Tag Archives: FDC

[Statement] No to unbridled land reclamation in the Manila Bay and other areas of the country -FDC

FDC Statement on Reclamation
March 26, 2019

No to unbridled land reclamation in the
Manila Bay and other areas of the country

We, at the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), are alarmed at the massive land reclamation projects being hatched by some government officials and business personalities. The total coastal area being programmed for land reclamation is reported to be 38,000 hectares, more than half of which cover a large swathe of the Manila Bay. This has dire environmental and socio-economic implications for the country.

The environmental arguments raised by the scientists against these reclamation projects such as land subsidence and liquefaction are being ignored by the proponents of massive sea reclamation. These reclamation projects put Metro Manila in a precarious situation. Reclamation deepens the vulnerability of the metropolis, which has been sinking, to risks such as sea surges, tsunamis, sea rise and city-wide flooding associated with the global warming phenomenon. The metropolis also faces a life-threatening catastrophe should a major earthquake hit Metro Manila because the “cemented” land mass built on fragile foundations and the “cemented” bridges connecting the old and new lands are simply no match to the shaking of the earth’s ground.

Furthermore, reclamation, especially a massive one as contemplated by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), subverts the biodiversity and the rich marine life within and along the Manila Bay area. The livelihoods of thousands of families dependent on fishing are directly affected. The historic Manila Bay sunrise, sunset, and horizon shall also become history.

Also, where will the reclamation developers get the materials to fill up or empty the sea? The 38,000 hectares of reclaimed sea space means an equivalent 38,000 hectares of rock, sand, gravel and other materials dug up or extracted from the country’s already fragile hilly and mountainous areas. In short, reclamation, as massive as the one outlined by the PRA, threatens the forest lands and the watersheds of the country’s hinterlands. Hills and mountains shall be disemboweled. Like the urban poor and fisherfolks in the targeted coastal areas, the forest dwellers and the indigenous peoples in the targeted sources of materials shall be affected. The point is that the adverse environmental impact of reclamation spans the whole value chain of a country’s watershed, from the forest ridges above all the way down to the coastal reefs below.

Overall, the projected job gains in the reclamation projects cannot compensate for the job losses in the fishery sector, the adverse environmental impact of the reclamation processes in the reclaimed areas and in the areas where the materials are sourced, and the geological and other environmental hazards that the land reclamation program is spawning.

Unbridled reclamation also deepens social and economic inequality in the country. It is not the local government units (LGUs) who finance and undertake the reclamation projects. These are the big corporations, which are able to hoard and commercialize the reclaimed land, converting them as casinos, condominiums, malls, entertainment complexes and other business projects catering to the well-heeled and middle-class Filipinos. The urban poor and fisherfolk families affected by the reclamation projects are simply “relocated”, usually in parts unknown or in areas still to be determined at later stages of any reclamation project. Their livelihoods and their housing and community needs are not on top of any reclamation development agenda. The whole process clearly smacks of grave social and economic injustice.

Meantime, host LGUs become indebted and dependent on the big corporate reclamation proponents. Corporate real estate development projects become the cornerstone of LGU development programming. A people-centered community-based in-situ economic development programming, as envisioned by the Constitution and the Local Autonomy Code, is either ignored or set aside. The responsibility of the LGUs to address the more urgent challenges of urban renewal and inner-city re-development, including coastal community development, is somehow forgotten, as the peso earnings from corporate-sponsored reclamation are projected as the LGUs’ major accomplishments. Cities are being built around the commodified reclaimed real estate lands, not on the welfare needs of the ordinary citizens, especially of the urban poor.

Are there job-rich development alternatives for the LGUs? There are, but city executives and planners have to adjust their development lenses. Manila Bay, for example, can be transformed into a major eco-educational-tourism project that can attract millions once the Bay is fully cleaned up, dredged and rehabilitated. The coastal fishing communities along the Bay can also be transformed into modern and sustainable communities if the communities are treated as partners in building up fishery-related industries, cooperative social enterprises and a whole slew of community redevelopment programs. The question that should be raised to the LGUs and their city planners: Para saan ba kayo: sa tao o sa ilan lang malalaking korporasyon?

In closing, we, at the Freedom from Debt Coalition, stand four-square behind the proposal of Representative Rose Marie Arenas for a total ban on any further reclamation project in the whole Manila Bay area. We demand an immediate halt to all these reclamation projects. There should be a rigorous and transparent government-citizen consultation on other reclamation projects in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

We are for the full ecological rehabilitation and restoration of the natural beauty of Manila Bay, not its devastation through unbridled reclamation.

(Contact: Rene E. Ofreneo,
President – FDC
reneofreneo@gmail.com)

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[Press Release] Debt watchdog warns against signing Kaliwa Dam loan -FDC

Debt watchdog warns against signing Kaliwa Dam loan

The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) warned the Duterte administration not to push through with plans to sign the bilateral loan agreement to fund the controversial Kaliwa Dam project during the coming visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping.

‘It is fairly obvious that proponents of the Kaliwa dam see Xi Jinping’s visit as an excuse to railroad the project so it can be added to the list of agreements that the Chinese eader will be signing with Pres. Duterte. We fear that in the rush to get the project signed, the legitimate concerns of key stakeholders including indigenous peoples, LGUs and local communities are being ignored,“ FDC president Rene Ofreneo said.

The FDC warned against the proposed loan agreement itself citing attached conditionalities and “patently unfavorable“ terms.

“Apart from the obvious fact that the loan will add to the country’s P7.043 trillon debt, we are concerned about the specific loan terms and conditions. Even though the loan agreement has yet to be signed for example, the Chinese have already demanded, and the Duterte government has agreed, to limit project bidders to Chinese firms only. This type of “tied aid“ often ends up benefiting the creditor country more than the country going into debt.“

“Even more worrisome, if we go by some of the Chinese loan contracts already signed such as the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the loan terms are significantly less favorable at 2% interest with a maturity of 20 years than, for example, a comparable loan from Japan which has interests rates ranging from 0.25% to 0.75%. At a time when our debt is ballooning due to factors such as the depreciating peso, doesn’t it make sense to exercise more fiscal responsibility by going for the most favorable loan terms available? The current General Approprations Act actually contains a provision for an audit of 20 loans that FDC identified as illegitimate. Let us not add another one to that list,“Ofreneo said.

P12.2-billion Kaliwa Dam project is designed as a dam with a 600 million-liter per day (MLD) capacity, as well as a raw water conveyance tunnel with a 2,400 MLD capacity, aimed at relieving Metro Manila’s dependence on the aging Angat dam..

‘The Kaliwa Dam, one of several dams proposed within the Sierra Madre area has long been opposed by the people because of its potential environmental, social and economic impacts. For one, the dam will be built within one of the country’s key biodiversity areas, the Sierra Madre, where preparatory activities for the dam’s construction has already caused damage including the destruction of several hundred trees. Further damage to both flora and fauna is expected once the project begins in earnest. The project needs to secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate, which has yet to be issued,“ Ofreneo added.

“In addition, the project falls within the ancestral domain of indigenous groups, particularly the Dumagat-Remontados, for which the proponent, the MWSS, needs to secure Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as mandated by Indigenous Peoples Rights Act or RA 8173. As far as we know, this key step has not been complied with yet,“Ofreneo said.

12 November 2018
Contact Person: Zeena Manglinong: 0917 330 5384

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[From the web] Rebalancing privatization: Keeping public services public -by Rene Ofreneo

Rebalancing privatization: Keeping public services public
by Rene Ofreneo

The approval by the House of Representatives of House Bill 7437 prohibiting the privatization of government hospitals is a welcome development. As explained by the bill’s principal author, Angelina Tan, public health institutions “should remain public and should continue to serve the poor.” There are more than enough private hospitals to cater to the needs of the rich.

