Tag Archives: Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party

[From the web] Women need more vaccines, not tarpaulins! | Akbayan

#HumanRights #Women #COVID19ph

Women need more vaccines, not tarpaulins!

Photo from Akbayan FB page

“More vaccines, not tarpaulins!”

This was the message conveyed by women members of Akbayan Partylist as they unfurled a banner at a footbridge in Quezon City on Thursday marking this year’s International Women’s Month.

The Akbayan women said that they are calling for more vaccine options for the public and an end to early and expensive election campaigning amid the country’s efforts to contain COVID-19.

“Women want more vaccine options. The more vaccines that are made available, the more lives we can save, and the sooner we can all realize a new and better normal for all. Campaign tarpaulins and other early and expensive election campaigning will not save lives nor protect women from the global health crisis,” Akbayan Chair Emeritus Etta Rosales said.

It was reported that tarpaulins that carried messages urging Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to run for president in 2022 appeared in different parts of the country. Duterte and her supporters drew flak from the public as the tarpaulins sprouted in different areas amid the country’s lack of vaccines against COVID-19.

“As women, who are one of the most vulnerable sectors to the pandemic, we are scandalized by this early election campaigning in the middle of a global health crisis. Hindi bale sana kung ganoon din kabilis ang rollout ng bakuna gaya ng paglalagay nila ng mga tarpaulin sa buong bansa,” Rosales said.

Rosales, who is also a former partylist representative, explained that women have every right to call for more vaccines as they bear the brunt of the pandemic.

“From facing a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission and deaths, as majority of health frontliners are women, to loss of jobs and increasing gender-based violence, COVID-19 has hit women harder and worsened gender inequality. Let us not add furthermore to our women’s multiple burden by depriving them of a fast, safe and efficient vaccine program,” Rosales said.

“We call on the government to provide a safe, adequate, and effective vaccination plan for all. We also call for the faster arrival of more vaccines to give the public, particularly women, the widest array options to protect ourselves from COVID-19,” Rosales said.


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[Press Release] Suspension of pork must lead to its abolition -Akbayan

Suspension of pork must lead to its abolition


Akbayan Partylist today said President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s decision to suspend the release of the pork barrel fund “must lead to its total and unconditional abolition.”

“We welcome President Aquino‘s decision to suspend the release of the pork barrel to lawmakers until the probe on the pork barrel scam is completed. This decision effectively abolishes the pork barrel since any effort to restore it will meet massive public opposition,” according to Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello.

“The decision also serve as a strong disincentive to many rascals who are entertaining running for Congress. We hope that suspension of the pork will not be a substitute for punishing those senators and congressmen who were Napoles‘ accomplices. They must go to jail,” Bello said.

However, Bello reminded the President that the suspension of the release of the pork barrel must lead to its complete phase-out.

“Suspension must lead to abolition. While the President has already categorically stated that he is not in favor of abolishing the pork barrel, we will not relent in persuading him to drop the pork. President Aquino must go further and scrap the PDAF completely,” Bello said.

Source: akbayan.org.ph

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[From the web] Youth leaders urge voters to junk trapos -akbayanyouth.wordpress.com

Youth leaders urge voters to junk trapos; support candidates who can sustain momentum of reforms
February 10, 2013

Akbayan youthTwo days before the official start of the campaign for the national and party-list elections, Akbayan Youth, the youth wing of Akbayan party-list called on voters to reject traditional politicians (trapos) and instead support “pro-change” candidates who can sustain the momentum of reforms.

According to Akbayan Youth spokesperson JC Tejano, traditional politicians have perennially used the elections to further entrench their interests while also serving as a stumbling block to meaningful reforms.

“Instead of the usual crop of trapos, the voting public should be more finicky and elect leaders who will uphold their sworn oath to faithfully serve the public and continue the momentum of reforms that have been started,” Tejano said.

