Monday, September 28, 2009
September 27, 2009
Dear Friends of Bayan Muna,
Typhoon Ondoy caused so much devastation in Metro Manila and the nearby provinces and rendered many helpless families without food, clothing and shelter. Many communities, including those in Marikina, Pasig, Manila and Quezon City, were among the most heavily affected as floods swept away their meager belongings and destroyed their homes. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable victims especially since rains continued in many of these devastated areas.
Bayan Muna, with its active and organized members in many communities, plan to hold relief operations in Metro Manila starting Wednesday by distributing rice, canned goods, clothes, potable water, medicine and other relief materials to those seriously affected by the flood. We ask for your utmost support and donations in these trying times so that, together, we can help alleviate the plight of the flood victims.
Please send your donations to the Bayan Muna Office at #45 K-7th Street, West Kamias, Quezon City, Philippines. For more information, please call Tel (632) 921 3473 and coordinate with Ms. Grace Saguinsin or Ms. Gemma Bunag.
Thank you for your support.
Very truly yours,
REP. SATUR OCAMPO
Friday, May 1, 2009
Office of Bayan Muna Rep. Neri J. Colmenares
House of Representatives
3rd Bayan Muna solon sharpening legal sword for House battles vs. Arroyo
The veteran human rights lawyer and constitutional expert who successfully argued before the Supreme Court the unconstitutionality of the "First Party Rule” that disenfranchised scores of winning party-list organizations is set to become the third Bayan Muna party-list representative in Congress.
Neri Javier Colmenares, who was among the youngest political detainees under martial law, and secretary-general of the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), brings his legal expertise to Bayan Muna's contingent in Congress and is expected to play a leading role in mapping out strategies to thwart the legal hocus-pocus of pro-Chacha administration congressmen.
“I am honored to represent Bayan Muna's constituents in Congress. I vow to use all legal means available to the party and the people to advance our national interests and to stop attempts of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to perpetuate her illegitimate rule via Charter Change,” Colmenares said.
Colmenares was lead counsel of the party-list organizations that filed a suit before the Supreme Court questioning the “First Party Rule” that unduly cut down the number of winning party-list representatives after the 2007 elections.
According to third-term Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, now a deputy minority leader in the House, “we are immensely proud to have Neri in our team. He is definitely a representative of the marginalized and oppressed. He has long sided with the poor people and served them even amid the hardships of detention at a young age and the loss of huge potential income as a bright lawyer.”
“The Cha cha battles on the House floor will immediately test Neri's mettle as a people's lawyer in the parliamentary arena., eri's belated entry in Congress along with Joel Maglunsod of Anakpawis and Raymond Palatino of Kabataan can only mean a louder and bolder voice for the common people,” Ocampo said.
A graduate of the UP College of Law, Colmenares took up graduate studies with the Melbourne University and consciously chose to take the load less traveled – to offer legal services to clients from the marginalized and oppressed sectors and organizations.
In recent years, Colmenares led the formation of the Committee for the Defense of Lawyers (CODAL) which highlighted the cases of murder, frustrated murder and harassments against lawyers and judges.
The group later renamed itself as Counsels for the Defense of Liberties, as it took on the Arroyo administration's violation of civil liberties, especially in 2006 during the height of the calibrated preemptive response and the issuance of Proclamation 1017.
CODAL later figured prominently in the drafting and filing of impeachment cases against President Arroyo.
As Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL), a national association of human rights lawyers in the country, Colmenares continued his commitment to defend, protect, and promote human rights, especially of the poor and the oppressed, as he, among others, tirelessly lectured and explained the importance of the Writ of Amparo and Writ of Habeas Data in the fight against impunity among lawyers throughout the country. ###
Monday, April 20, 2009
A Journey of Solidarity in Defense of the People Resisting
Oppression in Southern Mindanao
Philippines * May 15-19, 2009
Join the peace advocates, human rights defenders, parliamentarians, leaders of peoples' organizations, students, artists, political parties, church people, academic institutions, and other individuals committed to the cause of peace, justice and human rights.
Invitation is open to all interested persons and groups from all over the world.
We enjoin peoples' movement activists, civil libertarians, human rights defenders, concerned parliamentarians and everyone working for the defense and promotion of human rights from different parts of the country and the world to join us in our quest for peace and justice and likewise bear witness to the gravity of the effects of Arroyo's twin evil: militarization and imperialist aggression.
The organizers and host of the ISM are basically mass-based, self-reliant, non-government, non-profit organizations. A registration fee of Php 500 per organization is required to cover for the cost of transportation, food and lodging expenses. Local participants are likewise expected to contribute reasonable amount to cover their expenses.
An International Solidarity Mission (ISM) will be organized to visit Davao Region in the Philippines. The ISM will be divided into six (6) teams, each of which will focus on an area where the grossest HR violations have been perpetrated just recently: Compostela, New Bataan and Diwalwal in Compostela Valley, Paquibato District- Davao City, Davao del Sur, and in Tampakan, SOCSKSARGEN.
Each team will present its findings during the Data Collation in Davao City. Then a Media- Public Forum will be held in Davao City to present the findings of the ISM. The ISM will end with a march rally to Freedom Park to denounce the US-GMA regime for the state terrorism.
Gross HRV cases in other areas in the region may be submitted to the ISM and victims/witnesses may be made available for interviews so they can also be included in the ISM report which is to be presented and submitted to all concern agencies in the country and in International Community.
1. Compostela Valley Province – (New Bataan, Compostela, Diwalwal- Monkayo)
In Compostela Valley alone, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao has documented 73 cases of human rights violations, where 699 families and 4, 512 individuals were victimized from January to August 15, 2008. These human rights cases included extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests and detention, use of public places for military purposes, threats to civilians, indiscriminate firing, aerial and artillery bombardment, physical assault and injuries, illegal search and seizure, forcible evacuation and displacement, forcible and fake surrenders, destruction of properties, divestment of properties, use of civilian as guides in military operations, torture, and violations of children’s rights. Karapatan points to the state security forces and paramilitary groups having a hand in these violations.
The 10th Infantry Division of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) of the AFP was installed in Southern Mindanao in 2006 with at least six brigades and 15 battalions and their primary target area of military operation had been the Compostela Valley since they have tagged the province as NPA-infested area.
Having already experienced strong military presence in their community, a new wave of panic began when military operations began again in March this year. Residents from New Bataan and Compostela had again fled for safety but the military prevented them from leaving.
The residents of Brgy. Diwalwal are also facing imminent threats of being forcibly displaced from their homes due to the recent declaration of the Government that Diwalwal is a no man's land to paved way for the the large-scale mining corporations that has been eyeing the gold rush in Mount Diwalwal.
2. Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur
Ailing the Bagobo-Tagabawa lumads of Sta.Cruz, Davao Del Sur is the militarization of their communities and the destruction of their ancestral grounds. Around nine (9) villages in Brgy. Sibulan are now hosts to the Reengineered Special Operations Teams of the 39th Infantry Battalion while the construction of the Tudaya Hydro-Power Plant continues, ravaging farmlands and destroying the sacred waterfalls of the Bagobo-Tagabawa lumads.
As this community continues to oppose this aggression, their voices are quelled with the current military operations.
The local residents are also being forced to join Barangay Defense System which is a part of the AFP's counter-insurgency program that runs violative of the International Humanitarian Law.
