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[Statement] Pnoy’s Midterm SONA: Highlighting Same Road to the Present Crisis -Kilusan

Pnoy’s Midterm SONA: Highlighting Same Road to the Present Crisis by Kilusan

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On Monday, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is expected to deliver the remainder of his road map for the second leg of his six-year term. Surely, he will give himself and his economic managers’ pats on the back for ensuring high economic growth, a bright green light for foreign investment.

But even as investors and big business applaud the rosy economic figures, Pnoy’s Social Contract with the Filipino people (according to his Philippine Development Plan): transparent, accountable and participatory governance; poverty reduction and empowerment of the poor and vulnerable; rapid inclusive and sustainable economic growth; just and lasting peace and the rule of law; and integrity of the environment and climate change adaptation and mitigation, has not quite reached its mark.

Indeed, Pnoy has proven who are his real bosses and its not us common folk.

Scarce Jobs and Contractualization

The quality of employment is unstable both in terms of wages and tenure. Job generation has been a sore spot for the Aquino administration. Almost four out of ten employed Filipinos (36.3 % or 13.772 Million out of 37.940 Million employed) are self-employed who are neither contractual nor regular, earning below the daily minimum even as they work more than 16 hours a day.

Meanwhile, six out of ten employed Filipinos (22,829,000 wage and salary workers) can be characterized as:, 2,123,000 or 9.3% are household workers receiving below the minimum wage and working more than 8 hours a day); 17,493,000 or 76.63% are employed in private establishments whose status is mostly contractual; and, 3,056,000 or 13.4% government employees that also include contractual employees.

20.9% (7.9M) are considered underemployed. These, along with the increasing number of contractual employees are clear signs that the means of livelihood of the majority of Filipinos are unstable and in fact, can be considered precarious.

This means that aside from the fact that jobs generated are not widespread and are mostly in the service industry, contractualization as a policy has been firmly entrenched in practice. For instance, the number of regular workers are shrinking relative to the ballooning ranks of contractuals.

As in the case of PLDT-Digitel share-swap integration, former employees of Digitel are redundated and are offered contractual positions at Digitel subsidiaries to do the same work, in the same work location for less pay and no security of tenure. Digitel employees bucked the redundancy and have been on strike since April 10.

If these workers were to lose this fight, even armed with a favourable Supreme Court decision, it will be another case guaranteed to further undermine organized labor in the country.

Poor, Hungry and In Danger of Demolition

According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the country’s latest poverty data, released in April, shows almost no improvement in the last six years. About 10 percent of Filipinos still live in extreme poverty, unable to meet their most basic food needs. This is the same figure as in 2006 and 2009, the previous years when poverty data was gathered.”

The board also estimated that 22.3 percent of families were living in poverty in the first four months of 2012, compared with 22.9 percent in 2009 and 23.4 percent in 2006.

Therefore, government estimates that there are more than nine million extremely poor Filipino households are not able to earn the 5,460 pesos, or $135, needed each month to eat.

Other reports confirm the government’s findings that poverty has persisted. In a survey by the independent Manila polling group Social Weather Stations, the number of Filipino families reporting that they periodically go hungry has increased in recent months. The survey found that 19.2 percent of survey respondents, about 3.9 million families, reported going hungry. This is up from 16.3 percent in December 2012, when a similar survey was done.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has slipped on the U.N. Human Development Index, ranking 114th of 187 countries in 2012 in categories like health, education and infant mortality. The country had a ranking of 105 in 2007.
The government has earmarked 50 billion pesos as Shelter Fund for the informal settler families in Danger zones in the National Capital Region and people’s organizations went through the exhaustive process of preparing and submitting people’s proposals as clear near city/ in city relocation alternatives to the offsite relocation favored by existing housing agencies. This intervention will surely be wiped out as emboldened local government units set to wipe out these informal settler communities independent of the DILG/ DPWH timetable with a token 18,000 subsidy to sweeten the forced eviction.

Surely, it exhibits the fact that government lacks the political will to root out and resolve the shelter problem, and are only interested in short term or ‘tapal-tapal’ solutions.

Fast Rising Income of the Rich

Cielito Habito has stated “the growth in the aggregate wealth of our 40 richest families in 2011—which Forbes Asia reported to have risen by $13 billion in 2010-2011—was equivalent (in value) to 76.5 percent of the growth in our total GDP at the time, which official data show to have risen nominally then by P732 billion, or around $17 billion. Meanwhile, according to Forbes, the number of Filipino billionaires grew to 11 this year. Fortunes of the country’s wealthiest individuals also generally grew in less than one year from as little as $200 million to as much as $4.1 billion.” Forbes added that “the wealth of the country’s top 40 corporations accounted for 76% of the country’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP).”

4Ps, Philhealth Negated By Privatization and High Cost of Living

The first three years of Pnoy Aquino also highlighted of more than three million of marginalized and poor people improving their living condition through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) which his government bankrolls with a P40 billion budget for this year. Definitely, the program have temporarily helped increased the income of the poor families but these are easily wiped out by the repeated increases of prices of oil and commodities.

