Tag Archives: House of Representatives

[In the news] House OKs bill criminalizing catcalling, street harassment -RAPPLER.com

House OKs bill criminalizing catcalling, street harassment

The House of Representatives approved on Monday, January 14, a bill that would punish catcalling and other forms of street harassment.

Legislators approved on 3rd and final reading House Bill (HB) 8794 or the “Safe Street, Public and Online Spaces Act” with a vote of 208-0-0. (READ: The many faces of sexual harassment in PH)

The bill seeks to tag as “crimes” different forms of gender-based street, public spaces, and online sexual harassment, which are committed “through any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person that result or will likely result [to] an invasion of the victim’s sense of personal safety, regardless of the motive for committing such action or remarks.”

The Senate already approved its version of the measure in October 2018, which means the bill will now go to the bicameral conference committee so lawmakers can reconcile conflicting provisions of their versions.

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[Statement] Explanataion of No-Vote to extension of Martial Law -Rep. Teddy B. Baguilat

Explanataion of No-Vote to extension of Martial Law -Rep. Teddy B. Baguilat

Photo from House of Representatives

I vote against the extension and expansion of Martial Law in Mindanao. The reason is simple. Because extending Martial Law makes us violators of the Constitution that we swore to uphold.

The criteria for the extension of the period of martial law are clear in the Constitution. First, that an invasion or rebellion persists. Second, that public safety requires the extension.

To say that either of these conditions exists is to say that the administration is lying to the Filipino people. It is to concede that the government is not in control, and the civilian government no longer functions effectively. These are clearly not the case.

While it may be the perception that many Mindanaoans want Martial Law to continue — a disputable presumption that has not even been empirically established – there are times when the correct choice is the unpopular or politically untenable option, simply because it is the legal thing to do and the right thing to do.

With the siege in Marawi over, and the government clearly in command, there is simply no Constitutional basis to extend Martial Law. There will always be threats to peace and order, but the Executive branch already has a wide array of deterrents short of Martial Law to foil these threats. All it takes are intelligence and compassion, attributes that, we are told, are not lacking in the administration.

The challenge now is to rebuild Marawi and restore normalcy to the lives of our fellow Filipinos there. We need to mobilize social services and civil works; we need to bring in teachers and doctors. Martial Law hardly seems the proper response.

To my colleagues in Congress, the Constitution has set specifications for the extension of Martial Law. Those specifications are absent in Mindanao. We cannot demean our offices more than we already have by inventing grounds where none exist. If we do, then we give an undeserved meaning to the term “Lower House”.

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[Statement] We are all for a just BBL! We are all for a just Peace! -IID

We are all for a just BBL! We are all for a just Peace!

Photo by IID

Photo by IID

We are now at a critical moment for peacemaking in Mindanao and the whole country.

On Monday, May 11, the members of the Ad-Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives will cast their votes on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL. Their votes will determine the fate, success or failure, not just of the proposed law but the future of a just peace, genuine progress and social justice in our country.

IID

On the same day, we members of civil society and solidarity movements, people’s organizations, women, youth, professionals, peace loving citizens, Christians, Muslims, of other faith communities and other sectors will march hand in hand to the House of Representatives, with a hope to witness the dusk of the decades-old conflict in Mindanao and the dawn of a new order where all the peoples of this nation will finally live in the haven of peace, genuine progress and harmony. Call it a dream but it is one dream we desperately hope to turn into a reality.

May 11 will be beyond just joining a big rally. It will be a massive Citizens Action for the Bangsamoro. For those of us who have witnessed the cruelty of war in Mindanao, for the bakwits who perennially leave their homes just to avoid being caught in the crossfires and for all the innocent victims of this long-drawn war in Mindanao – May 11 is an opportunity for all of us to show our sturdy unity to achieve genuine peace. History is now offering us a golden opportunity to rectify the injustices committed not just against the Bangsamoro but for all the oppressed peoples of our nation. Are we going to shun this once in a lifetime opportunity or grab and savor it like there’s no tomorrow? We choose the latter and we hope our lawmakers will showcase the same wisdom on May 11.

We are for the passage of the BBL in the spirit and principles of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that was inked between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 27, 2014. For us, passing a BBL not within the CAB framework is like providing the Bangsamoro people with a house without a roof and plates without food. A watered-down BBL will not address the legitimate concerns of the peoples of Mindanao but will simply aggravate the already desperate situation of peace in the south. The CAB recognizes the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and prosperity and allow for a meaningful self-governance.

It is impossible for us to find a viable formula for peace in Mindanao if we will base our judgement on biases and prejudices against the Moros and Muslims. If the House of Representatives and the Senate will pass the BBL, it should be on the premise of recognizing that the Bangsamoro, the indigenous peoples and other oppressed peoples of Mindanao have legitimate claims and therefore have the right to determine their own political future.

Thus, we from the Initiatives for International Dialogue, Friends of the Bangsamoro and All-Out Peace re-affirm our commitment to help see through the conclusion of the peace process and call on Congress to pass a just and inclusive BBL as we cannot afford any more delay. Yes, the BBL may not be perfect, but it embodies the democratic assertions and genuine aspirations of the Bangsamoro for their inherent right to self–determination.

So on Monday, we will witness the Citizens Action on the Bangsamoro.

Bangsamoro Para sa Bayan, Para sa Lahat! May the force and spirit of peace be with us on May 11.

PRESS STATEMENT
08 MAY 2015

Issued by: Friends of the Bangsamoro, All-Out-Peace and Initiatives for International Dialogue in a press-conference held in Quezon City.
For inquiries: Gani Abunda 0998-9251786 or 435-2900; 911-0205

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[Press Release] Farmers expect pols’ promise to be fulfilled Coco trust fund law sought in Congress -KM 71

Farmers expect pols’ promise to be fulfilled
Coco trust fund law sought in Congress  

At the Agriculture committee hearing in the House of Representatives, members of Kilus Magniniyog followed up on a singular promise made by politicians during the tail end of their march from Davao to Manila – pass the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund Bill into law.

kilus magninyog

KM 71, the group of Kilus Magniniyog’s 71 coconut farmer-marchers who, without let up, trekked for 71 days for the P71 billion coco levy funds declared by the Supreme Court to be rightfully theirs thru a partial entry of judgement last week is ready to slug it out today in the House of Representatives and demand what is rightfully theirs.

The group’s lead convenor Eduardo ‘Ka Ed’ Mora recalls that during their meeting with House Members last 25 November 2014,  Speaker Feliciano ‘Sonny’ Belmonte himself said that “they want the best for the beneficiaries in the coconut industry.”  The Speaker likewise summoned several House Members who will be key in passing the proposed measure who engaged the coconut farmers in a frank exchange of the coconut industry and farmers’ situation.  They were Reps. Walden Bello, Evelyn P. Mellana, Joselito ‘Jonjon’ Mendoza, Mark Llandro Mendoza, Agapito Guanlao, and Josefine Sato.

Before the farmers left Congress that 25th day of November,  Agriculture Committee Chair Mark Llandro Mendoza finally scheduled a public hearing on 16 December, today on the pending coco levy bills.