Issue-based elections

Akbayan Youth also urged voters to ensure that the election season becomes a campaign based on issues by demanding from the candidates their platforms, programs and their stand on various political, social and economic issues and also go beyond the gimmicky and cheap tricks often employed by trapos to attract votes.

“We should raise the public’s level of political awareness beyond mere gimmicks and flare for pageantry and into a serious discussion of issues and platforms,” Tejano said.

“The people must build on the success of the significant reforms we have achieved in the past two years such as the reproductive health, sin tax, kasambahay, overseas voting laws, among others,” Tejano said.

Protect RH law, support pro-RH candidates

Tejano also urged the voters to support pro-RH candidates saying the recently RH law must be duly protected and defended from those that want to transform it into an unfunded mandate.

“We must guarantee that Congress will provide sufficient yearly funding for the implementation of the RH law. And one of the best ways to ensure that is to elect consistent and dependable RH advocates in the House of Representatives and Senate,” Tejano concluded. ###

Contact Person:
Sigrid Sibug @ 09157690439

Source: akbayanyouth.wordpress.com

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[From the web] Young people urged to defend internet freedom -Akbayan youth

Young people urged to defend internet freedom.

Members of Akbayan Youth today hanged a banner on Welcome Rotonda expressing its opposition to the Cybercrime Prevention Act or Republic Act 10175. Akbayan Youth National Spokesperson JC Tejano today called on the youth to defend internet freedom as a necessary space for a growing democracy.

“With the law now taking effect and the Supreme Court yet to come out with a decision on the petitions questioning its validity, the youth must now take up the cudgels in the defense of internet freedom. The internet is the space where the youth interact, take a stand, and air their criticisms against public officials. However, this space is now getting constricted with the cybercrime law,” Tejano said.

Tejano explained that the law will only be used by politicians to silence their critics.

“We believe that the exercise of freedom of expression, including the right to criticize public figures online, are vital cogs in our democracy. It should not be hampered by the whims of politicians even in cyberspace. We fear that this cybercrime law will serve as the politicians’ fire-wall against public dissent and criticism,” Tejano said.

Read full article @ akbayanyouth.org

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[Statement] Justice for Cocoy Tulawie, Uphold Human Rights in Mindanao -Akbayan

Justice for Cocoy Tulawie, Uphold Human Rights in Mindanao

Privilege Speech of Akbayan Representative Walden Bello
Batasang Pambansa, 5 June 2012

It is alarming how the legal mantra “innocent until proven guilty” holds no water in some parts of the country. In fact, we are confronted with the reality that sees human rights advocates jailed and prosecuted as criminals by precisely the same people that they try to call to account. We are confronted with the reality that human rights defenders, even as they fight for the rights of others, must prove their innocence to be cleared of guilt. Clearly, the culture of impunity persists. And this culture allows for members of political and economic powerhouses to violate the rights of ordinary Filipinos, and quash voices of dissent with an even more severe force against transparency, accountability and democracy. This culture creates a vicious cycle and it targets those who lay their life on the line to empower people to live a life of dignity.

Human rights groups have observed the increasing criminalisation of human rights defenders across the country. In a report by the International Peace Observers Network (IPON), elites have systematically filed criminal cases against advocates and this has been particularly effective in silencing those who try to claim what is rightfully theirs. This effort is employed by elites across the board, from issues of land reform and the redistribution of agricultural lands to the tillers, to issues of peace and stemming the tide of violence in political hotspots like ARMM.

A very important illustration of the human rights predicament we are in is the case of Sulu human rights defender Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie. Today, Mr. Tulawie languishes in jail for standing up against the abuses of local government officials; he is in jail for a crime whose witnesses already admitted to having been forced to make false testimonies against him.

All this begs the question, who is Mr. Tulawie and what has he done to earn the ire of local powerful and influential local interests?

