Monday, May 30, 2011

Pagtutol sa dayuhang kompanya ng pagmimina nauwi sa paglabag sa karapatang pantao

Resistance to mining exploration gave rise to rights violations
Published on May 27, 2011

Related article: Peace mission in Davao reveals rights, humanitarian law violations under Oplan Bayanihan

MANILA — After the murder of Santos Manrique, news of the supposed death of Belen Galleto, a local leader in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, circulated through text messages.

But Galleto is still alive. Like Manrique, Galleto is at the frontline of the fight of small scale miners against the entry of Napnapan Mineral Resources Inc. (NMRI) and RUSSELL Mines and Minerals in their community.

Manrique, who was the president of the Federation of Miners Aggrupation in Pantukan (FEDMAP), a barangay council member of Kingking village and a co-convener of the Save Pantukan Alliance, was shot dead by four unidentified men inside his house on April 12 in front of his grandson and wife.

“After Manrique, it is me who they are after. But their attempts to thwart the struggle of small scale miners will not prevail because we will not yield Pantukan to any foreign plunderer,” Galleto, spokeswoman of Save Pantukan alliance, said in a statement sent through email.

Bishop Modesto Villasanta, convener of the Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP), noted that the entry of Russel Mines and Minerals has resulted in human rights violations.

A recently concluded peace mission dubbed as Duyog sa Panaw led by EJP revealed that before his death, Manrique was visited by employees of Russell Mining and Minerals, Inc. urging him to allow its operations in the area.

US mining company Rusell Mines and Minerals has acquired the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement of Nationwide Development Corporation (NADECOR) and is now on the exploration stage of the Kingking Copper Gold Project, in Sitio Upper Lumdanggang, and Binutaan covering around 1,656 hectares

Russell Mines will use the open pit mining method and projects an estimated exploration cost of P15.8 million ($363 thousand). The foreign firm estimates Pantukan reserves that an approximate 750 million tons of ore (averaging .387 percent copper and .432 grams gold).

“Police investigation reports pointing to personal conflict as the reason behind Ricky’s killing is a sham. Ricky was a good community leader. Those who would gain more for his death are those which have been eyeing the high grade and yet untapped gold reserves in Pantukan,” Hanimay Suazo, acting secretary general of human rights group Karapatan and member of the peace mission, said.

Since March, Pantukan residents have staged a series of protest actions and filed petitions at the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Compostela Valley to stop the exploration and operations of large-scale and foreign mining. They assert instead that the government should act on the management and rehabilitation of small scale mining areas in the province.

On March 9, Manrique was also detained for a day at the Marapangi Police Station after being taken by elements of the 66th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army after he was accused of being a supporter of the New People’s Army.

Galleto said that since the start of the operations of NMRI and Russell company, the 71st IB was deployed in Pantukan. “We have not experienced this since 2007. Now Sitio Lumanggang is a hamletted area, with around 10 elements encamped within a populated community. This clearly shows how mining firms are employing the state army to quell the peoples’ resistance,” Galleto said.

The Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) that sent participants to the mission also said that the Russell Mines and Minerals did not acquire the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the Mansaka community in the area. The group will file a case against Russell at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) for violating the rights of indigenous peoples.

The mission documented 11 cases of violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) victimizing more than 3,664 individuals in a span of only three months in Pantukan.

Villasanta said violations ranged from extrajudicial killing, harassment, attack or use of public places for military purposes, illegal checkpoint, and land-grabbing of indigenous ancestral lands, and disrespect of indigenous traditional leadership and cultural rights committed by both the military elements, and the US mining company.

EJP said they will file charges in relation to the murder of Manrique and the harassment of Galleto.

Galleto remains unflinching in her resistance. “Ricky’s murder was a blatant attack on all those fighting against the entry of large-scale and foreign mining in Pantukan and Davao region. Because of his death, we become more emboldened to fight for our rights against the foreign plunder of our natural resources and the intensifying attacks on all rights defenders like Ricky and myself,” she said.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Paano nakakatulong ang Simbahan sa pagbibigay liwanag tungkol sa RH bill?

Forbidden Fruit
By Luis Teodoro

THANKS TO some priests and bishops of the Catholic Church, and with considerable help from the media, the debate on the consolidated Reproductive Health bill (House Bill 4244) pending in the House of Representatives is turning into a murky exercise that’s spreading more disinformation than enlightenment.

The episode in which perennial and number one House absentee Manny Pacquiao weighed in on the issue by announcing his opposition to the anti-RH bill demonstrated how far some bishops will go to stop the bill. The anti-RH bishops’ cynical manipulation of the boxer put their opposition on the front pages and the news programs, furthering their advocacy despite Pacquiao’s unfamiliarity with the issues and his embarrassing trouncing during the House debates. Although coached by the bishops, Pacquiao not only misquoted the Biblical injunction to “Be fruitful and multiply,” he also displayed an appalling though unsurprising ignorance of the bill’s intent and provisions unworthy of a member of the House of Representatives.

Not that some of his colleagues in that less than August body, including those who regularly attend the sessions and who’re not as accomplished as Pacquiao, have not been similarly ignorant. Some have argued that, the country being mostly Catholic, it should heed what Catholics want, which assumes that all Catholics agree with the anti-RH bishops. It also ignores the rights of non-Catholics as well as non-Christians, and presumes that only Catholics deserve representation in law, if not in Congress.

Others have played to the gallery by inveighing against abortion, alleging that the bill, which reiterates that abortion is illegal, would on the contrary legalize it. Either out of malice or ignorance of the fact that it makes having children and planning the number of children a couple wants a matter of choice, still others proclaim that the bill would compel Filipino couples to use artificial contraception. Echoing the views of some Catholic bishops, those of a more fundamentalist mind declare that intervening in the “natural process” of procreation is an offense against God. With their bad grammar and worse pronunciation, few of the country’s lawmakers inspired much confidence.

Some Church hierarchs have argued against the idea that an RH law would be a solution to poverty-- about which, however, they are right. Some countries, for example South Africa, where family planning has been in place for years, remain poor despite declining birth rates. There is truth as well in the argument that what’s needed to address poverty are the economic, political and social policies that so far seem to have eluded every administration including the present one.

The bishops who raise that argument may have a point, but it’s a straw figure they’re fighting. House Bill 4244 doesn’t claim that it would alleviate poverty, despite what seems to be President Benigno Aquino III’s assumption that that is indeed the bill’s aim. As any reading of its declaration of policy will reveal, HB 4244 would first of all make information and knowledge about reproductive health available. It is primarily meant to address the country’s high maternal death rate by providing the information, the means and the opportunity for everyone to enjoy reproductive health, while protecting women’s rights and the rights and welfare of children.

These are non-controversial, practically motherhood statements that have been current in other countries for years. It defies understanding why Church hierarchs as well as laymen and women should be so outraged over a bill that, among others, (1) doesn’t allow abortion, and in fact reaffirms, that abortion is illegal; (2) would provide couples the information as well as the means of preventing unwanted pregnancies so they can plan their families both for the health of the mother and to enable the family to better care for their children; (3) makes no claim to lowering the birth rate as the road to the eradication of poverty; and (4) would give couples the choice of planning their families or not, as well as making the means to do so, whether natural or artificial, available.

Such other dilatory questions as the constitutionality of using public funds for the establishment of a system that would assure reproductive health among citizens have also been settled, it being self- evident, contrary to the views of some bishops, that the state can use public funds in furtherance of social policy.

The vehemence with which some hierarchs of the Catholic Church have argued against the RH bill has understandably led to the suspicion that it’s not so much its provisions but the very idea of such a bill that’s unacceptable to some members of the clergy including several bishops. Because the bill would provide the information citizens need to take control of at least the reproductive aspect of their lives rather than continuing to entrust the shaping of those lives to the institutional Church, some Church hierarchs think it would undermine Church influence and power—the very power, such as excommunication and even civil disobedience, that some bishops have been threatening to unleash against the politicians supportive of the bill, including President Aquino III.

Catholic Church dogma entrusts the interpretation of doctrine as well as the living of the righteous life to the guidance of the clergy rather than to the individual: God after all drove Adam and Eve from Eden for eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. A laity ignorant even of their bodies and their reproductive choices not only makes the Church central to people’s lives. It also enhances its temporal power and its role as a major player in the country’s affairs. It’s all about control, the 400-year history of the Church in the Philippines being the history of its deliberate, sustained, and --so it hopes-- eternal involvement in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation.

The same worldly view drove the Church’s attempt to legislate mandatory religious instruction in the schools in the 1930s and its campaign against the teaching of Jose Rizal’s life and works in Philippine schools in the 1950s. The same impulse is behind its frantic opposition to the RH bill. Managing information and preventing its dissemination by other sources, and the consequent development among the flock of a capacity to make independent decisions on public policy or their private lives, has been its historical focus since the conquistadores seized these islands for Church and Spanish Crown. Information, choice, and knowledge, whether about society or one’s body, are forbidden fruit.


