attention to addressing the roots of the country’s stifled modernity. Accompanying this understanding is moreover a commitment to organizing and direct participation in concrete struggles to build a democracy.

Ruling elites have worked to keep these in check and tried to put down their threats to the established order. On one hand they have not been able to prevent important victories such as the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 and the ouster of the corrupt Estrada presidency in 2001. At the same time they are especially careful to preserve their parliamentary bastions of elite power.

In 1946, six congressional representatives of the Democratic Alliance (DA) known to be opposed to unequal treaties with the US were prevented from taking their seats following trumped-up charges of electoral fraud and terrorism in Central Luzon. Especially working with allies in the Nacionalista Party (NP), they would have been enough to deny the three-fourths majority needed to ratify treaties in Congress.

In 1987, the Left-leaning Partido ng Bayan (PnB) which fielded candidates at the senatorial down to the local level came under violent attack by state forces. Six congressional candidates were assassinated, six other provincial coordinators killed, and hundreds more party leaders and members attacked and harassed. PnB offices were bombed and rallies disrupted or broken up.

The year 2001 saw the breakthrough of Left politics in Congress with the progressive political party Bayan Muna (BM) taking the maximum three party-list seats available to it in the House of Representatives. Strengthening and expansion continued in 2004-- with six seats going to BM, Anakpawis (AP) and Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP). Political elites have however responded with a systematic and increasingly violent crackdown not just on these parties which have decisively won seats in Congress but also on the larger social and mass movement that they represent and draw their strength from.

Crisis and authoritarianism

The last six years have been brutal particularly for progressive and democratic forces. Most dramatic are the outright attacks on the mass movement and progressive political parties, including political killings, enforced disappearances, and assassination attempts. The attacks are wide-ranging and include black propaganda and vilification campaigns, illegal arrests, interrogations and torture. There are also pseudo-legal attacks on national leaders involving trumped-up rebellion and murder charges.

The suppression of dissent has at times taken on a legal façade falling just short of outright Martial Law. There was the “calibrated pre-emptive response” declared in September 2005 against protestors aside from a more assertive implementation of the Marcos era “no permit-no rally”. Executive Order (EO) 464, also declared in September 2005, prevented officials from appearing before investigations of high-level government electoral cheating and corruption. Presidential Proclamation 1017’s legally ambiguous “state of national emergency” was declared and sent the political signal that the Arroyo regime would not hesitate to mobilize its full powers against any and all opposition.

It is also worth mentioning how the deepening economic crisis and the shrinking of economic spoils from power also appear to have had another effect. The faction of the elite not in power-- the mainstream political opposition-- has also to some extent been subjected to political repression albeit to a much less degree than the democratic mass movement.

The post-election scenario augurs even more dangerous times for democracy. The National ID System has already begun to be implemented even if only on a limited scale so far. The National Security Plan’s (NISP) Oplan Bantay Laya II has already been drawn up with targets going beyond alleged terrorists to also include revolutionary armed groups and civilian Leftist organizations. All this coincides with global US military aggression waging a self-declared “war on terror” that,
among others, aims to secure the Philippines as a key strategic location in East and Southeast Asia. There have already been massive increases in US military aid and intervention under the Arroyo regime aimed at eliminating not just armed liberation movements but also nationalist opposition to the US military presence.

The political situation is most obviously about Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo fighting for sheer political survival. She is beleaguered by issues of illegitimacy following the fraudulent 2004 presidential elections, by the persistence of high-level and grand-scale corruption, and by the economic problems caused by retrogressive “free market” policies. There is widespread public dissatisfaction which already resulted in two impeachment moves and a vigorous ouster campaign.

The current administration’s survival is now critically dependent on securing greater political control through the mid-term elections. Particularly important is control over the House of Representatives to forestall another impeachment move. Its comprehensive campaign to survive includes another episode of massive electoral fraud, using public funds for electioneering, brazen patronage politics, harassment of local opposition politicians and even subverting of the party-list system. The political killings and attacks in turn are aimed at maiming, if not decimating, among the most organized and effective forces demanding real change. The regime also seeks support from the US by promising charter change to further open up the economy and to allow the wholesale return of US troops.