Mr. Tulawie is a leader in the human rights movement in Sulu. Through his organization, Bawgbug, Cocoy led the protests against violations against the dignity and life of ordinary Filipinos. He sought to make local government leaders and the military accountable for their abuse of power. In particular, he spoke vehemently against human rights violations incurred by the military in its attempt to contain the Abu Sayyaf and has called for investigations of the same. To protect individual liberties and take a stand against institutionalized discriminatory religious profiling, he led the opposition to the plan to impose an ID system in Sulu. He has likewise raised his voice against the increasing incidence of gang rapes and sexual violence against women that involved sons of influential families and the Civilian Emergency Forces in Sulu at a time when the local government would rather sweep the incidences under the rug. He also openly engaged and criticized Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan for the warrantless arrests and the violation of civil liberties that ensued during the 2009 State of Emergency in Sulu.

The local government consistently tried to silence Cocoy’s voice. In one instance, his uncle, also a local politician, promised him financial support should Cocoy decide to leave Sulu. Cocoy and his group were also confronted by armed men when they sought the resolution of the rape cases.

In 2009, Cocoy was charged with Multiple Frustrated Murder for a bombing incident that injured 12 people including Governor Tan. Because Cocoy and his supporters believed that having the trial in Sulu could put his life in grave danger, and may lead to a miscarriage of justice, they petitioned to have the trial elsewhere, and the DoJ relented. To date, Mr. Tulawie has waited for the Regional Trial Court of Davao City to hear his case.
For the people in the human rights movement, and for the people of Mindanao, Cocoy has become the symbol of the state of human rights in the region.

As a nation, we have made considerable victories in restoring social justice and punishing impunity. Already grassroots initiatives to defend human rights of ordinary Filipinos have bloomed into mass movements, there exists a broad-based consensus that the individual rights and freedom are paramount to maintaining a life with dignity. The momentum has been set for transforming the human rights landscape of the nation.

But with cases such as Cocoy’s, it is clear that today, the Filipino people need us to stand for the rights of individuals who have selflessly given their energies to ensure the rights and welfare of others.

Today I urge the members of this august chamber to stand by the rights of Cocoy Tulawie and the hundreds of human rights advocates who continue to languish in jail for their passion to defend the rights of ordinary Filipinos confronted with the extraordinary powers of families and local government leaders.

Let us stand up for Cocoy Tulawie’s right to a speedy and impartial trial. It is a right that is intrinsic to each and every Filipino’s existence, and if we in the legislature cannot stand up for a single Filipino, then we cannot claim to be champions of our constituents. Let us echo civil society’s call, the harassment should stop, and at no point during the trial should Cocoy’s life be put in danger, nor his rights as a human being be violated.

Likewise, I urge this august chamber to conduct an investigation into the state of human rights in Sulu and ensure the rights and welfare of our citizens. We must understand that such investigations may pave the way for the prosecution of the real perpetrators of human rights violations; we need to take the first step to end impunity.

Finally, we must join our voices with that of the human rights advocates across the nation and the globe and condemn this growing global trend of repression and the criminalization of the defenders of the poor, the marginalized, and the powerless.

Thank you.

Thank you to the following supporters who attended the session in Congress to listen to Prof. Walden Bello’s speech and to support the “Free Cocoy Tulawie” campaign:
Jonna Yapot, Women’s Initiative for Social Empowerment (WISE)
Joy Ramos, Alyansa ng mga Nagkakaisang Kabataang Mangagawa (AKMA-APL Youth SOCKSARGEN)
Michelle Bugayong, Alyansa ng mga Nagkakaisang Kabataang Mangagawa (AKMA-APL Youth SOCKSARGEN)
Rogelio Cordero, Marineers Association for Regional and International Networking Organization (MARINO)
Antonio Armilla, Poverty Livelihood Association – Kapatiran ng Maralitang Obrero (PLA-KAMAO)
Herbert Demos, SOCKSARGEN Workers Network – Alliance of Progressive Labor (SWN-APL)
Rodel Banares, APL Youth
Red Tulio, APL Youth
Ghem Labudahon, Workers Solidarity Network
Fatima Kabanag, SecGen KAMAO
Prof. Jukipli Wadi, Dean, UP Institute of Islamic Studies
For more info on Cocoy Tulawie’s case, please visit https://www.hrdefender.org or https://www.facebook.com/cocoy.tulawie