Comments and other columns:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ang progresibong pananaw sa reproductive health (RH) bill

By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

Taking a stand on RH

Having borne two children of my own and having struggled to do my part in raising a family while practicing my profession in the field of public health and avidly pursuing my social and political causes, I submit that I may have something worthwhile to say on the controversy over the reproductive health bill.

Ill health, debilitation and untimely deaths due to preventable and curable diseases are undoubtedly an added bane on the masses, men and women alike. Women, however, by virtue of their reproductive functions, their traditional role as the family’s main caregiver and, more and more, as breadwinners themselves, carry distinct and additional burdens.

Central to the concern is the question of family planning or, technically speaking, fertility control. A woman of reproductive age who is ignorant about her body, how she can get pregnant, or choose not to get pregnant, and how to balance the role of giving life and rearing the young with being a productive member of society, as well as pursuing other aspirations and dreams for herself and for others – is a woman who is shackled and doomed to suffer unnecessarily.

Progressives cannot but be on the side of championing RH for women most especially for poor, exploited and oppressed women who are most disadvantaged and worst affected.

But this is not to agree blindly with the supposition that having many children dooms a woman and her family to a life of poverty or conversely, prosperity comes from having only a few. There are exceptions to this observation even in a backward, maldeveloped economy such as ours where poverty is endemic. The key of course lies in the woman’s economic class and social standing.

Those who carry this line easily slide to the proposition that countries and peoples are poor and backward because they are not managing their population growth.

The fear of the teeming multitude derives from an acceptance of the status quo with the overwhelming majority of the peoples of the world mired in a seemingly unending cycle of destitution, ignorance, disease and early death, pointing to overpopulation as the culprit while denying that a tiny majority appropriates the wealth of the world.

(Yes Virginia, US imperialism has elevated the Malthusian theory about unchecked population growth as the ultimate cause of poverty and the depletion of the world’s resources to the level of an international crusade.)

Progressives and genuine people’s organizations must be wary of, expose and contend with imperialist propaganda and programs disguised as pro-people but in truth serve anti-people purposes.

We can agree with the Catholic Church on the basic assumption that people per se should not be considered burdens to society. A people who are productive, not exploited and oppressed, are able to meet their basic needs as well as enjoy a sufficiently stimulating cultural life and are free to pursue their dreams and aspirations – such people are the limitless source of society’s wealth and constitute humanity’s future.

But while progressives can agree with some of the principles underlying the arguments raised by the opponents of the RH bill, the Catholic Church, in particular, there is no gainsaying that we are definitely on the opposing side on this one.

The Church is raising the bogey of abortion (in the process imposing its dogma on when conception takes place) and of alleged coercive means of undertaking RH education and imposing fertility control in opposing the bill. Some fan fears of a rise in promiscuous sexual behavior, sexually-transmitted disease, and moral and social degradation with the passage of the RH bill.

But the consolidated bill being considered has clear-cut provisions against these or at least reasonable safeguards.

Notwithstanding their good intentions, the CBCP cannot be taken to be an infallible judge of spiritual, much less secular issues, even by Catholic Church doctrine. More than once before, the church hierarchy had succeeded in imposing its collective views on matters that are more secular than spiritual, only to reverse itself after some time. We recall, for example, how for many years the teaching of Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo was banned by legislation pushed by the Catholic Church on the grounds that these patriotic novels depicted it in a bad light.

Rather than attempt to impose its views and will on Congress, the Catholic Church would do well to undertake mass education campaigns to promote its views on family planning methods together with the concrete programs to match, among the people, especially the poor who have most need of them.

This way they can better utilize the Church’s formidable persuasive powers and clout rather than act as an adversary to the laudable aim of raising the level of the health and wellbeing of women and their families in this country.

A word of caution on the RH bill. There are several questionable and even objectionable provisions still. GABRIELA, the country’s premier alliance of progressive women, points to “vestiges of neomalthusianism” in the bills’s “Guiding Principles”, to wit, “The limited resources of the country cannot be suffered to be spread so thinly to service a burgeoning multitude making allocations grossly inadequate and effectively meaningless.”

Also in Section 25 on the “Implementing Mechanism”, GABRIELA asks why the Population Commission is designated as the coordinating body in the implementation of the RH bill when it is primarily a bill on women’s health.

It is clear that some of the proponents and a significant number of supporters of the RH bill are equally or even more impelled by considerations of population control and management than anything else. Thus we can expect them to persist in their tunnel vision and put the lid on discourse about the underlying, more fundamental causes of poverty and underdevelopment.

Consequently the rechanneling of more substantial government resources to RH aka family planning aka population control must be closely monitored to make sure it is more of the first and second which is the objective rather than purely and erroneously, the latter.

The abuses of past USAID-funded population control programs that pushed artificial contraception methods to the detriment of general and women’s health programs, gave rise to opportunities for undue influence by donor agencies and population control hawkers in public health policy-making, as well as for graft and corruption in richly-endowed population control programs must be prevented.

Enlightened legislation on women’s reproductive health is a step in the right direction. Whether it will achieve its intended purpose depends ultimately on women and their families relentlessly fighting for the full implementation of its positive provisions and taking a vigilant stance vis a vis its more questionable ones.

At the end of the day, only a people in charge of their own destinies -- whose political leadership represents and carries the interests of the overwhelming majority -- can ensure a population management policy which is pro-people and rationally designed to contribute to national development goals geared towards social justice, equity, freedom and prosperity. #

Published in Business World
27-28 May 2011

Basahin ang iba pang artikulo ni Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

On the Road to Disaster: Gaps in RA9729 and Philippine Climate Change Policies

Click here to download the complete publication (PDF format)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Economic sovereignty nanganganib sa E.U. free trade deal

IBON NEWS / 25 May 2011
IBON Foundation, Inc., IBON Center 114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City Philippines
Phone: (632) 927-6986/927-7060 to 62|Fax: 929-2496| E-mail: |


Trade officials will reportedly begin consultations among stakeholders for the proposed bilateral free-trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU), but research group IBON urged government not to abandon the country's right to implement key development policy in favor of EU interests.

The group warned that as recovery from the global financial crisis remains fragile, the EU's drive to liberalize global trade and investment and deregulate economic activities is intensifying, especially amid its increasingly problematic agricultural, industrial, services and financial sectors.

An FTA with the EU, the group said, will further open up the Philippine economy, restrict economic sovereignty and drastically reduce policy space and flexibility. The FTA will be particularly damaging for its World Trade Organization-plus measures such as greater trade liberalization in agriculture and industry, introduction of stronger intellectual property rights (IPR) protections, and expansion into the Philippines' services and investments. Only the EU will benefit from this and in effect, will be passing on the burden of adjusting to its crisis to the Philippines, IBON said.

In fact, a report commissioned by the European Commission in 2009 noted that the Philippines will see a "decline of the cereals and grains (mainly rice) sectors" and "reduced real income levels in rural areas" from an FTA deal. The same report also observed how "increased trade and growth benefited only parts of society, widening the gap between poor and rich".

At the same time, it will be distressing for the country if the EU itself implements overt or concealed protectionist policies while the Philippines is forced to rapidly liberalize and strengthen investor protections. These will be all to the detriment of urgent Philippine development priorities and needs, said IBON. Filipinos have witnessed their livelihood and social welfare deteriorate from decades of free trade, and it is time that government reconsider failed and reckless trade and investment liberalization so that it can begin working for genuine development, the research group said.

The Philippine government led by the Department of Trade and Industry is preparing to enter into formal talks for a bilateral trade deal with EU after concluding the Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in 2010. The PCA, which sets the framework and principles for an FTA, is said to be signed soon after EU countries approve the agreement. (end)

/IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues./

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hundreds demand justice for slain mayor at funeral

By Joey A. Gabieta, Rachel V. Arnaiz
Inquirer Visayas
8:03 pm | Saturday, May 21st, 2011

CALBAYOG CITY, Samar, Philippines—The streets of Calbayog were filled with yellow ribbons and confetti as its slain mayor was laid to rest Saturday afternoon.

At least 1,000 people in yellow shirts, many of them from far-flung towns in Samar, joined the funeral march that brought Mayor Reynaldo Uy to his final resting place at the Saint Ignatius Cemetery, about a kilometer away from the city center.

“Justice for Mayor Ining Uy” were the words printed on their shirts.

One of those who joined the funeral march was 63-year-old Elena Sanchez from the island town of Tagapul-an, Samar.

She said that like many Samareños, she wanted justice for slain mayor and his family.

“He was a very good leader. He took care of us, poor people by providing us projects that benefited us,” she said.

The police have yet to arrest the lone gunman who shot and killed Uy, a stalwart of the Liberal Party in Samar, inside covered multi-purpose hall of Hinabangan town, Samar, on April 30 despite the P2 million bounty offered by the family.

Superintendent Elizar Egloso, information officer of the regional police office, assured Uy’s family and supporters that the police were doing everything to solve the murder.

“We have no breakthrough yet as no one has surfaced to help us identify the suspect (sic),” said Egloso in an interview by mobile phone. “But we assure the family of Mayor Uy that we will not stop until the (killer) is arrested.”