3. Paquibato District, Davao City
The city’s largest district of over 40,000 people, Paquibato has become a virtual garrison these days. People cannot move around the place without identification cards bearing the signature of soldiers.
On the veranda of the village hall of Barangay Mabuhay, government soldiers mounted an M60 machine gun, a menacing reminder among its residents of the silent war in their midst. In a place called Crossing Hasil towards the border with Panabo, soldiers at a checkpoint stopped all vehicles for inspection.
Since January this year, Paquibato District became subject to military operations. Most appalling, farmers was forcibly used a guide in actual military operations, instigating enormous fear among the community and the other residents that had already fallen victim to death and injury due to military's ire.
4. Tampakan, South Cotabato in SOCSKSARGEN
Base on a report, earlier this year, the government scaled down its mining investment target to $800 million from $1 billion. The new target, however, is still more than the $650 million investment inflow in 2008.
Most foreign investors opt to be minority partners in joint ventures with Filipino firms, especially in the early phase of exploration.
A foreign investor Swiss firm Xstrata Plc had signed Financial Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA), which allows 100 percent foreign ownership in large mining project in Tampakan and considered now the operator of the 27,945-ha Tampakan gold-copper mine in South Cotabato together with the much opposed Sagittarius Mines.
Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Koronadal and other Church leaders said the recent killing of Ellezer Billanes, leader of the Socsksargends-Agenda (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City, Davao del Sur-Alliance for Genuine Development) had something to do with his vocal opposition against the large-scale mining operations in Tampakan.
Billanes, 46, was gunned down four hours after attending a three-hour dialogue with barangay officials and an Army lieutenant following death threats he received allegedly coming from military personnel. Billanes was on his way to buy a newspaper when he was shot in the head at close range near the public market fronting the fire station on Osmeña Street at about 4 p.m. on March 9, 2009.
Socsksargends-Agenda is an anti-mining group that is opposing the Tampakan copper-and-gold project being implemented by the Sagittarius Mines Inc., a foreign-backed company operating in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
Schedule of Activities
• 14: Arrival of delegates and Regional-level Briefing
• 15-16: ISM proper in the areas; in mining areas (Diwalwal and Tampakan), a short ceremony re:declaration against Large-scale Mining and declaring the areas as ALARM! Sites will be held
• 17: Team reports and media statement drafting; submission of draft reports and materials to the Drafting Committee though the ISM Secretariat for consolidation and drafting of the ISM report; team evaluation and solidarity night
• 18: Press conference/ Media/Public Forum; Media Interviews; March to Centennial Park; Solidarity Dinner
• 19: Departure of foreign-based participants; evaluation by the ISM 2009 Organizing Committee
Foreign-based participants to be invited:
Trade union, peasant/farmer, women, indigenous, fisher, youth and other peoples' movement leaders; civil libertarians, human rights activists; lawyers, jurists, judges, justices and law students; academicians; artists, writers, journalists and broadcasters; scientists; medical and other professionals; religious leaders; members of Parliament and other national government officials who are known to be critical of anti-people policies in their countries; members and supporters of solidarity organizations; and other human rights defenders.
Since we would like our fact-finding mission to generate pressure, there should be at least 2-3 international or foreign personalities in each team, who wield extraordinary influence in their countries or field of expertise. Certainly, the judgment of these people will lend additional credence to the ISM and influence public opinion in their and other countries. This will help generate public pressure against the GMA regime and call on her to put a stop to the HRVs committed.
The opportunity lent by the presence of the foreign-based participants in the Philippines should be maximized in terms of having them share the situation in their countries and what they or their organizations/movements are doing to change it.
Members of Philippine mass organizations abroad and solidarity groups are enjoined to join the ISM and help attend to the foreign participants from their countries of residence. It is likewise suggested that they hold a forum when they get back to their countries of residence to share and project the results of the ISM.
Participating organizations at the national level will invite their international contacts to participate in the ISM. A list of names, contact addresses as well as email addresses of the international friends will be submitted to the Secretariat so invitations and other ISM materials can be sent to them. The organization will sound out their international contacts and inform them in advance regarding the ISM and the invitation to follow.
ISM will be spearheaded by the Exodus for Justice and Peace, an alliance of civil libertarians, religious groups, the academe and other professionals.
The EJP network has a common aspiration to respond to the needs of internally displaced communities, and victims of human rights violations due to militarization and development aggression. It also stands by human rights defenders and works for attainment of justice for all victims of political persecution.
The EJP's Main Conveners are Bp. Delfin D. Callao Jr., of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Bp. Constante Claro of the UCCP-SEMJUR, Sr. Luz Mallo, m.a. , Coordinator of the Missionaries of the Assumption, Sr. Dolores Diaz, csc of the Carmelite Sisters, Bro. Noelvic H. Deloria, sc and Bro. Jose Godofredo G. Sapigao, sc of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, Fr. Jonathan Casimina of the Southern Mindanao Regional Ecumenical Council, Rev. Jurie Jaime of the Promotion of Chruch People’s Response, Sr. Irene Caharian. M.a. , Sr. Elsa Compuesto, MSM of the Sister’s Association in Mindanao, Pstr. Amancio Binigian of CONCORD and Atty. Ding Estorres of the Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao – Davao Chapter.
Also providing vital support for the Mission:
Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights), Kalipunan ng Mga Katutubo sa Pilipinas (KAMP), Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao KALUMARAN, PCPR (Promotion of Church People's Response), Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance), Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM)
Bayan Muna (BM) PartyList, Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous Peoples (SAGIP), Promotion of Churh Peoples' Response (PCPR)
The ISM Secretariat
EJP Contact Information:
Tel No: 082-221-6920, Mobile: 0928-6059209
Mailing Address: Haran House, UCCP, Fr. Selga St. Davao City
Please look for Beth or Nancy.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Update on the Postcard Campaign to President Obama to Free the Five
It has not even been a week since we picked up 21,000 postcards at the printers to send to President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and other elected officials calling for the freedom of the Cuban Five. The orders coming in have already greatly exceeded our expectations. We have sent out most of the cards from this initial print run and we are now discussing how we can print more.
What appears to be making this project of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five take off is its international grassroots appeal. This is a hands-on project with people meeting people and getting others to take that step forward to sign the postcard, get a stamp on it and send it to Washington . It is a concrete expression of solidarity with our 5 Cuban brothers.
We have sent batches of postcards in English and Spanish to many countries, including Argentina , Canada , Cuba , Lebanon , Mexico , Peru , and the United Kingdom . In the United States many people are also using the card that can be addressed to their Congressperson. Cards have gone to Florida , Kentucky , Massachusetts , Minnesota , New York , Oregon , Texas , Wisconsin , and many cities in California .
Committees in other countries have already translated the postcard and are printing them to distribute them locally. We know for sure that in Russia the postcard has been translated and is now being printed. It is also being translated into German, Catalan, Swedish and Portuguese.
Now that the case has been filed before the U.S. Supreme Court, it is more important than ever to get the word out about this miscarriage of justice. We must let the new administration know that, despite the ongoing media blockade, there is an international movement calling for the freedom of the Cuban Five.
Now is a great time to get involved in this campaign. You can order postcards by writing to email@example.com and let us know how many you want. You can also send a tax deductible donation to help with the printing and shipping costs made out to: IFCO/Awareness Project and mailing it to International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, P.O. Box 22455 , Oakland , CA 94609.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
We especially congratulate the people of the United States for overcoming age-old bigotry and racial prejudices in electing their country's first African-American president.