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[Press Release] Akbayan on the Paranaque Demolition -AKBAYAN

Akbayan on the Paranaque Demolition

Akbayan Party condemns the violent dispersal at Silverio compound, Paranaque which reportedly resulted in one dead and scores of protesters, media people and police personnel hurt. We call on all parties involved to exercise restraint to prevent the further escalation of violence in the area and to pave the way for a peaceful and amicable resolution of the issue.

We call on Philippine National Police Director Nicanor Bartolome to suspend and make accountable the policemen caught on television beating up, slapping and hitting an already handcuffed protester. The PNP must exercise maximum tolerance and uphold human rights at all times. There is no excuse for police brutality. The PNP must always display professionalism even in the most difficult situations.

We also call on the legitimate leaders of the protest to police their own ranks and appeal to their members to exercise self-restraint.

Likewise, we call on the Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation on the matter with the end view of rendering justice to all aggrieved, whether they are from the ranks of the informal settlers or the PNP.

Lastly, we reiterate our call to President Aquino to deliver on his promise of signing an executive order calling for a national moratorium on forced demolitions and to create a national framework for in-city, on-site relocation. The incident should serve as a reminder and wakeup call on the Aquino government to consider that demolitions such as what happened in Paranaque will escalate into violence unless a proper and humane program of relocation and housing is crafted to address the needs of the informal settlers. ###

Source: www.akbayan.org.ph

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[In the news] Group seeks probe of SC spokesman Midas Marquez – INQUIRER.net

Group seeks probe of SC spokesman Midas Marquez
By Jerome Aning, Kristine L. Alave, Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 28, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines—A party-list group has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez for abuse of power and corruption.

Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello, in a letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, accused Marquez of “moonlighting” as the unofficial defense counsel of his boss, Chief Justice Renato Corona, who is facing a Senate impeachment trial. He also mentioned Marquez’s participation in alleged irregularities in the World Bank (WB)-funded Judicial Reform Support Project (JSRP).

Marquez, reacting to the charges in a text message to reporters, said he was “ready to face an investigation” and had “nothing to hide.” But he added that he thought the request of Akbayan was “premature.”

Bello justified the complaint against Marquez, saying “to restore the integrity to the Supreme Court, it is imperative that we also make Corona’s henchmen accountable for their transgression,” Bello explained.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[Press Release] Akbayan vouches for HOR transparency

 “Akbayan has always been transparent especially with respect to ensuring the people’s access to our sworn statements of assets, liabilities and networth.”

That was the statement of Akbayan Party following the PCIJ report of House members’ alleged refusal to publicize their statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN), likening Congress to Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“While the PCIJ’s intention is laudable, the story gave the impression that members of the House are withholding the release of their SALN to the media,” Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello commented. “In fact, the problem stems from administrative bottlenecks in the process of disclosure of SALN to the public.”

Bello also explained that his office readily responds to requests for a copy of his SALN.

“All that our friends in PCIJ needed to do was to approach our office directly, and we would have gladly provided them a copy of our SALN,” Bello added.

For Bello, it should be clear that Congress has always been very public about the wealth of its members.

“Alam nating lahat na taun-taon, naglalabas ng listahan ng mga Kongresistang naka-rank ayon sa kanilang mga pag-aari,” Bello said. “This is the very big difference between Congress and the Supreme Court when the issue is transparency. The Supreme Court has a separate resolution that limits the people’s access to Justices’ SALN, which CJ Corona has exploited. In Congress, we have nothing to hide. In fact, we support the release of the detailed SALN and not just its summary.”

Bello also said that the Silip SALN bill Akbayan filed in August 2011 proposes various measures for the release of the detailed SALN, effectively overcoming the administrative bottlenecks in the process of disclosure.

