Thursday, August 13, 2020
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Bayan hits Aquino for not bringing up VFA with Obama

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Pres. Benigno Aquino III and US Pres. Barack Obama. Malacanang Photo

Cause-oriented groups are not too happy with the failure of President Benigno Aquino III to raise the issue of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement and the overstaying American troops in Mindanao during the Philippine president’s 7-minute meeting with US president Barack Obama.

“It was a missed opportunity to assert our national interest on such a crucial issue like the VFA. Between the issue of the World War 2 American ammunition dump in Corregidor and the permanent and continuing presence of US soldiers in Mindanao, surely the latter has more far-reaching implications on our Constitution and our sovereignty. The VFA is a long-festering problem in RP-US relations yet the ammo dump in Corregidor seemed the more important topic for the President,”said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Whatever happened to Mr. Aquino’s campaign promise of having the VFA reviewed?” he asked.

The Philippine Senate has unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the President to notify the US government of the need to review and renegotiate the VFA and if refused, the Philippine government should terminate the agreement. The resolution was adopted during the time Aquino was still a senator.

“The prioritization of the issues seems misplaced. There has been a clamor from various sectors regarding the VFA. Was the president trying to play it safe with the US government? Was this a result of the $434 million aid from the Millennium Challenge Corporation?” Reyes asked.

The MCC is an institution run by the US government. Its board chairman is US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. The State Department is in charge of overseeing such bilateral military agreements as the VFA.

Bayan has argued that the VFA has allowed US troops to have a permanent and continuing presence in Mindanao. Last August 2009, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that 600 US Special Forces will remain in Mindanao indefinitely. The announcement was reported by the New York Times and drew sharp criticism from many lawmakers.

“The Philippine president could have at least inquired why these US troops are still in the Philippines more than a year after the announcement made by Gates. The Philippine president should at least be concerned on this indefinite stay of foreign troops on Philippine soil which is in direct violation of the Philippine Constitution,” Reyes said.

POEA beefs up drive against illegal recruitment in Bicol

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Contributed Photo

LEGAZPI CITY – “We cannot do this alone. Everyone must help, especially the media, if we want illegal recruiters to stop we must expose their modus operandi,” thus stated Administrator Jennifer Jardine Manalili of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in response to DOLE – Bicol’s call for a massive Anti-Illegal Recruitment (AIR), Anti-Human Trafficking, and Anti-Child Labor campaign in the region.

Manalili’s visit in Bicol early this month signified the start of coordinated moves against illegal recruiters, human traffickers and child labor perpetuators, who are terrorizing the region. The moves, including organization, orientation, training of personnel and MOA signing among DOLE, PESO Officers, OWWA, PNP, DOJ and members of the regional tri-media, on RA 8042 (Anti-Illegal Recruitment Law), RA 9208 (Anti-Human Trafficking Law) and RA 7610 (Anti-Child Labor Law) is the first step in the quest to rid Bicol of these illegal menaces.

“For the past 10-years or so, Bicol was never visited by the POEA until now. Actually we planned this earlier but the administrator’s schedule was too tight. Illegal recruitment is present and happening in Bicol but most Bicolanos are not aware of it, so they fall as easy preys.” DOLE Bicol Regional Director Atty. Alvin M. Villamor explained.
The 2-day training was held last August 31 to September 1 in a three (3) separate-public venues as a strategy to tickle the curiosity of Bicolanos. The first venue, on August 1, was at Embarcadero Legazpi on the set of “Kapihan Sa Embarcadero” a weekly gathering and open discussion with recent issues and concerns with Legazpi based tri-media.

The second was at People’s Hall Albay Capitol Building with the Regional PESO Managers and members of the regional tri-media and the third venue, on September 1, was at Coastal View Resort Sto. Domingo, Albay.

Also, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the first ever Regional Anti-Illegal Recruitment, Anti-Human Trafficking, and Anti-Child Labor Alliance codenamed “Rehas Bicol” was signed with POEA Administrator Manalili as the lead signatory on the first day.