Sen. Obama's victory signals a rejection of George W. Bush's rabid pursuance of neoliberal economics, unilateralism in foreign policies and naked military aggression that are a bane to the whole world. Such a victory opens up hope that somehow, US foreign policy might change for the better.
The challenge now is for Pres. Obama to fulfill his promise of real change, in particular the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and other places where they have conducted unilateral military action, and the dismantling of notorious detention camps in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and more constructive policies with regards to Iran, Syria, North Korea and other states labeled by Bush as the "Axis of Evil." He should stop the US government's policy of labeling and persecuting national liberation groups as "terrorists."
We would be pleasantly surprised if Pres. Obama's mantra of change would entail a review of US policy on the Philippines, particularly the removal of US troops and facilities from Philippine soil, the abrogation of unequal and onerous economic and political agreements like the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, as well as a fundamental revision of RP-US relations based on the principles of mutual benefit and respect.###
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
House Resolution No. 777 Urging the Philippine Government to make an official position calling for the release of the Cuban Five
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Second Regular Session
HOUSE RESOLUTION No. 777
Introduced by Rep. SATUR C. OCAMPO
STRONGLY URGING THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE AN OFFICIAL POSITION CALLING FOR THE RELEASE OF GERARDO HERNANDEZ, RAMON LABAÑINO, ANTONIO GUERRERO, FERNANDO GONZALEZ, AND RENE GONZALEZ, POPULARLY KNOWN AS THE CUBAN FIVE, WHO HAVE BEEN HELD ILLEGALY IN UNITED STATES PRISON SINCE SEPTEMBER 12, 1998 AND HAVE BEEN DENIED VISITS FRON THE FAMILIES DESPITE SIMILAR WIDESPREAD INTERNATIONAL APPEALS FROM VARIOUS COUNTRIES AND PARLIAMENTS
WHEREAS, the Cuban people have been victims of terror attacks by the Miami exile groups, many of whom came from the wealthy class that left Cuba after the overthrow of the Fulgencio Batista regime in 1959. These Miami exile groups have conducted bombings, assassinations and other sabotage, killing hundreds of innocent Cuban civilians. Groups like Alpha 66, Omega 7, Brothers to the Rescue, and Cuban American National Foundation have terrorized the Cuban people for years with impunity;
WHEREAS, in 1990, Cuba made the careful and necessary decision to send Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Renė Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez - who later became known as the Cuban Five - - to Miami to protect Cuba from serious threat of invasion and terrorism posed by Miami exile groups;
WHEREAS, the Cuban Five were able to establish evidence implicating specific Miami exile groups and individuals in the 1976 bombing of a commercial Cuban airliner while on flight, and the 1997 bombing of Havana’s Hotel Copacabana;
WHEREAS, in May 1988, then President Fidel Castro sent a letter to the United States President Bill Clinton, asking to indict and prosecute those who committed crimes against Cuba. A month later, the United States sent a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team to Havana to discuss collaboration with Cuba on stopping acts of aggression emanating from Miami;
WHEREAS, Cuba waited for the FBI to start arresting the architects of these operations, but instead, on September 12, 1998, the United States Government arrested in the Cuban Five, the men who had come to Miami to monitor activities of the violent Miami exile groups. The arrest and prosecution of these men for their attempt to stop the terror was not only unjust, it exposed the treachery and hypocrisy to the United States’ claim to oppose terrorism wherever it surfaces;
WHEREAS, since the day of their arrest in Southern Florida, the Cuban Five were placed in the solitary confinement cells for 17 straight months before their cases were brought to trial. They were completely cut-off from their families and young children, and even barred from communicating with each other. They were likewise denied their right to ball;
WHEREAS, in June 2001, the five were tied in Miami Dade county and were charged with 26 counts of violating the federal laws of the United States. They were convicted of espionage on behalf of Cuba and murder involving the shooting down of the aircrafts belonging to the Miami exile groups over Cuban waters on February 24, 1996. Twenty four (24) of those charges were relatively minor and technical offenses, such use of false identifications and failure to register as foreign agents. Gerardo Hernandėz was condemned to life sentences plus 15 years. Ramon Labañino was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 18 years. Rene Gonzalez to 15 years imprisonment. Antonio Guerrero was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 10 years, and Fernando Gonzalez was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment;
WHEREAS, on November 2002, the lawyers for the Cuban Five filed a motion for a new trial that fully documents the impossibility of holding a fair trial in Miami. The motion was denied, so the petitioners include their motion as an additional argument in appeal presented before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta in May 2003;
WHEREAS, on August 9, 2005, a panel of three judges mandated by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said no verdict against them has any worth and ordered a new trial. The U.S. Government petitioned for the entire Court of twelve judges to review the panel decision. On August 9, 2006, two judges of the same Court reversed the decision on finding that no prejudiced had been in the selection of the trial jury. On June 4, 2008, three-judge panel of the court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ratified the guilty verdicts against the Cuban Five, but annulled the sentences of Renė Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandėz. The case of three others will be sent for a new sentence to the Florida Court;
WHEREAS, on May 27, 2005, the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is issued its conclusion that the conditions of their confinement including the long period in solitary confinement cells, the limitation of defense access to the potential evidence, and the conditions and location of the Miami trial, are of such gravity that they confer the deprivation of the liberty of the Cuban Five which contravened Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which United States a signatory;
WHEREAS, Amnesty International has decried the denial of visas of Adriana Perėz and Olga Salanueva, wives of Gerardo Hernandėz and Renė Gonzalez respectively to enter the U.S. and visit their husbands in prison. For other families, the United States Government has continued to delay the granting of entry permits. This means that the average number of visas granted per family member is one per year;
WHEREAS, the European Parliament Union, Latin American Parliament, Africa-Caribbean - European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Parliamentary Conference of the Americas, Central American Parliament, Great Britain, Ireland, Russia, Argentina, Belgium, Venezuela, Bolivia, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Panama and Italy have called for liberation of the five Cubans imprisoned. The appeal has been joined and supported by the prestigious association of lawyers and jury experts in the United States and abroad such as the National Jury Project, National Lawyers Guild, and International Association of Democratic Lawyers with members in 90 countries which has consultative status at the United Nations;
WHEREAS, the Cuban Five have been in custody for almost ten years. These five men have been held in maximum security prisons and have been held incommunicado in isolated cells for long periods of time. Two of them have been denied the right to receive family visits;
WHEREAS, the United States Government must honor the finding of the United Nations Body, by releasing these prisoners or providing them with a new trial. This arbitrary detention is extremely cruel and cannot be allowed to continue;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philippine Government make an official position calling for the release of Gerardo Hernandėz, Ramon Labañino, Rene González, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando González, popularly known as the Cuban Five who have been held illegally in the United States prisons since September 12, 1998 and have been denied visits from their families despite similar widespread international appeals from various countries and parliaments.
RESOLVED FINALLY, that the efforts be made for the entry of the Cuban Five’s spouses and their families to the United States territory in order to visit their loved ones.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
30 July 2008
I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege on behalf of my colleagues from the progressive party list bloc to give our views on the President's State of the Nation Address delivered last Monday in time for the opening of our second session.
We in the progressive party list bloc feel it is our obligation to at least give an alternative and truthful view of reality, from the point of view of the underrepresented and marginalized majority that we represent both by commitment and by mandate through popular election.
