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Taking illegal short-cuts again Click to enlarge 10/01/2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Taking illegal short-cuts again

Click to enlarge
Leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives may have all agreed, in principle, to amend the 1987 Charter focused solely on economic provisions, and through a legislative process that would have a bicameral body to fashion out the amendments.

That agreement, however, does not mean the mode they plan to adopt by way of amending the Constitution, is legal and constitutional, because in essence, they are introducing a mode of amending the Charter that is not prescribed by the basic law, especially since the Charter states very clearly that there are only two ways by which Congress can amend it, and introducing another mode not prescribed in the Charter is not only amending provisions in the Constitution illegally and unconstitutionally but also making a mockery of the rule of law and throwing aside Charter provisions in exchange of an illegal shortcut.

Sen. Franklin Drilon, who claims ownership of this mode to do away with the vague constitutional provision requiring joint voting, says amending the Charter through this legislative means requiring each of the chambers to come up with their amendments after which the bicameral commission is to take over, refine the two bills, approve the bill as one, and have this enacted into law, is being done in the American Congress..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111001com1.html

Fear of being found out FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 10/01/2011

Fear of being found out

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Yet another lame excuse is being given by Noynoy in rejecting the passage of the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill that has been agreed upon by the Senate and House leaders as a prioritized bill they will work on.

The latest excuse of Noynoy is that an FoI law may be misused and abused, since there are persons who ask for information but do not use it for its proper purpose, even warning of the possibility of widespread panic caused, he said, by the improper use of the information obtained.

Widespread panic? From what quarter, the Aquino administration?

As he was quoted: “A freedom of information act sounds so good and noble but at the same time, first of all, you’ll notice that here in this country there’s a tendency in getting information and not really utilizing it for the proper purposes. What’s his basis for saying this? Just who has been utilizing information that is being denied access anyway by Malacañang for Noynoy to claim this “tendency?”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111001com2.html

Racism, war — and laughs for Arab-Americans focus 10/01/2011

Racism, war — and laughs for Arab-Americans


NEW YORK — Osama bin Laden, racial profiling, airport security, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — and that was just the opening for Arab-American comedians at a New York festival.

No topic was too edgy at the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival in a packed Manhattan club on Wednesday. And for a group often marginalized, if not mistrusted, since the Sept. 11 attacks, it was a chance to unwind.

“People tell me, ‘We killed Osama, what do you think, bro?’ I say I don’t care. Tell me when someone kills my landlord,” Sam, a Lebanese-American comedian said.

As the laughter died down, he declared, deadpan, that he didn’t think the al-Qaeda leader had really been killed..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111001com3.html

UP administration, students scoff at Abad’s justification for SUC budget

UP administration, students scoff at Abad’s justification for SUC budget

“If we are given a zero budget, would that mean that we would land in the top position?” UP student regent Krissy Conti told bulatlat.com, adding that Malacañang should not compare the University of the Philippines with other private universities that are profit-oriented.
MANILA — For a few weeks now, students across the country have been holding protest actions condemning the proposed budget cuts on state universities and colleges. The Aquino administration has repeatedly denied that there are cuts in the budget for SUCs. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad claims that the budget for SUCs increased from $540.1 million to $594.8 million, which is broken down into $537.8 million for the core budget of SUCs, $45.6 million to fill up vacancies lumped under the Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF), and $11.4 million allotted to the Committee on Higher Education to align the curriculum of SUCs to available jobs.

“We do not know where Abad got his figures. But even if it is true, it is still a far cry from the P45 billion that we are asking for and the allotment for the capital outlay remains zero,” University of the Philippines student regent Krissy Conti told Bulatlat.com.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad also said a higher budget for SUCs does not necessarily translate to a higher quality of education citing the Quacquarelli Symonds world university report where the University of the Philippines (UP) still fared better than other private universities.

“Note the recent international survey where the well-funded Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and UST (University of Santo Tomas) fared worse than the underfunded UP,” Abad said in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.

Other stakeholders in the issue, however, think otherwise.

Prof. Danilo Arao, assistant to the vice president for Public Affairs and director of System Information Office of UP, said in an interview with bulatlat.com that Abad’s view may be one way of looking at it. “But how much more if we are given our sufficient budget?”

