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Struggle for Land, Justice Continues Under Aquino as More Luisita-Like Cases Emerge

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Struggle for Land, Justice Continues Under Aquino as More Luisita-Like Cases Emerge


By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com
MANILA — The year 2010 marked the end of nine years of the bloody struggle for land and justice of Filipino peasants under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Their struggle, however, continues under a new administration, who promised to take the right path yet undermines, if not ignore, the peasants’ right to the land they till.

When Benigno Aquino III declared his bid for the presidency, peasant groups expressed their fear that no genuine agrarian reform would be implemented if Aquino won, considering the long-standing agrarian dispute in Hacienda Luisita, a 6,453 hectare land, which he co-owns. True enough, when he was elected, Aquino did not mention anything about agrarian reform in his Inaugural speech nor in his first State of the Nation Address, “as if there is no agrarian unrest in the country,” Antonio Flores of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said.

Aquino has also opted to keep a ‘hands-off’ policy on the issue of Hacienda Luisita, when the peasants’ call for the distribution of the land intensified. But such ‘hands-off’ policy of the president, according to KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos, is already a political statement: that he is “unwilling to implement genuine agrarian reform” as it contradicts his own interest because he, himself, is a haciendero or a big landlord.

The Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) had already ordered the distribution of Hacienda Luisita in 2005. According to PARC, the Stock Distribution Option, a landless distribution scheme under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law that is being implemented in the hacienda for some 20 years now, is unconstitutional because it failed to improve the lives of farmer-beneficiaries. To stop the distribution of the land, the Cojuangco-Aquino family filed a temporary restraining order before the Supreme Court, which was granted the following year.

Hacienda Luisita 

Later this year, however, the agrarian dispute at the Hacienda Luisita was in the limelight yet again when the Cojuangco-Aquino family and the farmer-beneficiaries were supposed to have arrived at a ‘compromise agreement’ just before the scheduled oral argument before the Supreme Court. Peasant leaders said the purported compromise agreement is just one of the tricks being used by the Cojuangco-Aquino family to keep Hacienda Luisita from being distributed to its real owners, the farmworkers..... MORE

SourceBulatlat

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/01/06/struggle-for-land-justice-continue-under-aquino-as-more-luisita-like-cases-emerge/

Tribal Rights Still Being Violated to Favor Mining Interests

Tribal Rights Still Being Violated to Favor Mining Interests


The Aquino government continues to implement Arroyo’s National Minerals Policy, said Piya Malayao, spokeswoman of KAMP. “Aquino’s private-public partnerships would further hasten foreign investments on mining at the expense of indigenous peoples,” Malayao added.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com
MANILA – For the indigenous peoples in the Philippines, the year 2010 is a continuation of their struggle for land, their right to self-determination and their most basic human rights.


In August, leaders of the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP or Alliance of Indigenous Peoples) submitted an indigenous peoples (IP) agenda to President Benigno S. Aquino III. Their demands include: Stop the plunder of ancestral domain, stop all destructive projects, repeal the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (RA 8371), end militarization and violations of IP rights, justice for IPs whose rights were violated, uphold the integrity of the partylist system that is infiltrated by government and military-backed lumads, advance peace talks, and implement international agreements that the Philippine government has signed that respect the rights of IPs.

None of their demands have so far been acted upon by the new administration.

Large-scale mining continues to threaten the lives and livelihood of indigenous peoples (IP).

The Aquino government continues to implement Arroyo’s National Minerals Policy, said Piya Malayao, spokeswoman of KAMP, in an interview with Bulatlat. “The priority mining projects remain. Out of the 62 areas identified for mining, 39 are IP lands,” Malayao said. “Aquino’s private-public partnerships would further hasten foreign investments on mining at the expense of indigenous peoples,” Malayao added.

KAMP is a national federation of indigenous people’s groups with 285 local organizations from 41 provinces nationwide.