However the political situation can also be seen at another level: as an elite-dominated system striving to preserve itself amid deepening economic and political crisis. The Filipino people have been engaged in a centuries-long struggle that is creating the real foundations for democracy. Against them are elites threatened by the rumble underfoot who are reacting viciously to preserve their rule. The hundreds of thousands of volunteers mobilizing across the country to watch the
polls are engaged in a noble effort. However the fundamental social change sought will only come when millions of Filipinos are able to genuinely claim political power and put in place a true democracy. IBON Features

IBON Features is a media service of IBON Foundation, an independent economic policy and research institution. When reprinting this feature, please credit IBON Features and give the byline when applicable.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bayan Muna urges Supreme Court to order AFP out of Metro Manila

May 7, 2007

Bayan Muna urges Supreme Court to order AFP out of Metro Manila

Progressive partylist groups led by Bayan Muna went to the Supreme Court today in a major legal effort to immediately pull out military troops in Metro Manila.

In an Urgent Petition for Certiorari with Mandamus to Order the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Pull Out Troops from Metro Manila at the Supreme Court today, the groups called the AFP as “a protector of some people by becoming tools of politicians vigorously campaigning against groups that do not share views with, that demand accountability from, that criticize the Executive Branch of Government.”

“The AFP, with Generals Hermogenes Esperon and Benjamin Dolorfino in the lead are committing three grave violations of the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code and various election rules with the continued deployment of troops in the National Capital Region. They continually violate (1) civilian supremacy, (2) the calling out powers of the Commander-in-Chief (they should be confined to the barracks unless called out by the President) and (3) are actually campaigning against Bayan Muna, Suara Bangsamoro, Kabataan, Gabriela Women’s Party and Anakpawis,” Bayan Muna General Counsel Neri Javier Colmenares said.

Petitioners believe that respondents in deploying AFP troops in residential barangays in Metro Manila “violated the principle of civilian supremacy over the military as enunciated in Sec. 3, Art. II, Constitution.”

“In fact the order of Respondents to deploy the soldiers was not pursuant to an order of the Commander-in-Chief through her “calling out powers,” and thus violated Sec. 18 Art. VII of the Constitution. Even if the deployment was implemented under that provision, upon the orders of Mrs. Arroyo as commander-in-chief, such Order constitutes a grave abuse of discretion on her part since there is no lawless violence, invasion or rebellion in Metro Manila or a threat thereof, that should form the constitutional basis for the said order,” Colmenares said.

“The AFP is essentially engaging in partisan political activity in the residential barangays in Metro Manila – by setting forth criteria to be used by voters in choosing their candidates for elective offices in the guise of “voters’ education,” or by out rightly campaigning against herein petitioners, or by intimidating, harassing or physically assaulting petitioners’ members, supporters and sympathizers – and is therefore a gross violation of Sec. 5 (3), Art. XVI, Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code and various election rules.”

“The AFP generals must be discouraged from entertaining the notion that military participation in politics will go unheeded and unpunished,” Colmenares said.

43rd IB troops in Leyte tear down Bayan Muna posters

Meanwhile in a related incident, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño received reports that at around 9:00 p.m. last Saturday, four soldiers belonging to the Philippine Army’s 43rd Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Poblacion, Hilongos, Leyte were accosted by residents for tearing down Bayan Muna posters. The soldiers were aboard two motorcycles and even threatened the residents at gunpoint. They insisted they had orders to tear down Bayan Muna posters.

In other towns, soldiers regularly dismantle Bayan Muna posters and streamers, vilify the party and other progressive groups, and openly campaign for ANAD, BANTAY and other pro-administration party-list groups.

Casiño accused the army soldiers stationed in Mahaplag, Hilongos and Inopacan towns of harassing and intimidating Bayan Muna supporters. He called on the Comelec to swiftly act on the matter. "The Comelec should reprimand Army officers engaged in electioneering against progressive party-list groups like Bayan Muna and order their immediate pullout from communities to prevent them from unduly intimidating voters who otherwise would support our party and other progressive party-list groups."