In the face of the President's lies and distortions, we hope this attempt at presenting the truth will be taken constructively by our colleagues in the Majority.
Ginoong Speaker, noong Lunes, sinimulan ni Gng. Arroyo ang kanyang talumpati sa pamamagitan ng paghuhugas kamay sa matinding kahirapang nararanasan ng ating mamamayan. Ibinaling niya ang sisi sa buong daigdig – sa paggalaw umano ng presyo ng langis at bigas sa international market at paghina ng ekonomiya ng US.
The President was trying to be clever by blaming everything but herself, her government, and her policies for the miserable state of the Filipino people. Worse, she even had the gall to claim that if not for her "foresight, grit and political will," the situation would have been worse. In the end, she turned reality on its head by repackaging the unjust and oppressive VAT into an ultimate panacea.
Clearly, the President is so used to lying that she can't help it.
Ano ba ang katotohanan, Ginoong Speaker? What is the real state of the nation?
The fact is that even before the dramatic increases in world oil and food prices, the poverty rate in the Philippines was already rising, family incomes were falling and the gap between the rich and poor was widening. Mula pa 2003, dumarami na ang bilang ng ating mahihirap, bumabagsak ang kita ng karaniwang pamilya, at lumalaki ang pagitan ng mahirap at mayaman.
Ayon sa pinakahuling Family and Income Expenditure Survey (FIES), bumaba ang kita ng halos siyam sa bawat sampung pamilyang Pilipino. Kontrolado ng pinakamayamang 20% ng pamilya ang mahigit kalahati (52%) ng kabuuang kita habang ang yaman ng pinakamayamang 20 Pilipino ay katumbas ang sa 10.4 milyon nating kababayan.
According to research think tank IBON Foundation, the number of people jobless or otherwise looking for more work because they were earning so little from their current jobs increase by 2.2 million in 2007 from 2001. The number of unemployed increased by over 400,000 and of underemployed by 1.8 million. The 630,000 jobs supposed to be created each year are not enough to make up for the annual increase in labor force of some 690,000.
Alam ng ating mamamayan na walang saysay ang pinagyayabang na paglago ng ekonomiya noong 2007. It was during this period that the share of agriculture to GDP reached a historic low of 18.4%. In 2007, the share of manufacturing to GDP had deteriorated to its lowest level since 1956. Dahil higit pang humina ang agrikultura at pagmamanupaktura, mahigit 10 milyon ang walang trabaho o naghahanap pa ng dagdag na trabaho.
Dumarami rin ang bilang ng mga batang hindi nakakapag-aral, pati mga ina at sanggol na hindi naseserbisyuhan ng ating mga ospital at health center.
The point I'm making, Mr. Speaker, is that despite glowing GDP and GNP figures, poverty is increasing, incomes are dwindling, prices are skyrocketing, and joblessness is increasing. For Mrs. Arroyo to casually blame this phenomena of jobless, inequitable growth on external shocks is to evade responsibility and accountability for her flawed economic policies.
Mrs. Arroyo's much loved value added tax is a prime example of such unjust and oppressive economic policies. In 2006, the already miserable situation of our people was further exacerbated by the expansion and increase of the VAT to include oil, power, medicines, instant noodles and a host of other products and services. Overnight, government coffers were overflowing from the increased taxes imposed on our ordinary, mostly poor, consumers.
Today, the cruelty of the VAT is manifested in the VAT on oil. Not only does VAT make oil prices higher by P6 to P7 per liter, it also rakes in an annual bonanza of P18.8 billion to P30 billion in windfall tax revenues. These are surplus collections and therefore not covered by the General Appropriations Act. Through the VAT on oil, the government is actually cashing in on the people's misery.
Ang sabi ni Mrs Arroyo, pumayag na tayo sa VAT dahil meron naming limang bilyong "Katas ng VAT" na ipinamumudmod sa mahihirap. Unang-una, talaga bang sa mahihirap ito napupunta at hindi sa bulsa lamang ng kanyang mga opisyal? Pangalawa, limang bilyon lang ang ipinamimigay pero mahigit P18 hanggang P30 bilyon ang sobrang kinokolekta. Saan napupunta ang iba?
But that is just as far as the VAT on oil is concerned. How about the other windfall VAT revenues resulting from the general increase in prices of goods and services, considering that inflation is at 11.4%, the highest in 14 years? No wonder that the DOF, in several hearings of the House Ways and Means Committee, has refused to provide Congress with pertinent data on VAT collections and disbursements. Ayaw nilang malaman kung gaano talaga kalaki ang kotong sa VAT.
Indeed, where does the VAT go? The fact is that the biggest beneficiaries of VAT are not our people but our creditors who will be paid 62% of all government revenues this year. During the deliberations on the tax measures in 2005, we were informed by the Department of Finance that as much as 80% of additional revenues from the new taxes would go to our creditors. No wonder a year after the imposition of VAT, we were paying loans in advance to the detriment of the budgets for health, housing, education and other social services. No wonder the credit rating agencies are ecstatic that we are taxing our people to death just to pay our debts.
Kinumpirma ni Gng. Arroyo na pambayad ng utang ang VAT.
Sa kanyang SONA sinabi niya: "Napakahalaga ng VAT…una nabawasan ang ating mga utang…"
Again, it is a clever ruse of Mrs. Arroyo to justify an oppressive, windfall-earning tax by saying that she's returning it to the poor anyway. In the first place, the poor would be better off without the government collecting kotong on their taxes. Removing the VAT on electricity would immediately and perpetually reduce the bills of lifeline rate customers by at least P66.79 a month forever, definitely more than a one-time dole out of P500. This will cost the government a mere P12.4 billion, a pittance compared to the more than P140 billion in annual uncollected duties on imported goods.
Removing the VAT on oil, on the other hand, would immediately prevent another round of fare hikes and possibly even lead to a rollback in jeepney and bus fares. That may be nothing to the rich but definitely something substantial for the poor.
Kung talagang nag-aalala si Mrs. Arroyo sa mga mahihirap na maybahay, sa mga manggagawa at magsasaka, dapat ay tanggalin na niya ang VAT sa langis at kuryente.
Katulad ng pagdepensa niya sa VAT, pinagpililitan din ni Mrs. Arroyo ang patakarang deregulasyon sa industriya ng langis. Perhaps the most glaring example of the failure of neoliberal economic policy can be seen in the oil industry. Sampung taon na mula nang ma-deregulate ang industriya ng langis at ibenta ang Petron sa mga dayuhan. Mula noon, hindi man lang natupad ang pangako ng murang gasolina o pagbuwag ng kartel ng dayuhang oil companies.
Today, the government is reduced to pleading for mercy from the oil companies who continue to rake in superprofits from their cartel operations in the country. In fact, the DOE cannot even explain to us the oil cartel's pricing mechanism. Their claims of under-recoveries are considered Gospel truth. Under deregulation, government has become inutile in the face of the oil companies rapacious greed.
Kung talagang nag-aalala si Mrs. Arroyo sa mahihirap, ibabasura niya ang deregulasyon sa langis, kokontrolin ang presyo, ibabalik ang Petron sa pagmamay-ari ng publiko, at sisimulan ang sentralisadong pag-angkat ng ating pangangailangan sa langis at produktong petrolyo.