“We appeal to the Chair and the Committee’s members that they will, this time act fast on our proposed Farmers’ Initiative bill that creates the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund,” Mora adds.  It is tagged as Petition No. 3 in the House of Representatives.

Several House Members have actually supported the filing of the Indirect Initiative Bill of the farmers, including Reps. Arlene ‘Kaka’ Bag-ao and Teddy Baguilat.

The KM71’s call has been backed by Malacañang, led by President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III himself who had earlier expressed the need for a law on the utilization of the coconut levy funds to protect the interest of the farmers and the industry.  The President likewise promised a certification of the bill to ensure its early passage.

Mora said while an Executive Order is in the works to establish the fund after the Supreme Court granted the government’s motion for a partial entry of judgment on the case, a law will ensure the transparent and efficient use of the funds throughout changes in the administration.

“Our proposed bill is also important to make sure that our sector can be widely and meaningfully represented in all decisions and actions regarding the use of the funds,” says Mora.

For further information and to request for interviews, contact:
For Kilus Magniniyog – CAROL PAJARON: 0918-9470996 / carol.pajaron@gmail.com
Please like facebook.com/KilusMagniniyog

PRESS RELEASE: 16 December 2014

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[Press Release] Law on coco farmers trust fund sought, March reaches Congress -KilusMagniniyog

Law on coco farmers trust fund sought
March reaches Congress

The 71 farmers who marched from Davao to Manila met with House of Representatives members today to follow up on their petition for an indirect initiative bill on the Coconut Farmers Trust Fund.

kilus magninyog

Kilus Magniniyog, a federation of coconut farmers from across the country, filed the bill as Petition No. 3 entitled, “An Act to Spur Rural Development in the Coconut Sector by Establishing a Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund” in August 2014.

“Nakalipas na ang ilang Kongreso pero wala pa ring aksyon mula sa Lower House sa isyung ito,” says Eduardo ‘Ka Ed’ Mora, the farmers’ lead convenor.

AAMBIS-OWA party-list Representative Sharon Garin filed a version of the bill.

Their proposal was referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Food but has not been scheduled for hearing.

But after a dialogue with Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Committee chair Mark Llandro Mendoza, a hearing on on the bill has been scheduled on December 16.

Reps. Jon-Jon Mendoza, Agapito Guanlao, and Josephine Sato were also in attendance.

The group drew the support of the Office of Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, Mamamayang Liberal, and the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

The coco levy was collected from farmers during the Marcos dictatorship. But instead of using the money to benefit farmers and the industry, it was used to purchase United Coconut Planters Bank and majority stakes in the San Miguel Corporation owned by Cojuangco.

“Kahit na nag-desisyon ang Supreme Court pabor sa mga magsasaka, kailangan ito maisabatas para maitatag ang trust fund,” he says.

A law will also ensure that the funds will be safeguarded even if the administration changes.

Earlier the group met with Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food who authored a similar proposal. A hearing on the bill has already been called, and according to Villar, they plan to complete a committee report before the end of 2015.

Mora worries members of Congress might be too busy with the upcoming elections to pass the bill but warns that the agriculture sector comprises one of their largest voting constituencies.

“Matagal na ang laban na ito at ang layo na ng aming nilakbay,” says Mora. “Panahon na para umaksyon sila at maibigay ang nararapat sa milyong magniniyog.”

Meanwhile, Church leaders continued to challenge government to act on the farmers’ appeal.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas welcomed the group at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and shared similar concerns.
“My fear, as President of CBCP, is that our coconut farmers are, by a cruel turn of circumstances, becoming part of the weaker if not weakest members of society — victims of those who, in an unprincipled and un-Christian manner, exploit the defenselessness of the economically harassed,” he said in a statement.

Villegas pledged support for their cause and the ongoing march until the longstanding fight for justice is won.

“I join the protest against this marginalization of our coconut farmers and call on the government to demonstrate its resolve at social justice in their favor,” he adds.

For further information and to request for interviews, contact:

CAROL PAJARON: 0918-9470996 / carol.pajaron@gmail.com
RHEA TENA: 0906-1972666 / 0912-7274085 / rhea.tena@yahoo.com
NIKKA VILLA-IGNACIO: 0921-4040000

Please like facebook.com/KilusMagniniyog for updates.

PRESS RELEASE: 25 November 2014

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[Press Release] Legislator renews call for alternative mining law -ATM

Legislator renews call for alternative mining law

Lone District of Nueva Vizcaya Representative and House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Carlos M. Padilla said the enactment of alternative mining law is important to provide a new policy in managing our country’s mineral resources and in resolving glaring flaws of the Republic Act No. 7942 otherwise known as the Mining Act of 1995.

House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Carlos M. Padilla. Photo by Kehvin Yu/ATM

House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Carlos M. Padilla. Photo by Kehvin Yu/ATM

“Given the track record of mining in the Philippines under the Mining Act of 1995, we have witnessed one mine disaster after another, displacement of population and the militarization of communities where mining operations exist,” Rep. Padilla said.

Despite all the praises and promotion by the government and mining industry of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 as a “world class” mining law, the overwhelming truth remains that for the past 19 years, the Mining Act of 1995 has legitimized the plunder of our mineral resources, the destruction of our environment and displacement of communities.

Brandished by government and mining sector as “one of the best in the world,” the Mining Act of 1995 only proved to be a recipe for disaster.

In his privilege speech today at the House of Representatives, Rep. Padilla renews call for Congress to revisit the Mining Act of 1995 and assess its implementation. Likewise, he cited the increasing opposition and public opinion towards mining due to various disasters attendant to large-scale mining operations.

“In light of the foregoing facts, it is high time for Congress to put premium in the human dignity of communities and biodiversity value of our country’s mineral resources. No less than an alternative minerals law will do this,” Rep. Padilla said.

Rep. Padilla added that under the present law, it allows 100% ownership of minerals by foreign entities through Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs); allows for more open areas to mining than to mining-free zones; grants auxiliary entitlements to mining firms such as timber rights, water rights and even the right to use explosives among others; and allows tax deduction, yet leaving communities divided and underdeveloped and which traditional livelihoods directly dependent on natural resources destroyed.

In the province of Nueva Vizcaya is home to two large-scale mining companies, OceanaGold and FCF Minerals. One of the first Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) approved under the law is Didipio Gold Project in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, now under the operation of Oceana Gold Philippines Incorporated (OGPI).

“The two mining companies are all threats to my province’s mountains, water systems and agricultural products. This is true because at a broader scale the impacts of mining are not contained within the mining area but the use of explosives naturally results in deforestation and slope destabilization,” Rep. Padilla said.

He emphasized that “I won’t allow my province of Nueva Vizcaya’s natural resources wantonly destroyed in the name of profit.”

“We saw the increasing number of barricades put up and managed by peoples who refuse to give up their ancestral lands. And we saw numerous provincial and municipal ordinances passed opposing the entry of mining companies in their areas,” Rep. Padilla added.

In February 2014, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading House Bill 3667 seeking to declare the province of Nueva Vizcaya as a mining free zone.

The bill authored by Rep. Padilla provides it shall be unlawful for any person to mine or engage in mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya. Violators shall be penalized with 6 to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 to P500,000.

The campaign against large scale mining in Nueva Vizcaya has strong public sentiment and this is led by the Diocese of Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena, people’s organizations and civil society organizations.

