Tag Archives: President Benigno Aquino III

[Statement] SENTRO Slams Sectors Sowing anti-Muslim Prejudice and anti-Peace Talks Sentiments after Mamasapano

SENTRO Slams Sectors Sowing anti-Muslim Prejudice
and anti-Peace Talks Sentiments after Mamasapano

SEEPING OUT of the so-called “misencounter” last Jan. 25 are the troubling questions and apparent evasions and cover-ups: Who really are responsible for sending the PNP-SAF troops into a veritable death trap in a remote village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao? Why did this police operation flagrantly disregard the existing ceasefire mechanisms, including not notifying the Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG)? What are the exact roles and how is the accountability here of President Benigno Aquino III; his favorite PNP chief, the suspended Alan Purisima; his alter ego and executive secretary, Paquito Ochoa; and the shadowy US military-led Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines?

sentro_red-150x150

However, these are not the only ones that unfortunately cropped up in the Mamasapano incident. Impulsive hawks with their knee-jerk reaction and right-wing demagogues with their messianic blabbers are fanning the flames of Islamophobia, or indiscriminate hatred and distrust of anything Muslim, of Hollywood-inspired call to arms for an all-out war, of a distorted black and white worldview of good and evil, of wholesale anti-MILF stance, of reckless and sweeping call to terminate the peace process between the government and the MILF.

Centuries of attempts to violently subjugate and wantonly exploit the peoples in Mindanao (or anywhere else for that matter) – from the colonial invaders to Manila-based “imperial” government – have resulted only to interludes of fleeting “peace and order” but followed again and again by either scattered or organized uprisings. Indeed, a long lasting peace will be realized if genuine justice and freedom are ensured. On the other hand, sincerely talking and striving for peace, however difficult and painstaking, is also a very promising avenue for paving the way for this elusive “peace with justice” dream.

Thus, while actively seeking honest and unedited answers to the Mamasapano incident – from both the government and the MILF – we must consciously strive for an inclusive justice to ALL those who have fallen from this tragedy – the 44 PNP-SAF personnel, the 7 unnamed civilians and the 18 MILF fighters. Their respective families also lost a husband, father, brother, kin, comrade and friend.

This is why the DepEd directive – that during flag-raising ceremonies, schoolchildren should offer one second of silence to every SAF operative killed “plus one more second for all other casualties” – is a half-baked tribute for justice and peace. Why not extend the same homage to every civilian and MILF fighters who were also killed in Mamasapano? What does such a “tribute” tell our kids? That the life of one PNP-SAF is equal to the lives of all the civilians and MILF who were killed?

We must continue to support the current peace process as it remains a viable, just and enduring solution to the never-ending armed conflict in Mindanao. At the same time, any form of religious or racial bigotry should be vigorously opposed as it has no place in human society and it would only further inflame anger, violence and mistrust.

Contact Person: Josua Mata, 0917 7942431

3 February 2015

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[Statement] No to emergency powers; NGCP to provide reserves -NASECORE

No to emergency powers; NGCP to provide reserves

The grant of emergency powers to the President ostensibly to address an unverified looming power crisis is baseless and unnecessary.

House Committee on Energy Chairman and Or. Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali announced last week the filing of Joint Resolution No. 21 giving President Benigno S. Aquino III emergency powers “to provide for the establishment of additional power generating capacity as mandated by RA 9136 to effectively address the projected shortage of the supply of electricity in the Luzon grid from 12 March to July 2015”.

Sec. 71 of RA 9136, Electric Power Crisis Provision, provides: “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.”

The factual bases of an imminent supply shortage have not been established. On the contrary, Rep. Umali is quoted in published reports that the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) cannot arrive at a common supply outlook for 2015.

At the October 20, 2014 public hearing of the HOR Committee on Energy, Irma Exconde, DOE Director for Power Planning, assured the House that there would be available capacity for the critical summer months of 2015. She submitted the following projections/outlook for Luzon in 2015: March – available capacity, 9,059MW to 9,296MW, with peak demand at 8,110MW to 8,480MW; April – available, 8,888MW to 10,178MW, with peak at 8,290MW to 9.013MW; May – available, 10,199MW to 10,497MW, with peak at 8,860MW to 9,017MW; and, June – available, 10,086MW to 10,176MW, with peak at 8,820MW to 9,000MW.