“This MOA will strengthen our alliance and it is only the first step. Our next step will be creating an Inter-Regional Alliance with Regions VI, VII, VIII and IX. We need the cooperation of these other regions because Bicol Region serves as a transit point for trafficked persons coming from them,” Villamor stressed.

DOLE and OWWA Bicol took the initiative of inviting POEA Manila to conduct the training after the operation of POEA Bicol and its personnel were suspended due to initial findings of illegalities. (RB Escalante)

Aquino signing of millennium challenge account paves way for more problematic policies

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Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is set to witness the signing of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) during his US visit, but research group IBON warns that the agreement is biased against national interest and gives way for more erroneous policies that have eroded the local economy.

The MCA, a US$434-million compact grant agreement of the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), requires the Philippines to meet certain indicators such as open trade, economic freedom, good governance, adherence to human rights, etc. to continue receiving the aid. To qualify for support, recipient countries are required to implement neoliberal economic and political policies approved by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and neoconservative US think-tanks Heritage Foundation and Freedom House.

According to IBON, the requirements to meet the indicators for trade policy, inflation and fiscal policy are exactly the same policy measures contained in the discredited World Bank structural adjustment programs and IMF stabilization programs of past decades. They seek to completely open up the economy to foreign capital at the expense of real domestic development, and to promote fiscal austerity to be able to keep repaying debt. These policies are designed to benefit mainly US commercial and strategic interests and not development or poverty reduction in the country. Moreover, the MCC indicators are inconsistent with real asset and wealth redistribution in the domestic economy.

The requirements for the indicator on “regulatory quality” for instance are about further shrinking the capacity of government to intervene in the economy in the greater social interest. This is a rehash of the old 1980s ‘minimalist state’ approach that the recent global financial crisis has exposed as grossly inadequate in terms of national development. Even the indicators on anti-corruption, rule of law and government effectiveness are more concerned about creating a stable and consistent business environment for US firms to operate and profit than on improving the people’s welfare.

The indicators on political rights and civil liberties also appear little considered with the real state of human rights in the country. Meanwhile, the supposed poverty alleviation projects (US120-million for the Kalahi CIDSS) has been proven by experience to momentarily disguise poverty causes and divert from the need for basic structural economic reforms.

IBON adds that MCC is also a tacit endorsement of the failed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which enshrines ‘just compensation’ rather than ‘free distribution of land to the tiller’ as the cornerstone of agrarian reform. This is likely one of the measures for the indicator on land rights.

IBON stresses that the MCC is about promoting the US’s preferred version of neoliberal free market democracies– democratic in form but severely undemocratic in their outcomes. As clearly shown in how the last decade of the most rapid economic growth in the country has been accompanied by rising poverty, these policies have excluded the majority of Filipinos from the benefits of growth.

Lee, Ubaldo binatikos sa operasyon ng mina sa Matnog

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Sorsogon Governor Raul R. Lee. PHOTO BY BICOLTODAY.COM

SORSOGON CITY– Umalma ang ilang miembro ng Sorsogon People’s Organization sa naging hamon ni Gobernador Raul Lee na magpakita ng kaukulang ebidensya ang sinuman na ang operasyon ng mina sa bayan ng Matnog ay makakaapekto sa naturang lugar.

Ayon sa SPO na dapat na maging mapanuri an opisyal sa kanyang binitiwang pahayag dahilan hindi lamang usapin nang pagkasira ng kalikasan at kabuhayan ng mamamayan kundi ang mga batayang karapatan ay maaring malabag. Ani nila mas may malalim dahilan na banggaang ng ilang pulitiko operasyon ng mina sa Matnog.

Ayon pa din sa grupo hindi lamang ang kasalukuyang pamunuan ng naturang bayan ang may interes sa operasyon ng mina kundi ang dati ring opisyal ng nasabing bayan at diumano’y ilang opisyal ng lokal na pamahalaan ng lalawigan.

Kamakailan lamang sa panayam kay Gobenador Lee ng radyo dzMS, sinabi nito na magre-resign siya sa oras na may makitang natutuyong puno ng niyog sa loob ng minahan. Hinamon din nito ang ilang personalidad at grupo na kontra sa mina na patunayan nila na talagang makakaapekto ito sa mga tao.