The prices of oil and oil products keep on rising effecting increases in prices of basic needs: water, electricity and other utilities and services and cost of production. But nothing has been done by the government within its mandate, not even cushioning the impact of inflation. Immediately it could have suspended or reduced EVAT as suggested by some legislators. This could have been followed with the scrapping of Oil Deregulation Law and EPIRA and checking monopoly pricing by oil and energy cartels.

Staples like rice are in danger of shortage despite assurances of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that prices of milled rice are bound to increase during the lean season, from July to August. On the other hand, the National Food Authority (NFA) assured the public that there is no rice shortage given that the Philippines has enough rice supply for the next 71 days. Such pronouncement is shaky. Conventional wisdom teaches us that a condition of rice sufficiency limits if not denies the manipulation of prices by rice traders or rice cartels.

It is also not being admitted that the 4Ps is not immune from corruption and is a convenient way for politicians to build and sustain political patronage. The conditions that have to be met by the “beneficiaries” further promote mendicancy and non-productivity. In fact, reports say that some who have availed of the 4Ps are not poor!

Last June 21, Pnoy signed RA 10606 or the National Health Insurance Act of 2013. Among others, it will prioritize the health care needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and women and children and provide health care services to indigents. Under the law, the government will also shoulder the premiums for the health insurance of the indigent and informal sectors. Since the government has started with privatization of government hospitals, the indigent patient from the poor people are left with no choice but to pay for the high cost of health services. Even with Philhealth, a World Bank data shows an “increase in out-of-pocket of patients, reaching as much as 83.5% of the bill.


What has happened with the two water concessionaires of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Maynila and Manila Water, undoubtedly showed long term effects of privatization, one of the pillar program of neo-liberalism. Maynilad and Manila Water had allegedly passed on their income taxes to water consumers, which had reached P15.5 billion from 2008 to 2012 or P3.1 billion a year. The MWSS-Regulatory Office has allowed the two concessionaires to include in their operating expenses the cost of corporate income taxes, which they could recover from consumers through monthly water bills. This is on top of the system loss or cost of water pilfered that is also passed on to consumers.

The expose surrounding the MWSS has further highlighted the anti-people character of a Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) project.

Anti-corruption drive

After a noticeable delay, Pnoy finally ordered a “full, fair, and impartial” investigation on the P10 billion scam involving the pork barrel of five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives. The people have long demanded the abolition of the pork barrel because it “reeks of corruption.” He has to placate the rising anger of the people.

His sincerity on weeding out corruption is suspect. He had continued with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the subtle term for the most hated pork barrel. Furthermore, he has not even brought to closure the various corruption cases against GMA and her subalterns. The stand of Pnoy is tantamount of abetting corruption in the country. His intention is not to do away with corruption altogether, only to check excessive corruption. Pnoy’s government has to draw savings and earnings from its anti-corruption drive and improve revenue collection as not to default its debt payments.

Human Rights

Pnoy has a three year dismal record in promoting and upholding human rights. While not as worse as the previous GMA regime, it remains inconsistent with the pronouncements by PNoy, and echoed by the AFP and PNP of “respecting human rights”.

According to Peter Koeppinger, resident representative of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, “the 2013 Impunity Index done by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked the Philippines third worst in terms of unsolved murders of journalists, next only to Iraq and Somalia. In the 2013 Press Freedom Index done by Reporters Without Borders, the Philippines ranked 147th out of 179 countries.

More than that, the killings, enforced disappearances and arrests and detention of activists and journalists in different lines of advocacy from political to environmental causes– continue. This is a continuing insult and injustice because not one among those accused of perpetrating the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) and enforced disappearances from 2001-2010 is yet brought to justice. The most notorious of them, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan is scot free even as he is charged in the case of two missing students from UP. And of course GMA, who honored Palparan as a “defender of democracy”, is free and a congresswoman again!

The promised closure of cases involving GMA, her family and their accomplices in government, police and military is far from being realized. The process which has been blocked in the past regime remains impeded still. And among the big impediments is the indecisiveness and sluggishness of the PNoy presidency. For instance, the cases of human rights violations, election fraud and the other cases of betrayal of public trust are grave historical injustices to the Filipino people.

Peace and order

The police institution that repeatedly claimed to be protectors of the people are currently mired in serious scandal to another. Rub-outs are regularly becoming a fixture in their bust operations against syndicates and criminal gangs, especially when its high officials are reportedly to be coddling such syndicate and criminal gangs. Its parasitic character has remained through the years.

The workings of the police establishment has continued to make the lives of the ordinary people more miserable – from innocent individuals, petty criminals and eyewitnesses.

Peace talks

A peace agreement for the battle-weary part of Mindanao is on the horizon after both the panel of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have just signed the wealth sharing annex of the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). Both have agreed on a 50-50 sharing on fossil fuels (petroleum, natural, and coal) and uranium. Since both the national government and the new Bangsamoro political entity are operating within the neo-colony semi-feudal set-up, the new agreement will further open the natural resources of Mindanao for plunder, creating again a favorable climate for investment. Foreign capital has long before set its direction for the lands who residents are predominantly Muslims. US, for instance, already knew about the natural gas in Liguasan marsh as early as 1950s.