This week–dubbed “Mining Hell Week” –as a time of reckoning of the tragedies and the irreversible damage mining activities have continuously inflicted on communities since the enactment of Mining Act of 1995. Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) led various actions including a caravan to different government agencies and the House of Representatives calling for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and enactment of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).

Groups and supporters from ATM gathered today to denounce mining corporations’ impunity outside of the offices of mining corporations like Philex, Nickel Asia, Sagittarius Mines and Barrick Gold.-end-

For details, please contact:
Farah Y. Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, ATM National Secretariat
+63915-3313361, +63923-5122374

Press release
March 12, 2014

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[Event/Campaign] #LightUp4FOI: Candle-Lighting on the Eve of the International Right to Know Day

#LightUp4FOI: Candle-Lighting on the Eve of the International Right to Know Day
By Jeff Crisostomo, Yuen Abana and Janet Aguinaldo Morales

LightUp4FOI

WhenFriday, September 27, 2013
Time5:00pm until 8:00pm

The PDAF Scam exposed how we Filipinos remain victims to plunder despite numerous government mechanisms to protect public funds. In the PDAF system, projects are supposed to conform to a limited menu of eligible project and each project is subject to oversight by Congress, the Department of Budget and Management and the implementing agencies. Each project has to abide by the Procurement Act, stringent guidelines on release of funds and participation by NGOs, and is subject to regular audit by COA.

Amid the breakdown at different points in government safeguard mechanisms, the calls to address the ills of pork barrel and to bring the guilty to justice, we also demand the immediate passage of the People’s Freedom of Information Act. It will empower us to directly protect ourselves against abuses of hard-earned resources that we entrust to government.

The Senate responded with urgency to our call. Public Information Chair Senator Grace Poe already completed the committee process and will present its report to the Senate plenary soon. Senate President Franklin Drilon targets to pass the FOI bill on third reading by end 2013, which, if it happens, will be the fastest ever by a chamber of Congress in the long legislative history of FOI. Emerging from past mixed signals, Malacañang announced a more decisive push by reportedly including FOI in the list of priority measures to be submitted to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

Still, the House of Representatives remains the bastion of resistance to FOI. No credible concrete action to advance the bill has been proposed by its leaders. Worse, old excuses, such as the unavailability of a meeting room, are rehashed to explain inaction.

On Friday, September 27, the Lower House will hold its last session before taking a two-week break. On that day, they will approve the budgets of the Office of the President and the Department of Budget and Management. Budget discussions are an opportune time to press the issue of the pork barrel controversy and to push for transparency in the handling of public funds.

September 27 is also the eve of the International Right to Know Day. The Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition and other concerned groups and individuals will troop to the House of Representatives to convey our urgent demand for the passage of the People’s Freedom of Information Act. We invite you to join us.

We will assemble at 5 o’clock in the afternoon for a short program. By 6:30 p.m. we will light candles to symbolize our desire to have a government where information is illuminated and made accessible to all citizens.

Those who will not be able to join us in Batasan are encouraged to organize their own candle-lighting events in their own localities. You can also be involved via social media by posting a photo of yourself with a lit candle and a statement stating your call for the passage of the FOI Bill, with hashtag #LightUp4FOI. (Ex. “Ako si [NAME]; kasama ako sa panawagang ipasa na ang FOI Bill! #LightUp4FOI” or “I am [NAME]; I am one with the call for the passage of the FOI Bill! #LightUp4FOI”)

Panahon na para sa FOI sa ating bansa. Sa dami ng lumalantad na isyung may kinalaman sa pondo ng mamamayan, palakasin natin ang panawagang ipasa ang batas na magtitiyak na ang pamahalaan natin ay bukas at may pananagutan.

Tayo na para sa FOI!

https://www.facebook.com/events/670342512976768/

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[Press Release] Anti-Epal Intensifies Campaign Through Change Family Political Dynasty -No More Epal Movement

Anti-Epal Intensifies Campaign Through Change Family Political Dynasty

Vote for Change

dakilaAimed at educating the public on the problems of Philippine politics, the Anti-Epal campaign created a fictional political dynasty led by Rep. Juana Change and the Epaliticians Party List, hailing from the province of Nueva Change Occidental Sur. The Change Family believes in “political destiny, not dynasty.”

“Mula pa noong panahon ng himagsikan laban sa mga Kastila, hanggang sa paglaban sa mga Hapon, sa pagtutol sa Batas Militar at hanggang sa paglaban kay Little Lady, tatak CHANGE ang kilala. Ito ang legacy ng CHANGE. Gusto nyo ba ng reporma? Eh di CHANGE nalang tayo ulit!,” Rep. Juana Change said.

Sigaw daw ng iba, ‘Wala na bang iba?’ Wala syempre! ‘Yan ang demokrasyang tatak Pinoy!,” Rep. Juana Change added.

Other members of the Change Family includes Don Juan Change III, Juan Change IV, Yoko Change, Pansy ‘Bida’ Change, Tita Sen Change, Datung Change, Lola Change, and Lolo Change.

“Epalism is only a symptom of deeper problems in Philippine politics, which each character in the Change Family personifies. The characters reflect real politicians and their campaigns and the public has seen these parallelisms. The Change Family is an exaggeration of what is happening in Philippine politics, so a lot of times people are entertained. But more than entertainment, we want them to see that these are real problems we are facing as a nation,” Ayeen Karunungan, spokesperson of Dakila, an organization part of the No More Epal Movement, said.

The Change Family filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) last October 1, the first day of filing of COC’s at the Commission on Elections. The campaign is a new phase of the Anti-Epal campaign and is organized by the No More Epal Movement, composed of Dakila, People Power Institute, Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking and individuals such as Vince Lazatin, Executive Director of Transparency and Accountability Network, Mae Paner, Betty Romero, Gabriel Mercado, and Atty. Eirene Aguila

For more information, contact Ayeen Karunungan at 09175057055 or visit The Change Family Facebook page at http://facebook.com/TheChangeFamily
The CHANGE Family
“The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same”
Nueva Change Occidental Sur (NCOS)
Check Wikipedia of NCOS

The province of Nueva Change Occidental Sur was split into two congressional districts to accommodate the political ambitions of the son of Don Juan Change III and Juana Change, Don Juan Change IV. Although not qualified as a stand-alone congressional district, District 2 of Nueva Change Occidental Sur (with a voting population of only 75,000) was created by a law that was sponsored by Don Juan Change III, and co-sponsored by Juana Change. The creation of District 2 survived a legal challenge when the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Tirso Change ruled that the creation of congressional districts is the sole prerogative of the legislature, and who best to determine the need for new districts, but the congressmen themselves. CJ Tirso Change, the first cousin of Don Juan Change III, was two-time governor of Nueva Change Occidental Sur before being named as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
JUANA CHANGE:
CONGRESSWOMAN, Epaliticians Party List (“EPaL”)

See Juana Change on Facebook

Juana used to be the district congresswoman of Nueva Change Occidental Sur but when her 3rd term ended, she created the EPaL party list group so she could continue to serve in the House of Representatives. EPaL represents the maligned and marginalized epaliticians who have been at the center of the anti-epal movement sweeping the country. She vows to author legislation that would legalize the practice of credit-grabbing by public officials. “How else will the voters know of our benevolence?” she once remarked.