In her SONA, the President made much ado about her thrust towards self-sufficiency in rice, as if this were really her policy. The fact is that the Arroyo government had long abandoned the policy of self-sufficiency in rice and agriculture. We have not been self-sufficient in rice not because of the limits of our topography but due to the limits of our government's imagination and political will.
It is an outrage, for example, that a substantial portion of the NFA's resources are used to subsidize farmers from other countries where we import rice from. While farmers in other countries get full support in terms of technology, production inputs, credit and infrastructure, our lowly rice farmers are basically left to fend for their own. Wala na ngang suporta, kinokotongan pa ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno ang fertilizer at seed funds at iba pang pondong pang magsasaka.
Central to the issue of agriculture is the issue of agrarian reform.
Mrs. Arroyo is pushing for the extension of an agrarian reform program that has proven to be insufficient at best, a sham at worst. In her SONA, Mrs. Arroyo noted, "There are those who say agrarian reform is a success – if only because anything is better than nothing." Now she would even make it worse by allowing CARP lands to be used as collateral, a measure that would further transform CARP beneficiaries into not into agribusinesses as she claims, poor and indebted peasants.
Mr. Speaker, the bankruptcy of the government's economic policies is reflected in its penchant for quick-fixes, palliative measures and dole outs. All government wants to do is to create safety nets because they don't have the guts to change their disastrous free market economic policies.
Mrs. Arroyo refuses to accept the flaws in her economic policy and so is limited to scrambling for dole outs to quell the people's dissatisfaction. Such is the so-called new social welfare program unveiled by her last Monday. These dole outs are especially attractive to Mrs. Arroyo and her candidates for the 2010 elections who are desperately trying to score brownie points in the face of their dwindling popularity ratings.
Speaking about satisfactory ratings, Mrs. Arroyo was conspicuously silent on the systematic plunder of the national coffers under her administration. Since 2005, it has been the policy of the Arroyo government to cover up every anomaly involving the President and her family. Until now there is no closure to the IMPSA deal, the Jancom contract, the Diosdado Macapagal Avenue overprice, the fertilizer fund scam, the Hello Garci tapes, the Venable contract, the NBN-ZTE deal and similar questionable transactions involving the highest leaders of the land.
This policy of cover up has led to the undermining of systems of transparency and accountability that are supposed to be the bedrock of good governance. In particular, the Executive's actions have led to the bastardization of the impeachment process and the sabotaging of Congress' function of legislative oversight.
She was also conspicuously silent on the issue of human rights and peace. In the face of the people's protests against the government's flawed economic and political policies, Mrs. Arroyo has resorted to the systematic violations of the people's civil and political rights in order to quell dissent and ensure her survival in office.
The killings and enforced disappearances have not stopped. Since Mrs. Arroyo's presidency in January 2001 to June this year, the human rights organization Karapatan has documented 910 victims of extrajudicial killings, 193 victims of enforced disappearances, and 331 cases of frustrated killings. For the first six months of 2008, Karapatan has documented 20 cases of extrajudicial killings, one case of enforced disappearance, 41 cases of illegal detention and 67 cases of illegal arrest. The surveillance, harassment and physical attacks against progressive organizations and their members have likewise not stopped.
Hardly any of the perpetrators have been investigated, arrested or tried, leading to a culture of impunity among state security forces and state-backed para-military groups.
Again, this is a question of policy, particularly the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya which, since 2001, has targeted activists and political dissenters as enemies of the state.
Mr. Speaker, the true state of the nation is quite the opposite of what Mrs. Arroyo envisioned last Monday.
Gloria Arroyo cannot evade blame for this dire state of the nation by pointing to external causes as the culprits. What cannot be denied or hidden by contrived statistics is that the Philippine economy's growth has been gravely stunted. It has remained basically backward, with neither a modern agricultural base nor an industrial backbone to speak of, all because the Arroyo regime, like her predecessors, has adamantly stuck to the anti people neo-liberal globalization prescriptions of the IMF-WB-WTO triad – liberalization, deregulation and privatization.
By her canine devotion to both these multilateral instruments of global capitalist plunder and to the discredited George W. Bush administration, Mrs. Arroyo has encouraged the marginalization of our farmers, the demise of many industries, the assaults of labor unions.
By her policies she has deprived the economy and her government of any defensive shield and flexibility to withstand the destructive impacts of the frequently recurring crisis of global capital.
The fact is that there are more poor, hungry and jobless Filipinos than ever before. The fact is that it is government's neoliberal economic policies that have magnified the negative impacts of external shocks on the local economy. The fact is that unabated graft and corruption has made matters even worse. The fact is that human rights continue to be trampled and peace remains a pipe dream.
And the fact is that the government and the President is to blame for the hardships that have befallen our people.
This is the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in. The earlier we recognize this the better it will be for efforts to address our people's yearning for democracy and reform.
Thank you. #
Monday, July 28, 2008
PEOPLES SONA SPEECH
By: Satur C. Ocampo
In her seventh SONA last year, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo boasted that the Philippine economy had never performed better than under her watch. She claimed that over seven years the gross domestic product (GDP) had consistently improved, and that the Philippines was on the verge of take off to becoming an industrialized country. She then tried to regale Congress and the people with visions of foster growth through her ambitious, unrealistic "growth area" development plans that offer huge chunks of the national territory for exploitation by foreign investors.
Recall that 12 years earlier, then President Fidel V. Ramos had boasted of the same claimed GDP growth, and prospect for the Philippines becoming a "newly industrialized" country or NIC. Recall also that the 1997 Asian financial crisis sent those claims and prospect coming down.
In her eighth SONA today, Gloria M. Arroyo can no longer make the same boast. As it happened in 1997, the severe economic crisis, spiked by the US financial meltdown and soaring prices of oil products and food, has shot down the GDP, with the immediate impact of impoverishing a greater number of Filipino families.
Gloria Arroyo cannot evade blame for this dire state of the nation by pointing to external causes as the culprits. What cannot be denied or hidden by contrived statistics is that the Philippine economy's growth has been gravely stunted. It has remained basically backward, with neither a modern agricultural base nor an industrial backbone to speak of, all because the Arroyo regime, like her predecessors, has adamantly stuck to the anti people neo-liberal globalization prescriptions of the IMF-WB-WTO triad – liberalization, deregulation and privatization.
By her canine devotion to both these multilateral instruments of global capitalist plunder and to the discredited George W. Bush administration, Mrs. Arroyo has deprived the economy and her government of any defensive shield and flexibility to withstand the destructive impacts of the frequently recurring crisis of global capital.
For these failed policies and programs, for her puppetry to the US, and for her betrayal of the national interest, aside from her other crimes against the people --- Gloria M. Arroyo must step down NOW, or else, we the people will bring her regime down, the sooner the better. ##
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Obhrai in his position as Parliamentary Secretary is the counterpart of the Philippine Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs (or deputy to Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson)
Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Philippines faces serious human rights challenges, notably the ongoing extrajudicial killings and the apparent culture of impunity. Canada raised these concerns on April 11 during the Human Rights Council's universal periodic review of the Philippines.
Canada also encouraged the Philippines to ensure that its security forces are aware of human rights and their responsibility to protect human rights defenders.
Canada is encouraged that the Philippines has expressed its commitment to end extrajudicial killings through undertaking initiatives such as Task Force Usig, the Melo commission, and the visit of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston. We also commend the laudable role of the Supreme Court in the preservation of human rights and in the pursuit of justice.