As things stand now, it is undisputedly clear for whose interests that such peace talk is pursued vigorously in the first place. It remains to be seen whether another war is forthcoming. The history of Mindanao is such that after each comprehensive peace agreement, another armed entity will emerge.

Surrender of national sovereignty

The PNoy presidency has confirmed once again that the Philippines is not sovereign. It is a US neo-colony and the Philippine government is a stooge of this declining but very aggressive superpower. It acceded when the US said it wanted more military access to the Philippines. Particularly, it offered its territory when the US said it has to put radars to monitor ships in the South China. It opened the country to more military exercises and to the entry of more aircraft and vessels. Lately, it has offered basing access rights to the US and other allies like Japan.

Charter change

The clamor for charter change is resurrected again, using different focuses. One is to limit the charter change only to economic provisions of the constitution. A contrary position also suggests that “consistency in government policies would attract foreign investors more effectively than altering the economic provisions of the constitution. The other focus is on the political reforms.

Yet the last three years has exposed the resolve and capacity of P-Noy’s government to even suspend the operation of the law (constitutional provision on the ban of US bases) just to kowtow to the design of its imperial master. He has mastered in circumventing the law. He can go again against the wishes and interests of the ordinary people and become very un-democratic, if his real master demands it.

With or without charter change, Pnoy’s direction is a sellout of our national patrimony and sovereignty.


The masses of the Filipino people have suffered long and hard. They have been longing for liberation from the social ills. They elected a government that promised to be the alternative but has gradually faltered in uplifting the lives of the ordinary. The much vaunted P-Noy pronouncement that the Filipino people are his boss has repeatedly fallen flat.

Should they be failed again, the people would not cease from justly taking upon themselves the pursuit of liberation.

July 22, 2013

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[In the news] Election 2013: The revenge of the excluded -INQUIRER.net

Election 2013: The revenge of the excluded
By Amando Doronila, Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 13, 2013

inquirerThirty-seven million Filipinos go to the polls today in a midterm election which President Aquino considers a referendum on his three years in office.

More than 50 percent of the registered voters are under 44 years of age. According to the voters’ profile based on a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, of the 45.5 million registered voters, those 18 to 24 years of age numbered 4.91 million (10.8 percent); 25 to 34 years old, 11.92 million (26.2 percent); 35 to 45 years old, 9.37 million (20.6 percent).

Whether this new generation of young voters will respond to the President’s call to give his administration’s Team PNoy senatorial lineup a 12-0 sweep of the Senate is far from certain.
In an election eve radio message to the nation, the President, through a Palace spokesperson, appeared almost pleading.

Read full article @opinion.inquirer.net

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[Statement] Hunger among women is a gross violation of their rights -FIAN

Hunger among women is a gross violation of their rights.
On Women’s Day, FIAN Philippines calls for the realization of
women’s right to adequate food

Quezon City, March 8, 2013 – Women struggle daily to feed their families. Yet they are the most hungry. Realizing their human right to adequate food is not only a matter of gender equality and empowerment, it paves the way out of poverty

logo-fianHunger and poverty are the most important challenges that the Philippine government must address. If it wants to solve the problem in a sustainable way, two factors have to be taken into account: Hunger, worldwide as well as in the Philippines, is mainly rural. 80% of the worldwide hungry live in rural areas. Hunger is also female. Women contribute most of their income and time on ensuring the survival of their families. Yet, they are most vulnerable to hunger.

International Women’s Day reminds us of the severity of hunger among Filipino women. As a human rights organization advocating for the right to adequate food, FoodFirst Information & Action Network (FIAN) Philippines, has been actively supporting marginalized women from the rural, indigenous and urban poor sectors in claiming their right to adequate food.

Hunger among women is not only a question of the lack of food. It is also a question of power relations, of access to resources, of social and economic status, of discrimination, bias in society, and of human rights.

The following are only a few reasons why hunger among women in the Philippines persists:

The gender-dimension of hunger is mostly ignored
Hunger among women persists because they are invisible in the national statistics. According to the Social Weather Stations, 3.3 million families, or 16.5 million individuals, have experienced hunger in the fourth quarter of 2012. The figures do not show that half of the number of family members is women and girls.

Women’s reproductive roles are not recognized
Reproductive roles, household and community tasks are not recognized and understood in the same way as productive, “hard” work done by men. While reproductive roles are unpaid and undervalued, women’s effort and time invested in the care of their families are completely ignored. Women spend an average of 11 hours per day in productive and reproductive work, in coastal areas even up to 16 hours.

Invisibility of women’s productive work
Women’s role in food production is “invisible”. In developing countries women contribute significantly to food production. They are responsible for 55% of food growth and comprise 67% of agricultural labor. Investing in rural women therefore means investing in food security and rural development, as is acknowledged by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In national statistics, however, only 25% of the agricultural workers are women. Food production and economic productivity in general is commonly measured in terms of economic benefits, farm output, fish catch and contribution to the GDP. Other work that ensures food production, such as fetching water, providing fuel, looking for capital, supplying food for workers, preparation of fisher nets or sorting fish catch, is not considered within the value chain. Unfortunately these are tasks mainly performed by women.