“The problem that PCIJ has identified is not the submission and release of docs but the existence of administratiev bottlenecks in the process of disclosure. The story should have been clear on this,” Bello reiterated.

“What this bottleneck reveals is the need for Congress to proactively eliminate the roadblocks to people’s free and unimpeded access to information,” Bello concluded. “And especially in the issue of the people’s right to scrutinize the wealth of government officials, it is high time we work on passing the Silip SALN Bill.”


For Immediate Release
11 January, 2011

[From the web] All-out war will divert attention from war on corruption – Akbayan

Akbayan: All-out war will divert attention from war on corruption

Source: http://www.akbayan.org.ph/news/12-press-releases-press-releases/141-akbayan-all-out-war-will-divert-attention-from-war-on-corruption

Akbayan Party today branded the call for an all-out war in Mindanao as a distraction in the government’s “war against corruption”. The group made the statement even as it called on the public to exercise sobriety over the Basilan clash that resulted in the death of 19 soldiers.

According to Akbayan Spokesperson Risa Hontiveros, calls for an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will only serve to divert attention from the Aquino government’s current war on corruption.

“An all-out war strategy in Mindanao will only distract the public from its current war on corruption, something which we cannot afford at this juncture. Such a strategy is the perfect excuse for corrupt officials and plunderers, particularly those of the previous administration to drape themselves in the mantle of fake patriotism and whitewash their crimes,” Hontiveros said.

“If there is a war that the people must resolutely wage, it must be a war against corruption. We must not lose focus,” Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros who is also a long-time peace advocate added that should peace talks be scrapped in favor of an all-out war, government spending would be diverted from more important social spending and services.

“We have to be mindful of the fact that during the Estrada presidency a similar all-out war strategy was implemented. However, peace was not realized. Millions of pesos were wasted, huge casualties on both sides, and thousands of civilians suffered. We’re still dealing with the same MILF the government unsuccessfully fought with an all-out war strategy more than ten years ago,” Hontiveros said.

Akbayan also urged the military to shy away from rumors of a coup plot against the Aquino government.

“It is obvious that some groups are agitating the military to take the path of war. These are the same groups trying to split the military by spreading rumors of a coup against President Aquino. It is understandable that many of our soldiers are emotional over the issue. However, our soldiers must see this obvious plot to derail the peace process and drive a wedge between the military and the Aquino government. They must not fall for this devious ploy,” according to Hontiveros.

Hontiveros also added that with the Basilan incident the necessity of the peace talks becomes more apparent.

According to Hontiveros, justice must be brought to those responsible for the deaths of 19 soldiers.  She said the peace process is one of the best avenues to bring justice to the victims of the Basilan incident.

“Hustisya para sa mga nasawi sa Basilan at kapayapaan sa buong Mindanao,” Hontiveros stressed. ###

[Press Release] Farmers to PNoy: CARPER completion not termination

MANILA, October 18, 2011 – Farmers’ groups today hit the President for lack of leadership and clear signal that demonstrate his determination to complete and implement agrarian reform.

Protests came after PNoy failed to mention asset reform in his keynote address at the National Anti-poverty Commission’s Sectoral Assembly yesterday.

“Ang agrarian reform ay bunga ng pagbubuwis ng buhay ng mga magsasaka. Ito ang iniwang legacy ng kanyang ina sa mahihirap” (Agrarian reform is the fruit of sacrifices of the farmers. This is his mother’s legacy to the poor) said Evangeline Mendoza, president of PESANTE, whose members are currently holding barricade in a Yulo Estate in Canlubang Laguna.  PESANTE is pitted against the Yulos and the Ayala Land, Inc.  The latter’s real estate and luxury home projects have displaced thousands of farming families in the area.

Talks about the looming CARPER termination started swirling when a presidential executive order instructing DAR to downsize its personnel came to the attention of civil societies and agrarian reform advocates early this year.