Citing data from the Mineral and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), KAMP said that from January 1 to June 29 this year, 54 mining explorations, sharing agreements, processing permits and other mining agreements covering IP lands were approved and renewed. Under the five-month old Aquino presidency, more than 24, 316 hectares of land were earmarked for mining exploration..... MORE

SourceBulatlat

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2010/12/31/tribal-rights-still-being-violated-to-favor-mining-interests/

With Budget Cuts, ‘Corporatization’ of Health Care, Aquino Backs Out of ‘Health for All’ Promise

With Budget Cuts, ‘Corporatization’ of Health Care, Aquino Backs Out of ‘Health for All’ Promise


 “Health is about people, not profits. The provision of health services should never be contingent on the patient’s ability to pay or the public hospital’s capacity to generate its own income. The provision of health services should be guaranteed by government to its people.” –- Health Alliance for Democracy

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA –- If Filipinos had dreamed that public health care may improve under the new Aquino government, which packaged itself as an agent of change with a “health for all” agenda during the election campaign, its 2010 performance would come as a nasty shock. The recently signed national budget and the cuts it inflicted on public health spending for 2011 signify the opposite of change.

“We are hoping for change that will move forward, not backward, in terms of providing health for all,” Dr. Geneve Rivera, secretary-general of Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), earlier said in a statement.

Rather, the Aquino administration is pushing for austerity measures for the sake of bigger debt servicing and military spending. According to Ibon Foundation, an independent economic think tank, the PhP1.645-billion national government budget for 2011 is a PhP104.4-billion or 6.8 percent increase from the proposed budget for 2010. But most of this increase is accounted for by the large PhP80.9 billion increase in interest payments on debt to PhP357.1 billion. This is the largest absolute increase in interest payments in the country’s history and, at a 29.2 percent increase from the year before, is the second largest percentage increase after the 32.6 percent growth in 2000. To pay for this, the government is “retreating from its responsibilities in key areas,” said Ibon.

The biggest retreat seemed to have been on government health services. To appease the striking students who opposed budget cuts on state universities, the Aquino government realigned funds that had been allocated for family health including family planning, rather than touch the highly discretionary, “vague, huge lump-sum funds.” Activists contend that there should never be a clash between equally important services of the government.

Abdicating Responsibility on Health
Health advocates in 2010 repeatedly brought the peoples’ “health agenda” to President Benigno Aquino III before and after he was sworn into office. They also held a dialogue with the new health secretary, Dr. Enrique Ona, who promised them that he would ask for a P60-billion ($1.4b) budget at least. It was P30 billion ($684m) short of the P90-billion ($2.1b) “required budget” for the health sector being demanded by progressive health groups, but the actual health department proposal and what was subsequently approved were just a third of this P90 billion ($2.1b) “realistically” needed and feasible budget..... MORE

SourceBulatlat

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2010/12/31/with-budget-cuts-corporatization-of-health-care-aquino-backs-out-of-health-for-all-promise/

Displaced by War and Vilified as Terrorists, Moros Keep Alive Struggle for Self-Determination

Displaced by War and Vilified as Terrorists, Moros Keep Alive Struggle for Self-Determination


Advocates of the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination say the Aquino administration must first render justice to the victims of human-rights violations during the Arroyo regime before it can talk peace.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Patta Hoyo, a 21-year-old tricycle driver, was arrested on Nov. 3 in front of Tierra Pura subdivision in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. He was charged with kidnapping in relation to the Dos Palmas incident that happened ten years ago when he was only eleven. He is now detained at the Basilan Provincial Jail together with 15 others.

Muhamadiya Hamja was first arrested on Sept. 30, 2001 and was implicated in the Basilan and Palawan kidnappings. After almost four years in jail, he was found innocent and had been released on June 30, 2005. On Nov. 28, 2008, Hamja was again arrested for the same charges and is still languishing at the Basilan Provincial Jail despite a release order from the court.

Their only fault? Both of them are Moros.

In an interview through email, Kawagib secretary-general Bai Ali Indayla said the government’s response to the sentiments of the Bangsamoro people has always been to conduct an all-out war. She said the new Aquino government is no different from the previous ones in terms of its lack of sincerity in addressing the root problems of the Bangsamoro people and its continued denial of their right to self-determination..... MORE

SourceBulatlat

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2010/12/30/bangsamoro-people-vilified-as-terrorists-displaced-and-still-struggling-for-right-to-self-determination/

Defending the high profilers EDITORIAL Click to enlarge 01/08/2011

Defending the high profilers

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
01/08/2011

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta, who is in the thick of the Vizconde reconsideration motion despite the high court’s acquittal of Hubert Webb, et al., does not seem to be serving the indigents charged in court. Instead, she focuses time and pubic funds in attaching herself to high profile cases where prominent personalities are involved.