She served her 3 terms after her husband, Don Juan Change III finished 3 terms as well. Believes that there are good political dynasties and that theirs is destiny, not dynasty. Juana Change resents being told to remove her wang-wang from her SUVs because she has much important work to do and spends congressional recess in Paris, New York, Zurich, among other cities.
DON JUAN CHANGE III:
CONGRESSMAN, 1st District of Nueva Change Occidental Sur

Don Juan Change on FB
Don Juan Change, also known as DJ, is now the family patriarch. He is CEO of the CHANGE business conglomerate which interests span from mining, logging, manufacturing, lands, construction, manpower agencies and agriculture.

He is the husband of Juana Change and is running for Congressman of the 1st District, Nueva Change Occidental Sur. Don Juan wants to continue the legacy of his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather. Don Juan III believes that only the Change family knows what’s best for the province of Nueva Change Occidental Sur.

He sponsored the bill to carve out a new congressional district from NCOS, the newly formed Second District of Nueva Change Occidental, for his son, Don Juan IV.
JUAN CHANGE IV:
CONGRESSMAN, newly formed 2nd District of Nueva Change Occidental Sur

Be a fan of JC IV in FB

Popularly known as JC IV, he is the son of Juana and Don Juan III. He has learned the business of politics from his father. He has mastered the art of patronage politics. Not a spot of free space in Nueva Change Occidental Sur is safe from his numerous tarps, signs, announcements claiming credit for everything from vaccination programs, libreng tuli/libing/cell load/etc., footbridges, and road asphalting to the cool January weather and the soon to be proclaimed 8th wonder of the world, the NCOS buwaya, which has a voracious appetite and breeds only with relatives; it has a bullet proof, thick skin that is impenetrable to any kind of criticism.

JCIV is often seen passing out school bags (with his name and face embroidered on it) to schoolchildren, who many times, have to wait hours on end for the congressman to arrive, usually 3 or 4 hours late. He can also be seen performing circumcisions for his Libreng Tuli program, even if he isn’t a licensed medical practitioner. His PR people make sure that all his activities are photographed and printed in the Nueva Change Occidental Sur organ, the Change Times.

JC is a part time model and commercial endorser. He is a sports enthusiast and a gym buff. He is often seen with his celebrity friends either partying or attending to social charities. His rumored girlfriend is actress Fart Evangelista. JC is often called the “Nueva Gwapo” as he is the most handsome guy in NCOS.
YOKO CHANGE
GOVERNOR, Nueva Change Occidental Sur

Yoko for Change FB

Yoko is the daughter of Juana and Don Juan III. She is running for her first term as governor of NCOS. She was going to run as Board Member of the Province but was pulled in last minute for the gubernatorial race to replace Lolong Change, when her niece, Munting Change (daughter of Pansy Bida Change) wisely asked, “Paano tatakbo si Lolong? Eh, patay na siya!”

Yoko is said to be the apple of Don Juan’s eyes. She was trained to be a leader since birth. The Change Family enrolled her in the finest schools and even sent her abroad at age 5 to undergo leadership camps with children of politicians. She served as SK Chairperson for 6 years, Student Council President from Prep to 4th year College, and won several leadership awards most notably the Youth Outstanding Winner of the Nation (YOWN) and the Women on Top Award.

Yoko is a youth role model. She has started several social entrepreneurship projects that help the youth of NCOS under her youth movement Yoko for Change (YFC). Yoko is also a social media sensation having many twitter followers. She contributes to a lot of publications as an expert on youth affairs and hosts a cool youth oriented show – YOK On Radio.
DADO FORTUNATO “DATUNG” CHANGE:
MAYOR, San Buwaya City, Capital of Nueva Change Occidental Sur

Datung FB Page

Datung Change is the nephew of Juana and Don Juan III. He is the only child of celebrity turned politician, Tita Sen Change.

Dado Forunato, also known as “Datung”, is the perennial mayor of San Buwaya City and has been mayor for eight terms, broken only by his placeholder grandfather, Juan Jr. “Lolong”, who ran the city from his urn (he’s been dead since 1986). Mayor Datung also is the campaign manager for the Change family.

He is also responsible for raising money for everyone’s campaigns. He is rumored to be the local jueteng lord and has a private army. Allegedly, his business interests in San Buwaya City include smuggling, drug trafficking, gunrunning and money laundering.

Despite his tough stance, the masses of San Buwaya are affectionate of Datung as his “the end justifies the means” motto brings peace to San Buwaya.

TITA SEN CHANGE
SENATOR

Follow Tita Sen

Tita Sen is the sister of Don Juan III. She is an iconic movie star. She is well known as a comedienne and a TV personality. She tried to shun politics but after an overwhelming clamor from her family, the Change family, she gave in and parlayed her popularity as a TV personality and comedienne into a successful sentorial bid. She is in her second term.

However, from time to time, Tita Sen finds it hard to refuse her showbiz life so she still dabbles in acting, hosting and commercial endorsements. Her Hot Pink movement – the name she calls her Fans Club, is with her everywhere she goes – from Charity projects to awards night. Tita Sen also has a penchant for social media like twitter and instagram, which leaves her vulnerable to criticism and malicious attacks. This is why one of her strongest advocacy is internet censorship.

She continues her work on TV and was recently accused of plagiarizing one of her episodes of “The Tita Sen Hour” from a Korean sitcom. In her defense, she said, “Eh, paano sasabihin plagiarism yan? Ang show ko ay Tagalog, yung isa ay Koreano. Copying is the sincerest form of flattery. Chos!”.
PANSY “BIDA” CHANGE
VICE GOVERNOR

Pansy on FB

Pansy is the eldest daughter of Juan III and Juana. Pansy “Bida” has stayed away from politics, content to be the personal assistant to her mother, Juana; and a secretary to her father Don Juan. A college graduate, Pansy is the quietest among the Change siblings. With the busy life her siblings live, Pansy attends to all their needs – taking care of the clothes of brother JC and seeing to it that Yoko’s hair and make up are done well.

At the last minute she was asked to file her certificate of candidacy as Vice Governor of NCOS, when Lola Change decided to run against Yoko for the governorship.

Pansy, criticized for her inexperience in public service – well for her lack of experience of in anything, shot back to her critics saying, “Who needs experience when you have the family name, ‘Change’? My experience as being my mom’s alalay had prepared me well for the role as Vice Governor.”
LOLA CHANGE
VICE GOVERNOR

Lola & Lolong Forever FB
Lola Change is the surviving spouse of Lolo Change. Lola Change was all set to run as Vice Governor and running-mate to her late husband, Juan Jr. When the decision was made to field Yoko Change for the governorship instead of her husband, Lola decided to run against her, in the memory of her deceased husband, who is also her running-mate.

Lola Change hails from one of the elite haciendero family of NCOS. She speaks fluent Spanish, Latin, French and Italian. A devout religious, she is member of the exclusive “Order of Morals”. At the same time, she runs the vast family hacienda, which employs thousands of farm workers and manages the 10 ancestral houses of the family with the help of her 200 domestic workers which includes her loyal servants.