“Agrarian reform cannot and should not end by 2014 because there are still a lot of pending cases that have run for 40 years now, like that of hacienda Yulo.  Agrarian reform is one of the most effective mechanisms to stem rebellion in the countryside.  We don’t want to take up arms because it is not the solution to our problem, but still, a lot of farmers are now losing hope because of the way this government has treated us,” she said.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, National Director of CBCP-NASSA attributed the problem to the president’s conspicuous silence on agrarian reform.  “The poor performance of DAR in land acquisition and distribution reflects the absence of clear signal and support of the President for agrarian reform,” he said.  Pabillo questioned DAR’s lackadaisical performance in land distribution which only figured to 140,000 hectares as opposed to 200,000 hectare-target of DAR for 2011.  “The same was true for 2010 when DAR only managed to distribute 107,000 hectares out of it 200,000 annual target,” he added.

Atty. Christian Monsod, a known agrarian advocate, said that DAR needs to accomplish 440,000 hectares by end 2012 and 300,000 hectares a year in 2012 and 2014 to keep up with its backlogs and finish the 1.1 M hectares of land that remains undistributed.   Monsod, who co-convenes the Sulong CARPER coalition with Pabillo, also raised issue about the budget.  He disclosed that contrary to CARPER law, the government only provided about P55 billion for the first three years of CARPER (including 2012) as against a requirement of P90 billion or a shortfall of about P35 billion.

Congress interpretation

“There is prevailing misconception in Congress that agrarian reform will be terminated by 2014,” said Rep. Kaka Bag-ao of AKBAYAN partylist.  “But constitutional mandate will not end by 2014.  Only the budget will expire, not the program.  In other words, all the other components, like resolution of agrarian disputes, provision of support services as well as the distribution of lands with notices of coverage, will go beyond 2014,” she added.,.

Bag-ao was among those who helped draft the CARPER bill and lobbied for its passage.  She reiterated the need for DAR to provide support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries.  “At the moment, government has failed in giving sufficient support to farmers. DA cannot assume the responsibility since their credit scheme is not socialized and therefore way beyond the capacity of small peasants to repay,” she lamented.
“Doomed to failure”

Monsod said that the president’s lack of political will has triggered wide-ranging demoralization in DAR.  “DAR is seeking the leadership of the President.  Without that, CARPER is doomed to fail.  The local DAR is demoralized. If agrarian reform will be terminated in 2014, they are already looking for other jobs and fearful of being sued by landowners whose cases they handled.”

Monsod said this was the time for the president to show leadership to avert social and political unrest.  “EDSA is now 25 years behind us but the state of inequalities is still the same.  Unless government intervenes, the poor will always be left behind,” he said.  Pabillo meanwhile pointed out PNoy’s huge role in improving the morale of the DAR personnel and fast tracking the implementation of CARPER.  “DAR and DA are under him. He also has many allies in Congress.  He can finish agrarian reform by 2014 if he only displays political will for it,” he said.

Restlessness in the countryside

“The President is currently enjoying a positive trust rating. But instead of basking in his popularity, he should put his positive ratings to good use by attending to the concerns of landless farmers and other victims of human rights violations.  He should not be complacent because history will be his unforgiving judge,” warned Pabillo.

Mendoza intimated that disappointment with the government has pushed some farmers’ groups to contemplate insurgency.  “We don’t see this as recourse, but we cannot also blame some of them,” she said.

Farmer-leader Elidelyn Paclibar of Task Force Mapalad said that PNoy should heed his “bosses”, referring to Aquino’s famous line Kayo ang Boss ko!  She warned that farmers will not stand by and allow the government to kill the program.  “Kaming magsasaka, sanay sa hirap, sanay magtaya ng buhay,” (We, farmers, are used to hardships. We are used to sacrificing our lives) Paclibar ominously added.