The casket bearing Uy’s remains was brought from the City Hall to the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Calbayog for an 8:30 a.m. Requiem Mass and necrological service that lasted for nearly four hours. The Mass was officiated by Bishop Isabelo Abarquez assisted by about 30 priests from the Diocese of Calbayog.

In his Homily, Abarquez condemned the killing of the mayor, whom he described as a well-loved doctor and leader.

“He was not just someone, but a somebody among his folks… a somebody among his constituents and a somebody among his colleagues in the House of Representatives. His death is not a defeat but a victory,” he said.

An emotionally charged necrological service followed the Mass.

Among those who spoke were Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz and Representatives Mel Senen Sarmiento of Samar, Raul Daza of Northern Samar and Teddy Casiño of the partylist group Bayan Muna.

Casiño described Uy as one of the leading figures in Samar who fought against forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings.

Uy, he added, was one of the few courageous leaders who opposed the assignment of former Major General Jovito Palparan in Samar.

“Who would have thought that he would die in violence,” Casiño said.

Daza cautioned Uy’s supporters against resorting to violence in their quest for justice.

“I am calling for calm and sobriety. Let us not go on with the cycle of violence. Violence is counter-productive,” Daza said.

Uy’s daughter, Rosa Jessica Uy-Delgado, said they never thought that such a tragedy would fall on the family.

But she said she hoped her father’s killer would be punished.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

National sovereignty doesn’t rank high in Noynoy’s priorities

Visiting US forces visitors no longer
By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
4:51 am | Friday, May 20th, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—A top official of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (PCVFA) has confirmed claims by the Pentagon that between 550 and 600 US troops are based indefinitely in the country.

Most of the American soldiers, belonging to the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), are in Mindanao, but “some are in Manila doing support roles like procurement,” said PCVFA Executive Director Edilberto Adan.

The VFA has allowed the continued presence of the JSOTF-P in a strictly noncombat role, supposedly to advise, share information and conduct joint civil-military operations with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“They (US forces) are not allowed to engage in combat operations. Their presence is authorized by our government through the RP-US Mutual Defense Board,” said Assistant Foreign Secretary Eduardo Malaya.

Malaya, who is also the spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said support by the US forces “for the AFP has degraded the capabilities of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.”


Terry Ridon, chair of the League of Filipino Students, believes “the permanent presence of 600 US troops here is no news.”

“It had been confirmed as early as 2009 by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates. What surprises us is the foot-dragging of the Aquino administration in failing to stop such an indefinite stay in the country,” Ridon said.

A PCVFA review of the May 1999 agreement, which started late last year, is “ongoing,” Adan told the Inquirer.

The former military officer, however, did not say when the review would be completed.

Sometime in November, Adan said that the VFA review planned to “look at the most contentious issues and ensure the provisions continue to make this agreement relevant and serve the national interest.”

Adan said the PCVFA had organized several technical working groups tasked with addressing different aspects of the VFA.

Contrary to claims by some VFA critics, the treaty had been aboveboard, he said.

Calls for abrogation

Militant groups have called anew for the abrogation of the VFA, which was concurred in by the Senate on May 27, 1999.

Renato Reyes Jr., Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general, said President Aquino “has been so awestruck by US military might that he even went on a tour of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. A few months earlier, he joined US troops in target practice during the Balikatan war games.”

“Given these actions by the President, we wonder how the so-called review of the VFA will end up. National sovereignty doesn’t seem to rank high in the administration’s priorities,” Reyes said.

Reyes noted that there was no attempt from the Aquino administration to question the Americans’ indefinite presence in the country.

“They’re no longer visitors. They’ve become permanent fixtures in Zamboanga. Their presence is a strong argument to terminate the VFA since it is too vague and overboard,” he said.

Reyes said the Palace review of the VFA was focused only on the unequal provisions in relation to custody of US troops who violated Philippine laws.

“The more essential question should be why the VFA is being used to allow the presence of an unlimited number of troops engaging in undefined activities for an unspecified period of time. The review will end up a sham if it will not result in the termination of the VFA,” he added.

Intimidating effect

Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino said “the number of US troops here is insignificant in a nation of 92 million people.”

But “they are armed soldiers of a military superpower which makes their presence on our shores a threat to our security and well-being. If concentrated in a single town, those troops have an intimidating effect on local politics,” Palatino said.

High court ruling

The Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 11, 2009, that the VFA was duly concurred in by the Senate and had been recognized as a treaty by Washington.

The high tribunal also noted that the VFA was “simply an implementing agreement to the main RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.”

Sometime in March 2010, the high court upheld anew the legality of the VFA.

In a resolution, the tribunal upheld its earlier ruling on the constitutionality of the agreement, which allowed the presence of US troops in the country for joint military exercises after the 1991 pullout of the American military bases in Clark and Subic.

Washington regards the VFA as an executive agreement which does not require approval by the US Senate.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hindi bayani si Marcos

Posted on May 19, 2011 08:50:04 PM
Streetwise -- By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Source: Business World

Marcos is no hero

Another revolting turn in the stomach-churning political scene in this country confronts us. The heirs to the Marcosian legacy of economic sabotage and plunder of the nation’s coffers, state terrorism and fascist abuse of the citizenry, and kowtowing to foreign imperialist impositions are now calling for the burial of the dictator Marcos’s petrified remains in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The resurrection of the idea to transfer the remains of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos to what is traditionally regarded as hallowed burial grounds for the nation’s heroes is outrageous and infuriating, especially for the direct victims of martial rule.

But it is an abomination still waiting to happen.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s nerve to sound the call after barely warming his seat in the Senate is not surprising. But the effrontery and collective amnesia of a big majority of legislators in the Lower House who signed HOR Resolution 1135 and the lack of a clear-cut stand much less official resistance from Malacañang is alarming.

In truth, the process of rehabilitation of the Marcos name began soon after his regime was overthrown.

We thought then that the Marcos dictatorship had been swept away, ignominiously, into the dustbin of history where it belonged. But we were sorely mistaken.

The Cory Aquino regime failed -- refused, even -- to lay the ground for the full condemnation and repudiation of the dictatorship.

Marcos-era fascist decrees and laws remain and are still used to suppress dissent and opposition to government policies and programs. Most of the perpetrators of human rights violations among the military and police, especially the most notorious ones, were never prosecuted much less convicted. A yardstick of failure of post-Marcos regimes, especially Mrs. Aquino’s, to prosecute martial law criminals is the failure to identify and prosecute the masterminds behind the assassination of her husband, the martyr, Benigno Aquino Jr.

The Marcos heirs, his cronies and henchmen of various stripes (from ex-generals and politicians to high-living technocrats, well-paid hacks, and other apologists) have been able to protect their ill-gotten wealth, reputations, and positions of power and influence from any demands for accountability much less restitution.

The public hardly notices that even in the field of education, with its decisive impact on molding the national consciousness, the lessons of martial rule especially its grievous effects on society, are not correctly and sufficiently taught, much less emphasized.

It is no wonder that the Marcoses, including Imelda, the other half of the conjugal dictatorship, whose name is synonymous with profligacy of gargantuan proportions, are now no longer social pariahs but are on the guest list of the many "high society" happenings hereabouts.

It follows then that the plunder, brutal suppression of human rights, the culture of impunity as well as the corruption and criminality endemic in government institutions, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, continues unabated. All these can be attributed to the mind-set and the practice honed to perfection during the martial law years.

Through all these, the ruling regimes that succeeded Marcos were content to point to the restoration of formal democratic trappings like elections and Congress, as proof that the martial law era and its attendant evils are long past.

What they conveniently obscure, if not conceal, is that the economic and political crisis that brought about the dictatorship, was aggravated by it, and continues to fester even after its overthrow, is still very much around, providing the very same conditions for a return to authoritarianism and fascism.

By continuing the pro-foreign capital and anti-people economic policies of the Marcos era, succeeding regimes plunged our nation to deeper indebtedness and depression, causing increasing hardship and misery on our people, thus reinforcing the claim and illusion that life after martial law was worse and Marcos was a better ruler.

Meanwhile, the HOR resolution from the Marcos camp, at best, is another attempt at testing the waters, and the official response so far sends the signal that "it looks okay so long as it doesn’t pull down our popularity and satisfaction ratings". How else to explain the gingerly, tentative, buck-passing and "survey-conscious" response from Malacañang?

Consider that the resolution merely recycles most of the arguments that have long been exposed as outright lies (e.g., "decorated soldier" versus fake medals) or half-lies (e.g., "built the modern foundations of the Philippines" versus leading the economy to further ruin).

But the biggest argument that deserves to be demolished is that burying the dictator Marcos as a "hero" is a "magnanimous act of reconciliation which will strengthen the bonds of solidarity among the Filipino people".

The resolution outwardly appeals to the magnanimity of Mr. Aquino, son of the most prominent Marcos rival and martial law victim. But in fact, the resolution insults the President, not to mention the Filipino people, counting on their gullibility and total incapacity for discernment.