DON JUAN, JR. “LOLONG” CHANGE (Deceased):
VICE GOVERNOR

Don Juan is the Change Family Patriarch who died in 1986. Although dead for 27 years, has been filing his certificate of candidacy for every election since he died. Lolong filed his first certificate of candidacy at 14 with a fake birth certificate indicating he was 18 years old. He died in 1986 after the People Power Revolution from a heart attack while in captivity.

Lolong, known for ruthlessly ordering the assassinations of his political opponents, was captured swimming inside the carcass of a crocodile in the Nueva Change Occidental Sur river trying to escape capture from law enforcement officials. The crocodile carcass was certified by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest crocodile carcass used for escape. He was wanted in connection to several killings of prominent political oppositionists. His remains are incarcerated at the NCOS Maximum Security Prison, serving out seven consecutive life terms, reclusion perpetua, for the murders. From his urn in jail, Lolong is often used by his family members as a placeholder so they can run again after 3 consecutive terms.

Lolong was supposed to run as governor, but the decision was made by the family to bypass Lolong and field Yoko instead. This decision was made when the 5 year old granddaughter of Don Juan III and Juana, Munting Change (daughter of Juan IV) pointed out, “Paano tatakbo si Lolong? Eh, patay na siya!” After 20 minutes of stunned silence, Juana and Don Juan III decided that Yoko should run instead.

His campaign slogan is “Patay na patay makapagsilbi!”

PRESS RELEASE
No More Epal Movement
9 May 2012

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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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[People] The historic RH vote: How a democracy manages conflict over values By Walden Bello

The historic RH vote: How a democracy manages conflict over values By Walden Bello
INQUIRER.net
December 15, 2012

Walden Bello word.world-citizenship.orgWhen the presiding officer, Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III, arrived at my name and asked for my vote during the historic House of Representatives’ vote on the Reproductive Health Bill last Wednesday night, December 12, I replied in the affirmative and walked towards the rostrum to explain my vote.

He then posed the standard question, “What is the pleasure of the gentleman from Akbayan?” To which I replied, “I hesitate to answer that question since ‘pleasure’ has become a controversial word during the last few days’ debate.”

It was my attempt to inject some humor into a proceeding that had become like a tense basketball game, where one team maintained a slight edge but could not quite pull away owing to the tenacity of the other side. Some of the other statements that evening drew more laughter than my intervention, probably because they were inadvertently funny, as when Rep. Thelma Almario of Surigao del Sur expressed her sanguine wish that “in my lifetime we will have enough Filipinos so we can ‘Filipinize’ the whole world.”

Or when Congressman Dong Gonzalez of Pampanga hoped his parents would know he had fulfilled their dying wish that he vote against the RH Bill “in case they’re now flitting around in this hall.”

Conflict of Values

Apart from such moments of light humor, the situation was deadly serious, and much of the country stayed glued to the voting via television or the internet. To many on both sides of the RH debate, the outcome of the vote would either be a national triumph or national tragedy. Unlike other major legislative encounters in the last few years, the RH debate was not over national security. Neither was it about clashing economic interests, nor about different political visions about the future of the country. It was about a clash of values or beliefs on key social relationships: the relationship of the state to the family, the relationship of the church to the state, and the responsibility of the State towards its citizens.

Many of the anti-RH legislators rose that historic evening to express the deep beliefs that informed their scorched earth efforts to block the bill till the very end. Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro and Rep. Pablo Garcia of Cebu claimed it was anti-constitutional because in their view, it was against life, the right to which is protected by the constitution. Rep. Amado Bagatsing said that between a church that was over 2000 years old and a state that was just a few decades old, he was taking the side of his church. Earlier in the RH debate, Bagatsing earned the distinction of claiming that “contraception is abortion.”

Yet the debate showed that conservatism on the use of contraceptives has its roots not only in religious conviction, but in personal circumstances. Not a few members recounted how they were part of poor large families—in the case of Congressman Dong Gonzalez, 12 siblings—where parents and children pulled themselves up by the bootstraps. Their message was if they could do it through hard work, why couldn’t other poor families, why should the state promote smaller families via the provision of contraceptives?

On the pro-RH side, the articulation of fundamental values was equally impassioned. These were the values mainly of the liberal tradition. For Rep. Edcel Lagman, whose 14-year-long leadership in promoting the bill will be remembered as a legislative epic, the key principle was the state’s right to “benignly intervene” in the reproductive area, as in other dimensions of individual and social life, to promote the collective interest. This intervention was being done in the service of free choice. Providing access to contraceptives to the poor was the liberal state’s way of assuring that couples could in fact exercise free and informed choice in deciding the size of their families and the spacing of their children.

Rep. Emmeline Aglipay of party Diwa spoke for many on the pro-RH side when she said she was casting her vote “for reason and against ignorance.” For Rep. Linbelle Ruth Villarica of Bulacan, the bill was a necessary step forward in the struggle for women’s rights and women’s welfare. Rep. Angelo Palmones said that by the time the legislators finished voting for the measure, another 14 women would have died owing to the maternal health complications addressed by the bill. Several said that the bill was not only pro-life, but “pro-quality of life” owing to its presumed effect on reducing poverty.

It was left up to two Mindanao legislators to bravely bring up the issue of population management, which the anti-RH side had made into a bogeyman, with their shrill warnings against “population control.” Rep. Tupay Loong of

Sulu asserted that uncontrolled population growth had become a hindrance to national development and necessitated action on the part of the state. In the view of Rep. Joey Zubiri of Bukidnon, the last congressman to speak, the RH bill was necessary because “population growth has become the number one national security problem” that had to be addressed by the state.

Democracy and Value Clashes

Coming out of Wednesday’s night debate, which saw the bill win by a vote of 113 to 104, with three abstentions, I can only be grateful that we have a democratic process whose rules are internalized by most Filipinos, particularly the principle that the majority rules.

Conficts over basic values often turn into bloody wars. Take the wars of the reformation in 17th century Europe or the current fundamentalist-instigated conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the rules of representative democracy have not taken hold. We may have fundamentalists on the anti-RH side, but thank god, they believe in the rules of democracy.

Hopefully, the third reading of the RH bill will proceed smoothly in the House and the Senate will approve its version next week, so we can a bill that can be reconciled and ratified early in January and ready for the president’s signature.

History

I will look back with pride to the 15th Congress that passed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Bill. Indeed, even if no other bill I am associated were to be passed in this Congress, the victory of this long overdue measure, which will enable our country to have greater capacity to confront the challenges of the 21st century, will be enough to bring me immense satisfaction.

It was probably this sense of history-in-the-making and his wish to be part of it that made one of my colleagues, notorious for his absenteeism, to emerge out of the woodwork to vote for the bill. Hopefully, he won’t vanish again.

INQUIRER.net columnist Walden Bello represents the party Akbayan in the House of Representatives.

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[Event] FIND’s press forum and 27th founding anniversary, 23 Nov 2012

FIND’s press forum and 27th founding anniversary, 23 Nov 2012, Kenny Rogers Roasters, Matalino QC

The Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) welcomes the historic ratification of the proposed Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 by the Senate and the House of Representatives on October 16, 2012.