Release Jihan Manampad and Rina Togonon! Stop pursuing legitimate students in the course of their academic work!

Joint Statement on the arrest of two PUP Sociology Students by the Military in Caluag, Quezon

The PUP students who were captured by the troops of the 4th Infantry Battalion on the allegation that they are NPA recruits are legitimately enrolled in our university.

They are in fact doing their summer course in community organizing, a course requirement for their curriculum in Bachelor of Science in Sociology, traditionally being done every summer between April and May of each school year.

There is no way they could be there in Quezon province to participate in rebellious or subversive activities as alleged by their captors.

The undersigned groups in PUP strongly condemn such arbitrary arrests of civilians, most particularly our students. We are also urging the concerned authorities to immediately release Jihan Manampad and Rina Togonon and stop pursuing their eight other classmates who are also doing community organizing work in the same area.

Any actions from the military that violate the human rights of such students under their custody will be legally pursued by the academic community and organizations in PUP.

We are also seeking the support of the PUP administration, the faculty, employees and students for the two students now being falsely charged of rebellion by the military.

Currently, the teacher of the students, Prof. Justine Nicolas, is negotiating for the release of his students and is himself in the same risk of possible arrest. The PUP administration should act decisively on this matter as it involves not only the basic rights of students and teachers but also and more importantly the core principles of academic freedom, which every university must uphold.

Release our BSS 3-1 students, Jihan Manampad and Rina Togonon! Stop pursuing legitimate students in the course of fieldwork for their academic work!

Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy–PUP (CONTEND-PUP)
Faculty Circle—PUP
Unyon ng mga Kawani—PUP (UNAKA)
Unyon ng mga Guro sa PUP (UGPUP)
University Center for Human Rights Research and Education (UCHURRE)

Prof. Elizabeth Morillo
Henry Enaje, PUP Student Regent

Friday, May 04, 2007

Opisina ng mga madre sa Negros ni-raid ng mga police; Repeal Anti-Terror Act (a.k.a. Human Security Act)

May 3, 2007

Another KMP member missing, peasant advocates’ center raided!

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the ANAKPAWIS party list group condemned the abduction of another KMP member in Cagayan and the raid of the center of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP).

According to Ka Willy Marbella, internal deputy secretary general of KMP and ANAKPAWIS party list nominee, “Last April 26 Alan Bumanglag, in his 40s and a member of Kagimungan, the Cagayan chapter of KMP was taken by the military to the 17th Infantry Battalion camp in Tanglagan, Gattaran, Cagayan. He was interrogated for hours and was allowed to go home at around 2pm. But he was followed by three men from the camp and he has not been able to go home since then,”

Meanwhile Sr. Pat Fox, the national coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) a Mission Partner of the AMRSP and a staunch supporter of KMP , said they “condemn the illegal break in of the RMP Center in Bago City, Negros Occidental last April 26. Around 5pm, 8 armed men in civilian clothes claiming to be from the Bago Police, surrounded our Center. The men demanded the key on the pretext that they were looking for a murderer. They had no reason to suspect the person was there and no search warrant. Upon being denied the key, one of the men forced open a window, entered and searched inside. The men took videos of the Center and its surroundings and asked the names of the Sisters who visited the Center before they left, belying their real motive,”

“The RMP Center is primarily used for education and trainings of the local women farmers in basic health. It is also used by them for faith sharings and other trainings when needed. The incident caused great fear in the women who participate in the activities of this Center. They reported the incident to the Bago Police who denied knowing anything about this,” the religious peasant advocate added

“The RMP is concerned that warrantless searches such as happened in our Center may become regular occurrences of the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, especially with the implementation of the Human Securities Act. We therefore call on all people of good will to stand up for human rights and defend civil liberties. We call for a thorough investigation into and punishment of the perpetrators of this illegal break in in Negros ,” said Fox.