Gender-related income gaps still persist. Women receive lower pay than men, even for equal work. Women also experience discrimination in access to work.

Women’s sacrifices for their families
More mothers than children experience food insecurity. According to the 6th National Nutrition Survey of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute in 2003, 33.7% of mothers experience food insecurity. In times of food scarcity or lack of money, they skip meals or do not eat for the whole day. Women often sacrifice for the other members of the family, especially their children, when there is not enough food. The children and the husbands eat first, women eat what is left or do not eat at all.

Lack of access to rights
Women have rights and the Philippine state is obliged to protect, respect and fulfil them. The Philippines is signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Discrimination against women, including discrimination in access to food and resources, violates the principles of equality of rights. It is also an obstacle to the participation of women, on equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic and cultural life. Discrimination hampers the growth of the prosperity of society and the family. It not only results in lost opportunities for women themselves, but also for the development of countries.

The Philippines recognizes the right to adequate food of women in the Magna Carta of Women (MCW or RA9710). In Section 20, Food Security and Productive Resources, the State recognizes the contribution of women to food production. According to the MCW, the State shall guarantee, at all times, the availability of safe and health-giving food especially to satisfy the dietary needs of marginalized women and girls.

Implementing the women’s right to food
The State is urgently called to comply with its obligations and to fulfil the right to adequate food of Filipino women, especially in the marginalized sectors. There is still a lack of awareness on gender equality and gender equity within legislation and society. FIAN Philippines urges the State not only to recognize women’s rights during International Women’s Day, but to guarantee women’s rights at all times. There is an
urgent need to:
 Implement the Magna Carta of Women
 Strengthen the legal framework to the right to adequate food and gender equality
 Guarantee equal access to rights and resources
 Increase women’s participation in policy and decision making bodies
 Mainstream gender equality and gender equity as a matter of human rights, especially the right to adequate food.
Contact: fian.philippines@gmail.com

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[In the news] SWS: PNoy rates poorly on oil prices, Maguindanao massacre -InterAksyon.com

SWS: PNoy rates poorly on oil prices, Maguindanao massacre
Abigail C. Kwok, InterAksyon.com
July 26, 2012

The Aquino administration is getting “poor” ratings from the public over a perceived inability to control oil prices, and for the lack of justice in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, a recent Social Weather Stations survey suggests.

First published on BusinessWorld, the poll results revealed that the administration posted a -12 rating in ensuring that oil companies do not take advantage of rising global fuel costs and a -16 score in resolving the Maguindanao massacre case.

Public satisfaction with the Aquino administration also slipped after Filipinos gave the government lower scores about its performance in other issues.

Sixty-three percent of those polled by the survey taken from May 24 to 27 said that they were pleased with the government’s general performance.

The rating is equivalent to a +44 net score, down from March’s “good” score of +46.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

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[In the news] More Pinoys went hungry as 2011 came to a close – InterAksyon.com

More Pinoys went hungry as 2011 came to a close
by Abigail Kwok, InterAksyon.com

January 30, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines – As 2011 came to a close, more Filipinos said they experienced hunger than earlier that year, the results of a recent Social Weather Stations survey showed Monday.

The survey, conducted December 3 to 7, showed 22.5 percent, or 4.5 million, Filipinos experiencing involuntary hunger, compared to September’s 21.5%, or 4.1 million Filipinos.

The increase in the hunger rating came even as earlier surveys showed self-rated poverty going down.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[Statement] Finding the common ground in the GPH-MILF peace talks – NSCM II

A View from the Stakeholders and Grassroots

We, the delegates of the 2nd National Solidarity Conference on Mindanao (NSCM II), representing religious leaders, business community, civil society organizations, indigenous peoples, women, youth, internally displaced persons and academe, gathered in Davao City on September 8-9, 2011 to tackle the theme, “The GPH-MILF Peace Talks: Finding the Common Ground;”

DEEPLY ENCOURAGED by the results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that 8 out of 10 Filipinos are hopeful that the GPH-MILF Peace Talks will result in a signing of a peace agreement;

SERIOUSLY TAKE INTO ACCOUNT President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s pronouncement that the strong political capital and public support that he now enjoys will be most effective up to 2013;

STRONGLY AGREE with the statement of MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim that “contentious and divisive issues in the peace negotiations can be resolved if both government and the MILF panels treat each other as partners instead of adversaries.”

With the unequivocal mandate from their principals to fast-track the negotiations, we believe that this is not the time for the parties to show off posturing or compete with each other’s intellectual prowess and superiority in terms of strategies and tactics in negotiation. This is the time to lay down the cards on the table, roll the sleeves up and start the work of honest, discerning and determined negotiations mindful of the following


Address the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for self-governance in accordance with their distinct identity, culture, religion and way of life;
Correct the imbalance of totality of relationship between Filipinos and Moros.
Give due recognition and justice to the ancestral homeland of the Moros.
Deliver good and effective governance, social services and foster economic development as soon as possible.
Recognize the Moro aspiration for separate national identity while retaining their Filipino citizenship.
Demilitarize, rehabilitate and normalize the situation in the conflict-affected areas.
Filipinos and Moros share the fruits of peace and become partners in development.