For almost two decades, the families of desaparecidos and other human rights advocates have steadfastly pushed for a law that would make enforced or involuntary disappearance a distinct crime to help bring its perpetrators to justice. The proposed measure once signed into law will be a landmark instrument that the suffering victims and their families can use in their collective effort to put an end to impunity.

In this regard, is holding a Press Forum on the salient provisions of the engrossed bill that now awaits the signature of the President. The Press Forum will be held on the 27th founding anniversary of FIND on November 23, 2012 at the Kenny Rogers Roasters Restaurant, Matalino Street, Quezon City from 9:30 am – 11:30 am.

For your inquiries, please contact Ms. Lenin Castillo at telephone number 9210069 or mobile numbers 0922-5424531 and 09175419132.

Iboto ang iyong #HRPinduterosChoice para sa HR EVENTS.

Ang botohan ay magsisimula ngayon hanggang sa 11:59 ng Nov 15, 2013.

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[Advisory/event] Rally for the recognition of Filipino sign language & Deaf access Nov. 5, 830am. Philcoa to Batasan -PFD

RALLY FOR THE RECOGNITION OF FILIPINO SIGN LANGUAGE & DEAF ACCESS
Nov. 5, 830am. PHILCOA to BATASAN

The Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD); a non-stock, non-profit organization established in 1997 which aims to uplift and protect the welfare of the Deaf, is the national federation of 18 Deaf member organizations from all over the country and affiliated with the World Federation of the Deaf, a global body recognized by the United Nations.

A technical working group (TWG) was tasked by the Congress Committee on Social Services to further study House Bill No. 6079 (*An Act Declaring Filipino Sign Language as the National Sign Language of the Filipino Deaf and the Official Language of Government in All Transactions Involving the Deaf, and Mandating Its Use in Schools, Broadcast Media, and Workplaces*) filed by ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio. The TWG will hold its first meeting on November 05, 2012, 1:30 P.M. at the Conference Room 11, Mitra Bldg., House of Representatives, Quezon City

The TWG meeting shall be attended by Rep. Tinio and stakeholders from concerned national government agencies and non-governmental organizations such as the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and its Deaf organization members.

Stakeholders including the Department of Education have raised opposition to this proposed legislation in a Committee hearing held on October 16.To protest this government opposition for the recognition of Filipino Sign Language, the Filipino Deaf Community with all its colleagues and supporters, will be holding a march from Philcoa to the House of the Representatives on Nov. 5, Monday at 830am before proceeding to the meeting.

We expect a great number of both Deaf and hearing persons and other PWDs, to join our protest. We call on everyone to help us voice out our rights which have been denied us for decades.

For further questions or clarifications, please feel free to contact Rey Alfred Lee (PFD President) or George Lintag (PFD Secretary)through email: *reyalfred@gmail.com* and/or *glintag@gmail.com* or mobile phone at +639064701047 or +639272598001 (text only).

Visit http://housebills4deaf.webs.com to sign the petition, and for other information and announcements.

Iboto ang iyong #HRPinduterosChoice para sa HR EVENTS.

Ang botohan ay magsisimula ngayon hanggang sa 11:59 ng Nov 15, 2013.

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Choice na kikilalanin sa 2013 HR week celebration.

Makiisa sa pagpapalaganap ng impormasyon hinggil sa karapatang pantao. Pindot na!

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pinduteros-choice-awards/

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[In the news] ‘Desaparecidos’ bill OK’d -INQUIRER.net

‘Desaparecidos’ bill OK’d.
1st law in Asia vs enforced disappearance

By Leila B. Salaverria, Norman Bordadora, Philippine Daily Inquirer
October 18, 2012

After a campaign over two decades by human rights activists, Congress finally passed a bill principally directed against state agencies that would outlaw acts that result in disappearances, allow the prosecution of perpetrators even though their victims remain missing and impose a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Once signed, the measure will become the first national law in Asia that makes enforced disappearance a distinct criminal offense, according to Representative Edcel Lagman of Albay who described the bill as “a culmination of more than 20 years of militant advocacy for the desaparecidos.”

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved on Tuesday night the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill earlier crafted by a bicameral conference committee. It will now go to President Aquino for his signature.

“Enforced disappearance was an atrocious tool of the martial law regime to silence protesters and human rights advocates and continues to be employed by subsequent administrations after the end of the martial law regime,” Lagman said.

Lagman’s brother Hermon, an activist lawyer, went missing in 1977 and has not been found to this day. His mother, Cecilia, was the first chairperson of the group Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND).

Enforced or involuntary disappearance is defined in the reconciled bill as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty committed by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with authorization or support from the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared.”

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

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[Event] 12 years and counting… will there ever be justice for missing PICOP 6 workers? -FIND

12 years and counting… will there ever be justice for missing PICOP 6 workers?

Joseph Belar, Jovencio Lagare, Romualdo Orcullo, Diosdado Oliver, Artemio Ayala, Jr. and Arnold Dangkiasan were sub-contractual workers of the PICOP Resources Inc. who were arrested and forcibly disappeared on the night of October 14, 2000 in Sta. Maria, Trento, Agusan del Sur. They were at the entrance of a videoke bar when Corporal Rodrigo Billones of the 62nd Infantry Battalion herded the six kargador of logs to the nearby military camp.

On 13 November 2000, relatives of the PICOP 6 assisted by the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) filed a Petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus which was withdrawn a year later in favor of a criminal case of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention lodged on 29 November 2001 against Corporal Billones.

An eyewitness, Sgt. Esequias Duyogan, then a member of the 62nd IB who witnessed the ordeal suffered by the victims took pity on their families and firmly decided to testify in court how soldiers killed the victims by bashing their heads with iron pipes; dug graves and buried the bodies at the back of the PX building; and three days later loaded them on a Chevrolet service vehicle and burned them at Rampid, Km. 57 in Barangay Nueva Gracia, Trento, Agusan del Sur.

Today, twelve years after the enforced disappearance of the six victims collectively called PICOP 6, only Cpl. Rodrigo Billones had been found guilty in a July 18, 2008 court ruling penned by Presiding Judge Dante Luz N. Viacrucis favoring petitioners — the families of the victims. The twelve other soldiers who were implicated remain scot-free.

On June 9, 2011, a multiple murder case, Criminal Case No. 7361, People of the Philippines versus COL. Eutiquio M. Cabando, Jr., CPT. Enrico B. Calumag, TSG Angel Perilla, TSG Fernando J. Cagadas, SSGT Bienvenido M. Beto, Jr., SGT Cesar C. Bolito, CPL Renante B. Castaneda, CPL Diosilo S. Pitos, CPL Calven Ronda, TSG Venturito M. Saballa, PFC Miguel Bachecha, PFC Jesus L. Patrimonio, CPL Rodrigo L. Billones was filed by Assistant State Prosecutor Vilma Sarmiento before the Regional Trial Court, 10th Judicial Region, Branch 6 in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

The case has yet to find a court and judge to hear the case as two judges have inhibited themselves from the case for various reasons and had been referred to Judge Hector B. Salise of RTC- Br. 7, Bayugan City of the same province.