“It is obvious that the Macapagal-Arroyo regime is trying to cow the KMP and its supporters into abandoning the struggle for genuine land reform and for a more just society, but they will be disappointed. More and more farmers will join our ranks because they see that we are really working for their welfare. Tomorrow we are also asking everyone to join the rally for Jay-jay Burgos and other victims of this fascist regime,” ended Marbella.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Protest during May 11 minor trial for terrorist Luis Posada Carriles

Dear Friend and Supporter of Justice, Posada

Last week, the Bush Administration—which pretends to be fighting a “war on terrorism”—allowed the release from prison of the leading self-confessed terrorist in the Americas, Luis Posada Carriles. The release of Posada, wanted in Venezuela for organizing the bombing of a plane in 1976, which killed all 73 persons on board, has created a wave of outrage in Latin America and around the world. Quoting Bush’s hypocritical words back to him on April 19, the day of Posada’s release, a Cuban youth leader said, “If you harbor a terrorist, you are a terrorist.”

On May 11, 2007, Posada is scheduled to return to El Paso, Texas for a trial on minor immigration charges. The Bush “Justice” Department, headed by Alberto Gonzales, has refused to bring charges of terrorist activity—including murder—against Posada despite the existence of mountains of evidence against him. Bush and Gonzales have refused to extradite Posada to Venezuela, despite a legally binding extradition treaty that country has had with the United States for more than 80 years.

We, too, will be in El Paso on May 11. Together with people from across the Southwest and beyond, we will be there to demand justice for Posada’s victims and his extradition to Venezuela to stand trial for his horrific crimes. We are asking for your support in organizing a demonstration and press conference outside the courthouse in El Paso and in other cities across the country on that day. We must raise thousands of dollars to organize transportation to the El Paso demonstration, including for the families of victims of Posada’s murderous acts over the years. Their suffering has not ended and their voices must be heard.

The bombing of the Cubana Airlines plane on its way from Caracas to Havana, was far from Posada’s only terrorist act. In a 1998 New York Times interview, Posada admitted organizing and paying for a series of bombings of tourist hotels in Havana. One person, an Italian tourist named Livio Di Celmo, was killed and dozens wounded. In November 2000, Posada organized an assassination attempt against Cuban President Fidel Castro when he was visiting the University of Panama. The plan, which was thwarted by Cuban security services, called for blowing up—using 33 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives—a packed auditorium filled with 2,000 students while Castro was speaking. The death toll would have likely been in the hundreds. After a short prison term, Posada and his cohorts were pardoned by U.S.-dependent Panamanian president, Mireya Moscoso, on her last day in office.

At the same time Posada walks free, the Cuban Five—five men whose mission was to stop terrorist attacks emanating from Miami against their homeland—remain locked away, three of them serving life sentences in U.S. prisons. Nothing could highlight more clearly the injustice suffered by these five men than the release of the arch-terrorist Posada. The freeing of Posada is a declaration by the Bush administration of its intent to continue the 48-year undeclared war against the small neighboring country of Cuba.

We are appealing to you to join and support the campaign for justice on May 11 and beyond. Please click here to make a much needed donation today.

Yours for Justice,
Ramsey Clark, Gloria La Riva, Cynthia McKinney

Press freedom icon Joe Burgos' son reportedly abducted

Jay-jay or Jonas Burgos, son of press freedom icon Joe Burgos, was reportedly abducted by the military last Saturday.

Para sa mga humahanga kay Ka Joe at sa kanyang mga aktibistang anak, ito ang profile/citation an binigay ng IPI kay Ka Joe na hinirang bilang isa sa 50 World Press Freddom Heroes.Siya ang tanging Pinoy na tumanggap ng nasabing pagkilala.


José Burgos' newspapers survived Ferdinand Marcos' regime in the mid-1980s. He printed the truth about Marcos and his murder of Benigno Aquino, an opposition leader, and gave a voice for the People Power movement.

José G. Burgos Jr. was a key figure in the initially small, but ultimately powerful, group of independent media that exposed the crimes of President Ferdinand Marcos and toppled his regime. In September 1972 Marcos declared martial law, which swiftly dissolved the elected national Congress, suspended civil liberties and exerted his control over the media. Hitherto one of the freest and most vibrant in Asia, the Philippine press became a docile mouthpiece of the government as Marcos' cronies printed a steady stream of positive news about the president and more-independent papers were coerced into selling their publications to parties linked to the regime.