“If you look at the grand scheme of things, we rank 62 in Asia and is way behind worldwide,” Arao said. He added that UP should not be compared to other private universities because it is a “national university” by virtue of its charter..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/30/up-administration-students-scoff-at-abads-justification-for-suc-budget/

PAL workers intensify protest actions

PAL workers intensify protest actions

By October 1, regular PAL workers are under threat of being locked out of PAL, as the Lucio Tan Group of companies would start its outsourcing plan in earnest.
MANILA — While typhoon Pedring was ravaging the Philippines last Tuesday, a combined force of the Philippine National Police, Manila International Airport Authority and Philippine Air Lines security guards unleashed their strength on the protesting workers of PAL, as they dispersed and bodily dragged off the airline premises hundreds of these PAL workers.

In the nearby OLAP (Our Lady of Airways Parish) chapel where some workers and supporters gathered in the afternoon, the police also reportedly barricaded its premises and threatened the workers congregating inside, prompting the parish priest to come out and remind the police that “it is the workers’ right to conduct rallies and express themselves, and the police have no right to interfere inside the church.”

In Cebu, members of the now 65-year-old Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) also held a picket last Tuesday.

As of this report, PALEA members are still conducting various kinds of protests in the vicinity of the airport. Meanwhile, the management of PAL and President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino who arrived from Japan last night were threatening protesters with legal cases for having conducted a mass action last Tuesday. The said protest was blamed by PAL management for the cancellation of domestic and international flights at the height of typhoon Pedring.

But some flights remained cancelled on Wednesday even if the protesters had been bodily hauled off the airline premises by the police. Sources from plane cabin crews noted that the cancellations and the confusion that resulted in passengers being told to shuttle from one place to another were caused by still untrained new workers brought in by Lucio Tan Group’s MacroAsia.

Last Tuesday’s protest and the ongoing pockets of protests this week erupted from a series of commotions in the airport involving PAL regular workers refusing to give up their jobs or work with “non-PAL workers” brought in by Tan’s Macro Asia. Unionists’ postings in their Facebook also revealed that tensions are rising in the airport as employees continue to defy PAL’s outsourcing plan while management gears to lock the workers out by the end of this month.

It appears that Tan’s MacroAsia is shaping up as the third-party service provider who would take over the soon-to-be outsourced departments of PAL.

Implementation of questionable outsourcing plan

Since two years ago, members of PALEA had expressed hopes that their infamous 10-year CBA moratorium was finally over and that they could start negotiating a new CBA. They said all indications pointed to PAL having successfully bounced back from its crisis. But as it turned out, most PALEA members found themselves threatened instead.

Members told bulatlat.com that instead of a thank you for their decade-long sacrifice, the PAL management is seeking to retrench them (at least 2,600 workers of the 3,700-plus union) via a so-called outsourcing scheme.

The workers condemned the scheme as just a contractualization and union-busting plan in disguise. The labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said it is geared only for Lucio Tan’s increased “profiteering,” and not because of business exigencies as “incurring losses.” But the labor department and then the office of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III still ignored these and approved the Lucio Tan Group’s outsourcing plan.... MORE

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/29/pal-workers-intensify-protest-actions/

Farmers fear Aquino selling out to foreign firms

Farmers fear Aquino selling out to foreign firms

“These land lease schemes have turned farmers into mere low wage-earning agricultural workers instead of being empowered owner-cultivators.” – Randall Echanis, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

MANILA – While President Benigno S. Aquino III is ecstatic about the planned $15-million dollar investment in processing coco water by U.S. companies, farmers feel otherwise.

Aquino, upon his arrival Sept. 23 from a working visit to the US, said two companies – Pepsi Co. and Vita Coco.– have expressed interest in investing in the country’s coconut industry. Aquino said Vita Coco officials told him that they intend to invest $15 million in the next four years.

Aquino said the coconut industry must meet the international demand for coco water (popularly known as buko juice in the Philippines), an alternative to commercial energy drinks.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) feared that the 3.3 million hectares of coconut lands would be controlled by US agro-corporations.

“We fear that Aquino’s pasalubong would replicate the experience of farmers in Mindanao where US-based agro-corporations like Del Monte and Dole now enjoy lifetime control over tens of thousands of hectares of lands,” Randall Echanis, KMP deputy secretary general, said, referring to the country’s 50-year leaseback agreement with the US corporations that is renewable for another 25 years.