Much earlier, Acosta was in the thick of the convicted soldiers who were accused in the slaying of returning senator from self-exile Ninoy Aquino, insisting that the case should be reopened, as there was now new evidence to prove that the soldiers were not behind the assassination of Ninoy Aquino..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110108com1.html

Evading responsibility FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 01/08/2011

Evading responsibility

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
01/08/2011
Why is the Aquino government, through its Justice chief, Leila de Lima, making such a big fuss about the need for protection of the Philippine witnesses who are being summoned to the Hong Kong coroner’s inquest and even bringing up the mutual legal assistance treaty between the Philippines and Hong Kong for such a case?

Just what is the Aquino government so scared of? Is it the fear of its investigation and watered down sanctions being shown up to be a cover-up as well as a presidential protection of his pals and allies from sanctions stemming from the botched hostage rescue operations? Is it fear that Hong Kong forensics might prove that some tourists died from bullets coming from Philippine snipers or the police rescue team? Is the Aquino government afraid that some of the witnesses — such as the policemen who have been sanctioned — will provide a contradictory testimony that would show up Noynoy Aquino’s claim of having ordered the special forces to take over the rescue operations but ignored as false, apart from which, Hong Kong may point to responsibility and accountability of certain Philippine officials, such as Noynoy’s close pal and target shooting buddy, DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno, whom Noynoy is obviously protecting fiercely?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110108com2.html

Cocoa keeps flowing despite Ivory Coast crisis focus 01/08/2011

Cocoa keeps flowing despite Ivory Coast crisis

focus

01/08/2011
SAN PEDRO — On the docks of the port of San Pedro, where workers spend long days in the sun loading bag after bag of cocoa onto outgoing ships, it seems hard to believe Ivory Coast is in crisis at all.

While in the economic capital Abidjan the stand-off between incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo and challenger Alassane Ouattara raises fears of civil war, here in the world’s leading export hub for the much-prized cocoa bean, life goes on much as normal.

“Work has never stopped” despite the crisis and unrest, Guy Manouan, the San Pedro port’s commercial and marketing director, told AFP.

In fact, the current harvest is on track to surpass the previous one, according to Ivory Coast’s cocoa regulator, the Coffee and Cocoa Bourse (BCC)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110108com3.html

Noy bashes critics before diplomats By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Gerry Baldo 01/08/2011

CALLS OPPOSITION ‘NOISY MINORITY’ IN VIN D’HONNEUR

Noy bashes critics before diplomats

By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Gerry Baldo 01/08/2011

Over glasses of champagnes and wines, President Aquino surprised invited diplomats stationed in the country for a vin d’honneur as he assailed critics who he branded as a “noisy minority” and stumbling blocks of his administration in implementing supposed reforms in government.

Aquino issued this statement while hosting a toast at Malacanang’s Rizal Ceremonial Hall intended to honor the diplomatic community which was also attended by several political, business and economic leaders.

“There will be challenges ahead — from an uncertain outlook for the global economy, to a noisy minority who want to rekindle the malicious practices of the past,” Aquino said in a speech that lasted for about one and a half minutes.

A member of the minority in the House of Representatives said the speech was made in bad taste and said Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang who supposedly wrote it put Aquino in a bad light during the traditional Malacanang event on New Year’s Day..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110108hed1.html

Aquino names Roxas Palace ‘chief trouble-shooter’ 01/08/2011

Aquino names Roxas Palace ‘chief trouble-shooter’

01/08/2011
President Aquino created a new position for his defeated running mate, former Senator and now Liberal Party (LP) president Manuel Roxas II, appointing him as “chief trouble-shooter” of the government when asked yesterday about expected changes in his Cabinet.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, the candidate for Vice President of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of former President Joseph Estrada, edged out Roxas for the vice presidency in the national elections held last May.

Aquino made the statement in a short press briefing he granted media yesterday after hosting his first vin d’honneur with members of the diplomatic community which was apparently a position to smooth the way for his entry in Malacañang when mandatory election ban on government positions end in June this year.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110108hed2.html

RP gets 5 second-hand ‘Hueys’ from US By Mario J. Mallari 01/08/2011

RP gets 5 second-hand ‘Hueys’ from US

By Mario J. Mallari 01/08/2011

Washington will turn over five refurbished UH-1H helicopters to the Philippine Air Force on Monday which the military welcomes as a huge boost to its internal security operations.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol yesterday said US Ambassador Harry Thomas will formally turn over the five Hueys to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo David Jr.