Born on Jan. 4, 1941, Burgos started his journalism career as a police reporter with the Manila Times. He launched the English-language weekly We Forum and the vernacular Malaya (Free) and Masa (Masses) from a small office in suburban Manila in May 1977, during the height of martial law. For many years We Forum remained the lone effective opposition paper, although newspaper sellers never publicly displayed it. "When people started buying We Forum, they had to whisper its name, like buying pornography," Burgos recalled. "The vendor would reach under the counter and fold it so small you could put it in your pocket."

Soldiers raided the newspaper's offices on Dec. 7, 1982, arrested Burgos and nine of his staff and sealed off the entire operation, including the printing presses. "I was accused of being a subversive," Burgos said. "I was a super-subversive because the military accused me of having been an officer of all the illegal organizations in the Philippines and even the U.S."

Burgos was soon released after an international outcry, but the trial against him dragged on for almost two years. It had the desired effect of silencing We Forum. With that publication temporarily out of action, Burgos began to publish an English edition of what had been until then his vernacular weekly, Malaya. The new paper soon attracted even more readers than its predecessor, and Burgos quickly turned it into a daily.

Malaya was the only paper to publish the full story of opposition leader Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino's murder in August 1983. Aquino was at Manila International Airport returning from three years of exile in the United States. "The crony papers didn't say anything about it," Burgos said. "Malaya was the only one. When Ninoy was laid to rest, there were millions of people at his funeral. There was no coverage, yet it was the biggest news of the year."

Malaya and the increasing number of small but independent papers were constantly harassed and threatened. "I am the best-dressed man in the Philippines because I have so many suits," Burgos said, commenting on the many libel suits filed against him. Malaya's telephones were tapped, and its distributors were asked not to sell the paper. Even the newsboys, who plied their trade weaving in and out of Manila's heavy traffic, were threatened. Many journalists who dared to speak out during this period paid the ultimate price as victims of brutal murders known locally as "salvagings."

Aquino's assassination, however, proved to be the turning point. Toward the end of 1985, as the February presidential election approached, the People Power opposition movement of Aquino's widow, Corazon, was gaining momentum. Other independent media outlets, including Mr. & Ms., the Daily Inquirer, the Manila Times and the Catholic radio station Radio Veritas, joined Malaya in rallying the previously disorganized opposition and generating an authentic people's revolution.

Despite strong evidence of massive electoral fraud, Marcos claimed victory in the presidential election. But after his own defense minister, Juan Enrile, and the acting chief of staff of the armed forces, Fidel Ramos, rallied round Corazon, he fled to the United States. She then was sworn in as president.

Burgos now publishes and edits We Forum as a weekly magazine. He won the 1986 International Journalism Award of the Inter Press Service for his contribution to the defense of press freedom during the blackest years of the Marcos regime. In his acceptance speech, he said: "If I had my way, I would rather that this award should go to each and every one of the Filipino media men who were killed or who vanished during those years of unspeakable oppression. They were — and are — real heroes to the cause of press freedom in my country."

30 April 2007
Reference: Mary Ghay Portajada, Desaparecidos Spokesperson
Telefax 4342837

Surface Jay-jay Burgos and Melisa Reyes!

The Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (DESAPARECIDOS) condemned the disappearance of Jonas Joseph Burgos and Melisa Reyes, on April 28, in Quezon City.

Burgos, or Jay-Jay, 38, son of press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr., failed to come home to his family in Tandang Sora, Quezon City on April 28. His anxious family tried to contact him through his cellphone the whole night, but it was only at 10:46 AM the next day that they received messages from him which did not make any sense. His family was still able to talk to him on the phone but his voice sounded drowsy and his words did not make sense as if he were drugged.

Burgos had been giving agri technology trainings to members of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB), a provincial chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“This is a brazen act which only state security forces will have the motive and gall to carry out. It’s ironic that it happened to a member of the Burgos family that had opposed and survived Martial Law and still continues to defend civil rights and press freedom,” said Ghay Portajada, spokesperson of Desaparecidos.