If at all, she told the committee at that time, the “shortfall” will be in the net reserve – the gross reserve minus the regulating reserve – but this would only be in the range of 21MW to 31MW, and only in the 1st and 2nd weeks of April, respectively.

It thus comes as a huge surprise to Nasecore that after having come to the conclusion on October 20 that the feared looming crisis was just a case of thinning reserves, the House Committee does a volte face or turns about-face and gives President Aquino emergency powers under Sec. 71 of the Power Reform Law or EPIRA.

This is supposed to be a watered-down resolution after the option to lease and/or purchase modular gensets was taken out of the Malacanan version but the power to contract additional generating capacity still remains. The President’s choices, however, are apparently limited to the current players who may be the only ones with the capacity to fill the supply gaps, if any.
Is this, perhaps, a solution that simply opened windows when it closed doors? Only an outright withdrawal or denial of the joint resolution will dispel such doubts.

Unless the DOE has withdrawn the Exconde estimates, there is no real reason or valid justification for the grant of emergency powers.

If Director Exconde’s projections have been changed, what are the bases for the new estimates and projections?

The proposed joint resolution states that the emergency powers will expire in July next year.

Does this also mean that contracts for additional generating capacity under emergency powers must expire in July 2015?

Moreover, the joint resolution does not set any cap or limit to the additional generating capacity to be contracted. Such an open-end grant of vast powers cannot but stir fears and anxiety over a possible repeat of the over-contracting at onerous terms, under emergency powers, in a previous regime.

When the policy arm (DOE) and the system operator (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines) cannot agree on the projected shortfall, consumers have to be extra wary of the extent and levels of additional generating capacities the President will contract.

The DOE and NGCP are the lead agencies for determining and setting supply levels of electricity, the former as the agency to “integrate the individual or joint development plans of the transmission, generation and distribution sectors of the electric power industry” under Sec. 37 of RA 9136 and the latter as system operator under a legislative franchise as national transmission company.

Meanwhile, cited in recent news reports is a House Energy Committee “working figure” of 1,040MW described as ‘negative reserves’, a concrete estimate reportedly arrived at by the Committee after DOE and NGCP could not agree on a common shortfall estimate. This will consist of 440MW contingency or spinning reserves and 600MW back-up or dispatchable reserves.

This is way over the 21MW to 31MW reserve deficiency reported by Dir. Exconde to the Committee. How did the Committee arrive at a deficit 20- to 30-times higher than originally projected? Nasecore seeks answers, in concrete and verifiable terms.

Moreover, if the grant of emergency powers is to answer for the reserves, the joint resolution is misdirected, misplaced and inappropriate.

Reserves are part of ancillary services, which are “support services necessary to sustain the transmission capacity and energy that are essential in maintaining the power quality, reliability and security of the grid.” This was a function of state-owned National Power Corp. but after privatization under RA 9136, this was taken over by a privatized NGCP and it is now a principal part of NGCP’s undertakings as system operator.

The NGCP website says it “assumes NPC’s authority and responsibility for planning, construction and centralized operations and maintenance of the high voltage transmission facilities, including grid interconnections and ancillary services.”

Under ancillary services, the Frequency Regulating Reserve is equivalent to 4% of the total system load, which would be around 360MW using the highest projected peak load (9,017MW) in May; Spinning Reserve should be equivalent to the biggest plant, or about 647MW, more or less the size of the Sual coal-fired plant; and Dispatchable Reserve, another 647MW that can be synchronized in 15 minutes.

NGCP should provide for these reserves, and it has been charging us fees for this service. Where did our payments for ancillary services go, if as the House Committee claims the reserve deficiency is or has been 1,040MW? (The deficiency, if at all, should only be the incremental increase on current reserve levels resulting from incremental demand growth.)