Mr. Aquino’s tepid response to the outrageous proposal is bound to embolden its proponents. But both grossly underestimate the people’s intelligence and their opposition to notions of reconciliation without justice or, simply put, the politics of accommodation among factions of the same ruling elite.

Those whose memory and scruples are not as limited, the victims of gross injustices and all those who would not want their children and grandchildren to suffer the horrors the Filipino people were subjected to by the Marcos rule, are bound to vehemently oppose this effort to bestow honor to a discredited tyrant and despot.

Seven representatives from the progressive party lists Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela Women’s Party, Kabataan and ACT Party Lists have sponsored a resolution opposing the Marcos resolution. It sums up the arguments against the proposal to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani thus:

"NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the House of Representatives strongly oppose renewed proposals to bury former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani as a grave travesty of justice; a monumental historical distortion tantamount to declaring as a hero a dictator who committed crimes against humanity, plunged the nation deeper into foreign debt and control and plundered the nation’s resources; and a renunciation of the historic 1986 people power uprising which toppled Marcos."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Billions lost in Gloria M. Arroyo rice imports

Smuggling at NFA bared
Billions lost in Gloria M. Arroyo rice imports

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:01:00 05/17/2011

(First of two parts)

MANILA, Philippines--“Legalized smuggling.”

This was how the audit team hired by the National Food Authority (NFA) described the government’s rice importation program in the last three years of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, which saw a rice crisis, soaring prices and huge losses for the grains agency.

A copy of the report prepared by a three-member team said the implementation of the private sector-financed (PSF) importation from 2008 to 2010 turned out to be a huge liability for the government.

It was marked by irregularities such as an uneven playing field among rice traders and fictitious firms that submitted bids, the report said.

The audit team, composed of Jesus P. Posadas, Oscar A. Torralba and Arthur O. Juan, said it was “jolted” by NFA’s financial statements, describing these as unbelievable.

“PSF as implemented effectively legalized smuggling,” the report said, noting that it was not coincidental that the period saw huge losses and debts for the agency. The losses were placed at tens of billions of pesos.

The NFA, tasked with stabilizing the price of the staple and ensuring that the country has enough buffer stocks, allows traders and farmers’ cooperatives to import the grain via its private sector-financed importation program.

The private companies, which had to get priority cards under a first-come, first-served basis, paid the NFA fees in exchange for importing the grain tax-free.

From 2008 to 2010, the NFA allowed commercial rice traders to import a total of 1.4 million metric tons. It asked the Fiscal Incentives Regulatory Board, on behalf of the traders, a tax exemption worth P20 billion.


The audit team said it found many “red flags” in the PSF importation program during the period.

For one, the auditors realized that there were elements of a “cartel” among rice traders. The first-come, first-served basis rule was violated as some bidders received permits despite being absent or late in the queue. The names of contact persons on the manager’s checks submitted by different companies to the NFA were also the same, they said.

The companies that were given import licenses also turned out to be fictitious.

Dummy traders

“Apparently, the PSF importation was centrally orchestrated in violation of the NFA first-come, first-served rule and rationale of PSF. NFA utilized the first-come first-served rule for favored bidders,” the report said.

It said fictitious parties were awarded quotas in 2010 in violation of NFA policy guidelines.

The use of dummy traders to participate in the importation program caught the attention of President Benigno Aquino III. In January, Mr. Aquino, who was given a copy of the report, ordered an inquiry in response to the findings of the audit team.

Favored importers

The probe looked into the 10 groups in Pangasinan province that participated in the 2010 importation and were cited by Mr. Aquino.

The importers from Pangasinan were identified as Sta. Rosa Farm Products Corp., Pure Feeds Corp., Longos Proper MPC, Hillside MPC, Unzad MPC, Cabaritan MPC, La Tupiguera MPC, Pasileng Sur MPC, Eastern Binalonan MPC and D’Highlight Agri-Business MPC.

NFA Administrator Angelito Banayo had expressed surprise over the Pangasinan traders’ interest in importing rice when the province was one of the country’s top producers of the grain. He said the cooperatives were not even registered with the government.

The NFA report said 18 traders, including eight from Cebu, were allowed to purchase a total of 200,000 MT through the agency last year.

The Cebu importers were identified as Radegonda Vallejo, Chevy Bacaltos, Edisa Cabuenas, Jugy Obando, Jerome Tan, Othoniel Acquiatan, Marivic Ventura and Glenn Ernesto Pacana.

Check numbers

While the names of these companies’ representatives on the manager’s checks submitted to the NFA were different, the check numbers from the cooperatives in Pangasinan were in consecutive sequence. “It’s too much of a coincidence,” the audit team said.

La Tupiguera, for instance, issued two checks under the name of Melvin T. Delos Reyes. The serial numbers on the checks were 5370 and 5371.

The manager’s checks that followed the sequence 5372, 5373 and 5374 were also received by the NFA. The checks came from Pasileng Sur MPC. Its representative was identified as Ernesto Servillo.

Unzad MPC and Hillside MPC, represented by Jaime Blanco and Analyn Blanco, respectively, sent checks numbered 6336, 6337, 6338, 6339, 6340, 6341 and 6342.

A similar method was employed in 2009. That year, cooperatives such as Nagkakaisang Mamayan, Laong MPC, Macangcong MPC, and Kabuhayan MPC issued vouchers in sequence.

Sofia Guzman

Records also showed that some traders in 2009 had one representative as shown by the name on several manager’s checks. Eastern Sta. Maria MPC, Pindangan Estate, Lleno’s Ricemill and Cabusay Ricemill were all represented by Sofia Guzman.

In 2008, at the height of the rice shortage, the National Bureau of Investigation charged Guzman and several others with hoarding, price manipulation and diversion of government rice stocks after a raid on warehouses in Metro Manila.

Refund of fees

These traders, the auditors said, paid the NFA a “service fee” for their license to import rice.

However, the fees were given back to the same companies that claimed the refunds were part of their incentives for delivering the staple early. This practice deprived the NFA of revenues, the report said.

“Service fees, originally intended as revenue collection of NFA and for the purpose of equalizing the pricing gap of NFA import relative to PSF import were refunded at liberal discretion of NFA,” the report said.

In 2010, the 18 companies paid the NFA a total of P400 million in service fees. The agency returned about P298 million to the traders.

Rebates questioned

The auditors questioned the practice of giving rebates, noting the NFA did not have a mechanism back then to monitor the importation of the private traders.

The NFA could neither ascertain if the rice imports entered the country early or if they were sold below market price. The traders, according to the audit team, did not report to the NFA after getting their import permits.

“PSF imports are processed in the name of NFA, hence, the NFA has direct or indirect liability to suppliers and to the BoC/BIR [Bureau of Customs/ Bureau of Internal Revenue]. But NFA has no oversight or regulatory leverage on disposition of imports,” the report said.

Big profits

“PSF importer enjoys the same subsidy as NFA gets for its direct import, but PSF parties sell theirs at commercial prices and keep the profits entirely for themselves, duty and tax-free,” the audit noted.

By doing so, the national government not only subsidized the rice businesses of “real and fictitious” traders, it also allowed them to gain big profits in the market at the expense of taxpayers.

Private sector importation was not the only “red flag” that caught the attention of the audit team when it examined the procurement process to trace the surge in the agency’s debt to P120 billion as of December 2010.

The report said the country’s purchase of rice in the last decade was marred by wrong timing, over-importation, off-the-mark estimates of per capita consumption and poor rice intelligence and management, which all contributed to the price increases, shortage and mounting debts.

Like oil, rice is sensitive to world events and market speculation. Agricultural and policy decisions of rice sellers and buyers like the Philippines are closely monitored as they affect the global price of rice.

Wrong timing

As the world’s biggest rice importer, it was in the interest of the Philippines to buy at the lowest price if possible.

But in the past decade, the audit found out that the country bought rice under questionable schemes that compelled it to pay premium and significantly way above benchmark prices.

The auditors said they were flabbergasted by the adjustments the NFA made in 2004-2005 to buy rice at the latter part of the year when it was the “lean months” for rice exporters like Thailand and Vietnam.

If a country needs to buy rice from these producers, the best time to order it is the first quarter of the year when harvests kicked in.

The practice of importing rice in the last quarter of the year was repeated in 2009. The government ordered 2.2 million MT of rice from Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan from Nov. 4, 2009 to Dec. 15, 2009.

There were four bidding sessions conducted in that period, a method that pushed prices upward and put the government at a disadvantage, the auditors said.

“Why order in the lean months and why that much bulk? Of course, you will have to pay premium for it,” the auditors said.

Records from the NFA showed that during this period, the Philippines paid as much as $692/MT when it ordered 61,565.875 MT from Vietnam.

Banayo said this was about $200 more than the prevailing global market price in the first half of the year. The increment, he noted, was too much, even if freight and interests costs were factored in.

Noynoy Aquino tuta ng kano!

May 15, 2011

Aquino maintains RP subjugation with US warship ‘routine maintenance’---LFS

For the militant student group League of the Filipino Students (LFS), the visit of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III along with senior members of his Cabinet to the USS Carl Vinson currently docked in Manila Bay is an open declaration that his government, like past regimes, will unconditionally serve US interests, albeit disastrous for the Filipino people.