If government hospitals are privatized, the poor’s access to health service shall be subject to the profit requirements of the big private hospital operators. Such a development shall also erode the capacity of the national government to implement the Universal Health Care program, whose success depends on the existence nationwide of health facilities providing accessible and affordable health service to the poor.

Lito Atienza, one of the bill’s sponsors, also warned that, unchecked, private interests buying government hospitals are likely to transform the lands where these government hospitals stand into commercial and real-estate projects. As it is, most of the idle prime land in the urban areas have already been acquired by the country’s big land developers, usually for “land banking” purposes.

In the opening of classes this June, it was revealed that a major headache of the Department of Education and the local government units is where to build the new school buildings because there are no available lands in the city and town centers. In fact, cities and urban areas are growing without any spaces not only for schools and hospitals but also for trees and parks.

But what is the point of this article?

The policy proposal to stop the privatization of government hospitals should be widened into a critical assessment of privatization as a general policy tool in the development of various infrastructure projects and in the delivery of government services, especially basic public services.

Such an inquiry should be informed by the rethinking on privatization sweeping Europe and North America. This rethinking is reflected in the “re-municipalization” and “renationalization” of privatized energy, electricity, water, transport, housing, telecommunications, waste treatment, health, education and other basic services that have taken place in the United Kingdom, hailed as the birthplace of privatization (courtesy of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s), Germany, France and other European countries. Per a recent study by the Netherlands-based TNI, there are at least 835 remunicipalization and 49 renationalization cases.

Most of these re-municipalization and renationalization programs happened due to the combined or united efforts of civil society organizations (of various political persuasions, from left to right) and local government authorities, who are exasperated over the rising cost of services under the profit framework of the private companies and the failure of these companies to meet other expected public gains from privatization, such as improved productivity, environmental care, reduced public debt, efficient service and community wellness. Goods that were once considered public goods, such as education and water, have been commodified and commercialized. As the TNI reported, the first and foremost objective of any investors taking over control of public services is to make a profit for their shareholders.

One outcome from the wave of re-municipalization and renationalization hitting Europe and even North America is the decline of public-private partnerships as a government instrument in generating new investments and in the delivery of basic public services. Ironically, this is not the case in the Philippines, where PPP is hailed as the chief mechanism in making the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte Administration work.

https://businessmirror.com.ph/rebalancing-privatization-keeping-public-services-public/

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[Statement] Litany of Suffering under Duterte -FDC

Litany of Suffering under Duterte

Photo by FDC

The Freedom from Debt Coalition, together with Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Sentro, Katarungan, Piglas Kababaihan, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Kilusan at Ugnayan ng Maralitang Pasigueno (Kumpas), WomanHealth Philippines, Sustainability and Participation through Education and Lifelong Learning (SPELL), Block Marcos, and In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend), decries the litany of suffering of ordinary Filipinos under the Duterte Administration.

Barely two years in office, President Duterte has already brought change into the country, except that the change he brings is causing immense suffering to the poor and working class. Prices of basic commodities, such as rice, have risen, thanks to his pro-business and anti-poor and worker policies, such as the new Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, which burdens the poor with higher consumption taxes.

However, the pro-poor and pro-worker policies he promised during his 2016 campaign, such as bringing an end to contractualization, have yet to be realized. Duterte has made good his promises to the business community with his Dutertenomics, but not to the 1.3 million contractual employees who continue to suffer from unjust working arrangements.

But the gravest sins of Duterte are not just his broken promises to ordinary Filipinos, but also his collaboration with the rich and powerful to protect their interests, persecute activists, militants and the opposition, and put the country in a state of impunity, all at the expense of the poor and working class who not only receive limited social services and protection from government, but also have to endure the threat of state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings, and the government-induced nightmare that is Dengvaxia.

Many of the poor and working class who voted Duterte into Malacanang were deceived into believing that Duterte could bring an end to poverty, just as he could bring an end to contractualization. What they didn’t know then and would soon discover later is that Duterte’s Ambisyon 2040, which envisions the eradication of poverty by 2040, is in reality a neoliberal roadmap borne on their backs, and fueled by their blood, sweat and tears.

As the rich get richer with state support, the poor get more miserable by the day with Duterte’s blessings. How can they not when Duterte clearly has no interest in listening to the cries of the people? Democratic space is all but shrinking, and power is concentrated more and more in the hands of a few, all of which are Duterte’s allies and supporters who benefit from the state of impunity the president created.

Ending our litany of ills requires our solidarity to forge a new path for our nation. We call on fellow Filipinos to keep the fight in holding President Duterte and his government accountable in creating a state of justice instead of impunity, in ensuring that the state is beyond the influence of the rich and powerful, and in empowering the poor and working class to steer our nation towards a just and equitable future. # # #

27 March 2018

_____
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Philippines is a nationwide multi-sectoral, non-sectarian and pluralist coalition conducting policy advocacy work and campaigns to realize a common framework and agenda for economic development. FDC’s three-year program starting this 2018 can be classified into three major broad themes: (1) debt, fiscal and tax justice policies and programs; (2) reversing privatization and neoliberal policies, and reclaiming the commons; and (3) advancing alternatives.

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[Statement] No To Legalized Impunity Through a Fraudulent Martial Law! -FDC/Palag Na!

No To Legalized Impunity Through a Fraudulent Martial Law!
Justice and Solidarity for the Bangsamoro People and Other Victims of State Repression!

Despite questionable constitutional grounds and fraudulent claims of gory crimes committed by the so-called Maute “terrorist group”, the Supreme Court recently upheld, by an overwhelming majority, President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in entire Mindanao.
Proclamation No. 216, which put the whole of Mindanao under martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, was signed by the President last May 23 while he was in Russia, thousands of miles away from Marawi City, which was alleged to be one of the key strongholds of Maute and other extremist groups.

Since then, the Filipinos have witnessed heartbreaking sights and sounds of death, pillage and destruction as government troops flushed out their targets through close quarter firefights and aerial bombings of densely populated and civilian sections of Marawi City to implement their Commander In Chief’s brutal command to “kill, kill, kill”.

To date, UN reports say that 350,000 residents, predominantly Bangsamoro civilians, were forcibly displaced, and scattered in evacuation centers and houses of their friends and relatives. The evacuees are homeless, hungry and left to suffer deprivation and indignities as helpless victims of the brutal impacts of martial law. Scores of unarmed and defenseless civilians, including children and the elderly, have reportedly died, while hundreds more suffer more from various ailments, hunger, trauma and mental distress.

According to news reports, over 400 people including soldiers, Maute group members, and civilians have been killed in the Marawi siege. As casualties mount, President Duterte has promised to protect and take care of the orphaned families of his troops. Meanwhile, nothing was mentioned for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and other victimized civilians in terms of compensation and reparation for the loss and damage that they suffered, and without clear prospects for their return to their beloved city to rebuild their battered lives and communities.

The government estimates that at least P10 billion is needed to rebuild Marawi City, with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank announcing the availability of fresh loans packaged as “assistance”. In truth, these are new debts to further burden us, the people and taxpayers, as we are expected to bear the economic, social and political costs and consequences of the Duterte administration’s Martial Law and war, and the imperatives of rebuilding from the ruins.