MINDFUL of the long years of negotiations that have spanned four administrations — Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and now under President Aquino – it is prudent and wise that the peace panels build and harness the gains of the negotiations by closely working on the consensus points as building blocks for a negotiated political settlement.  We are confident that both parties will not squander the long years of past negotiations by starting from scratch.

LISTENING to the presentation of the GPH panel, and at the same time paying attention to those that have not been said, we feel that the GPH panel has not yet fully laid down its cards. While it was quick to state that this is part of the negotiation process, it will save a lot of time and energies if the GPH panel, which is in the position to give in this negotiation, will be able to respond squarely to the proposals of the MILF.  Having described its proposal as the starting point, it will be more productive and honestly different, if GPH lays down its proposal not only from the starting point but also up to the ending point in order to spare the parties from what could be an unnecessary guessing game;

HEARING also from the MILF Peace Panel, we feel that the act of rejecting outright the proposal of the government was not faithful to the mutual understanding of the principals to fast-track the negotiations.  We urge the MILF to return to the negotiating table without pre-condition, extend the hand of dialogue and move heaven and earth in order to fulfill the political aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.  It is by talking and negotiating that we are able to narrow the gaps of the two proposals at hand;

FINDING the common ground to move forward has not been an easy task for the NSCM2 considering the fact that the official proposals of both parties up to now remain confidential and inaccessible to ordinary stakeholders.   From the little knowledge that we have gathered and given the limited access to official documents actually exchanged in the formal talks, we believe that in order to find the common ground, it is imperative for both parties to address some procedural, psychological and substantive issues that impede the way towards the common ground, such as:


At this critical stage in the negotiation, it is important for the parties to increase confidence-building measures and cultivate the real essence of partnership that both the GPH and the MILF are proposing.  Accusations and counter-accusations will not help the seeming deadlock of positions.  “Talk to each other instead of talking about each other in the media” is the call of the day as suggested by the Bangsamoro civil society leaders.  This applies also to statements posted on social networking sites which spread like virus and are prone to misinterpretation and agitation.

Pounding the rido problem on the MILF like it is a conditio sine qua non to negotiated political settlement does not improve the call to develop genuine partnership.  We believe that the peace mechanisms on the ground such as the Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities and the International Monitoring Team are much more effective and competent to deal with the ground issues while the peace panels focus their attention on bridging the substantive gaps of the proposals at hand.


The issue on which draft will be used as a working draft is for us irrelevant and counter-productive.  Why not use both drafts and from there develop the working draft together?  What is lacking in one draft can be filled in by the contents of the other draft and vice-versa.  This may sound too simplistic but as it stands now, there are two proposals on the table and both are not diametrically opposed but could actually feed on some gaps that each proposal may be found wanting.  For instance, as the two proposals stand, it cannot simply be a choice between  political solution or socio-economic development.  Both proposals can go together and will be mutually beneficial.

At this stage in the negotiation, we also remind the GPH panel to activate its Advisory Team especially those coming from the House of Congress and Senate and the Judiciary, so that the other branches of government will already be on board and will hopefully cooperate in the eventual legitimatization process of the peace agreement.


The Bangsamoro Commission as proposed by the GPH panel may be further developed and negotiated to address the task of “legalizing the peace agreement.”  Admittedly, there are proposals on the table that cannot pass the test of constitutionality, thus requiring possible amendments of the present constitution.  Representation in the Bangsamoro Commission as proposed by the GPH can be improved by ensuring that it will be led and determined by the Bangsamoro people taking into account participation in terms of gender, ethnic nationalities within Bangsamoro nation and sectoral interests.

Along these lines, the NSCM2 puts forward the following recommendations:

1.For the parties to immediately return to the negotiating table and tackle the Draft MILF Comprehensive Compact and the GPH Three-for-One Solution with the end in view of bringing together provisions of the two proposals that are mutually acceptable to the parties.   We urge the parties to continue the efforts until they arrive at a mutually acceptable working draft.

2.Instead of debating what will be the name of the governing political entity – whether it will be a substate or a new, improved and reformed ARMM or “autonomy  in brackets” as described by the GPH panel – we recommend that the parties focus putting flesh and substance to the governance structure that will be suitable and acceptable to the Bangsamoro people.  The parties do not have to start from scratch here because the Draft Comprehensive Compact of the MILF has a very concrete proposal which can be further enhanced and reframed in a manner that can be easily understood by the layperson.  Acknowledging the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples in Mindanao, as proposed by the GPH, is a very important element for healing and reconciliation.

This clearly resonates with the statement of President Aquino that “From the very beginning, the devil is in the details. Baka iyong enhanced autonomy namin at saka iyong sub-state nila, sa pangalan magkalayo, pero sa detalye, baka magkalapit. So, talagang itututok natin doon sa detalye, ide-define ng bawat isang panig, ano ba talaga ang posisyon nila, ano ba iyong mga detalye at palagay ko marami ang makikita doon na magkakaparehas.”