Meanwhile, their families continue to suffer emotionally, the anguish brought about by the sudden loss of their loved ones. For them, justice remains so elusive. The snail-paced process of the judicial system has prolonged their agony like salt to a wound and is reinforcing impunity. The uncertainty on the fate of a missing kin is deeply unsettling for the families while those responsible remain unpunished.

The impending approval of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012 ushers hope to the families and victims of enforced or involuntary disappearances. The Senate and the House of Representatives have already passed their respective versions of said legislation. Currently, a bicameral conference committee of both legislative chambers is finalizing the legislation that criminalizes enforced disappearance.

If and only the current 15th Congress could transmit it sooner and the President could sign it into law, then, there may be light for the desaparecidos and the suffering families.

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ONLINE ACTION: Join us in a Letter/Appeal sending campaign to President Aquino! Petition for passage of the proposed bill providing compensation to victims of human rights violations (HRVs) during the Marcos administration under Martial Law.

ONLINE ACTION

Join us in a Letter/Appeal sending campaign to President Aquino! Petition for passage of the proposed bill providing compensation to victims of human rights violations (HRVs) during the Marcos administration under Martial Law.

Sign and send letter to https://www.facebook.com/presidentnoy

Benigno S. Aquino
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
Manila

September 6, 2012

Your Excellency,

September 21, 2012, the 40th year since the imposition of Martial Law by then President Ferdinand Marcos offers a kairos, a moment of grace and opportunity, to you and your administration. It is a momentous chance to show to the country and to the world that the matuwid na daan breaks through impunity and leads to justice.

All the undersigned request Your Excellency to give an explicit public support for the soonest passage of the proposed bill providing compensation to victims of human rights violations (HRVs) during the Marcos administration under Martial Law. A follow-up to your State of the Nation Address (SONA) on this matter would signal unequivocal determination in seeking justice.
Your support will solidly be grounded in the international human rights instruments the Philippines had ratified, as well as the increasing number of national laws passed compliant to many of the said treaties since the EDSA people power.

Your Excellency’s encouragement will surely enthuse the authors and /or supporters of the Bill from both Houses of Congress.

We, the undersigned, have been very concerned, if not alarmed, at conscious efforts even in cyberspace to distort the real happenings during martial law and to dismiss altogether the atrocious violations of rights and dignity. We thus launched a campaign within a period of six months earlier to broaden and to raise awareness among the citizenry, especially the youth, of the true situation during Martial Law and the justness of enacting a long-delayed compensation bill that is fair and equitable to all victims.

Such a move and passage, Your Excellency, would be unprecedented in the ASEAN and Asian Region. It will be a standard of fulfilment that would make us Filipinos all proud in the realm of human rights.

Thousands of victims of human rights violations engendered hope that the impunity perpetrated during that period of repression would be dealt with progressively when the Presidential Committee on Good Governance (PCGG) allotted a definite portion (Php 10 billion) of the confiscated ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos estate for the victims’ compensation. After all, the United Nations “Updated Principles in Combating Impunity” states, among others, “the right of victims to have an effective remedy and to receive reparations”. Compensation, then, while not the fullness, is an integral component of justice.

Thank you very much, Your Excellency, for the kind consideration of this our request that sincerely seeks

Dignity and justice for us all,

WHEREAS, the Philippines is a Charter-State of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and is, therefore, duty-bound to protect and uphold the basic rights of all its peoples;

WHEREAS, Section 11 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines declares that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights;

WHEREAS, pursuant to this declared policy, Section 12 of Article III of the Constitution prohibits the use of torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will and mandates the compensation and rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices and their families;

WHEREAS, by virtue of Section 2 of Article II of the Constitution adopting generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, the Philippines must also adhere to international human rights laws and conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and also the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPAPED);

WHEREAS, the broadening collective understanding of the need to enact national laws so as to comply with our international human rights commitments as well as the growing public desire to prevent further recurrence of trampling upon human dignity, such as the Anti-Torture Law with its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) and the law on the International Humanitarian Law, as well as the near passage of the bill against Enforced Disappearance;

WHEREAS, —- of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations committed during the dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos covering the period September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986 and restore the victims’ honor and dignity;

#Remember ML@40 – Never Again to Martial Law!

WHEREAS, the State hereby acknowledges its moral and legal obligation to recognize and/or compensate said victims and/or their families for the deaths, injuries, sufferings, deprivations, and damages they suffered under the Marcos Dictatorship;
THEREFORE, We, the undersigned human rights organizations, human rights defenders, people’s organizations, non-government organizations, and other concerned individuals, especially victims of Martial Law, do hereby call on the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to both jointly, urgently and immediately pass a ‘Compensation Act to Victims of Human Rights Violations During the Marcos Dictatorship’; and

FURTHERMORE, We also call on all of our country’s young people, youth and students, young workers, community youth, young professionals, and together with all the other basic sectors of Philippine society, to not only sign this ‘People’s Petition Calling on the Philippine Congress to Urgently Pass a Bill to Compensate all Victims of Human Rights Violations During the Marcos Dictatorship’ but, to also help ‘Inform, Inspire and Remember Martial Law after 40 years’. The latter should be one of our primary collective missions in order to prevent any future emergence of a state and society that could once again embrace a brutal militarist dictatorship to undermine and destroy our basic human rights.

[In the news] House OKs ‘Kasambahay’ bill -RAPPLER.com

House OKs ‘Kasambahay’ bill.

BY RAPPLER.COM
September 5, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 5, passed on 3rd and final reading House Bill 6144 or the proposed Domestic Workers‘ Act. It is more popularly known as the “Kasambahay” bill.

The bill seeks to set new labor standards for domestic helpers. It provides them with a package of benefits including increases in minimum wages and other regular employment benefits including 13th month pay, 14-day paid vacation, and maternity or paternity leave.

“It’s a landmark legislation of the 15th Congress,” said San Juan Rep JV Ejercito, among the main proponents of the bill in the House of Representatives.

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

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[In the news] House ends debates on RH bill -RAPPLER.com

House ends debates on RH bill.

By Carmela Fonbuena
August 6, 2012

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Despite objections, the House of Representatives on Monday, August 6, voted to terminate debates on House Bill 4244, better known as the Reproductive Health bill, raising the chance of the controversial measure being passed in the current 15th Congress.

It was an ayes and nayes votes, with the majority agreeing to terminate the debates at around 6 p.m. This means RH bill will proceed to the period of amendments, the more difficult stage of the legislative process.

“It’s one step forward. It’s a procedural thing, to end the period of interpellation and debate and to give a chance for people offering amendments to be heard as well. If we just go on – there are 25 more people who want to interpellate – it will go on until our term is over,” said House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, who declared when the session resumed in July that he will put the RH bill to a vote.

“We just transit from one part of the whole proceeding to another. It’s still not a vote on the merits,” he added.

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[Press Release] PM supports clamour on the vote for the RH bill

Labor group supports clamour on the vote for the RH bill

Women members of the Partido ng Manggagawa joined women groups from the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) at the House plenary session this afternoon to show support to clamor to finally put the RH bill to vote.

“It’s been more than a decade it is time to pass the RH bill. Poor and working women have waited long enough,” explained PM General Secretary Judy Ann Chan-Miranda.