We therefore stand in solidarity with the Bangsamoro and other civilian victims of the Marawi siege and those who suffer from the impact of the government’s Martial Law. The Supreme Court decision bodes ill-tidings for our democratic and human rights. This decision not only exonerates the Duterte regime from accountability on its alleged abuses and violations of human rights and the rule of law. The Supreme Court’s landmark stand, legalizes impunity in our land.

Now, nothing can stop this government from declaring Martial Law over the rest of the country by simply claiming the same fraudulent and unconstitutional grounds as was done in Marawi. Nothing can stop this regime from sending its troops to waylay entire cities and its planes to indiscriminately bomb targets, notwithstanding the presence of civilians, and from forcibly displacing millions as their communities are turned into ghost towns. Nothing can stop this regime from forcing us, taxpayers, to bankroll its brutal campaigns of death and destruction, and the huge cost of rebuilding from the ruins of its self-created war.

When wholesale injustice and state repression become the norm and the rule of the day, people’s resistance is not only justified. It is becomes a matter of patriotic duty.

July 5, 2017
Freedom from Debt Coalition
PALAG NA!

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[Press Release] A Comprehensive Audit, Not Selective Rejection of Aid -FDC

A Comprehensive Audit, Not Selective Rejection of Aid

MANILA, Philippines—A comprehensive audit of public debt and related policies is what the Filipinos need, not an impulsive and selective rejection of development aid from a critic of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, debt watchdog Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said in a press release on Tuesday.

“The President’s recent decision to reject EU aid with conditionalities interfering with the Philippines’ internal affairs and the huge loans from China and other lenders for the administration’s ambitious infrastructure program should sound a sense of urgency for Congress to examine whether public debt, the government’s borrowing policies and institutional arrangements on debt management are serving the interest of the people,” said Sammy Gamboa, FDC Secretary-General.

Gamboa added that the Duterte government is already on the right track with the approval in the 2017 General Appropriations Act of a provision for an audit of 20 national government foreign loans being challenged by FDC as fraudulent.

FDC’s initial research found that the 20 loans were marred by corruption, bloated budgets, violations of legal procedures, lack or insufficient public consultations and used as lender’s conditionality for privatization of essential services such as power and water.

“The findings of a comprehensive audit will provide the basis for the steps that the government can take to address loans that do not benefit the Filipino people, particularly those deemed to have facilitated the lenders’ agenda in the country’s affairs through debt conditionalities,” Gamboa said.

Section 95 of the 2017 GAA mandates the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Official Development Assistance Law (COCODA) to implement the audit on the 20 loans, many of which came from the Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the World Bank.

However, FDC laments that COCODA has not reconvened yet. Almost half of the year has passed but the House Panel, led by the Chairperson of the Committee on Ways and Means, has not even been reconstituted.

“The President’s rejection of EU aid and active solicitation of borrowed capital from other lenders affirm the immediate need for a comprehensive audit to determine the legitimacy of existing and new loans and whether these should be rejected, cancelled or even repudiated,” said Gamboa. ###

PRESS RELEASE
23 May 2017

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[Job announcement] FDC is looking for Communications and Media Officer/Staff

FDC is looking for staff that would passionately pursue its peoples agenda. FDC is in need of:

FDC1. Communications and Media Officer/Staff

FDC offers competitive compensation. For more information on FDC’s work, kindly visit http://www.fdc.ph.
Please send your applications (CV and cover letter clarifying how you meet the job requirements, by email or fax addressed to the FDC Secretary General, on or before November 1, 2016. Please use the email addresses : anabelj_fdc@yahoo.com.ph , anabelajulian@gmail.com ) FDC’s fax number is: (+632)924.6399.

New graduates or graduating students with experiences in the social movements are also encouraged to apply, but will be considered applicants for the entry-level positions.

A.  Communications and Media Officer /Staff

Responsibilities:

1.  FDC Liaison to the Media – Establishes, develops and maintains relations with members of the Media (print, radio and TV). Gathers  and constantly updates pertinent information and database on the media  contacts and linkages  in the media industry.

2. Ensures regular and timely circulation of FDC materials, information and position to media network, nationwide.

3. Works with the Advocacy and Campaign program staff in preparing press statements and press releases; Organizes press conferences.

4. Works with advocacy and campaign staff to provide FDC officers  briefs and materials for their media interviews and appearances, and press conferences.

5. Monitors over-all media coverage of FDC.

6.    Prepares assessments, proposals and reports on FDC’s media work.

7.   Manages the posting of information and materials at the FDC website and works  with the website manager for the maintenance of the website

8.    Schedules/books FDC Officers and other spokesperson for  radio interviews

9.    Sets up systems and develops FDC’s capability for efficient and effective media work.

10.   Writes and edits FDC media material including feature articles, opinion pieces and  analytical materials.

11.   Facilitates video documentation,  and lay outing of publications.

12.   Ensures  accomplishment of  other related tasks as may be assigned by the Secretary General.

Qualifications:

1.      Possess demonstrable capacity, skills and experiences in  writing for media, media liaison work, social media, lay-out and publishing, multimedia production of campaign materials and  a good grasp of the media requirements of  mass campaigns and advocacies.

2.      A background in the social movements.

3.  A considerable experience in public campaigns, advocacy and research, with knowledge and understanding of debt and public finance, at the  minimum.

4. Background and experiences in the various aspects of program work and management (ie., assessment, design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, reporting and fund resource management)

5. Major in journalism, mass communication and preferably with an academic background in economics, public administration, or banking and finance.

6. Strong commitment to and affinity with gender equity.

7. Planning and very good communication (written and verbal) skills.

8. Strong personal initiative and self-motivation, with ability to work well in a team and   independently.

9. Strong work ethics and discipline, and results-oriented

10.  Problem solver.

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[Statement] Freedom from Debt Coalition Statement On the bloody dispersal of farmers asking for El Niño aid in Mindanao

Freedom from Debt Coalition Statement
On the bloody dispersal of farmers asking for El Niño aid in Mindanao

FDCThe Freedom from Debt Coalition strongly condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the murder of  an innocent protester and the wounding of several more at the barricade line on the Cotabato-Davao Highway allegedly at the hands of members of the Philippine National Police.

The despicable act, perpetrated on unarmed civilians by police officers bearing high-caliber weapons is utterly inexcusable.

The barricade was clearly a peaceful protest action, set up by around 6,000 farmers and lumad from several towns in Cotabato to demand immediate relief from the drought that had ravaged the province since November last year.

The killing is even more abhorrent given that the protesters had put up the blockade merely to demand government support to stave off the near-famine conditions brought about by the El Nino-induced drought. They had braved the scorching summer sun, hoping the government that had failed to prepare for a calamity that had been predicted two years before would finally sense the urgency of the crisis. Instead, they were told to leave or face the government’s wrath. Soon after, the shooting started, leaving over a dozen casualties in its wake.

It is a grave indictment of the prevailing system when the poor and hungry who exercise their legitimate, constitutionally-guaranteed right to demand government aid are instead met with bullets from the very people entrusted with keeping them safe.

We must not let this pass. There must be an immediate and thorough accounting. The ground commander and all PNP personnel who participated in the dispersal must be relieved of their duties pending independent investigations. The local government officials, particularly Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista who reportedly at the site when the violence erupted must face sanctions. All involved must be brought to justice.

But beyond the police officers and local authorities, P-Noy and his administration must also be held accountable for exacerbating the disastrous impact of El Niño with their equally disastrous handling of preparedness and response efforts. The state’s own meteorological agency, PAGASA had warned of the coming El Niño as early as March 2014. Ultimately, it was the negligence and lack of urgency evident in the slow roll-out of El Niño mitigation measures that set the stage for the tragedy that played out on the road between Cotabato and Davao.