In a press statement, LFS national chairperson Terry Ridon said, the shameless act displayed by President Aquino and top officials of his administration is a welcome greeting to US military troops to engage in full scale military activities in Philippine soil, waging a war of aggression against the Filipino people. The USS Carl Vinson is the same ship used to bury Osama bin Laden, it being one of the most heavily armored vessels of the US Navy.

“Aquino and his company of puppets’ visit to the high powered war machine known as USS Carl Vinson should be condemned by freedom loving Filipinos to the highest order. It is a striking affirmation of Aquino’s puppetry to US and his wholesale approval of the White House’s ongoing terrorism through steady military operations waged here by US troops.” the LFS chairperson stressed.

President Aquino and his party composed of foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Armed Forces Chief of Staff were given a special tour of the US Navy aircraft carrier while the ship was still out at sea yesterday. The ship docks today in Manila Bay for a four day routine ‘maintenance’ beginning Sunday.

“If there is anything maintained in their supposed ‘routine maintenance’, it is the subordanition of the Philippines to the US. This raises the same questions asked repeatedly by the Filipino people, what then is our gain with the Visiting Forces Agreement? That we get to see big warships in our shores? That we, without warning, have to face the terror of having a warmachine docked in our motherland?”, said Ridon.

Ridon, a University of the Philippines (UP) graduating law student, said President Aquino even violated the provision of the 1987 reactionary Philippine Constitution that prohibits the entry of nuclear powered military ships in the country.

“USS Carl Vinson is a nuclear powered vessel which is of course designed to carry nuclear arms wherever the US mercenaries wish to go for covert and overt military operations. To set the record straight, Mr. Aquino violated his own constitution in the name of US
imperialism. This blatant one-man show of treachery is a ground for impeachment or any other legal and constitutional case against Aquino”
the LFS chair added.#

Terry Ridon
National Chairperson

Monday, May 16, 2011

Imbestigahan ang pagpasok ng US nuke carrier sa Pilipinas

May 16, 2011

Peasant group urges LOVFA to probe US nuke carrier’s entry
After operations vs Bin Laden, US Navy Seals retreat to PH

A militant peasant group today called on the Legislative Oversight on the Visiting Forces Agreement (LOVFA) to immediately probe the docking and four-day stay of the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson in Philippine territory saying “the US turned the Philippines a US military rallying point after its interventionist attack in Pakistan.”

“The US North Arabian fleet’s entry only a month after the so-called US-RP Balikatan joint military exercises clearly shows US troops’ unhampered entry and perpetual basing in the country,” says Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas secretary-general Danilo Ramos.

The last US-RP Balikatan exercise was held last April 5 to 15 this year in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog and was joined by more than 3,000 US troops.

Ramos said that “despite a supposed review of the onerous and one-sided VFA on issues of sovereignty the US continuously displays arrogance and might by stepping on the country’s national sovereignty.”

“Worse, after receiving the US Navy Seals that launched an interventionist military operation in Pakistan, the USS Carl Vinson retreats to Philippines making our country a military rallying point of US wars,” says Ramos. “The US slowly drags the country to its wars of aggression.”

The peasant leader also said President Aquino’s visit to the USS Carl Vinson on Saturday “smacks of puppetry and made a mockery of the country’s sovereignty.”

“President Aquino himself mocked the country’s sovereignty by allowing the entry of US nuclear warheads and warships,” Ramos said adding: “Aquino’s so-called visit to the USS Carl Vinson smacks of puppetry to the US in the highest order.” #

Diskriminasyon sa mga bakla pinag-usapan sa Kongreso

On the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia
By Rep. Teddy Casiño
Bayan Muna Party List

Privilege Speech
May 16, 2011

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, I rise to avail of the privilege hour to speak in behalf of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituents. Yung mga tinataguriang bakla, tomboy, silahis, operada at mga ka-pederasyon. Ang ilan po sa kanila'y kasama natin ngayon sa gallery.

Tomorrow marks a historic event in their lives. Twenty one years ago, following decades of struggles for recognition and equality, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Mental Disorders. Dati kasi, ang tingin sa kanila ng WHO ay mga baliw. Ngayon ay hindi na, kahit na marami sa kanila'y nakakaloka.

Because of this, May 17 is generally acknowledged as the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia or IDAHO. IDAHO commemorates the continuing struggle to expand human rights protection to include all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. More than the celebration of gay pride, IDAHO urges everyone to aggressively combat and openly condemn sexual and gender discrimination and violence.

Taken as a whole, the achievements of global and national societies in addressing the injustices suffered by our LGBT is impressive yet still sorely lacking. Twenty one years after the WHO's historic action, the miserable plight of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities continue. All over the globe, they have horrifying stories of discrimination, vilification, and violence. LGBTs are paying a terribly high price due to age-old prejudices and state-sanctioned or church-sponsored homophobia and transphobia.

More than 80 countries still maintain laws that make same-sex relations a criminal offense, exposing gay men and lesbians to the risk of arrest, imprisonment and, in some cases, torture or death. At least seven countries (Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Nigeria) maintain the death penalty for consensual adult same sex practices. There are still anti-sodomy laws in former British and Spanish colonies.

The United Nation’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Philippines is a signatory, has perpetually argued that laws criminalizing homosexuality are inherently discriminatory and incompatible with existing international human right standards. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon have both been calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality and for further measures to counter discrimination and prejudice directed at LGBTs.

Yet, we will all be appalled by the accounts of brutality and genocide the LGBTs face.

Basahin ang buong speech

Read House Bill 1483: LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill of 2010

Epekto ng nagmamahal na gasolina sa maliliit na mangingisda

Hindi marating ang laot: Epekto ng nagmamahal na gasolina sa maliliit na mangingisda
By Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano
May 15, 2011
Source: Pinoy Weekly

Gitagum, Misamis Oriental—Inihanda nila ang lambat at pinuno ng langis ang gasera. Sumakay sa bangka, nag-antanda, at saka nagsagwan patungo sa direksiyon ng mga bangka at umiindap-indap nang gasera ng kanilang mga kasamahan sa may hindi kalayuan. Balita ng mga mangingisda, maraming bansi (flying fish) doon ngayon.

Gusto nilang samantalahin ang pagkakataon, dahil minsan na lamang nakakahuli ng maraming isda nang hindi pumapalaot. Bihira nang lumampas sa 100 metro mula sa baybayin ang karamihan sa mga mangingisda sa Brgy. Poblacion. Karamihan, hindi na gumagamit ng motor dahil sa mataas na presyo ng gasolina. Sa probinsiyang ito, aabot ang presyo ng gasolina sa mahigit P60 kada litro.

“Para makabawi sa gastos, kailangan makahuli ka ng lima hanggang anim na kilo ng isda,” sabi ng 45-anyos na si Jimmy Buray.

Umaabot kasi sa P180 ang gastos niya para sa tatlong litro ng gasolina, at ang huling isda naman ay naibebenta ng P70 kada kilo. “Kaya kung dalawang kilo lang ang mahuli mo, lugi ka pa ng P40. May mga araw pa na walang huli.”

Basahin ang buong kuwento

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Myembro ng Anakbayan binugbog at pinatay ng pulis sa Navotas

Urgent Action Alert
Anakbayan member beaten up and killed by police in Navotas City
UA No: 2011-05-01

UA Date : May 10, 2011
UA Case : Summary Execution

Victim/s : JERWIN DE ANTONIO, 27 years old, single, Fisherman
Resident of Block 6, Bagong Silang, San Jose village, Navotas City
Member of Anakbayan

Place of Incident : Navotas West, Navotas City, Metro Manila

Date of Incident : April 21, 2011

Alleged Perpetrator(s) : Police Officer 1 Ronie dela Cruz and two other policemen identified only as PO1 Carancho and PO1 Gonzales

Account of the Incident:

In the evening of April 20, Jerwin was fetched by a colleague from his house, and the two went to the market where they got some fish to sell. The two then split up the money they earned from selling fish and proceeded to the Boulevard where they went their separate ways.

Witnesses said that a few minutes later, they saw the three police men PO1 Ronie dela Cruz, Carancho and Gonzales forced Jerwin into their patrol vehicle. Witnesses said the police men proceeded to beat up Jerwin inside the vehicle, while the victim flailed his arms and asked for help.

The three police men brought Jerwin to the Police Station 3, Navotas City where they charged him with vagrancy. The police men then brought Jerwin to a lying-in clinic near the San Jose church for a medical check-up. After this, at around 5 am, witnesses said the police brought Jerwin to a side street near a barangay outpost in Navotas West. Two witnesses said they saw Jerwin being beaten up by the three policemen, two of whom were in uniform while the third was in civilian clothes.

They heard Jerwin shouting and pleading: "Sir, please stop it, enough" and asking for help. While Jerwin cried, the policemen only answered "Run!" The policemen also pushed a gun to the victim to make him fight back. The witnesses heard four gunshots then saw the policemen toss Jerwin like a dead animal into a tricycle. A piece of paper that was left in the scene and turned out to be Jerwin's medical certificate from the lying-in clinic was seen taken by a barangay tanod.