An initial check with the Energy Regulatory Commission website showed that NGCP had entered into Ancillary Services Procurement Agreements (ASPA) with the following generation companies: Trans-Asia Oil & Energy Dev. Corp.; First Gen Hydro Power Corp.; SN Aboitiz Power – Benguet, Inc. (SNAP-BI); Trans-Asia Power Generation Corp.; SN Aboitiz Power – Magat (SNAP-M); SPC Island Power Corp. (SIPC); San Roque Power Corp. (SRPC); Philippines & Green Core Geothermal, Inc.
ERC must furnish Nasecore copies of these ASPA’s. We want to know what we have been charged so far. Nasecore is asking for a full accounting of the capacities contracted by NGCP for ancillary services, the fees collected for them, and their actual use or dispatch. If NGCP cannot make a full and thorough account of these amounts, the ERC must order the immediate and full refund of such collections.

Nasecore is also asking the HOR Energy Committee and the Committee on Franchises to look into NGCP’s compliance with its undertakings in its legislative franchise. If there are short comings – like the failure to provide for and procure ancillary services – Congress must recall the franchise and Government must cancel the agreement allowing NGCP to operate the national transmission system.

Personally, I (Pete Ilagan) find it disturbing that the Chairman of the House Energy Committee had to go to NGCP to see “NGCP officials to try to get them to agree with the DOE on their projections”. To begin with, if NGCP was doing its job, Rep. Umali would not have had to go to NGCP to plead his Committee’s case.

When we re-nationalize the Transco and take it from the non-Filipino hands that presently run it, our congress will surely have a better grip on the grid.

Nasecore, as a final point, will remind DOE and the House Committee that DOE has ample powers in Sec. 37 of EPIRA, the DOE mandate, for the Department to lead power planning from up front instead of behind, and to issue and enforce energy conservation measures. Even the ILP or interruptible load program is within the scope of Sec. 37, if DOE would only assert and exercise it.

RA 9136 is quoted verbatim, and you be the judge if DOE still needs Sec. 71 to address our electric power needs:

Sec. 37, Powers and Functions of the DOE. a. Formulate policies for the planning and implementation of a comprehensive program for the efficient supply and economical use of energy… b.) develop and update annually Philippine Energy Plan… c.) prepare and update annually Power Development Program…d.) ensure the reliability, quality and security of supply of electric power… e.i) encourage private sector investments in the electricity sector… e.iii) in consultation with other government agencies, promote a system of incentives to encourage industry participants, including new generating companies and end-users to provide adequate and reliable electric supply…e.i) develop policies and procedures and, as appropriate, promote a system of energy development incentives to enable and encourage electric power industry participants to provide adequate capacity to meet demand, including, among others, reserve requirements…e.l) formulate and implement programs, including a system of providing incentives and penalties, for the judicious and efficient use of energy-consuming sectors of the economy… e.p) formulate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to implement the objectives of this Act… e.q) exercise such other powers as may be necessary or incidental to attain the objectives of this Act.

Ref. PETE ILAGAN, 09178461299
Email: ptilagan@nasecore.com

NASECORE PRESS STATEMENT
November 18, 2014

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[Petition] Benigno Aquino III Sign and Ratify the International Convention on Enforced Disappearance -AFAD

Pinepetisyon si Benigno Aquino III
Sign and Ratify the International Convention on Enforced Disappearance
By AFAD

Convention now by AFAD

Enforced disappearance is a crime involving secret abduction and/or imprisonment that violates a number of a person’s basic rights such as the the right to security and dignity, right to fair trial, right not to be tortured, right to truth, right to family life, and when the disappeared is killed, the right to identification and proper burial or cremation. It is a tool often used by tyrannical governments to stifle dissent and terrorize communities.

AFAD

The International Convention on Enforced Disappearance (Convention) recognizes the right of any person not to be subjected to enforced disappearance. Its a non-derogable right which means that no circumstances may be invoked as a justification to carry out enforced disappearances. its is the first instrument to recognize this right.