It will be no less of a tragedy if they are allowed to escape responsibility for the calamity that their callousness and ineptitude has brought upon the nation.

 

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[From the web] FDC – Aquino Gov’t Surpasses Arroyo as Biggest Debtor; Urges Voters to Rise Up Against Debt, Poverty and Inequality

FDC – Aquino Gov’t Surpasses Arroyo as Biggest Debtor;
Urges Voters to Rise Up Against Debt, Poverty and Inequality

FDCMANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III not only failed to curb the country’s poverty and debt burden. He turned out to be the biggest loan addict, and a total failure in addressing the Philippines’ entrapment in a cycle of debt dependence. The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), in a press conference with selected election candidates on Friday, said that President Aquino has even eclipsed former President Gloria Arroyo as the biggest borrower among Philippine leaders, over a full term, from 1986 to present.

The group revealed that President Aquino will leave his successor with P6.4 trillion of national government outstanding debt, P4.16 trillion of which are borrowings made during his term. Divided among the projected 103 million population, each Filipino now owes a sum of P62,235.26 plus P4,251 in government-guaranteed debts.

According to  Prof. Ed Tadem, FDC President, this unresolved debt problem has resulted in the government’s failure to meet its obligations to the people, or social debt as a percentage of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). FDC said that President Aquino’s social debt in education and health alone already amounts to P7 trillion.

“Philippine leaders since 1986 have merely continued this dependence on debt and non-prioritization of the welfare of the people because of blind adherence to prescriptions of country and multilateral lenders. It is time for us, the voters, to rise up and stage an electoral insurgency against debt and its role in perpetuating poverty and inequality,” Prof. Tadem said.

FDC’s call for electoral insurgency focuses on demands for the repeal of the automatic appropriations for debt servicing, repeal of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, tax and fiscal justice to ensure priority government spending for the people’s needs and welfare, climate justice, and housing and essential public services.

Dr. Walden Bello, an independent Senatorial candidate who resigned as a lawmaker in protest of President Aquino’s double standards, said that it is criminal that debt payments get the first cut in the national budget before appropriations are made for social and economic services.

“This vicious cycle of debt and ballooning social debt will continue as long as the government resorts to new borrowings to pay for old loans, including those tainted with fraud and corruption, and with the existence of the law on automatic appropriations for debt servicing,” said Dr. Bello, speaking as a guest in FDC’s press conference.

FDC said that for 30 years, from 1986 to 2015, the continued implementation of the policy on automatic appropriations for debt servicing has resulted in an average of 27.21 percent of annual public revenues automatically earmarked for interest payments, while principal amortization has eaten up an average of 67.61 percent of government’s new borrowings.

PRESS RELEASE
19 February 2016

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[Statement] Congress Must Override Aquino’s Veto, Ensure Living Pension for Retirees -FDC

Congress Must Override Aquino’s Veto, Ensure Living Pension for Retirees

FDCThe Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) joins the aggrieved 2.15 million pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS) in urging the Philippine Congress to override President Aquino’s veto and proceed to enact the law granting a PhP2,000 across-the-board increase in monthly pension. Further, FDC recommends that our lawmakers take this issue a step higher and immediately review the SSS social insurance scheme because clearly, this fails to protect members at old age. Not even with the P2,000 hike.

Paying attention to the financial security of retirees is long overdue. Beyond question, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure this. Aquino should be shaken out of his habit of rejecting proposals entailing public subsidies even if these would improve the lot of millions of Filipinos. Take the individual income tax cuts bills languishing in Congress, for example. And now the SSS pension increase.

Aquino complains of lacking funds for the pension increase, yet, there is roughly P510 billion that his administration failed to spend from 2011 to 2014. At the worst case of having no other alternative solution in sight, it would be enough to cover the additional expense for the P2,000 boost for the next nine to 10 years given the current SSS profit rate of 14 percent. Only then would the much feared drawing from the SSS Investment Reserve Fund (IRF) begin, and even then, the funds would last up to 2039-2040. This is not too far from the current longevity estimate of 2042 without the proposed hike. And even if it expires by 2042, won’t the government be able to replenish it via appropriation? Won’t SSS be able to raise premiums as workers’ income increases and collection rate improves?

Surely the government will find ways of providing for its citizens in the same way this administration has been finding ways of granting sovereign guarantees to corporations. FDC has been lambasting the numerous incentives given to private investors that have been causing billions of pesos in forgone revenues, unjust increases in the cost of water, electricity and transportation services, and swelling of government’s guaranteed debts. This year, contingent liabilities arising from the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme will be equivalent to 5.8 percent of the GDP or P915 billion. Still, the administration seems to be railroading the passage of the PPP bill which would entrench billions of pesos of annual appropriation for the Contingent Liability Fund or Risk Management Fund or public subsidy for risks and liabilities of private corporations.

While we are at it, why didn’t the Aquino government subsidize the SSS IRF when it has been too quick to do the same for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) using money from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)? Aquino gave BSP P30 billion for its recapitalization fund in 2014 when BSP willingly lent $1 billion of our money as bailout fund for failing European bankers via the International Monetary Fund’s Financial Transaction Plan!

Clearly, the president’s rejection of the pension increase is another shameless display of this administration’s double standards and misplaced priorities. It is already a disgrace that mere crumbs are thrown to the pensioners. Depriving them is an outrage! The only reasonable step for Congress to take is to override Aquino’s veto and move toward ensuring that the country’s social security system would live up to its name.

PRESS STATEMENT
1 February 2016

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[Press Release] Activists stage “pabasa” to denounce people’s suffering under P-Noy -FDC

Activists stage “pabasa” to denounce people’s suffering under P-Noy

Photo by FDC

Photo by FDC

Activists belonging to the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and the multisectoral campaign Palag Na! staged their own version of the traditional pabasa near the gates of Malacanang today to denounce the suffering caused by the “arrogant, insensitive and incompetent” administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III.

FDC

“Since the start of the year, we have been hit with the MRT-LRT fare hike as well as multiple rate hikes for water and electricity. To make matters worse, the nation suffered collective trauma with the tragic deaths of 67 people, including 44 Special Action Force troopers in Mamasapano,” Erwin Puhawan, Officer-in-Charge of FDC said.

“As the nation takes a break to reflect on the suffering of Christ, we must also call attention to the string of suffering that the P-Noy administration, through its arrogance and ill-conceived policies, has brought upon our people,” Puhawan added.

FDC explained that the “Pasyon ng 2015” highlights the many difficulties ordinary Filipinos have had to face under Aquino.

“The P-Noy government cannot say it had nothing to do with the rising cost of mass transport, electricity and water because these are a direct result of their perpetuation of private sector-led policies in these sectors. In the same way, P-Noy cannot pass the buck with respect to Mamasapano as both the Senate and PNP Board of inquiry reports have identified him as ultimately responsible,” Puhawan argued.

The protesters included a man dressed up as Pontius Pilate, representing Pres. Aquino’s naked attempts to wash his hands of the tragic Mamasapano raid.

“Despite the mounting evidence pointing to his culpability in the tragic operation, P-Noy continues to insist on his innocence, instead pointing to underlings who either lied to him or disobeyed his direct orders. But if he thinks he is off the hook, he should think again. As the recent Pulse Asia survey showed, nearly 4 out of five Filipinos (79%) were not satisfied with his attempts to explain away his role in the tragedy, proving the old adage that “You can’t fool all of the people, all of the time,” Puhawan said.

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[Press Release] Right to water advocates storm MWSS office -FDC

Right to water advocates storm MWSS office

Water consumers from urban poor communities and indigenous peoples leaders held a protest in front of the office of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System office today to denounce its role in water privatization and to call on government to turn its back on water privatization policies.