Echanis called on Aquino “to divulge the terms” of the investments fearing that this could lead to “one-sided and onerous land lease deals” between the US and the Philippines.

“These land lease schemes have turned farmers into mere low wage-earning agricultural workers instead of being empowered owner-cultivators,” Echanis said adding that the schemes “undermined the rights of farmers over their lands.”
There are 3.4 million farmer-families dependent on the country’s 3.37 million hectares of land devoted to coconut or 26 percent of the country’s total agricultural lands.

In Quezon province alone, 204,000 coconut farmer-families are dependent on 388,664 hectares of coco lands, according to a study by the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK).

“The sellout of lands to foreign investors that Aquino cannot do in his family’s Hacienda Luisita due to the controversial agrarian dispute and farmworkers’ resistance, he is now doing in the country’s vast coconut lands,” Echanis said.

Coco levy
Echanis also said if the Aquino administration is really sincere in developing the coconut industry, it should “immediately return to small coconut farmers the more than P150 billion coconut levy funds trapped in his uncle Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s San Miguel Corporation.”

“The $15 million investment from the US is no match to the P150 billion ($3.488 billion) coco levy funds and the billions of pesos of agricultural funds being plundered by corrupt officials. The immediate return of the coco levy funds to genuine small coconut farmers is still among the solutions for the development of the coconut industry and not through onerous and one-sided investments,” Echanis said..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/29/farmers-fear-aquino-selling-out-to-foreign-firms/

Support for wage hike bills snowballs in Congress

Support for wage hike bills snowballs in Congress

The recorded profit of the top 1,000 corporations in the Philippines ballooned more than five times (552-percent) in a decade, but the average wages and salaries increased only 31-percent over the same period.
Sidebar: Rep. Winnie Castelo to plank for wage hike bill
MANILA – Citing papal writings and research findings on economic, historical and comparative aspects of continuously denying the Filipino workers a substantial wage hike, a legislators’ forum organized by the House of Representatives labor committee upon the request of Anakpawis Partylist Rafael Mariano last Monday succeeded in gathering additional authorship and support for wage hike bills in Congress. Rep. Mariano is the author of House Bills 375 and 3746, which seek to enact a significant increase in the minimum wages of workers in the private and public sectors.

“A democratic state can do no less than side with their workers and their wages over capitalists and their profits,” said Sonny Africa, head of research of non-government economic think-tank Ibon Philippines. Africa showed the gathered legislators and unionists the huge disparity between the Filipino workers’ wages, which had barely increased in the last decade, and the capitalist profits which had ballooned nearly six times over the same period. Africa also showed how wage rates have continuously lagged behind and farther even from the government’s estimated family living wages.

From 2001 to 2009, the recorded net income of the top 1,000 corporations in the Philippines had ballooned more than five times (552-percent), from P116-billion ($2.65b) in 2001 to P756-billion ($17.27b) in 2009. But the average daily wages and salaries increased only 31-percent over the same period, from P222 ($5.1) in 2001 to P291 ($6.6) in 2009.

Sonny Africa of Ibon and other labor leaders told legislators that a substantial wage hike is good for the economy.(Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
Under President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s more than a year-old administration, Filipinos’ wages have also not yet significantly increased despite his promises of change and fulfilling the Filipinos’ dreams during his campaign. The P22 ($0.50) additional cost-of-living-allowance it granted last May has barely brought the minimum wages closer to the needed family living wage.

In the National Capital Region, Ibon computed the family living wage at P999 ($22.82) as of Aug this year, but the minimum wage is pegged in the National Capital Region (NCR), where it is highest, at P426 ($9.73). The gap between minimum wages and family living wage is wider outside of NCR. Africa clarified that they based the computations on the National Wages and Productivity Commission’s data, even as he noted that the NWPC’s webpage for such data has been “under construction” for quite a while now.

Ibon also told the legislators that a P125 ($2.86) across-the-board wage increase nationwide will only mean a 15-percent cut in profits of companies operating in the country. It will still not bring the minimum wages close to the needed living wages, which the Philippine constitution has explicitly guaranteed its citizens.