Pinatitigil rin ng gobernador ang ilang midya sa pagbibigay ng impormasyon hinggil sa operasyon ng mina na nakakagulo lamang daw sa publiko. Bagay ng ikinabahala ng ilang mamamhayag at sinabi nila na porma ng pagsupil sa kalayaan sa pamamahayag ang pahayag ng opisyal at karapatan ng publiko na malaman ang katotohanan.

Matatandaan na umani ng pagbatikos mula sa mga residente sa bayan ng Matnog maging ang lokal na simbahan na mariing tumututol sa operasyon ng mina ng ANTONES ENTERPRISES sa Barangay Balocawe ng nasabing bayan. Naging daan din ito ang sunod-sunod na kilos protesta.

Sa kabilang dako, nagsagawa na rin ng imbestigasyon ang komite sa Sangguniang Panlalalwigan upang alamin kung may paglabag ang ANTONES ENTERPRISES at kung ito’y may kaukulang permiso ang naturang kumpanya.

Batay sa rekord na nakalap ng BICOLTODAY.com, nabigyan ng permiso ang kumpanya ng mina ni dating Gobernador Sally Lee noong ika-23 Setyembre 2009 at ni dating Matnog Mayor Guaming So noong ika-2 ng Pebrero 2010. Nabigyan rin ng Environmental Compliance Certificate ng Environmental Management Bureau ng DENR sa pamamagitan ni Gilbert Gonzales, Regional Director ang nasabing kumpanya. Ganap upang makapagsimula ng kanilang operasyon, bagay na tinutulan ng mamamayan sa mga barangay na sakop ng pagmimina. (BICOLTODAY.com)

Batas militar ginunita, paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa Bikol lumala

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SORSOGON CITY – Tatlumpu’t walong taon (38) na ang nakakaraan mula ng ideklara ng batas militar ay wala pa ring pagkakaiba sa kasalukuyang kalagayang ng karapatang pantao sa boung bansa ito ang naging pahayag ni Vince Casilihan, Research and Documuention Head ng Karapatan-Bikol. Ayon sa kanya na kung ihahambing ang bilang ng biktima ng martial law sa panahon ng diktaduryang Marcos at sa panahon ni Ginang Gloria Arroyo ay natumbasan nito ang bilang ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa maiiksing panahon ng panunungkulan nito.

Kalagayan ng karapatang pantao sa Bicol nakakaalarma – CHR

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LEGAZPI CITY – Mas nakakabahala ang sitwasyon ng karapatang pantao sa rehiyon bikol ito an inihayag ni Atty. Hanil Almuguera, Legal Counsel ng Commission on Human Rights sa Bicol. Ayon sa kanya na mas nakakaalarma an kalagayan g pantao matapos na maitala ng kanilang tanggapan an mataas na bilang ng mga kaso ng extra-judicial killings o EJK.

Will RP gain from Aquino U.S. visit?

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Research group IBON today warned that the much-hyped US visit of Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino may result in more harm than good, as the group expressed serious concern that his first official foreign trip may further deepen the implementation of economic policies long discredited for undermining national development, destroying local industries and jobs, and marginalizing the poor.

NUJP cautions vs charging media for hostage incident

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The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) cautions government on filing charges against, or even attributing criminal liability to, journalists over the bloody August 23 hostage taking incident in Manila.

Victims of human rights violations have nothing to expect with P-Noy – Hustisya-Bikol

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LEGAZPI CITY – As the commemoration for the 38 anniversary of the declaration of martial rule nears relatives of human rights violations, particularly extra-judicial killings (EJK) and enforced disappearances organized a forum to one again call for justice for their loved ones.

Judicial revolt and Aquino’s mispriorites

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The judges’ threat to stage a “revolt” and resign is not just a reaction to poor priorities set in the national budget. It is indicative of dissatisfaction that has started to build up against a wavering and compromising presidential leadership and at slim prospects of seeing reform being undertaken under Aquino III.