FDC

“It is because of privatization of water services which government implemented under the guidance and full financial technical backing of international financial institutions led by the World Bank that the Philippines now has the fifth highest water rates among major cities in the Asia-Pacific. It is also because our water is privatized that the water rate cuts of P1.46 per cubic meter for Maynilad and P7.24 per cubic meter for Manila Water which the MWSS Regulatory Office imposed last year remains unimplemented until now,” Samuel Gamboa, Secretary-General of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said.

The protesters demanded the immediate implementation of the water rate reduction saying there is no legal impediment which prevents the MWSS-RO from doing so especially considering it will benefit millions of consumers.

“The failure of the MWSS to implement the Regulatory Office’s decision has deprived Metro Manila consumers of what would have been welcome relief from high water tariffs charged by Manila Water and Maynilad. It is shameful that the MWSS, instead of standing by their own decision which came after a thorough audit, has been parroting the water companies’ argument that the rate cuts cannot be imposed while arbitration is ongoing,”Gamboa added.

According to FDC, government’s is going full-steam with water sector privatization with PPP projects for bulk water supply in Bulacan worth P24.4 billion and the Kaliwa dam project under the New Centennial Water Source Supply Project woth P18.72 billion, and expansion of private sector investment outside of Metro Manila.

“The Kaliwa dam project which will be implemented under the PPP scheme further highlights the current administration’s emphasis on private sector investments in the water sector. In its eagerness to entice corporations to invest in the NCWSSP, the Aquino administration is running roughshod over indigenous peoples rights and environmental concerns. Why else would they invite investors to bid for the project when they know that the indigenous peoples in the area have not given their Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as required under Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act,” Gamboa revealed.

Indigenous groups from the dam site travelled all the way from General Nakar in Quezon province to express their objection to the planned Kaliwa dam.

“We join people from other parts of the world who are taking part in an international week of action expose the truth behind World Bank marketing of key water privatization
successes.

Our own experience with water privatization has thoroughly exposed this lie. In the 17 years since Metro Manila’s water service was privatized, water rates for Manila’s East and West zones have skyrocketed by 800 percent and 1,000 percent respectively. We call on government to turn its back on privatization and focus on polices that will help in the realization of the human right to water,” Gamboa said.

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[Statement] Isulong ang Karapatang Pantao, Bagong Pulitika, Bagong Ekonomiya, Bagong Sistema -FDC/PAHRA/KonTRAPOrk

Pahayag sa Okasyon ng 2014 State of the Nation Address (SONA) ni Presidente Benigno Aquin0 III.

Isulong ang Karapatang Pantao, Bagong Pulitika, Bagong Ekonomiya, Bagong Sistema
Bulok at Huwad ang “Tuwid na Daan”

SONA 2014. Photo by FDC

SONA 2014. Photo by FDC

Muling nagigising ang buong bayan samapanlinlang na panunungkulan ng gobyernong Aquino. Bulok at huwad ang “Tuwid na Daan.”Bigo ang masang Pilipinong makaahon mula sa gutom at kahirapan.Mula kay Cory na nangako ng tunay na demokrasya pagkabagsak ng diktadura,walang natupad sa mga pangako ng lahat ng mga administrasyong umupo sa Malacañang.Nananatiling pangarap ang pagtatamo ng kaginhawaan at katarungang panlipunan na nagtutulak sa mamamayan upang paigtingin ang pakikibaka para sa tunay na pagbabago sa pulitika, ekonomiya at sistemang panlipunan.

Ang Pangulong Noynoy (PNoy) na mismo ang sumira sa kanyang “Social Contract” sa taumbayan. Nabugok ang pangakong mabilis na pagpapatupad ng hustisya, trabaho para sa lahat at mga serbisyong panlipunan na magpapalaya sa madla mula sa kahirapan at inekwalidad. Umaalingasaw ngayon ang gobyerno sa iskandalo ng pangungulimbat at pandarambong sa pera ng bayan at pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan. Nitong huli, sa deklarasyon nitong ilegal ang Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) ni Aquino at Abad, ang Korte Suprema na ang naglantad sa tunay na anyo ng administrasyong Aquino bilang bulok, abusado, elitista at trapo.

Walang makabuluhang reporma at kaginhawaang natamo ang sambayanan sa ilalim ng gobyernong Aquino. Pinapasasaan ng iilan ang ekonomiya, bagsak ang mga sektor ng agrikultura at industriya, kakaunti ang mapagkukunan ng trabaho at kabuhayan, palpak ang reporma sa agraryo, laganap ang kagutuman at kahirapan, matindi ang inekwalidad, tumitingkad ang imperyalistang panghihimasok sa bansa, patuloy ang karahasan at paglabag sa karapatangpantao, lumalala ang pagkasira ng kalikasanat krisis sa klima. Ang epekto ng lahat ng ito ay lalong pinabigat ng malawakan at iskandalosong pandarambong sa pera ng bayan dulot ng grabeng katiwalian sa lahat ng antas ng pamahalaan.

Itinuloy ang Mapang-aping Neoliberal naKalakaran, Ekonomiya’yPinapakinabangan ng Iilan,
Karapatang Pantao ay Tinatamaan

Patuloy naibinukas ng administrasyong Aquino ang ekonomiya ng bansa sa kontrol ng mga dambuhalang korporasyon na ang pangunahing layunin ay pagkakitaan ng husto ang pagbebenta ng mga produkto at serbisyo sa mamamayan. Limampu’t pito (57) pang proyekto ang nakasalang sa programang Public-Private Partnership at kasama rito ang sektor ng serbisyo sa tubig, kuryente at transportasyon. Kaya, lumalago raw ang ekonomiyapero abot-langitang presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin at serbisyo sa tubig, kuryente, kalusugan, edukasyon at pampublikong transportasyon. Samantala, sagad-lupa ang sweldo at laganap ang kontraktwalisasyon at kawalan ng trabaho.At dahil nakaasa sa mga malalaking pribadong korporasyon, hanggang ngayon ay hindi naglalaan si PNoy ng sapat na pondo para sa mga pinsala sa buhay at kabuhayan ng mamamayang biktima ng mga kalamidad na tulad ng superbagyong Yolanda.

Sa halip na paunlarin ang sektor ng industriya at agrikultura na pangunahing nagpapa-usbong ng bago o dagdag na yaman at trabaho, tila umaasa na lang ang administrasyong Aquino sa pagdagsa ng mga call centers, sa bilyun-bilyong dolyar na padala ng mga Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) at sa paulit-ulit na pangungutang upangtakpan ang kakapusan nito sa pera para sa taunang pambansang budget.Kaya, mula 2010 hanggang 2013, lumobo ng 20.41 porsyento at umabot sa P7.5 trilyon ang utang ng Pilipinas. Ang perang inutang, kasama ang buwis ng mamamayan, bukod sa ipinambayad sa mga dating utang na hindi napakinabangan ng bayan, ay ginamit pang pangsuhol at ninakaw ng mga tiwaling opisyaltulad ng nangyari sa pamamagitan ng DAP at ni Napoles.Kakarampot at tira-tirang pondo ang napupunta para sa mga serbisyong panlipunan at pang-ekonomiya. Nitong huli, sa halip na manindigan ang administrasyong Aquino na kanselahin ang napakabigat na utang ng Pilipinas para sana ibuhos ang pampublikong pondo para sa rehabilitasyon ng mga sinalanta ni Yolanda, nangutang itong muli ng halos US$ 2 bilyon para sa mga proyektong hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa nakikita ng mga biktima ng superbagyo.