The Convention is a product of decades of struggle of families of the disappeared around the world to have a normative human rights instrument that crystallizes the right not to disappear and seeks to guarantee non-repetition by establishing accountability on the government. A Philippines under the Convention is a Philippines committed to human rights, justice and truth.

Sign petition @www.change.org

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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] PNOY hit over no progress on NO-BUILD-ZONES

PNOY hit over no progress on NO-BUILD-ZONES

A group of civil society organizations gave a failing grade to President Benigno Aquino III over the no progress on no-build-zones policy. Eight months after Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged Eastern and Central Visayas, the President has yet to issue concrete guidelines to address a significant number of people who live within the 40-meter no-build-zones, which are arbitrarily declared as danger areas and not fit for dwelling.

‘Despite the absence of a national guideline to implement the no-build-zones policy, widespread displacement of municipal fisherfolk particularly in Tacloban City in Leyte, Municipality of Carles in Iloilo and Bantayan Islands in Cebu is happening,’ Mr. Ruperto Aleroza of the Save the Fisheries Now Network, a national coalition of non-government organizations and peoples’ organization, said.

A conservative estimate by the National Anti-Poverty Commission pegged that around 252,688 fishing households will be directly affected if the 40-meter no-build-zones will be implemented.

‘I think the local government units are awaiting for the policy direction from the national government. It is not enough to mark areas as no-build-zones, we need to address the needs for permanent settlement. The problem for LGUs is that either we no longer have lands available that are suitable for safe and decent settlement or we don’t have funds to buy lands for resettlement,’ Barangay Captain Gregorio Lantajo, Jr. of San Joaquin in Palo, Leyte lamented.

Municipal fisherfolk have already cried foul over the policy pronouncement since this literally means a death sentence to their livelihood. ‘If the government will implement the no-build-zones policy arbitrarily, we will be displaced from our traditional areas for seaweeds and fish drying and boat docking sites,’ Mr. Abraham Layos, a fisher from Madridejos in Cebu said. ‘Kailangan matiyak na maaari pa rin naming gamitin ang baybayin para sa aming pinagkikitaan. Kami na nga ang pinakamahirap na sektor sa Pilipinas, kami pa ang pinapalayas,’ Losanto Castillo, Jr. from Tacloban City added.

Based on the National Statistical Coordination Board, fisherfolk are considered to be the poorest of the poor with 41.4% poverty incidence.

‘Being the poorest of the poor, municipal fisherfolk living in low lying coastal communities are the most vulnerable sector from the impacts of disasters and climate change. Aside from being responsive to their needs, the government should also be extra careful in its policy pronouncements and implementation of rehabilitation and reconstruction in Yolanda affected communities,’ Mr. Gerry Arances of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice warned.

The group called on the government especially the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) to deliver on its promise of issuing a national guideline on no-build-zones. The OPARR, in a consultation with civil society organizations in March 2014, promised that prior to their issuance of a guideline in May 2014, consultations with affected sectors will be conducted. Until now, guidelines have yet to be released.

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[In the news] International forum calls: Spare civilians from military ops in Talaingod | Sun.Star

International forum calls: Spare civilians from military ops in Talaingod | Sun.Star.
April 16, 2014

PEACE ADVOCATES urged the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to interfere in armed conflicts and address the issues that affect innocent civilians, to attain the just and lasting peace over the land.

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Evacuees of the Ata-Manobo tribe who have sought safe haven in Davao City since April 2 from their villages in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, said they will not return to their homes for as long as the military continues to operate there.

In a live stream “Online Forum and Webinar” at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran in Davao City, the international and national church and civil society groups, focused on the Ata-Manobo evacuees of Talaingod town, called on the government to uphold the safety and dignity of every person even in armed conflict.

Among the groups are the Union del Barrio, the Union of Progressive Iranian, the International Action Center, Bayan Southern California, Ministries of the United Methodist Church California-Pacific Conference and other member organizations of Panaghiusa (a network for peace and justice in Mindanao).

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