At 5:25 am, policemen brought Jerwin's body to the Tondo General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. He was still
unidentified when his body was brought to the Marcello Funenaria in Tangos, Navotas City.

Jerwin was the eldest child and the family breadwinner. His family was already worried because he did not go home. On April 21, at 3 pm, Jerwin's siblings started looking for him around Malabon and Navotas. They went to the Navotas City hall where they were directed to the Navotas City police. At the police station, a policeman in civilian clothes said that they had no information about it and directed them instead to the Malabon City Jail. The victim's siblings went to where they were directed and found nothing. By evening, Jerwin's siblings were still asking around when someone mentioned about a shooting in the coastal area. Witnesses description of the victim matched that of Jerwin, particularly, the clothes that he was wearing when he left the house. The siblings then went back to the Navotas City Police station where policemen asked for a picture and documents about the victim. The police interrogated the victim's siblings and insisted that they give the police the documents. Jerwin's siblings refused. The police then told them that his body was already at the funenaria.

At 1 am on April 22, Jerwin's siblings went to the morgue and confirmed that he was the one who was killed at a shooting in the coastal area.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

1. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights
groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the summary execution of Jerwin de Antonio.

2. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as "members of front organizations of the communists"
and "enemies of the state."

3. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innnocent and unarmed

4. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a
party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments' provisions.

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: /

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614

Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: _
_, _lorettann@gmail.com_

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts.,
Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pagtibayin ang pagkakaisa ng mga Pilipino sa Italy laban sa Circular No. 29

Message of solidarity to the Alliance of Filipino Migrants in Italy
in their campaign against the unjust Circular No. 29

MIGRANTE Europe and the progressive network of Filipino organizations in Europe send their warmest solidarity greetings to Filipinos in Rome, Italy and in other parts of Italy who are in the midst of a just campaign to call for the repeal of Circular No. 29 released by the Italian Ministry of Interior.

Circular No. 29 is a measure that was implemented by the Italian government last October 7, 2010, which orders Filipinos living and working in Italy to drop their middle names in official documents purportedly to avoid confusion in the use of middle names. This measure was actually endorsed by the Philippine Embassy in Italy.

Filipinos campaigning for the repeal of this measure stand on solid and just grounds. The measure was implemented without consultation with the Filipino community; it has triggered more confusion among Filipinos; and, such would unjustly require all Filipinos to change their official documents such as passports and IDs, at their expense.

Despite appeals and requests from Filipinos, principally in Rome, to dialogue with the Philippine Embassy and for it to pursue diplomatic representation with the Italian Ministry of Interior to repeal the measure, the Philippine Embassy thru Ambassador Romeo Manalo has continued to ignore the pleas of Filipinos in Italy.

This, despite the overwhelming sentiment of migrant Filipinos who have registered their rejection of Circular No. 29. Righteously, Filipinos in Italy launched a campaign and was able to forge unity among compatriots with the formation of an alliance called Task Force Circular No. 29 also called Alliance of Filipino Migrants in Italy.

MIGRANTE Europe firmly supports the calls of the Alliance of Filipino Migrants in Italy, not only for the repeal of Circular No. 29, but also their equally urgent calls and demands to the Philippine government thru the Philippine Embassy, to repeal the law making membership in the PAG-IBIG Fund mandatory; to lower the passport fee; and to lobby the Italian government to allow retired Filipino migrants to be able to enjoy their pension in the Philippines.

The Filipino migrants' demands are just and reasonable in the context of the financial and economic crisis affecting migrant-receiving countries in Europe, that has resulted to less working hours, less pay, if not outright job loss for many migrant workers. Families of migrant Filipinos in Italy suffer the consequences of this crisis.

MIGRANTE Europe asserts that it is the fundamental duty of the Philippine government to ensure that the rights, welfare and voices of Filipino nationals, whom they have pushed to work abroad, because they are not able to provide them jobs in the Philippines, are safeguarded, upheld and heard.

We call on all migrants – Filipinos and all other migrant nationals, to close ranks and firmly assert and fight for their rights and interests, in the midst of the economic crisis and assaults by big business and states on the rights of all workers.


Postbus 15687, 1001 ND Amsterdam
The Netherlands
14 May 2011

Mga congressman ng progressive partylists ay "pinakamahirap" sa kongreso

Itinuturing na “pinakamahirap" naman sa mga kongresista at hindi nakasama sa tinatawag na “millionaires club" ang mga kinatawan ng party-list groups na sina:

- Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano
- Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro “Teddy" Casino
- Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino
- Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio

Mga artistang naging kongresista, kabilang sa mga milyunaryo sa Kamara
05/13/2011 | 05:01 PM
Source: GMA news

MANILA – Kabilang ang tatlong artista na naging kongresista sa listahan ng mga pinakamayamang miyembro ng Kamara de Representantes, batay sa isinumite nilang statement of assets and liabilities and net worth (SALN) nitong 2010.

Tulad ng inaasahan, ang Pinoy boxing icon at Sarangani congressman na si Manny Pacquiao, ang lumitaw na pinakamayamang kongresista ngayong 15th Congress.

Taglay niya ang P1.134 bilyong net worth at walang pagkakautang, batay sa listahang ipinalabas ng Records Management Service ng Kamara nitong Biyernes.

Hindi pa kasama rito ang kinita ni Pacquiao na aabot sa $30 milyon sa naging laban niya kay Sugar Shane Mosley noong nakaraang Linggo sa Las Vegas.

Samantala, nasa 15th place bilang richest lawmaker taglay ang kabuuang yaman na P167.275 milyon at P18.918 milyong liabilities si Leyte Rep. Lucy Marie Torres-Gomez, misis ng aktor na si Richard Gomez.

Ang misis naman ni Sen Ramon “Bong" Revilla Jr na si Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, ay nasa ika-21 puwesto na may P125.753 milyong net worth.

Ang dating aktor na si Laguna Rep. Danilo “Dan" Fernandez, ay nagtala ng P42 milyong net worth (P46.5 milyong total assets minus P4.5 milyong liabilities).

Hindi naman nagpahuli ang mga Arroyo sa listahan ng mga pinakamayamang kongresista. Si dating pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, kongresista na ngayon ng Pampanga, ay nasa ika-17 puwesto tangan ang P140.212 milyong net worth.

Sumunod naman sa kanya ang bayaw na si Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, na may P137.922 milyong net worth.

Si Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey" Macapagal-Arroyo, ay nagtala ng P95,547,024 net worth, at P87.263 milyon naman ang ari-arian ni Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato" Macapagal-Arroyo.

Pasok naman sa top 10 richest lawmakers sina:

2. Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez (P624.85M);
3. Dating first lady at Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos (P623.6M);
4. Negros Occidental Rep. Julio Ledesma (P555.07M);
5. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (P475.61M);
6. Deputy Minority Leader Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco (P294.6M)
7. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., (P283.29M);
8. Tarlac Rep. Enrique Cojuangco, (P199.59 M)
9. Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas,( P195.78M);at
10. Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron (P165.99M).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mga magsasaka papanagutin si Merci sa 'fertilizer scam'

Farmers groups file ‘fertilizer scam’ charges vs Merci
May 10, 2011
Source: Bulatlat

Former ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez may have resigned from her post, but by no means is she going to enjoy her new state of unemployment.

On Monday, May 9, leaders of the farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas were accompanied by lawyers from Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) as they filed criminal charges against resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at the Department of Justice in connection with the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

The complainants include Anakpawis Partylist Representative Rafael V. Mariano, the KMP, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Amihan, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), and the NUPL. According to the groups, Gutierrez junked at least 40 reports filed by Task Force Abono, a special probe body the Office of the Ombudsman formed to investigate controversies connected to the fertilizer scam.

The groups are charging Gutierrez for violation of section 3 (e)[1] and (f)[2] of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act; for violation of Article 208[3] of the Revised Penal Code or negligence or tolerance in the prosecution of offenses; for violation of Article 183[4] of the Revised Penal Code or perjury in solemn affirmation; and violation of Presidential Decree No. 1829 or Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders.

Obstruction of justice, perjury

NUPL secretary general and lawyer Edre Olalia said Gutierrez should be held liable for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. He said the violations were tantamount to obstruction of justice and perjury in connection with the graft complaint the said farmers’ organizations lodged against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the issue of the fertilizer scam.

“Gutierrez resigned, yes, but it doesn’t mean that she can no longer be held accountable or responsible for how she did not perform her duty to prosecute important corruption cases involving the previous administration under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. We cannot allow Gutierrez and officials like her to go unpunished for betraying the public trust. These people must be made to account for their actions. Gutierrez was tasked to go after officials who committed serious acts of corruption, but she sat on the cases involving massive graft and corruption,” he said.

Mariano said that the former ombudsman unfailingly served as the the “main protector” of those who masterminded the malversation of P728 million fertilizer funds in 2004.