Sinasalamin ng mga opisyal na datos ang mapait na katotohanang hinaharap ng mga mamamayan:

• Lugmok ang sektor ng agrikultura dahil sa kawalan ng suporta mula sa gobyerno. Ang kalagayang ito ay lalong pinalalala ng ampaw na pagpapatupad ng repormang agraryo at kawalan ng prayoridad sa pagpapatupad ng mga proyektong pang-adaptasyon sa tumitinding epekto ng pagbabago ng klima (climate change). Nitong 2013, tinamo ng sektor ng agrikultura ang tinatayang 74 porsyento ng kabuoang pinsalang idinulot ng mga kalamidad. Mahigit 600,000 ektaryang sakahan ang nasirasapananalasa lang ng bagyong Yolanda. Hindi langkabuhayan ng mga magsasaka ang nawawasak, nanganganib din ang seguridad sa pagkain ng mamamayan.

• Tinatayang dalawa (2) sa bawat sampung mag-anak o 30 milyong katao ang mahirap batay sa sukatan ng gobyerno na kinakailangan ng P16,841 taunang sahod para matustusan ng pamilya ang mga pangangailangan nito (poverty threshold). Napakababa na ng sukatang ito. Iginigiit ng Partido ng Manggagawa na kailangan ngayon ang P1,200 arawang sweldo para mabuhay ng sapat at may dignidad ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino. Samantala, walang trabaho ang apat (4) sa bawat 10 Pilipinong kabilang sa lakas-paggawa at mahigit pitong (7) milyon ang underemployed. Umabot na sa 2.2 milyon noong 2012 ang nakipagsapalaran sa labas ng bansa, na nadagdagan pa ng 157,681 OFW mula Enero hanggang Marso nitong taon.

• Papatindi ang inekwalidad sa ating lipunan. Napunta ang 60 porsyentong paglago sa ekonomiya noong 2013 sa iilang pamilyang bumubuo ng 15 porsyento ng buong populasyon ng Pilipinas. Kumikita ang mayayamang pamilyang ito ng mahigit sa 10 beses ng halaga ng poverty threshold.

• Nananatiling lubhang mababa sa itinakdangpandaigdigang pamantayan ang pondong inilalaan para sa edukasyon at serbisyong pangkalusugan (6 porsyento ng GNP dapat para sa edukasyon at 5 porsyento ng GDP para sa kalusugan).Kaya,nanatiling 60 porsyento lamang ng kababayan natin ang nakakatapos sa mataas na paaralan at mahigit 50 porsyento ng gastos sa serbisyong pangkalusugan ay nanggagaling sa bulsa ng mamamayan.

• Itinuloy at pinalawak pa ni PNoy ang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino (4Ps o CCT) ni Arroyo upang diumano’y makatapos sa mataas na paaralan ang mga batang kasama sa programang ito. Maliban sainutang ang pondo para rito, nagtipid na naman ang gobyerno sa halip na magtakda ng porsyento mula sa GDP na sasapat para palakasin ang kapasidad ng mamamayan na makaahon sa kahirapan. Wala rin garantiyang makakahanap ng trabaho at matatag nakabuhayan ang mga pamilyang umaasa rito.

Hindi lang karapatan sa buhay na may dignidad ang nilalabag ng administrasyong Aquino, laganap pa rin ang pagyurak sa karapatang sibil at pulitikal.

• Tatlong taong pinaghirapan ng mga organisasyong nagtataguyod ng karapatang pantao ang National Human Rights Action Plan ngunit ibinasura ito ng pamahalaanat hindi sinuportahan ng Commission on Human Rights.
• Naipasa ang batas naAnti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance noong 2012 ngunit umaabot na sa 27 ang desaparecidos sa panahon ni PNoy.
• Naipasa angAnti-Torture Law noong 2010 ngunit patuloy ang mga insidente nito. Sa kalahatian pa lamang ng taong 2014 , 40 na ang torure cases sa Region IV pa lamang kasama ang 26 na biktima ng “Wheel of Torture” sa Laguna
• Mayroong batas para sa kumpensasyon ng mga biktima ng Martial Law ni Marcos ngunit ang itinalaga sa pamunuan ng Compensation Board ay isang heneral mula sa kapulisan at wala ring suporta ang gobyerno para sa pag-aasikaso ng mga kaso at dokumentasyon ng mga biktima.
• Hindibababa sa 10 ang mga Human Rights Defenders na nagtataguyod sa yaman ng kalikasan kasama na ang lumalaban sa malawakan at mapanirang pagmimina ang pinatay, kasama dito ang mga katutubo at mga misyonaryo ng simbahan

Mga Proyekto at Planong Itinago sa Publiko

Una, palihim na pumasok sa negosasyon at pinirmahan ang Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) na nagbigay ng legal na permiso para sa itayo sa buong Pilipinasang base militar ng mga Amerikano. Ito ay taliwas sa nakasaad sa Saligang Batas/Konstitusyon na nagbabawal sa pananatili sa bansa ng mga banyagang tropang militar at sa pagdadala at paggamit dito ng kanilang mga armas o sandatang pangdigma at nukleyar.

Ikalawa, walang kamalay-malay ang publiko at maging ang Kongreso sa Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) na naglipat ng budgetng bayan mula sa dapat nitong alokasyon papunta sa ibang proyektong piniling pondohan ni PNoy, kasama na ang sinasabing isinuhol sa mga Kongresista para patalsikin ang dating punong mahistrado ng Korte Suprema.

Sa parehong pagkakataon, walang naganap na konsultasyon sa publiko kahit ang mga isyung ito ay may kinalaman sa pangkalahatang interes ng mamamayan. Maliwanag angpanloloko at pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan.Ano pa kaya ang mabahong bombang itinatago ng administrasyong Aquino na bigla na lamang sasambulat sa kaawa-kaawang masang Pilipino?

Tama na, Sobra na ang Apat na Taong Huwad na “Tuwid na Daan”

Gumigising na ang mamamayan mula sa mahabang panahong panloloko ng mga ilusyong ibinenta ng mahusay na propaganda ni PNoy. Bistado na ang mga kasinungalingan at buladas. Sapat na ang apat na taong pagtitimpi, paninimbang at pag-asa sa mapagkunwaring ginintuang itlog ng “pagbabago.” Penoy pala, bugok at huwad.

Tuluyan nang iwaksi ang mga ilusyon. Panahon na ng pagbangon, pagkilos at pakikipagtuos. Walang maasahang manunubos kundi ang sama-samang pagkilos ng mamamayan upang muling angkinin angkatarungan, kalayaan at kaginhawaan para sa lahat.

Isulong ang bagong pulitika, bagong ekonomiya, bagong sistema!
Itakwil ang elitista, tiwali at trapong Gobyernong Aquino!
28 Hulyo 2014

Para sa Ugnayan: Don Pangan, Media Liaison Coordinator, +63932 872 6168

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[Press Release] Group demand justice for Yolanda victims and survivors -FDC

Group demand justice for Yolanda victims and survivors:
“Tatlong buwan na, wala paring hustisya!”
Stop corporate takeover of reconstruction programs

Activists marched to Mendiola, today—on the third monthsary after Yolanda ravaged almost 44 provinces of the country, in behalf of more than 14-million victims and survivors who up to now are still waiting for the government’s help.

FDC

The group led by Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), questioned the strategy of the government to leave it to “development partners” from the private sector to reconstruct the devastated areas.