3.To prevent a repeat of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA-AD) of 2008,  we take the risk of being repetitious by reiterating the NSCM standing recommendation for the setting-up of a regular feedback mechanism and public consultations that should be institutionalized in the local government units, national government agencies, including the legislative and judicial branches of government.

FINALLY, for the GPH and MILF peace panels we pray that God will bestow upon you good health, wisdom, patience and creativity to become effective peacemakers.  We hope that your efforts will lead you to the common ground for a negotiated political settlement which will finally realize our shared aspirations for peace, justice, and social progress.  After doing everything that is humanly possible, we entrust everything to our Almighty God and seek out divine intervention that we may experience the joys of heaven, here on earth.

Once again, we commit our skills, time, talents, energies, patience and creativity in order to fulfill the hopes of the majority of our people; that a peace agreement will not only be signed but also implemented during the term of President Aquino.  This is the best legacy that the son of Cory and Ninoy, our President, can give to the peoples in Mindanao.

September 9, 2011, Davao City.

[In the web] The Government Has Failed to Address Poverty in its First Year in Office – www.masa.ph

File photo source: www.masa.ph

File photo source: http://www.masa.ph

Written by Partido Lakas ng Masa
Source: http://www.masa.ph/

The latest SWS survey showing an increase in hunger is a major concern that must be taken seriously and not brushed off in a squabble over statistics. According to the March 4-7 poll 20.5% of respondents — or an estimated 4.1 million families — have gone hungry at least once in the past three months. This is up from the estimated 3.4 million families recorded in November 2010, i.e., almost one million extra families are going hungry today due to poverty. Along with the other examples of poverty and marginalization – such as the shocking deaths of up to 30 people in Palawan, including children, due to easily preventable ailments such as diarrhea – this demonstrates that the situation of the masa is deteriorating.

What is equally of concern to us is the response of President Noynoy Aquino: his expression of disbelief at the survey results. According to the President the figures are skewed because the impact of the conditional cash transfers (CCT) measures of the government implemented in Visayas and Mindanao, have not been reflected in the survey.

Bickering about statistics when people are going hungry does not do justice to a government that claims to be serious about reducing poverty. The fact is that wide-spread poverty, and related hunger, continues to exist and is the most serious socio-economic problem that the country faces today. We don’t need statistics to tell us this. The masa know this and we experience it in our daily lives. The deteriorating situation of the masa and the seeming inability of the government to reverse the trend represent the failure of the government to carry out its promise of poverty reduction during its first year in office.

The President refers to the CCT program, but CCTs are specific measures used to address some aspects of poverty and are usually short-term, implemented during periods of crises (and even on this score they’re effectiveness is debatable). CCTs are not development programs and cannot substitute for comprehensive development and poverty reduction strategies. The fact that the President can only point to the CCT measures is an indication that the government has no meaningful development program and strategy to address poverty. This is a major concern.

This is no time to squabble over statistics. We needed far reaching reforms and strategies – at least 12 months ago. Without meaningful measures and reforms the situation for the masa will continue to worsen, and poverty and hunger will increase. The President must put forward a concrete development plan. The President must have a clear strategy for poverty reduction and must have the political will to implement them. At the heart of such a strategy and plan should be far-reaching measures for job creation for the country’s citizens – not CCTs. There is no time to waste. The people are hungry and are getting desperate. A first step to providing the masa with immediate protection against sliding further into poverty would be for the President to mandate a meaningful increase in the minimum wage for all workers.

[Editorial] Hunger – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

Hunger – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

Source: Inquirer.net

Stung by the latest survey results indicating that more Filipinos were experiencing hunger, President Benigno Aquino III expressed reservations about their accuracy. The survey, conducted by Social Weather Stations from March 4 to 7, found one out of every five respondents—or 20.5 percent—claiming to have gone hungry at least once over the previous three months. That translates to about 4.1 million hungry families—700,000 more than the number who made a similar claim in November last year. The same poll also showed that 51 percent considered themselves poor, higher than the 49 percent who placed themselves in the same category three months earlier.

Confronted with these results, the President was unconvinced. How could that be, he asked, when the labor department was reporting more people finding employment and private business was saying it was hiring more workers? Besides, he added, the statistical sample used in the survey didn’t “capture” those who were benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program of the government. Mr. Aquino pointed out that the CCT targeted the 400,000 poorest families in less developed areas of the Visayas and Mindanao which, together with Metro Manila, saw declines in the incidence of self-rated hunger. On the other hand, the proportion of hungry people reached a record high of 25 percent in Luzon (outside of Metro Manila), up from 18.3 percent in November.

Had the survey sample been “reversed,” the results would have shown more people finding relief from hunger pangs, he said.

Surely Mr. Aquino knows more than most that any survey to be meaningful and useful cannot be “skewed” one way or another. Unless it can be shown that the survey sampling was unscientific or the methodology employed by SWS was flawed, he has to take the unflattering results at face value and look for the explanations elsewhere.