“As a willing accomplice in the plunder of farmers’ funds, Gutierrez must be held criminally liable,” he said. He asserted that complaint the farmers groups filed are part of their quest for justice and accountability against the previous regime, and a message to the incumbent administration.

“We want to send a strong political message to President Benigno Aquino III that we are keeping a close eye on his administration. He has so far done nothing to hold the thieves accountable, but the Filipino people are determined to see justice done. The thieves who raided the nation’s coffers cannot be allowed to escape punishment. President Aquino should take a cue from actions such as this filing of criminal charges against Gutierrez and put meat into his words that he is an enemy of the corrupt,” he said.

The origins of the controversy

In 2003, an employee of the Department of Agriculture’s resident ombudsman in Central Mindanao Marlene Esperat filed a graft complaint against then agriculture secretary Arthur Yap, then undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, and several others in connection with alleged irregularities in a P432-million fertilizer deal.

Two months before the May 2004 presidential election, Macapagal-Arroyo, herself running for election, was accused by several politicians of “virtual vote-buying” by approving the release of P728 million to favored officials to buy farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticide for their constituents, as part of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani project.

Farmers from Central Luzon and all over Mindanao attested in consequent investigations that they did not receive a single centavo from the fertilizer fund.

As for Esperat who later became a journalist, she was shot dead in her home in Sultan Kudarat on March 24, 2005. Three men were convicted of her murder, but the suspected masterminds—alleged to be officials of the agriculture department office in Central Mindanao —remain at large.

Fertilizer scam paper trail leads to Arroyo

In their 10-page joint complaint-affidavit, the complainants led by KMP secretary-general Danilo Ramos and Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap said that Gutierrez did not act on any of the recommendations of Task Force Abono made in the report it submitted to her office on June 20, 2006. Among the recommendations they made were the filing of criminal complaints against public officials among them Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante and congressional representatives Nanette Daza, Federico Sandoval, Oscar Gozos and Governor Carmencita Reyes.

In the complaint, the groups said that for Gutierrez not to act promptly on the complaints is inexcusable because (1) a period of more than five (5) years already constitutes inordinate delay in the administration of justice; (2) the reports and evidence gathered by the Task Force Abono, the Senate, and the Commission on Audit finding high-ranking government officials and private individuals culpable have long been submitted and known to Ombudsman Gutierrez as early as during the first quarter of 2006; and (3) the said failure is contrary to the Ombudsman’s duty to give priority to complaints filed against high ranking government officials and/or those occupying supervisory positions and to complaints involving grave offenses and large sums of money.

Ramos said it was apparent from the beginning that Gutierrez was determined to squash the investigations on the fertilizer scam because the paper trail led directly to Malacañang and former president Arroyo.

“Gutierrez had no intention of addressing the corruption charges against high-ranking government officials connected to the fertilizer scam,” he said.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said that from February to March 2007, Task Force Abono issued subpoena duces tecum to the the Land Bank Department of Agriculture Extension Branch office in Quezon city to provide records of a particular bank account where the money disbursed through checks in the fertilizer fund scam were allegedly deposited. Gutierrez, however, issued a memorandum order stating that all requests or referrals to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for documents, information or bank account examination of subjects of investigation must go through her office first.

According to Hicap, all of Task Force Abono’s reports and findings were not acted upon during the height of the controversy. Instead, Gutierrez took action only on March 11, 2011 when her office issued a joint resolution for the filing of plunder ad other criminal and administrative cases against several government officials involved in the fertilizer fund scam.

“Gutierrez is directly responsible for the failure of Task Force Abono. She moved heaven and earth to protect Arroyo and other corrupt government officials,” he said.

He added that Pamalakaya intends to file criminal and administrative charges against Gutierrez for neglecting and abandoning other cases his group had filed before Office of the Ombudsman under Gutierrez stewardship.

In the meantime, Olalia said that Gutierrez should be held accountable for other cases as well.

“Her inaction even covered cases filed against government officials and state agents involved in human rights violations,” he said. He cited the case of Raymond Manalo, the witness to the abduction of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño which remains pending before the the Office of the Ombudsman.

Lawyer Jobert Pahilga of the Sentra Foundation said his clients in KMP are also determined to file plunder charges against Macapagal-Arroyo in the coming days.

“The farmers who were deprived of the fertilizer funds in 2004 want this issue resolved. They want those behind the massive corruption scam prosecuted and the funds that were intended for them to be returned, he said.

KMP’s Ramos also said that farmers want justice to be served for those who were killed [3] and silenced when investigations were conducted by other government agencies regarding the scam involving bogus agricultural inputs. He was referring to to KMP-Panay leader Nilo Arado and KMP-Pampanga leader Ofelia “Nanay Perla” Rodriguez who were abducted and killed, respectively.

Arado was abducted in April 2007 while Rodriguez was shot to death in front of her family in January 2006.

The Internet’s Unholy Marriage to Capitalism

The Internet’s Unholy Marriage to Capitalism
John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney
2011, Volume 62, Issue 10 (March)
Monthly Review

The Internet, or more broadly, the digital revolution is truly changing the world at multiple levels. But it has also failed to deliver on much of the promise that was once seen as implicit in its technology. If the Internet was expected to provide more competitive markets and accountable businesses, open government, an end to corruption, and decreasing inequality—or, to put it baldly, increased human happiness—it has been a disappointment. To put it another way, if the Internet actually improved the world over the past twenty years as much as its champions once predicted, we dread to think where the world would be if it had never existed.

Read more

Yumaman si Noynoy ng 4 million pesos

Aquino richer by P4M; Binay P.6M poorer

By Leila B. Salaverria, Christine O. Avendaño
First Posted 02:21:00 05/10/2011
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III is worth nearly P55 million and is P4.8 million richer since becoming Chief Executive last year, according to his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for 2010.

Still, Vice President Jejomar Binay is a few million pesos richer than Mr. Aquino. Binay is worth P58.1 million, based on his 2010 SALN.

Mr. Aquino, who bought himself a used Porsche for Christmas, has motor vehicles worth P8.7 million, according to his latest SALN submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman on April 25.

His motor vehicles are among his personal and other properties which amount to P33.16 million. His other assets are cash on hand and in banks worth P6.22 million; receivables of P17.03 million; and other assets valued at P1.20 million.

The President’s real properties were valued at P22.07 million. These consisted of a residential lot in Tarlac City, agricultural land in Tarlac City, agricultural land in Capas, Tarlac, a house and lot in Quezon City and a commercial lot in San Juan City.

The residential lot and the agricultural land in Tarlac City were purchases and were acquired in 1997 and 1987. The rest of his real properties were part of his inheritance.

The President has only one liability—his tax payables to the Bureau of Internal Revenue placed at P228,961.

These put his net worth at P54.99 million, up P4.80 million from P50.19 million when he assumed office on June 30 last year.

Read more

Consumer group scores telco over service outage

Consumer group scores telco over service outage
05/10/2011 | 03:56 PM
Source: GMA News

Globe Telecom should compensate consumers affected by the mobile service interruptions that hit Visayas and Mindanao on Monday, consumer group TXTPower said on May 10.

“Perhaps Globe should provide its subscribers a one-time rebate or discount for the inconvenience caused by the fiber cut incident," TXTPower president Tonyo Cruz said in a statement.

On May 9, Globe subscribers in Visayas and Mindanao experienced service interruptions that prevented them from sending text messages, making calls, and surfing the Internet because of a severed fiber optic cable.

Parts of Luzon could have also been affected, said a company spokesperson on GMA News TV’s “On Call" newscast.

Cruz explained, “The least Globe could have done is to quickly provide information on its network problems through social media, TV, radio, and print."

Cruz added that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should investigate the issue “to make sure that everything would soon be back to normal."

Cruz also called on the NTC to look into possible problems like oversubscription and insufficient or zero back-ups. — TJD, GMA News

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bayan Muna Rep. Casiño dinetalye ang ilang anomalya sa Ombudsman sa ilalim ni Merci Guttierez

NEWS RELEASE – May 10, 2011

Merci resignation

Casiño: Congress should help in filing cases versus Gutierrez, probe defects in Ombudsman procedures

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, in a privilege speech last night, called on the House to help complainants from peoples organizations and farmer’s groups file criminal and administrative charges versus former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, in particular violation of Sec. 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, among others; and to exercise its oversight and legislative powers in strengthening the institution in the continuing fight against graft and corruption.

“The resignation of Ombudsman is a victory in our continuing struggle against corruption and the protectors of the corrupt. But Gutierrez resigned to cut her losses as well as the losses of Mrs. Arroyo. Congress should now follow through on this through its legislative and oversight functions as well as support initiatives of our people to hold accountable not only former Ombudsman Gutierrez but the officials she was protecting – including former President Gloria Arroyo. We said it then and we repeat, Ombudsman Gutierrez was impeached for protecting the former President. If she has resigned and is being held accountable for this, what more the former President, who is accountable for graver crimes and anomalies?” Casiño said.

The progressive solon said in his speech that Ombudsman Gutierrez systematically hindered her investigators in Task Force Abono from pursuing leads and effectively sabotaged the fertilizer fund scam investigation and case-build up process.