Sammy Gamboa, OIC-Secretary-General of FDC said: “This plan draw serious concerns about disaster capitalism in these target areas—big corporations and investors cashing in on the Yolanda calamity to make profits—and often at the expense of the victims’ and survivors’ rights and welfare. This Lacson framework and proposal, many civil society groups fear, signal the government’s gradual abandonment of its primary state obligation to lead and ensure the people’s right to a rights-based and people-centered recovery and reconstruction of their communities and lives.”

More than 150 people marched with a map of the typhoon-hit regions and laid out the logos of the corporations that will manage the reconstruction of homes, clinics, schools and livelihoods of the area through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

It cannot be helped though to ask what the real intentions of these corporations and investors are. ATM specifically questions the assignment of mineral-rich Guiuan, Eastern Samar to the Zamora’s Nickel Asia Corporation. “Nickel Asia and the other conglomerates may actually have the means to help in rebuilding of affected areas but they also have different interests—which for Nickel Asia is likely to maximize the power given them and exploit their role as development partners to extract the mineral resources available in the area,” Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM said.

Lydia Ligahon of Bulig Visayas and Secretary-General of FDC–Eastern Visayas (Samar and Leyte) exclaimed: “Kami ang dinelubyo, baket di kami kasama sa pagbubuo ng plano para sa aming mga bayan! Para kanino ba ito?”(We are the victims; why are we not included in the planning process? Who are the real beneficiaries?)

PMCJ National Coordinator Gerry Arances further added: “We call on the people of Samar, Leyte, and other devastated areas in the Visayas, as well as supporters, to demand to the government that instead of giving the lead of the reconstruction plans to the private sector, it should be the government with the people – instead of Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), it should be Public-People-Partnership.”

“Only by putting the people at the center of any reconstruction program can we ensure that it would serve the interest of the people in building peoples and communities’ resiliency to climate change, sustainable livelihoods, and renewable energy systems, among others, and not for profit.”

The groups further demand the government to conduct a series of national and local consultation on how the affected communities will recover and rise above the recent disaster.

For more information:
Don Pangan, Media Officer—FDC, <donpangan@gmail.com> 0932-8767256

Press Release
February 8, 2014

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[In the news] Group wants all ERC commissioners out for allowing Meralco power hike -GMAnews

Group wants all ERC commissioners out for allowing Meralco power hike.
January 25, 2014, GMA News

The Freedom from Debt Coalition on Saturday demanded the resignation of all commissioners of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for allegedly failing to protect consumers from a P4.15-per-kilowatt-hour imposed by the Manila Electric Co.

In a statement, FDC said the ERC needs a total revamp, with people of “probity, integrity, and competence” replacing its current crop of commissioners.

gmanewsonline

Despite the blanket call for resignations, FDC singled out ERC Chairperson Zenaida Ducut for refusing to resign despite allegedly showing “showing no concern” for Filipino families and the effects of high electricity rates on the country’s economy.

Read full article @www.gmanetwork.com

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[Resources] Debt Snapshot by FDC

Debt Snapshot by FDC

DEBT

 

FDC

Click to read more Debt

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[Statement] On the Mindanao Power Drama to privatize Agus-Pulangi, increase power rates and introduce dirty energy-sourced electricity -FDC

On the Mindanao Power Drama to privatize Agus-Pulangi,
increase power rates and introduce dirty energy-sourced electricity

FDC Position Paper
April 13, 2012

Mr. President, the Mindanao power supply issue has grabbed the media limelight and has spurred public discussions over the past few weeks. Technical issues and business concerns have received more than ample coverage in these exchanges. There is little about what really concerns the consumers who in Mindanao are now threatened with possible power rate increases which have been experienced in Luzon and the Visayas and whose population still includes a big segment who had been without electricity their entire lives. Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) in this position paper takes up the concerns and the interests of the consumers as consumers and also as citizens advocating for changes in the power industry that will serve our homegrown industries and agriculture and overall human development.

Mr. President, the highly flawed policy framework of EPIRA is the problem behind the Mindanao power supply issue. This law is designed for big business interests, not for public service. Before EPIRA was passed, the former National Power Corporation was responsible for generating electricity as well as developing power transmission lines. But EPIRA in effect removed this fundamental role of the State. What EPIRA did was to pave the way for private investors to come in and chart the course of generating electric power in our country. This law also gave the control and management of a major pillar of the industry – our national power transmission lines to a foreign State corporation– State Grid of China with Henry Sy’s SM Holdings Corporations as its partner.

In short, the matter of developing electric power supply and management has been left at the mercy of the private sector, an oligopoly of a few big, long-entrenched family/corporate interests.

What exactly is the Mindanao power supply problem?

The following provisions pertain to specific mandates of the law in relation to ensuring security of supply of electricity;

Chapter III, Section (37) letter (d) states that the DOE “Ensure the reliability, quality and security of supply of electric power”.

Chapter V, Section (47) letter (j) declares “NPC may generate and sell electricity only from the undisposed generating assets and IPP contracts of PSALM Corp. and shall not incur any new obligations to purchase power through bilateral contracts with generation companies or other suppliers”.

Chapter VIII, General Provision Section (71) Electric Power Crisis Provision – Upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve.

All of the provisions related to security of power supply we cited above did not work.

After ten years under EPIRA of providing the few big corporate firms practically every incentive to shield them from major business risks and allowing them to practice market abuse, these big corporate interests hardly contributed to increasing the already existing power generation capacity in the country. The DOE simply surrendered its mandate to private initiative. Through cross-ownership of generation and distribution components of the industry and high-level rent-seeking practices, these elites managed to impose high electricity rates – now the highest in Asia and extract massive super-profits at the expense of our consuming public, our industries, and other small distribution units like the rural electric cooperatives.

Since 2009, the supply shortage has been repeatedly felt every summer and yet, the DOE continuously ignore the need to develop additional capacity for baseload and peaking plants.

Why? One, instead of rehabilitating Agus-Pulangi, it was allowed to deteriorate. These power plants were never harnessed to full capacity and developed further, and the main resource of these two great rivers, the Lake Lanao, was never nurtured.
Two, while DOE claims that they put up coal power projects in anticipation of eventual shortages, such coal power plants takes 3 years before they become fully operationalized. These projects cannot be an iimmediate solution for this period. More importantly, they are not climate-friendly alternative solutions.

Third, NPC power barges are continuously privatized, leaving the government without reserve capacity to deploy in times of need.

Ultimately, in order to entice private investors to come in, scenarios of power shortage are bound to appear and can be hyped to pave the way for further increasing electric power rates and consequently, big corporate profits. According to some legislators and proponents of EPIRA, the comparatively low generation cost in Mindanao is not a competitive price and therefore there is a need to increase its generation costs. In September 2010, the total average production cost of Agus-Pulangi (per kwh/excluding depreciation) is only P0.2134 as compared to Iligan Diesel Power plant amounting to P7.7910 and Power barges 104 is PP7.3367.

A study made by the University of the Philippines, National Engineering Center last July 2011 shows the gaps between DOE’splanning and management of power generation and and private sector delivery in terms of increasing power supply.
“A gap exists between the generation capacity planning of the DOE and the commitment of the private sector to build power plants. Commitments did not translate into actual installed capacity according to the projected timelines and commissioning year. The DOE has reverted to a deterministic approach for capacity planning that is largely deficient instead of the probabilistic approach that is widely used worldwide. Supply security is further placed at risk by the reliance on a single resource at the grid level and the indexation of the price of domestic natural gas and geothermal steam to the international price of oil and coal, respectively that exposes much of power generation to the volatility of the international price of these two energy resources”. This was presented during the National Pre Power Summit last June 25 to 26 organized by FDC.