We encourage the Philippines to work at implementing the recommendations and to make progress on convictions. Canada supports the Philippines in implementing measures to promote and protect the human rights of all Filipinos.#
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Eulogy for Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
by Bayan Muna Rep. Satur C. Ocampo
House of Representatives
My 29, 2008
Ka Osang, ang inyong mga anak, mga apo at iba pang mga kamag-anak. Ginoong Speaker, mga kasamang mambabatas dito sa Kongreso at sa Senado, mga kaibigan.
Sa nagdaang walong araw, mula ng gumulantang sa madla ang di inaasahang pagpanaw ni Kinatawang Crispin Beltran ng partidong Anakpawis bunga ng sakuna sa kanyang bahay, walang patid ang agos ng mga taong nakiramay ng personal sa kanyang pamilya at mga kasamahan.
Hindi rin mabilang ang mga taong nagpahayag, sa iba’t ibang kaparaanan, ng kanilang pagdadalamhati, pagpupugay at pagpapasalamat kay Ka Bel. Mula sa iba’t – ibang sulok ng Pilipinas, mula sa iba’t –ibang bansa sa buong daigdig, pinagpugayan si Ka Bel bilang lider manggagawa, bilang lider ng kilusang masa, bilang guro’t kasangga sa pakikibaka. Pinuri siya bilang parlyamentarista o mambabatas at bilang kaibigan, kasama at huwarang tao. Pinapatunayan lamang ng ganitong pambihirang pangyayari na sa higit na limang dekada ng buhay ni Ka Crispin Beltran, napakaraming tao sa iba’t-ibang antas ng katayuan sa lipunan, ngunit lalo’t higit sa hanay ng mga mahihirap, ang kanyang naapektuhan, naimpluwensyahan, napaliwanagan, natuwa’t napatawa at natulungan niyang maging higit na makabuluhang mamamayan.
Sa pagkalathala ng larawan sa mga pahayagan at sa telebisyon ng kanyang payak na tirahan sa Muzon, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan at ng pangyayaring nasawi siya sa pagkahulog habang sinisikap na kumpunihin ang bubong ng kanyang bahay, lalong dumami ang mga taong naapektuhan at matinding naimpluwensyahan ni Ka Crispin Beltran.
Maraming namangha at di-makapaniwala, maraming natauhan at nakonsyensya, at maraming humanga’t sumaludo kay Ka Bel. Tumambad sa kanila ang realidad na ganito pala kasimple ang pamumuhay ng isang Kongresistang manggagawa . Ganoon pala kasinop at kasipag sa kanyang bahay si Ka Bel, maging sa edad niyang 75 taon.
Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, all his life, Representative Crispin Beltran struggled furiously and lived and raised a family of 10 children simply and frugally. His having been elected to this Chamber for three terms --- to the 12th, 13th and 14th Congresses – did not change his lifestyle essentially. No matter that he rode to and from this House in a borrowed SUV or van. We shall miss Representative Crispin Beltran in this Chamber – he who always appeared well-dressed. He cut a dapper figure as he stood and walked in our midst.
Laging matikas ang bihis ni Ka Bel sa kanyang Barong Tagalog, ito man ay karaniwang jusi o may kulay na itim o pula. Oo pula ang paborito niyang kulay, ang suot niya ngayon sa kanyang pagkakahimlay.
Maging sa lansangan, sa mga martsa’t rali, matikas magbihis si Ka Bel, naka t-shirt man, kamisa de chino, kamisadentro o jacket. Matikas ngunit hindi marangyang magbihis si Crsipin Beltran.
Sa wari ko’y may pinagmanahan o may pinarisan sa pagbibihis at pag-iisip si Ka Bel. Iyon ay ang yumaong si Felixberto Olalia, Sr., ang batikang unyonista at pangunahing tagapagtatag at unang taga-pangulo ng Kilusang Mayo Uno na siyang sinundan sa pamunuan ni Ka Crispin Beltran.
Matikas magbihis si Ka Bert Olalia, di lamang dahil siya’s Kapampangan, ngunit higit dahil nais niyang ipahayag sa buong mundo na kahit mahirap ang manggagawa, marunong at maingat sa pamimihis, gaano man kasimple ang pananamit. Higit dito, ayon kay Ka Bert, may dignidad ang manggagawa: iginagalang ang sariling pagkatao at hinihiling na igalang siya ng kapwa manggagawa, ng ibang tao, at maging ng kapitalista.
Hindi ba Ka Bel, iyan din ang sinasabi mo? Ang totoo, kadalasan si Ka Bel mismo ang naglalaba ng kanyang sariling damit. Siya ang namamalantsa ng kanyang pantalon at barong.
At sinong mag-aakala na sa matikas na bihis ni Ka Bel, walang laman kundi barya ang kanyang pitaka? Mula noong maupo kami nina Representative Beltran at Representative Liza Maza bilang mga Kinatawan ng Bayan Muna Party-List sa 12th Congress, di iilang beses lumapit sa akin si Ka Bel at bumulong, “Ka Satur, may dalawang daan ka ba riyan? Pahiram muna,” sabay ng marahang tawa. Nitong 14th Congress, bunga marahil ng inflation, limang daan o libo na ang panaka-nakang hinihiram ni Ka Bel.
Sa aming tatlo sa 12th Congress, sa amin anim, ang tinaguriang “Batasan 6” noong 13th Congress, at sa aming lima ngayon sa 14th Congress, si Ka Bel ang namalaging tampok na pinakapayak ang uri at antas ng pamumuhay.
Sa aming magkakasamang progresibong kinatawang Party-List ng Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, at Gabriela Women’s Party, huwaran si Ka Bel sa pagsunod sa pamantayang itinakda ng aming mga partido -- ang maglingkod ng matapat sa bayan, at mamuhay ng simple at marangal.
Ganyan po ang maliit naming team na progresibong party-list representatives. Wala kaming malaking ari-arian, wala kaming marangyang mga bahay. Ang ginagamit naming ay segunda-manong mga sasakyang binili o hiniram. Ilang pirasong damit pambihis ang pinagsalit-salit namin at linggu-linggo ay nilalabhan. Sa pananghalian, kasalo at kahati naming kumain ang aming mga staff sa simple at kakaunting ulam.
Sa kabila nito, sa nagdaang walong taon, kami ang pinagdiskitahan ng mga palalo sa kapangyarihan. Tinangka nilang sagkaang manalo kami sa Kongreso sa pamamagitan ng pagsasampa ng mga gawa-gawang kasong pulitikal at kriminal. Ang aming mga lokal na lider at organisador ay dinarahas, dinudukot at pinapaslang.
Kaya po si Kasamang Crispin Beltran, sa edad na 73, ay inaresto nang walang warrant of arrest. Idinitine nang isa at kalahating taon hanggang pinawalambisa ng Korte Suprema ang pekeng kasong rebelyon laban sa aming “Batasan 6”.
Mga kasama at kaibigan, yumao si Rep. Crispin Beltran nang hindi nasindak, nanghina o yumukod sa mga nag-api sa kanya. Yumao siyang walang pusyaw ang kanyang tapang, komitment at katapatan sa bayang dalisay niyang minahal.