Inquirer columnist Randy David has offered one plausible reason for the spike in the number of people claiming hunger. He pointed out that the survey was done at a time when the Department of Social Welfare and Development was also conducting interviews to assess the eligibility of families for the CCT. An indigent mother being interviewed by the SWS or by the DSWD “would not be able to tell the difference,” David said, and, aiming to qualify for the cash transfer, “she would be inclined to picture her family’s circumstances in the direst possible way.” Just the news that interviews are being scheduled by the DSWD already creates a “sense of anticipation” that makes it difficult to get “an objective assessment of poverty and self-reported hunger.” Like the smell of cooking causing instant hunger, it may be added.

But it would be a gross mistake for the Aquino administration to consider widespread hunger as largely a matter of perception. The stark reality is that hunger stalks every corner of the country outside the gated communities of the super-rich. And if the survey says most of the very poor are not enjoying the benefits of the CCT and other programs aimed at alleviating hunger, then a review is in order. Maybe these programs are not reaching the right targets. Or it could be that the beneficiaries are too few to make an impact on the overall situation. Or perhaps the amounts being given are too small to provide sustained relief from hunger over a span of time. But it would be folly to shift focus simply to shore up the survey ratings. Fighting poverty and hunger is the principal obligation of government. Looking good should come naturally to an administration that makes significant headway toward eliminating them.

[In the news] Ballooning population blamed for hunger | The Philippine Star News Headlines

Ballooning population blamed for hunger | The Philippine Star News Headlines.
By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star)
Source: Philstar.com


File photo source BMP

MANILA, Philippines – Supporters of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill have blamed the country’s ballooning population for the reported rise in hunger incidence in the last three months.

Benjamin de Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development (The Forum), said on Saturday that the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), which showed that more Filipinos experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months, “is a reflection of the dire need for the country to be better educated on the benefits of family planning to address the problem of the growing number of Filipinos who have experienced hunger and poverty.”

The SWS survey, conducted from March 4 to 7, found 20.5 percent of respondents or about 4.1 million families who went hungry at least once in the past three months.

This was up from the 18.1 percent (an estimated 3.4 million families) recorded in November 2010, the SWS said.

President Aquino earlier said the survey may have failed to include the beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash transfer program who are mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao.

“Even if the survey only covered Manila, it still demonstrates that hunger and poverty are climbing in the capital. The President’s Cabinet may be telling him that things are getting better, but the people are telling him their conditions are getting worse,” De Leon said.

“Who is better to speak for the people than the people themselves? The random answer given in the survey said that they are poor, they are hungry. They want to alleviate their poverty. I think that if they are given the choice of family planning methods, the survey would not be this disheartening,” De Leon said.

Citing a paper released by the University of the Philippines School of Economics, De Leon said the “rapid population growth and high fertility rates, especially among the poor, do exacerbate poverty and make it harder for the government to address it.”

The Asian Development Bank made the same opinion in its Country Poverty Analysis for the Philippines, said De Leon.

“Giving poor women the ability to have only as many children as they plan to have will curb rising hunger and poverty,” De Leon said quoting the ADB report.

De Leon said that with the RH bill, families would spend less money on their basic needs.

“Unplanned children mean unwanted expenses. Money spent by the poorest families on pre- and post-natal care, child care, housing, and school supplies could go to alleviating the rising hunger and poverty that SWS has identified they are facing,” De Leon said.

Civil society groups, including The Forum, have been asking Aquino to certify the RH bill as urgent.

“Much to the disappointment of the Catholic Church, the government had been consistent in its position on responsible parenthood and reproductive health through its current programs but this is just a stopgap measure. Given the current situation, certifying the RH bill as urgent is a big leap in addressing the poverty situation for the long term,” De Leon said.

Participation welcomed

Meantime, a Malacañang official yesterday welcomed Filipino world-class singer Lea Salonga’s voice in the raging debate over the Reproductive Health bill, even if this is against the stand of the Roman Catholic Church.

“As a private citizen, she is perfectly entitled to voice out her opinion. Our focus is really on hearing the opinions of stakeholders,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

The RH bill, which has been vigorously opposed by the bishops, is now with the House of Representatives, where six consolidated bills will be undergoing plenary deliberations before it can be approved and sent to the Senate.

Over the weekend, Ms. Salonga joined about 300 residents of posh Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City, where they voiced their concerns and opposed a local ordinance that prohibited the use of condoms.

The residents trooped to the Ayala Alabang gate at the corner of Commerce and Madrigal Avenues to protest Ordinance No. 1 that restricts the sale of contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription.

“As a citizen of this peaceful barangay, I oppose this ordinance,” said Salonga, adding that she is “disappointed” with the local measure. The world-acclaimed singer said she decided to live in the posh village as it has a harmonious community.

Salonga clarified that although she is an RH advocate, she considers this a separate issue.

Former health secretary Esperanza Cabral, also an Ayala Alabang resident, likewise opposed the ordinance, saying no one should dictate on what people should do regarding this matter.

Cabral is worried that other LGUs might issue a similar ordinance.

In late March, seven barangays in Balanga City in Bataan province issued ordinances that ban the sale of condoms without a doctor’s prescription.