Clearly, Mr. President, the problem can be rooted in the law, EPIRA, in policy direction, and the quality of planning and management.

Our proposal and recommendations are the following:

Immediate solutions
1. Provide all stakeholders the results of the actual technical audit of all declared generating capacity in Mindanao in order to guide the public about the real status of the base-load requirements, mid-range and peaking capacity. Likewise, establish a critical review and validation of the actual demand during this period to immediately match the supply and demand.
2. Dispatch and optimize operating capabilities of all units as well as the status of the on-grid transmission lines to verify the level of its efficiency in order to maximize the available and dispatch supply on the grid.
3. Immediately improve and rehabilitate the Agus-Pulangi Hydro Units. There are indications that vested cartels are positioning themselves to corner a huge share of the electricity market by allowing the intentional decay of said power plants to pave the way for private sector take over and the introduction of highly polluting fossil fueled power plants that will also virtually guarantee long-term high electricity prices, since contracts will remain pegged to the volatile oil market and the ever increasing international price of coal.
• 3.1 Implement required equipment repairs, rehabilitation and uprating
• 3.2 Dredge identified location
• 3.3 Implement watershed reforestation and development projects (sustained water flow)
4. Provide a clear program for the demand-side management for all consumer class to manage the demand and supply
5. Stop the NPC privatization of assets

Medium-term approaches

1. Completion of the Balo-i Flood Control Project,
2. Address the technical problem of Agus-7,
3. Facilitate the utilization of all embedded generators of Commercial and Industrial establishments via a mutually acceptable mechanism
4. The government must facilitate the development of; Agus-3; 240MW, Pulangi-5; 300MW and Bulanog-Batang; 150MW.
Long Term solutions
1. Conduct a review of EPIRA towards overhauling the law
2. Conduct a democratic and participatory planning and demand-side management to come up with a Mindanao Energy Plan in 20 to 30 year plan using the framework that signals the transition to clean energy.
2.1 Implement Mindanao-wide integrated resource assessment
2.2 Implement socialized feed-in tariffs immediately to encourage more RE investments and make sure that these are carried out in a more equitable and just manner, consistent with the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities: those who emit more, must pay more for the transition to clean energy

3. Encourage embedded mini-hydro project among the Distribution utilities
4. Develop Renewable energy sources to be led by the government instead of over reliance on private investors
5. Consider Solar Energy in Homes/Offices

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[In the news] NGO seeks Congress intervention in PSALM rate hike plea -InterAksyon.com

NGO seeks Congress intervention in PSALM rate hike plea
InterAksyon.com
February 9, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The liabilities of the agency tasked to bring down the debt of state-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor) has ballooned from P807.8 billion when it was created in 2001 to nearly P1 trillion last year, according to non-government Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).

In a statement, FDC said the surge in its debt shows that Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), which was created under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), failed to address the fiscal difficulties of Napocor.

At end-2011, the government owed P915.19 billion, with PSALM accounting for P767.08-billion or 83.8 percent, broken down into P 744.63 billion worth of outstanding liabilities and P22.45 billion in contingent liabilities. This was despite Napocor’s sale of 25 out of 31 power plants, as well as the privatization of the power grid operations under National Transmission Corp. (TransCo).

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[Photo blog] Pay Your Climate Debt, Climate Justice Now!- Life in a box

Pay Your Climate Debt, Climate Justice Now!– Life in a box
by Rommel Yamzon

Climate change impacts are already affecting people and the planet. The biggest impacts will be on the lives and livelihoods of the poor countries.  The culprits are the rich and the developed countries including the United States. Transnational corporations are “exerting undue influence” on the political process in these key nations to delay international action on climate change.

The production and use of fossil fuel is at the heart of the problem –particularly the emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas. The World Bank continues its fossil fuel financing binge, evading environmental standards and worsening poverty and pollution.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Philippine Movement on Climate Justice (PMCJ) and Jubilee South-Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD), headed a protest rally on Friday November 25, 2011, demanding the US to make a deep and drastic emissions cuts as a step towards a real climate solution. They also condemned America’s type of bullying to governments of south countries in pushing its agenda to make the World Bank the permanent trustee of the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

See more photos @ rommelyamzon.blogspot.com

[Event] PROTEST at US Embassy Activists to demand climate justice, reparations from the United States, other major polluters

PROTEST at US Embassy
Activists to demand climate justice, reparations
from the United States, other major polluters
24 November 2011, Thursday, 2:00 PM
US Embassy, Roxas Blvd., Manila

Assembly at 12:00 NN, Liwasang Bonifacio
Route: Liwasang Bonifacio to Taft Ave. to TM Kalaw

Days before the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) and the 7th Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP7) in Durban, South Africa, around 800 climate justice activists are expected to participate in a protest action on Thursday against the world’s major polluters, particularly the United States and the 40 other developed countries that are listed in the Annex I of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Led by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), and Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD), the protest is part of the November 20-26 “Week of Global Actions for Climate Justice,” a collective effort of more than 100 international, regional and national organizations from North America, Europe, South America, Africa and Asia and the Pacific.

Milo Tanchuling, PMCJ lead convenor and FDC secretary-general, said the Philippines and other poor countries are the least responsible for the climate crisis, yet they suffer its worst effects and are deprived of the means to respond. This, in essence, is where activists around the world demanding climate justice is coming from.

In a statement recently released, entitled “Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice,” more than 100 organizations listed five major demands from all governments, especially the Annex I parties, as part of a broader struggle to achieve climate justice, reparations for climate debt and a profound global transformation.

According to the statement, if the international negotiations are to mean anything, all governments must deliver outcomes that will:

1. Prevent catastrophic climate change and ensure just and fair sharing of drastic emission reductions. Limit temperature rise to well below 1.5º C and bring it down to 1º C as fast as possible. Rich industrialized countries to fulfil their existing legally binding commitments and undertake drastic emissions cuts without offsets in line with their fair share of the global carbon budget that takes into account historical per capita emissions. Offsets and other loopholes must be removed. The US must commit to comparable targets, based on its historical responsibility;

2. Stop false solutions. Stop the implementation and pursuit of false solutions such as carbon trading, market-based approaches to forests, soil and water, large-scale geo-engineering and techno-fixes, nuclear energy, mega hydro dams, agro-fuels, and clean coal;

3. Ensure adequate and appropriate finance on the basis of countries’ responsibility for climate debt and obligation to make reparations to all affected peoples. Rich, industrialized countries to cover the full costs of enabling peoples of developing countries and other affected communities to deal with the impacts of climate change (including past, present and future losses), as well as the costs of enabling developing countries to shift to equitable, post carbon sustainable systems. Climate finance must not be in the form of debt-creating instruments and should be channelled through a democratic and accountable global fund that is independent of other international financial institutions and upholds the principles of direct access and country-determined, participatory decisions on the use of funds;

4. Ensure appropriate technology transfers without intellectual property barriers. Developed countries must ensure free sharing of safe, appropriate and ecologically and socially sound technologies; and,

5. Advance the transformation to Equitable, Democratic Post Carbon Systems. Take decisive steps towards the profound transformation of the system based on equity, science and the rights of peoples to live well in harmony with and respect for Mother Earth. Transform social and economic structures and technologies and re-orient policies to move away from profit-driven, growth oriented, high-carbon, elite-dominated exploitative systems and instead ensure a just transition to people-driven, equitable, democratic, post-carbon sustainable development. -30-

MEDIA ADVISORY
23 November 2011

Contact persons:
Milo Tanchuling, FDC Secretary-General, +63.920.901.8711
Bobby Diciembre, FDC Media Officer, +63.920.905.9856

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), and Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD) invite you to cover

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