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. ##