Portajada also noted that Jay-jay’s disappearance happened, not in a remote village in the countrysides, but here in Quezon City where there is much presence of both police and military elements.

“We call on the responsible elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to surface Jay-jay and Melisa. We dare the Arroyo administration to solve this disappearance, and use all possible resources and technologies to locate Jay-jay, whose phone is still active and could actually be tracked,” said Portajada. “We pray that Jay-jay and Melisa will be surfaced alive, just like urban poor leader Lourdes “Nay Ude” Rubrico, who was abducted and detained by intelligence agents for one week at the Fernando Basa Air Base in Lipa City, Batangas.

There are now a total of 198 victims of enforced disappearances during the six years under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. ##

Monday, April 30, 2007

Wag iboto si Migz Zubiri, kaaway siya ng mga katutubo

Who is Congressman Migz Zubiri to the IPs?


Ang mga Katutubong Mamamayan o Indigenous Peoples isa sa mga marginalized sector at hindi masyadong nabigyan-pansin nga ating pamahalaan ng Pilipinas. Ayon sa 1995 National Commission on Indigenous Peoples o NCIP Census, mayroong humigit kumulang 110 ethnolinguistic groups o tribu sa boong bansa na kung saan umaabot sa 12.8 milyon ang kanilang kabuung populasyon. Sila ang sector ng ating lipunan na madalas biktima ng development aggression sa loob ng kanilang mga Lupang Ninuno gaya ng MINING, LOGGING, COMMERCIAL PLANTATIONS, BIOPROSPECTING AT BIO-PIRACY sa usaping Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Reservations, PROTECTED AREAS at marami pang iba. Dahil karamihan sa kanila ay hindi nakapag-aral sa mataas na antas kumpara sa ibang sector ng Lipunan, naaabusu din sila sa pamamagitan ng paggamit nga kanilang kultura sa pamamagitan ng ng mga programang Pangturismo ng Pamahalaan. Ang kanilang mga tradisyon, sining at makulay na kultura ay madalas na ginagamit at kinuko-commercialized sa pamamagitan ng mga Festivals at kung ano-anong mga celebrasyon. Ang kanilang pagka-inosenti o kakulangan ng kaalaman sa takbo makabagong panahon o modernisasyon ay madalas ring ginagamit at inaabusu ng mga malalaking Politiko lalo na sa panahon ng eleksiyon.

Ayon sa Art. XIV, Sec. 17 ng 1987 Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas, nakasaad doon na "the State shall recognize, respect and protect the rights of the indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions, and institutions. It shall consider these rights in the formulation of NATIONAL PLANS AND POLICIES".

Ang probisyong ito ng ating Konstitusyon ay pinagtibay at ipinatupad sa pamamagitan ng Republic Act 8371 o ang tinatawag na Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 o ang Batas na IPRA.

Ang Batas na IPRA (R.A.8371), sa pamamagitan ng National Commission on Indigenous Peoples o NCIP ay gumawa ng mga GUIDELINES kung paano mapoprotektahan ang karapatan ng mga katutubong mamamayan, isa na dito ang karapatan na "Free, Prior and Informed Consent o FPIC" na makukuha hindi sa pamamagitan ng ordinaryong mga konsultasyon o maging plebisito man.

Ang FPIC ayon sa batas na IPRA ay isa sa pinakamahalagang karapatan ng mga katutubo dahil ito ay binansagang "THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' TOOL FOR EMPOWERMENT IN ANCESTRAL DOMAIN GOVERNANCE". Nakasaad sa batas na IPRA na walang sino man o ano mang ahensiya ng Gobyerno o Pribadong indibdiwal o grupo ang pwedeng magpatupad ng kahit anong gawain, programa, prohekto o polisiya sa loob ng katutubong teritoryo (ancestral domain territories) kung walang consensus na pagpayag ng lahat ng mga katutubong mamamayan.