Alberto Jaime, president of TFM that has membership extending to Mindanao, warned, “huwag nyang hayaang humawak kami ng baril.” (He should not wait for us to take up arms).  #

[Press Release] Akbayan Confronts Secretary Almendras over DOE’s Commitment to Coal

Akbayan  Confronts Secretary Almendras over DOE’s Commitment to Coal

A sharp exchange between Akbayan Representative Walden Bello and Department of Energy Secretary Rene Almendras marked a pre-plenary budget hearing on Sept. 7.

DOE Still behind Aboitiz Coal-fired Plant

The bone of contention was the administration’s position on coal-fired power plants.  Bello asked Almendras if the DOE was still supporting the construction of a coal-powered energy plant by the Aboitiz group of companies in Subic given what he characterized as the “overwhelming rejection of the proposed Aboitiz coal-powered plant by the citizens of Subic, Olongapo, and Zambales.”  Almendras did not answer the question directly but pointed to what he alleged was a need for additional base load generation capability due to an impending electricity shortfall in Luzon of 600MW in 2013 and 2014, and 700MW in 2015.
Coal, the energy secretary continued, was currently the cheapest energy option.

Bello countered that the DOE was myopic in considering only financial cost and ignoring the well-known negative environmental impacts of coal, which not only has damaging effects on the environment and public health but is also worse than oil in terms of its contribution to global warming.

“Coal is dirty,” said Bello, “and the costs in terms of environmental degradation and the toll on public health will outweigh the alleged financial benefits.”

Push for Coal Undermines Renewable Energy Act

Moreover, the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 (RA 9513), according to Bello, “mandates the government to move from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.”  The reliance on coal-powered plants that the DOE is promoting is undermining the law, said the Akbayan congressman.The Renewable Energy Act seeks to improve the exploration and development of solar, biomass, wind, hydro, geothermal, tidal and other renewable sources of energy.

Almendras denied, however, that the push for coal in the short term was moving the country away from the intent of the Renewable Energy Act.  He said that in renewable energy sources now make up over 55 per cent of the total energy mix.  “I think the Renewable Energy Act is a good law,” said the DOE Secretary, claiming that there are now “implementable renewable energy technologies.”

Bello countered by asking the secretary to provide him with a detailed program showing how the DOE was moving the country’s energy mix from fossil fuels to renewables.

Bello Questions Almendras’ Loyalties

At one point, Bello brought up the DOE secretary’s previous employment with Aboitiz corporate group, the main promoter of the coal option in the country.

“How can we be sure that your previous association with Aboitiz is not affecting your decisions?,” asked Bello.

Almendras denied being influenced by Aboitiz, saying his decisions were guided solely by the “national interest.”

Bello said, however, that his question regarding Almendras’ loyalties was a “legitimate” one:  “I have to make this question explicit with all administration appointees who come from the private sector.  I did the same thing with Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gary Domingo, asking him if his opposition to workers’ security of tenure might not be related to his having been executive director of SM Investments, one of the worst abusers of contractualization.”

Disciplining the Oil Giants

Earlier in the hearing, the Akbayan representative also said the constant changes in the price of oil were tormenting consumers and making it very difficult for consumers and industries to doing any planning.  “While consumers and industries suffer, the oil giants are making tremendous profits,” Bello asserted.

Almendras agreed, saying that, despite volatile price of oil, the big three oil companies, Petron, Shell, and Caltex, have maintained profit margins between 1-3% over the last couple of years, and have “never been in the red” except in 2008.

This prompted Bello to ask whether or not the DOE considers price controls.  Almendras said that while the DOE preferred to deal with the oil problem via subsidies to the consumer, he was open to changes in the Oil Deregulation Law that Congress might deem fit to make.

According to Bello, if genuine, the Energy secretary’s commitments to such reforms “will be instrumental in crafting Philippine energy policies that will be beneficial for ordinary Filipino consumers rather than the energy giants.”###

Sabrina Laya S. Gacad
Senior Legislative and Media Officer
Office of Hon. WALDEN F. BELLO
AKBAYAN Party-list Representative
House of Representatives
Quezon City, Philippines