The Air Force acquired the five newly refurbished UH-1Hs through President of the United States (Potus) Program. They were part of the commitment made by former President George W. Bush to the Philippine government during his term..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110108hed3.html

Guingona intervenes in Vizconde appeal By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/08/2011

Guingona intervenes in Vizconde appeal

By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/08/2011

Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to allow him to intervene in the appeal filed by widower Lauro Vizconde who is asking the high tribunal to re-verse its decision last month acquit-ting Hubert Webb and six others previously con-victed for the massacre of Vizconde’s family two decades ago.

Guingona, who was secretary of Justice when the case was undergoing preliminary investigation, went to the high tribunal yesterday and filed a motion asking the magistrates to allow him to intervene in the case and reverse their decision dated Dec. 14, 2010.

Guingona insisted that Jessica Alfaro was a credible witness — contrary to its findings that her testimonies were “inherently inconsistent” and that she was just an asset of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) coached to testify after she had presented herself as replacement to a witness she could not produce..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110108hed4.html

PAO execs appeal DoJ view on lack of eligibility By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/08/2011

PAO execs appeal DoJ view on lack of eligibility

By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/08/2011

Besieged state lawyers under the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) led by Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta wrote a formal appeal to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday to revoke a Depart-ment of Justice (DoJ) opinion declaring her and her deputies unqualified in their posts for not having CES (Career Executive Service) eligibility.

“Pursuant to RA 9406, it is respectfully reiterated that the positions of the Chief Public Attorney, Deputy Chief Public Attorneys and Regional Public Attorneys are considered permanent in nature. Hence, they enjoy security of tenure, contrary to the position advanced by Chief State Counsel Paras,” Acosta and her deputies said in the letter to De Lima.

The DoJ recommended the other day the removal of Acosta and all her deputies due to their lack of qualification.

In a legal opinion dated January 3, signed by De Lima, the DoJ said the appointments “of the top level officials of the PAO are permanent is without merit. For one, the positions of the Chief Public Attorney, Deputy Chief Public Attorney and Regional Public Attorneys are part of the CES (Career Executive Service).”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110108hed5.html

Toll from floods reaches 30 as heavy rains displace .7M residents 01/08/2011

Toll from floods reaches 30 as heavy rains displace .7M residents

01/08/2011
The death toll brought about by continuous rains in some parts of Bicol, the Visayas and Mindanao rose to at least 30 persons as the number of affected residents also increased to almost 700,000, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported yesterday.

NDRRMC executive director and Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator retired Maj. Gen. Benito Ramos reiterated his call to residents of areas now experiencing heavy rains to heed government authorities’ calls for safety.

Among the latest fatalities were Eserio Daniel of Barangay Popongon, Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte; Armando Batilaran of Barangay Caimpugan, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur; and Bryl Jake Mondejar of Barangay Don Alejandro in San Luis, Agusan del Sur..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110108hed6.html

Gov’t retains ban on deployment in Lebanon By Michaela P. del Callar 01/08/2011

Gov’t retains ban on deployment in Lebanon

By Michaela P. del Callar 01/08/2011

The Philippines yesterday reiterated that the government-enforced ban in Lebanon will not be lifted until the working conditions for Filipinos in the Middle East state is improved.

A government ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Lebanon is still in place pending the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the protection of Filipino workers with Lebanon.

The agreement is being negotiated due to numerous labor violations and abuse claims by Filipino workers, mostly domestic helpers.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advised potential Filipino jobseekers abroad not to accept jobs in Lebanon until an agreement seeking to protect and increase the salary of workers from the Philippines has been signed..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110108nat1.html

Boy survives three days at sea 01/08/2011

Boy survives three days at sea

01/08/2011
A 15-year-old schoolboy who was sent alone to sea by his grandmother to fish survived three days adrift after his boat engine failed, local authorities said yesterday.

The hungry, thirsty and exhausted boy, sixth-grader Mark Sanico, washed ashore aboard his tiny dugout in the central city of Danao last Thursday, and is recovering at a local hospital, police officer Cherry Panares told AFP.

“He was very weak. He had had no food or drink for three days. He said he had some boiled ground corn, but it spoiled early so he had nothing to eat,” Panares told AFP by telephone.

The big waves meant he could not cast his net out to get food, she added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110108nat9.html

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