“The House should conduct an inquiry on how the processes within the Ombudsman have been so re-engineered by Gutierrez to make it vulnerable to delay and corruption. For example, the way cases have been dribbled between the Field Investigation Office (FIO) and the Preliminary, Administrative and Management Office (PAMO). Or the way the Ombudsman has centralized all resolutions and reports to her office, thereby undermining the powers of her deputies. Or how centralizing all requests to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has made it harder for investigators to conduct paper trails of stolen money. The approval of all reports, decisions, and investigations and travel authorization were centralized by Gutierrez. This was done to ensure that no cases in the fertilizer fund scam would be filed,” Casiño said.

“Getting Gutierrez out of the way is one step towards getting corrupt officials accountable. It is high time that we pursue cleaning up and strengthening the institutional processes of the Ombudsman so that all the cases versus Gutierrez and the accountable officials she was protecting can be pursued,” Casiño said. #

Privilege Speech follows.

On the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

Privilege Speech delivered by
Rep. Teddy Casiño (Bayan Muna Party List)

May 9, 2011

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues.

I rise to avail of the privilege hour to speak about the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

Last April 29, ten days before the opening of her impeachment trial in the Senate, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez resigned, saying that she did not want the House, the Senate, the Executive and the nation at large to be consumed by her removal from public office. She said she would rather that we focus instead on the impelling problems of our people.

Well, that is exactly what we wanted to do with her impeachment – focus on the impelling problem of corruption and remove the biggest stumbling block to holding the corrupt, former President and her officials accountable for their crimes.

Yun sana ang habol natin sa trial, mailabas ang buong katotohanan tungkol sa kanyang pananagutan sa pagtatakip ng mga kaso ni dating pangulong Gloria Arroyo at kanyang mga opisyal.

Her trial in the Senate would have further exposed her gross, inexcusable delays and inaction on cases involving the former president and her corrupt officials, but her deliberate acts to whitewash and sabotage said cases. Not only that, it would have exposed the accountabilities as well of her patron, the former president.

And so she resigned to cut her losses as well as the losses of Mrs. Arroyo.

Kung natuloy lang ang impeachment trial, siguradong tanggal si Ombudsman Gutierrez sa pwesto at muling masasariwa sa publiko ang napakaraming anomalya ng nagdaang administrasyon.

Isang halimbawa lang ng mga dagdag na ebidensya na nakuha ng ating mga complainants, congressmen-prosecutors, private prosecutors at volunteers ay ang pagsabotahe ni Ombudsman Gutierrez sa kaso ng GMA fertilizer fund scam.

Ayon sa mga insider na kanilang nakausap, ang mismong panel ng mga imbestigador na itinayo ng kanyang Field Investigation Office, ang Task Force Abono, ay tinalian niya ng kamay at kinalaunan ay binuwag. Paano ito ginawa? It would be instructive to see how the Ombudsman undermined her own Task Force Abono.

On Feb. 28, 2006, Task Force Abono convened and started its investigations. Within weeks, in March of 2006, Ombudsman Gutierrez issued a Memorandum Order requiring that all resolutions, decisions, fact-finding reports, investigation reports and/or orders shall be approved by the Ombudsman herself. This became a stumbling bloc to the filing of cases by the assistant ombudsman. Prior to such order, the assistant ombudsman was authorized to approve fact-finding and/or investigation reports for the filing of case/s for preliminary investigation or for administrative adjudication. The approval of the Ombudsman was required only if the recommendation was for the closure of investigation/dismissal of a complaint. Samakatuwid, binago ng Ombudsman ang proseso at tiniyak na walang makakapag-file ng kaso laban sa mga sangkot sa fertilizer fund scam kung hindi dadaan sa kanya. At totoo nga, wala siyang inaprubahang pag-file ng kaso sa loob ng limang taon.

On June 2006, the first of 30 reports of Task Force Abono reached the Ombudsman’s office. It recommended the filing of criminal complaints against Jocelyn Joc-Joc Bolante, several congressmen, LGU officials, and private individuals for violating Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code as well as Sections 3 (e) and (g) of Republic Act 3019. It also recommended administrative cases against incumbent officials and the suspension of said public officials pursuant to Section 24, Republic Act 6770. The Ombudsman subsequently sat on these recommendations.

A month later on July 2006, the second report was submitted to the Ombudsman. It recommended criminal charges for violation of RA 3019 Sec. 3 (e) and (g) against 15 public officials and private persons, including those connected to Feshan Philippines, one of the suppliers of the fake and overpriced liquid fertilizers, for violation of RA 9184 Sec. 65 (b) subparagraph 4. Public officials were likewise recommended to be charged for Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and slapped suspension orders. Again, the Ombudsman sat on the case.

Task Force Abono’s investigations continued the following year until April 2007. By this time, the Ombudsman had centralized the approval of all travel authorities and was making it hard for Task Force Abono to travel outside Metro Manila to secure records, documents and reports from different COA Auditors’ Offices in Cebu, Davao and other areas, as well as to secure Sworn Statements of witnesses in the Fertilizer Scam.

When Task Force Abono conducted paper trails on the money disbursed in the Fertilizer Scam and found out that several CHECKS in payment to alleged fertilizer suppliers were deposited to a BANK ACCOUNT maintained at Land Bank, Department of Agriculture Extension Branch, Elliptical Road, Quezon City, the Ombudsman issued a Memorandum Order requiring that ALL request or referral to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for documents, information, or for the conduct of bank account examination of subjects of investigation in the Ombudsman be coursed through the Ombudsman for approval. This effectively thwarted efforts to conduct a more expansive and deeper investigation of the paper trail.

Despite such acts by the Ombudsman, the Task Force persevered. By July 2007, Task Force Abono submitted not less than THIRTY (30) Investigation Reports in the Fertilizer Fund Scam, all recommending the filing of criminal and administrative charges against the concerned public officials and private persons found to have involvement in the scam.

Pero ano po ang ginawa ng Ombudsman sa mga report na ito? Wala.

In fact, rather than support the Task Force in its zeal to prosecute the case, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez transferred one of the co-chairmen of the FIO to the Preliminary, Administrative and Monitoring Office (PAMO), effectively relieving him of his position in the Task Force and putting him in the freezer. This was in August 9, 2007. A week later, on August 16, 2007, The other co-chairman of Task Force Abono was also relieved for no reason and directed to report to his subordinate, a junior officer, the latter being designated as his replacement as the OIC-Director of the Asset Investigation Bureau. This caused the person’s resignation.

The transfer and subsequent relieve of the two co-chairmen effectively disbanded the Task Force Abono and stopped the conduct of the case build-up and gathering of evidences.

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, kitang-kita dito na hindi lang nagpabaya si Ombudsman Gutierrez kundi aktibong kumilos para talian ang kamay ng mga imbestigador at itigil ang imbestigasyon. For this, she deserves not only impeachment but criminal and administrative charges, in particular Sec. 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, among others.

It is important to note that in her resignation statement, Ombudsman Gutierrez never acknowledged her shortcomings. Sa kabliktaran, nagyabang pa siya na siya ay isang mahusay na Ombudsman at parang siya pa ang biktima. Hindi pwedeng ganyan na lang, na para bang tayo pa ang may utang na loob sa kanya sa kanyang pagre-resign. Her resignation does not and should not get her off the hook.

Thus, we expect other sectors, particularly the farmers groups and other complainants of the impeachment complaint, to pursue such charges in the courts. We urge the House, specifically the Justice Committee, to extend assistance to such initiatives from our people.

More importantly for the House, I think it is important that we conduct an inquiry, in pursuit of our legislative and oversight powers, on how the processes within the Ombudsman has been so designed to make it vulnerable to delay and corruption. For example, the way cases have been dribbled between the Field Investigation Office and the Preliminary, Administrative and Management Office (PAMO). Or the way the Ombudsman has centralized all resolutions and reports to her office, thereby undermining the powers of her deputies. Or how centralizing all requests to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLAC) has made it harder for investigators to conduct paper trails of stolen money.

Pero yan ho ay sa usapin ng Ombudsman lamang. The more pressing thing now is to hold accountable the person who the Ombudsman was protecting – and that is former President Gloria Arroyo.

Last year, this representation filed a case in the DOJ against the former president on the issue of the NBN-ZTE contract. A group of human rights advocates have filed cases as well for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances during her term. A few weeks ago, former solicitor general Frank Chavez filed plunder cases against the former President. Now that Ombudsman Gutierrez has resigned, we expect more cases to be filed. And we expect the new Ombudsman to act on these cases with dispatch.

We said it then and we repeat, Ombudsman Gutierrez was impeached for protecting the former President. If she has resigned and is being held accountable for this, what more the former President, who is accountable for graver crimes and anomalies?

The resignation of Ombudsman is a victory in our continuing struggle against corruption and the protectors of the corrupt. The House should follow through on this through its legislative and oversight functions as well as support initiatives of our people to hold accountable not only former Ombudsman Gutierrez but the people she was protecting.#