Walang bahid ang kanyang marangal na pangalan. Gaano man siya paulit-ulit na bansagang “manggugulo,” “komunista”, “kaaway ng estado”, mahigpit siyang niyayapos at inaangkin ng masang Pilipino bilang “bayani ng sambayanan”.
Ka Bel, dakila ka! Kaming iyong mga kasama ay hindi mamamaalam sa iyo. Ang lahat ng palalo at makitid ang isipan na umalipusta at nagpahirap sa iyo ay lalagpak sa madilim at mabahong basurahan ng kasaysayan. Subali’t ang maningning mong pangalan, ang diwa ng iyong katapatan at tapang ay sulong tatanglaw sa tatahakin naming daan; at titibok ng buong sigla sa aming mga puso, pipiglas, dadaloy sa aming mga ugat ang matimyas at marubdob mong pagmamahal sa masa at sa bayan.
Mabuhay ka, Ka Bel! Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
377, rue Bank Street, Ottawa, ON K2P 1Y3. www.cupw-sttp.org
May 6, 2008
The Hon. Maxime Bernier
Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Dr.
Ottawa, Ontario K1A-OG2
Dear Minister Bernier,
Re: Harassment of Rep. Satur Ocampo and Two Other Members of Philippine Congress
On behalf of the 55,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), I am writing you to urgently request Canada's intervention with respect to the murder charges against Rep. Satur Ocampo and two other members of the Philippine House of Representatives.
The charges were filed on April 18 upon Mr. Ocampo's return from a visit in Canada, during which he appeared as a witness before the House of Commons Sub-Committee on International Human Rights. We are especially concerned about this development because Mr. Ocampo was also an international guest at CUPW's 23rd Triennial Convention during the week of April 13 to 17, along with two other Philippine parliamentarians, Mr. Crispin Beltran and Ms. Luz Ilagan.
The two parliamentarians who are charged with Mr. Ocampo are Rep. Teodoro Casino and Rep. Liza Maza who were also returning from travel overseas during which they spoke about the human rights situation in the Philippines. Mr. Casino was in Geneva for the United Nation's Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines and both he and Ms. Maza attended the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in South Africa where they reported on the continuing cases of political harassment against them.
CUPW believes that the Philippine Inter-Agency Legal Action (IALAG) is behind these charges in order to punish Mr. Ocampo and his Party List colleagues for daring to speak to the international community about the human rights abuses in the Philippines and for urging Canada and other governments to take action to ensure these abuses cease, particularly the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of activists. The IALAG, headed by National Security Advisor Mr. Norberto Gonzales, is named in the report of the UN Special Rapporteur, Prof. Philip Aston, as responsible for the filing of spurious charges against progressive opposition leaders.
CUPW has been made aware that this is not the first time that bogus charges have been used to harass Mr. Ocampo and other Party list legislators:
- On february 2007, Mr. Ocampo was arrested and detained for 18 days during an ongoing election campaign on charges of murders he allegedly committed in 1989. The Supreme Court dismissed the case.
- In 2006, "rebellion" charges were also dismissed against Representatives Ocampo, Casino, Beltran and Maza. Each of them spent two months under the protective custody of the Philippine Congress to prevent their arrest while Beltran was put under hospital arrest.
CUPW therefore adds its voice to that of ther unions, human rights organizations, faith groups and social justice coalitions who are urging the Canadian government:
1) To send a representative from the Embassy in Manila to the May 12th hearing of Mr. Ocampo and his co-accused parliamentarians and to have the embassy continue to monitor the threat against them;
2) To express concern and condemn the ongoing harassment of Mr. Ocampo and these members of the opposition in a strong public statement;
3) To call on the Government of President Arroyo to implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur, and in particular the recommendation to abolish the Itner0Agency legal Action Group.
We further request that a report on this situation be presented to the members of the House of Commons Subcommittee on Inetrnational Human Rights, who met with the Philippine legislators during their visit to Canada.
(SGD) Dennis Lemelin
CUPW National President
cc: Members of the house of Commons Sub-Committee on International Human Rights:
Mr. Scott Reid Hon. Jason Kenney
Mr. David Sweet Hon. Irwin Cotler
Mr. Mario Silva Ms. Diane Bourgeois
Mr. Wayne Marston
Paul Dewar, NDP M.P.
Ken Georgetti, President, Canadian Labour Congress
CUPW National Executive Committee
CUPW National Union Representatives
Open letter protests harassment of Filipino Congress memberMay 5, 2008 06:28 AM
CUPE has added its name to an open letter addressed to the
"We are seriously concerned for his safety" and that of Crispin Beltran and Luz Ilagan," the letter said. The three Congress members informed the Canadian public, media and members of Parliament at the Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights that more than 900 extrajudicial killings and 180 enforced disappearances have occurred under the government of president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
"We view the timing of these events as punishment by the
CASE No. PHI/01 - CRISPIN BELTRÁN CASE No. PHI/04 - TEODORO CASIÑO
CASE No. PHI/02 - SATURNIÑO OCAMPO CASE No. PHI/05 - LIZA MAZA
CASE No. PHI/03 - JOEL VIRADOR CASE No. PHI/06 - RAFAEL MARIANO
Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 182nd session (
The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary
Referring to the case of Mr. Crispin Beltran, Mr. Saturniño Ocampo, Mr. Joel Virador, Mr. Teodoro Casiño, Ms. Liza Maza and Mr. Rafael Mariano, who, apart from the latter, are all incumbent members of the House of Representatives of the
Referring also to the Committee's report on its mission to the
Recalling that on 1 June 2007 the Supreme Court dismissed the rebellion charges that had been brought in February 2006 against the incumbent and former parliamentarians concerned as being politically motivated and that, as a result, Mr. Crispin Beltran, who had been arrested on 25 February 2006, was released; that those charges had been brought by the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), set up for the purpose of targeting perceived or supposed enemies of the State, and that the political parties to which the parliamentarians concerned belong and they themselves are regarded as such by that Group,
Recalling that, during the Committee's mission, the Assistant Chief State Prosecutor stated that the incitement to sedition case, which had initially been brought against Mr. Beltran, had been quashed; considering in this respect, however, that while the judge at the time had set aside his arraignment in this case on the ground of a pending motion for cancellation of arraignment, a new judge, Judge Manuel Sta. Cruz, on 10 July 2007, decided that the case against him should be continued and ordered his immediate arraignment, despite the pending appeal against the court order to proceed with the case; that Mr. Beltran has moved for the nullification of his arraignment and for the recusal of the judge; recalling that Mr. Beltran strongly denies having made the alleged seditious statement at a rally on 24 February 2006, a fact which media coverage and witness statements could easily prove, but that the prosecution dismissed this defence argument during the inquest proceedings,
Recalling further that, on 16 February 2007, a multiple murder case was brought against Mr. Ocampo and others, that he was arrested on 16 March 2007 and subsequently released on bail by the Supreme Court on 3 April 2007 pending the Court’s decision on his petition for certiorari and prohibition; noting that the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the petition,
Recalling that, in January 2007, a disqualification case was brought against the political parties of the parliamentarians concerned on the basis of yet another murder case (Nueva Ecija case) whereby the parliamentarians concerned, apart from Mr. Beltran, allegedly conspired together and planned the elimination of the supporters of another political party, Akbayan, an accusation which they strongly refute; considering that while the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dismissed the disqualification petitions for “lack of merit”, the murder case is proceeding and that the panel of public prosecutors submitted it for resolution on 14 November 2007; that, according to the sources, the due process rights of the defendants have been seriously violated in the preliminary investigation insofar as the prosecutors denied their request for a clarification hearing, which was necessary in their view to establish the identity of the complainants who appeared with covered faces throughout the investigation phase, to clarify inconsistencies in their statements, and to verify whether their statements were voluntary since they are in the custody and under the control of the military; noting that the cases were submitted for resolution by the prosecution on 14 November 2007 and that, although public prosecutors are required to resolve cases within 60 days after their submission for resolution, this has still not occurred,
Considering that, on 17 May 2007, Mr. Casiño was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly preventing the arrest of an alleged CPP/NPA member, Mr. Vincent Borja; noting in this respect, however, that according to the sources, given the incidence of extrajudicial executions and abductions implicating the military, Mr. Casiño wanted to ensure respect for the right to liberty and security of the person concerned for whom the soldiers, who were not in uniform, had no arrest warrant, by asking the soldiers to present a warrant and accompany the arrested person to a military camp until he was transferred to the police; the Office of the City Prosecutor has yet to give its ruling on the matter,
Considering lastly that in March 2008 a petition for Writ of Amparo was filed against top officials of the CPP and Mr. Ocampo, which is pending at the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Western
however, according to the source, the petition in this case has been filed with strong intervention from Inter-Parliamentary
the military or State forces with the intention to abuse the use of the Writ of Amparo; in this respect, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, Commanding Officer of 67th Infantry Battalion was quoted as saying: “This [the petition] could be a test case of the effectivity of the Writ of Amparo. They have used this against us.