She added that, “Poor women need family planning services and commodities which they cannot afford. Millions of poor women and adolescents are left uninformed about their reproductive health rights and needs. We do want merely want a ‘yes’ vote to the RH bill, we want the provisions intended to address the reproductive rights and needs of poor and working women and adolescents intact,” asserted Miranda.

Partido ng Manggagawa called on the pro-RH legislators from the House of Representatives and the Senate to ensure that the following provisions in the RH bill shall not be comprised:
1. The right of women to choose which family planning method to use, hence, the availability of all range of contraception – natural or artificial – but medically safe;
2. The right of adolescents to age-appropriate sexuality and reproductive health education;
3. The continuation of program on the prevention and management of post-abortion complications, and humane medical treatment of women who have risked unsafe abortion; and
4. The fund allocation to free reproductive health care services and commodities for the poor, especially women and adolescents.

PRESS RELEASE
6 August 2012
Partido ng Manggagawa
Contact Judy Ann Miranda @ 09175570777

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[In the news] RH group to junk bishops’ poll bets -manilastandardtoday.com

RH group to junk bishops’ poll bets
By Macon Ramos-Araneta
July 28, 2012

A women’s group on Friday told the country’s bishops it will reject their political candidates who are opposed to the passage into law of the Reproductive Health bill.

“The bishops will make our work easier,” said Elizabeth Angsioco, president of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines.

“Inclusion in their list is a guarantee that a candidate is anti-RH.”

DSWP is a national federation of 264 community women’s organizations with 40,000 members. Angsioco said to be against the RH bill was to be anti-women and anti-poor.

“With the bishops’ list, we will no longer need to do further research on included candidates,” Angsioco said.

“We will simply campaign against them and not vote for them.”

Angsioco made her statement even as the leaders in the House of Representatives scheduled on Aug. 7 the voting on the RH bill to decide whether or not it will pass.

In a statement on Thursday, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said that on that date, the House members would vote to decide whether to end or extend the period for debating the bill.

“If the vote is in favor of terminating the debates, then the period of amendments follow and put to a vote for passage on second reading,” Belmonte said.

Read full article @ manilastandardtoday.com

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[People] The “Sin Tax” Bill: Promoting the Nation’s Health and Plugging Lucio Tan’s Loophole for Legal Tax Evasion by Walden Bello

The “Sin Tax” Bill: Promoting the Nation’s Health and Plugging Lucio Tan’s Loophole for Legal Tax Evasion

By Walden Bello*

The Philippines has scandalously low taxes on two commodities that have been proven killers of individuals, destroyers of families, and threats to national economic security: cigarettes and spirits.

Smokers’ Nirvana

The current multi-tiered tax system has made cigarettes so much cheaper in the Philippines than in other countries. A pack of the most popular foreign-brand cigarettes costs on the average P27.72 in the Philippines, compared to P365.2 in Singapore, P146.08 in Malaysia, P104.84 in Thailand, and P64.68 in Indonesia.

The reason cigarettes are so cheap in the Philippines is that excise taxes on them have not been indexed to inflation and the classification of the different brands remains what it was in 1996. For instance, Fortune and Champion, two brands, continue to be classified as “low price” and taxed at P2.72 per pack, whereas they should now be classified as “premium” and taxed at P28.30 per pack. Likewise, Hope and Winston are classified as “medium” and taxed at P7.56 per pack instead of being reclassified as premium and taxed at P28.30 per pack.

The biggest beneficiary of the current, unreformed system is the merged conglomerate of Lucio Tan’s Fortune Tobacco and the transnational firm Philip Morris, which has controlled some 95 per cent of market over the last 15 years. This conglomerate represents the worst of all possible worlds for health advocates, proponents of equitable tax reform, and groups seeking corporate accountability: a transnational alliance headed by a notorious tax evader engaged in the production of a deadly commodity that is being squeezed out in other parts of the world by rising global health consciousness. In essence, the current excise tax system governing tobacco and alcohol constitutes a mechanism for legal tax evasion by Lucio Tan and his transnational partners.

The Costs of the Unreformed System

The failure to reform the excise tax has allowed the tobacco monopoly to keep prices artificially low while reaping billions of pesos in profit at the expense of national health. The smoking prevalence rate for the Philippines is 28.3—meaning nearly 30 per cent of the population smokes. Comparable rates are 13.6 for Singapore, 20.7 for Thailand, and 21.5 for Malaysia. The Philippines now ranks 9th in the work in terms of the adult male smoking population and 16th in the adult female smoking population. From 2003 to 2007, there was a staggering 40% increase in the youth smoking prevalence to 27.3%.

Tobacco is a killer, but it kills off proportionally more of the poor than the rich.

300,000 people now die yearly from smoking-related diseases, and the majority of them come from the poor. This is not surprising since four out of ten of the poorest 20 per cent of Filipino adults are current smokers, compared to one out of four of the richest 20 per cent who smoke regularly.

Liquor has also been kept artificially cheap by low excise taxes and outdated classification. 50% of road accidents is due to drunk driving deaths. Alcohol consumption is estimated to cause from 20% to 50% of liver cirrhosis, epilepsy, poisonings, violence and several types of cancer. 2.5 million people die annually from harmful alcohol use; this comes to 4 per cent of all deaths.

Components of the Sin Tax Bill

The long overdue revision of the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products HB 5727—the so-called “Sin Tax Bill”–will be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives in the next few days, with its proponents seeking approval of the bill on final reading by the time the body adjourns its second session of the 15th Congress ends on June 6. The bill will increase tax rates on tobacco and alcohol products, adopt a simplified tax system for these products, index the taxes to inflation, and remove the freeze on price classifications.

Under the bill, for instance, the tax on cigarettes packed by machine will rise from P2.72 to P12 per pack. This will create a massive disincentive to smoking, especially among the youth who are at an age when they are most vulnerable to seduction by the tobacco industry but still lack the means to support this habit.

According to the Action for Economic Reform (AER) and other advocates, the bill, if passed, will generate P33 billion in new revenue annually. Part of the income stream will finance the expansion of the Universal Health Care Program (UHC), so that it can provide better health care services, especially for poor Filipinos. The added funds will contribute significantly towards alleviating the smoking-related disease burden that was estimated at P177.2 billion in 2011.

Disinformation by the Tobacco Lobby

In its effort to prevent the so-called “Sin Tax” bill from becoming law, the tobacco industry has spread a lot of misinformation about the effects of the bill on workers and tobacco farmers. But, according to AER, there are relatively few workers left in tobacco manufacturing, which is becoming more and more capital intensive in production technology. As for tobacco farmers—many of them in the so-called “Solid North” of the country—the prices they have been getting for their product have been dropping owing to the monopoly control of the industry, leading many of them to shift to more profitable crops than tobacco. To ease their transition to other crops, farmers will get earmarked funds equivalent to 15 per cent of the incremental revenues from tobacco taxes that will be devoted to safety nets and alternative livelihood projects.

The winners are many should the Sin Tax Bill pass: the nation’s health, the economy, youth, the poor, the future. The losers are a handful of dubious characters: Lucio Tan and his transnational corporate buddies. The choice confronting our legislators is clear.

*Inq.net columnist Walden Bello represents the party Akbayan in the House of Representatives.

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