Other Ayala Alabang residents who supported the demonstration are business leader Pete Wallace, artist and tour guide Carlos Celdran, and other NGO groups. -With Delon Porcalla

[In the News] BusinessWorld Online Edition |Hunger keeps rising, poverty also up SWS

BusinessWorld Online Edition |Hunger keeps rising, poverty also up SWS.

Source: http://www.bworldonline.com

MORE FILIPINOS are going hungry and consider themselves poor, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a new report, the details of which highlight the challenges facing the Aquino administration.

A March 4-7 poll, the results of which were made exclusive to BusinessWorld, had 20.5% of respondents — or an estimated 4.1 million families — claiming to have gone hungry at least once in the past three months.

This was up from the 18.1% (an estimated 3.4 million families) recorded in November 2010 when the rate again began climbing from that year’s 15.9% low.

The result is also almost seven points above the 12-year average of 13.8%, the SWS said.

Last month’s poll, moreover, found that 51% — an estimated 10.4 million families — consider themselves mahirap or poor, two points up from November’s 49%. Also, 40% (8.1 million families), consider themselves food-poor, higher than the 36% notched in the previous survey.

A senior government official said external shocks likely contributed and added that the Aquino administration remained committed to its promise of alleviating poverty.

The rise in overall hunger, the SWS said, resulted from increases for both moderate and severe hunger. The area comprising Balance Luzon was the hardest hit, with hunger rates hitting record highs.

Nationwide, moderate hunger — experiencing it only once or a few times — rose to 15.7% (an estimated 3.2 million families) from 15% (2.8 million families) in November. Severe hunger — experiencing it often or always — increased to 4.7% (950,000 families) from 3.1% (588,000 families).

By area, overall hunger hit a record 25% (2.2 million families) in Balance Luzon from 18.3% (1.5 million families). The new rate topped the previous high of 22.3% in September 2007, and offset declines in Mindanao (16.7% from 18%), Metro Manila (20.7% from 21.7%) and the Visayas (14.7% from 15.3%).

Broken down, moderate hunger hit a record 18.7% in Balance Luzon, overtaking record of 18.1% in March 2010. This also cancelled out improvements in the Visayas (9.7% from 12.7%), Metro Manila (16.7% from 17.7%) and Mindanao (14.7% from 16%).

“The new moderate hunger rates are still higher than their 12-year averages for all areas, except in the Visayas where the latest … is lower than the 12-year average of 10.2%,” the SWS said.

Severe hunger also hit a record high of 6.3% in Balance Luzon, surpassing the 6% hit in December 2008. The rate stayed at 4% in Metro Manila and at 2% in Mindanao but rose to 5% from 2.7% in the Visayas.

The latest rates were also higher than the 12-year averages for all areas except for Mindanao where it is some two points lower.

Self-rated poverty, meanwhile, rose in all areas except Metro Manila, where it fell 10 points to 34% from 44%. This, however, was overwhelmed by an eight-point increase in the Visayas (61% from 53%), a five-point gain in Mindanao (49% from 44%), and by a three-point rise in Balance Luzon (54% from 51%).

It rose by four points to 59% in rural areas and by three points to 45% in urban areas.

Self-rated food poverty fell by four points to 24% in Metro Manila but increased elsewhere: 12 points to 51% in the Visayas, four points to 42% in Balance Luzon and by four points to 38% in Mindanao.

The self-rated poverty threshold — the monthly budget that poor households need in order not to consider themselves poor in general — remained sluggish despite inflation.

Compared to the previous quarter, the median poverty threshold for poor households stayed at P15,000 in Metro Manila, P9,000 in Balance Luzon and P8,000 in the Visayas; it rose to P7,000 from P5,000 in Mindanao. These amounts had been surpassed in the past in those areas, the SWS said.

As of March 2011, the median food-poverty threshold for poor households in Metro Manila fell back to P8,000 after a record-high P9,000 in the previous quarter. It went up to P5,000 from P4,000 in Balance Luzon, stayed at P4,000 in the Visayas, and rose to P3,850 from P3,000 in Mindanao. These amounts had also been surpassed in the past, the SWS said.

As a measurement of belt-tightening, the SWS said Metro Manila’s median poverty threshold of P15,000 in Metro Manila was barely above the P10,000 in 2000 even though the Consumer Price Index (CPI) had risen by over 60%. The P15,000, it said, is equivalent to just P8,886 in base year 2000 purchasing power and is a throwback to living standards of over fifteen years ago.

At the March 2011 cost of living, the 2010 median of P10,000 is equivalent to P16,880, and deducting the current P15,000 means households cut living standards by P1,880.

In terms of food poverty, food-poor Metro Manila households tightened belts by P42.

Sought for comment, Social Welfare Undersecretary Celia C. Yangco said: “During the last quarter, we’ve experienced a lot of shocks … such as the troubles arising in the Middle East … we’ve also seen an increase in food prices over the past quarter.”

She noted, however, that the government was continuing to undertake “sustainable livelihood” schemes such as conditional cash transfers and the KALAHI-CIDSS community development program.

The SWS polled 1,200 adults nationwide for the latest survey, which used sampling error margins of ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages. — J. D. Poblete