We will apply the same to them.”,
Bearing in mind that, in the report on his mission to the
1. Remains deeply concerned at the various criminal cases still pending against the parliamentarians concerned, in particular the fact that a new case had been brought againstRepresentative Casiño for what appears to have been merely his attempt to prevent an arbitrary arrest and ensure compliance with the law, which constitutes nothing more than exercising his duty as a member of parliament; is also concerned that a Writ of Amparo is now allegedly being used in bad faith against Mr. Ocampo;
2. Fears, given the political motivation behind the previous rebellion charges brought against the parliamentarians, that all these proceedings are part of an ongoing effort by the Government, inter alia through IALAG, aimed at removing them and their political parties from the democratic political process;
3. Remains confident that, in dealing with these cases, the prosecution and judicial authorities will abide by their duty not to proceed with any case on the basis of political considerations, recalls in this respect the Supreme Court’s ruling in the rebellion case in which it reiterated “the importance of maintaining the integrity of criminal prosecutions in general and preliminary investigations in particular” and stated the following: “We cannot emphasize too strongly that prosecutors should not allow, and should avoid giving the impression that their noble office is being used or prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly, for political ends”;
4. Wishes to be kept informed of the proceedings in the cases in question, including, where appropriate, through the intermediary of a trial observer;
5. Calls on the House of Representatives to exercise its oversight power and to monitor closely the proceedings in the cases in question in order to ensure due administration of justice;
6. Also calls on the authorities, and in particular on both houses of Parliament, to ensure follow-up to the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and would appreciate information on parliamentary action taken to this end;
7. Notes finally that Mr. Joel Virador, who is no longer a member of parliament, has no further charges pending against him; consequently decides to close his case;
8. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the competent authorities, including the National Human Rights Commission, and to the other parties concerned;
9. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 119th Assembly of the IPU (
Monday, May 5, 2008
Ka Satur presentation before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in Canada
Impunity for the Killings in the
Brief Presentation before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
April 15, 2008
Deputy Minority Leader, House of Representatives,
On November 28, 2007, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Prof. Philip Alston released his final report on the spate of extrajudicial killings in the
From this representation’s view, the Alston report is a well-documented and well-argued rebuke on the Arroyo government’s complicity, through the institutional arrangements that have permitted the killings to continue, and its failure to stop them.
Prof. Alston points to the Philippine military’s “state of denial” over the numerous cases of extrajudicial killings that involved its soldiers. The 900 documented cases to date of extrajudicial killings and 180 cases of enforced disappearances mostly of leftist activists have been attributed to state security forces and are widely believed to have been sanctioned by the Arroyo government through its counter-insurgency program.
Prof. Alston scrutinizes two “policy initiatives” of the Arroyo government that are “of special importance to understanding why the killings continue.” “First, the military’s counter-insurgency strategy against the CPP/NPA/NDF increasingly focuses on dismantling civil society organizations that are purported to be CPP front groups.” “Second…the criminal justice system has failed to arrest, convict, and imprison those responsible for extrajudicial executions. This is partly due to a distortion of priorities that has law enforcement officials focused on prosecuting civil society leaders rather than their killers.”
Thus the Alston report recommends, as top essential measure, that “extrajudicial executions must be eliminated from counterinsurgency operations.” It specifically calls for the following:
2. The necessary measures should be taken to ensure that the principle of command responsibility, as it is understood in international law, is a basis for criminal liability within the domestic legal order.
3. The Government should immediately direct all military officers to cease making public statements linking political or other civil society groups to those engaged in armed insurgencies. Any such characterizations belong solely within the power of the civilian authorities. They must be based on transparent criteria, and conform with the human rights provisions of the Constitution and relevant treaties.
4. Transparency must be introduced to the “orders of battle”, “watch lists”, and similar lists of individuals and organizations maintained by the AFP, PNP, and other elements of the national security system.
The report also recommends the abolishment of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), which was formed by President Arroyo on January 17, 2006 mainly to build and file spurious charges of rebellion and criminal offenses against leaders and members of people’s organizations and political parties critical of the government. In fact, this representation is a victim of these politically motivated trumped-up charges.
According to Prof. Alston, “The most deleterious role played by the IALAG bodies, may however, be to encourage prosecutors to act as team players with the AFP and PNP in its counter-insurgency operations and to de-prioritize cases involving the deaths of leftist activists.”
None of these recommendations have been carried out by the Arroyo government. Even the government’s own fact-finding body, the Melo Commission, has recommended the investigation of a notorious military officer implicated in the killings but no such action has been taken to date.
The resolute efforts of human rights and people’s organizations, religious groups, and progressive political parties to document cases and bring them up to the United Nations, international bodies, governments and Parliaments paid off in 2007. The responses through strong international criticisms on and appeals to the Arroyo government and the initiatives of the Philippine Supreme Court – after calling an unprecedented national summit on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in July 2007 -- to institute mechanisms for the protection of human rights through the Writ of Amparo and the Writ of Habeas Data have largely contributed to the noticeable decline in the killings and abductions, since the beginning of 2008.
I emphasize decline, not a stop to the killings and abductions. The repeated announcements of President Arroyo and the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that they will unrelentingly pursue the counterinsurgency program billed as “Oplan Bantay Laya” until 2010 bodes continued, or intensified, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations.
Worse – and this is what I wish to highlight in this short presentation – the climate of impunity continues to pervade in the country as the perpetrators of the killings and abductions remain scot free. The victims and their families continue to cry out for justice.
I must point out that this climate of impunity on human rights violations started in the dark days of martial law under President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1972 – 1985). Succeeding governments have failed to resolve this impunity that has worsened under the Arroyo government.
In this light, I appeal to you, my fellow parliamentarians, to urge the Canadian government to:
Thank you for this opportunity to interface with you. I will gladly answer questions and welcome comments from you. #