Sa isyung ito, laking gulat ng mga kumakatawan ng "constitutionally at culturally aware" na mga Lider ng Katutubong Tribu sa Bukidnon noong marinig at makita sa balita na kinumpirma ni Congressman Juan Miguel Zubiri ang kanyang pagtakbo sa Senado. Siya pa nga ang pinaka-unang nag-file ng COC sa COMELEC.

Si Congressman Migz Zubiri may malaking nilabag na karapatan ng mga Katutubo sa Probinsiya ng Bukidnon sa pamamagitan ng kanyang pag-akda ng HB 3312 o "Bill Creating the Province of Bukidnon del Sur". Sa totoo lang po, ang Probinsiya ng Bukidnon kung saan ibinotong Congressman si Juan Miguel Zubiri sa pangatlong Distrito (3rd District) ay kinikilala sa kasaysayan ng Probinsiya bilang Ancestral na Teritoryo ng Pitong (7) Katutubong Tribu gaya ng Manobo, Talaandig, Higaonon, Bukidnon, Matigsalug, Umayamnon at Tigwahanon . Ito ang pinaka batayan kung bakit ang ginawang HB 3312 ni Congressman Miguel Zubiri na hatiin ang Probinsiya ng Bukidnon sa pamamagitan ng paggawa ng bagong "Bukidnon del Sur" ay kailangan ng Free, prior and Informed Consent o FPIC galing sa lahat ng mga Katutubong tribu sa Bukidnon at HINDI SA PAMAMAGITAN LANG NG ORDINARYONG MGA KONSULTASYON AT SA PAMAMAGITAN NG ISANG PLEBISITO. Pero ang probisyong ito ng Batas na IPRA o R.A. 8371 ay hindi kinikilala ni Congressman Migs Zubiri sa pamamagitan ng pagporsegi sa Senado na magkaroon na ng Plebisito sa Probinsiya ng Bukidnon na kung saan ay nasisiguro na niya at ng kanyang kampo na talagang "YES" ang mananalo sa pamamagitan "majority rule" dahil na rin sa maraming migrants o dayong naninirahan at hindi nabibilang sa mga katutubong tribu sa Bukidnon.

Ang HB na ito ni Congressman Zubiri ay pumasa na sa mababang kapulungan ng Kongreso at ngayon ay nakasalang na sa Senado. Ito rin ang isang dahilan kung bakit malaki ang pagnanais ni Congressman Zubiri na maging Senador upang sa mabilisang paraan ay maisulong na ang Plebisito sa paghahati ng Probinsiya ng Bukidnon.

Sa totoo lang, may iilang konsultasyon na ang ipinatawag tungkol dito. Una ay ang Hearing sa Senate Committee on Local Government sa pangunguna ni Senador Alfredo Lim, ang Chairman ng nasabing Komitiba. Ito ay idinaos mismo sa gusali ng Senado sa Maynila. Ang konsultasyong ito ay sinundan pa ng isang Senate Hearing Noong buwan ng Agosto 4, 2006 sa Cagayan de oro City sa pamamagitan din ni Senador Nene Pemintel. Nong panahong ito, umani ng negatibong na reaksiyon galing sa mga "Culturally at Constitutionally Aware" na mga leader ng ibat-ibang tribu mula sa ilang lungsud ng Bukidnon ang nasabing House Bill.

Pagkatapos noon, ibinalik ang naturang Bill sa Senado. Subalit dahil sa isyu ng mga katutubong karapatan, mula sa Senate Committee on Local Government ay inilipat ito sa Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples, sa pamumuno ni Senadora Jamby Madrigal. Malaking pasalamat namin dahil ang Komitiba ni Senadora Madrigal ay malalim ang pagkakaintindi sa karapatan ng mga katutubo, partikular sa isyu ng Free, Prior and Informed Consent o FPIC. Ang ginawa ng kanyang Komitiba ay pagpapatupad lamang nga Republic Act 8371 o Batas na IPRA.

Subalit, ang ginawang ito ni Senadora Madrigal pabor sa aming mga lumalaban na Katutubo ay umani naman ng violenting reaksiyon mula kampo ni Congressman Zubiri, sa kanyang mga taga suporta at sa kanyang ama na si Bukidnon Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri, Jr. Dahil dito, ang kampo ni Congressman Zubiri ay gumawa pa ng isang OPEN LETTER TO ALL SENATORS sa pamamagitan ng Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 13, 2006 issue kung saan kinu-question nila ang hindi daw patas na pagtanaw ni Senadora Jamby Madrigal sa naturang Bill. Ang nasabing OPEN LETTER ay pinipirmahan mga Local Government Officials at politikong ka-alyado ng mga Zubiri, mga sector, pati na rin ang iilang leader ng tribu sa Bukidnon na kung saan ang iilan ay "SCANNED SIGNATURES" lamang at hindi genuine signatures.

Kahit pa nga ang Indigenous Peoples' Provincial Consultative Body o PCB na kumakatawan sa pitong tribu ng Bukidnon na kung saan nakasaad sa batas na IPRA ay limitado lamang ang kanyang function bilang Advisory Body ng National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (Hindi advisory Body ng LGU at mga Politiko) ay ginagamit din ng Kampo ni Congressman Zubiri upang ma-justify na suportado na "RAW" ng mga katutubo ang kanyang Bill na hatiin ang Probinsiya ng Bukidnon sa dalawa. Higit sa lahat, ginagamit din Congressman Zubiri ang Cultural Identity at sagradong tradisyon ng mga katutubo ng Bukidnon sa pamamagitan ng kanyang pagpapa-adopt at pagpakakasal ayon sa customary law ng mga katutubong Bukidnon. Sa naturang seremonya at selebrasyon, ipinatawag at ginastohan niya ng libre upang gawing batayan na PUMAYAG NA TALAGA ang mga Katutubong mamamayan ng Bukidnon sa kanyang Bill na gagawa ng bagong probinsiya ng Bukidnon del Sur.

Sa totoo lang po at ayon na rin sa mandate ng Akta Republika 8371 o batas na IPRA, ang Free Prior and Informed Consent ay hindi pweding magmumula lamang sa iilang leader ng tribu kundi ito ay galing talaga sa CONSENSUS na proseso ng lahat ng mga apektadong membro nga mga katutubo. Kaya nga ipinasa ang batas na IPRA noong Oktobre 29, 1997 upang maituwid ang maraming pagkakamali sa kasaysayan (Historical Mistakes and Injustice) na nagawa ng maraming leader ng tribu sa lumipas na mga panahon sa pamamagitan ng kanilang MISREPRESENTATION sa usaping karapatan ng mga katutubo sa loob ng kani-kanilang mga pamayanan.

Bilang mga katutubong mamamayan ng Probinsiya ng Bukidnon mula sa tribong Manobo, Talaandig, Higaonon, Bukidnon, Matigsalug, Umayamnon at Tigwahanon na may sapat na kaalaman sa aming mga karapatan sa loob ng aming mga Lupang Ninuno o ancestral territories, kami ay taos pusong nananawagan ha HUWAG IBOTO ang mga Politikong hindi marunong kumikilala at lumalabag sa karapatang pantao ng mga Katutubo.

Kaya nga nananawagan kami sa buong bansa, sa lahat ng mga katutubong mamamayan, mga sector at mga suportang grupo ng mga katutubo na HUWAG IBOTO SI MIGZ ZUBIRI. Hindi na nga niya nagawang kumilala sa karapatan ng mga katutubo sa probinsiya ng Bukidnon ngayong Congressman pa lang siya, paano na kaya pag siya'y nasa mataas na posisyon na bilang Senador ng Bansang Pilipinas? Mangangahulugan ba itong ang 110 katutubong tribu sa boong Pilipinas na kumakatawan sa kabuuang populasyong na 12.8 milyon ay maging biktima rin balang araw sa paglabag ng karapatang pantao pag nagiging Senador na si Migz Zubiri?




The Council of Elders of:
Bukidnon Unified Tribal Development Council of Elders (BUTRIDCE)
Tulugan, Lumalambung, Sumpong, Malaybalay City

Contact Person:
Datu Umpongan Romando Sambile