There is budget, but little priority is given to public sector workers’ wages

Taxes collected by the government in the last decade have more than doubled (from P600-billion [$13.71b] in 2001 to P1,250-billion [$28.6b] in 2010), Ferdinand Gaite, national president of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) told the legislators’ forum. But the wages of public sector workers in the same period, noted Mr Gaite, have increased by only less than half (49-percent), and a big part of it was accounted for by bigger leaps in salaries of executives in government agencies, rather than in salaries of sub-professional and professional levels..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/28/support-for-wage-hike-bills-snowballs-in-congress/

Senators cool to con-ass By Angie M. Rosales 10/01/2011


Senators cool to con-ass

By Angie M. Rosales 10/01/2011

Senators yesterday expectedly raised a howl over the reported consensus reached by Congress leaders during Thursday’s legislative summit, to explore the idea of tinkering with the Constitution, saying that there was no prior discussion on this, much more, was there a collective position among upper chamber members even reached.

An administration senator said agreements reached by leaders of the two Houses of Congress “do not bind the Senate in any way.”

A member of the minority bloc said she and her colleagues were unaware that Charter change (Cha-cha) is even part of their senators’ priority agenda under the current Congress.

Sen. Franklin Drilon, who delivered a paper on the possible revision of the 1987 Constitution in the summit held at the Edsa Shangri-la hotel in Mandaluyong, was quick to defend the congressional leaders’ move, amid criticisms hurled at them by their peers..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111001hed1.html

Aquino junks FoI, says it will be misused By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 10/01/2011

Aquino junks FoI, says it will be misused

By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 10/01/2011
With the congressional leaders agreeing to list, as one of Congress’ priority bills, the Freedom of Information bill, there was an instant reaction from President Aquino, who came up with yet another excuse not to have this bill prioritized and conjuring up images of dangerous situations as a result of an FoI Act.

Aquino stressed that while he wants Filipinos to be completely informed, he also wants to make sure that the idea of a little knowledge leading to a “lot of danger” won’t happen here.

But he admitted that he has gone cold on the FoI bill because of fears that providing the public with access to government documents might not be put to good use and instigate panic or even cause harm to certain people.

He failed to explain why such access to public documents can instigate panic and cause harm to certain people, obviously referring to his officials, since these are public and government documents and that, if everything is above-board, an FoI should not create any panic in government officials, including himself, nor cause harm to them..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111001hed2.html

‘Quiel’ intensifies, storm signals up over ‘Pedring’-ravaged areas 10/01/2011

‘Quiel’ intensifies, storm signals up over ‘Pedring’-ravaged areas

More areas in the northern part of the country have been placed under storm signals by the government’s weather service as typhoon “Quiel” intensified further and increased its threat to Northern Luzon, which areas are still reeling from the devastation brought about by typhoon “Pedring.”

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), as of press time yesterday, placed Cagayan and Isabela Storm Signal No. 3.

Under Storm Signal No. 2 are: Northern Aurora, Quirino, Ifugao, Mt. Province, Kalinga, Apayao, Calayan and Babuyan Group of Islands while the rest of Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan, Benguet, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra, are under Storm Signal No. 1.

Manila should be spared the worst of the weekend weather, forecaster Sonny Pajarillo said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111001hed3.html

RP takes territorial dispute with China to UN body By Michaela P. del Callar 10/01/2011

RP takes territorial dispute with China to UN body

By Michaela P. del Callar 10/01/2011
The Philippine government has taken a long simmering territorial dispute with China to the United Nations General Assembly, where it called for a rules-based solution to the conflict and used West Philippine Sea to refer to the vast sea body in contention in defiance of Beijing’s stance.

Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Libran Cabactulan, in his speech during the General Debate of the 66th UN General Assembly last Tuesday, said rule of law, such as the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), “is the key to finding solutions to the disputes over conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea,” otherwise known as the South China Sea.

“In instances of disputes – particularly of a territorial nature - the rule of law ensures peaceful settlement and resolution,” Cabactulan said. “Adherence to the rule of law prevents from conflicts.”

Speaking on the conflicts before an international forum further demonstrated the Philippines’ unwavering position to defend and re-assert its claim over its territories within maritime boundaries set by the Unclos, risking another backlash from China, which prefers a bilateral discussion of the issue..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111001nat4.html

Magsaysay joins calls for wage increase for workers nationwide 10/01/2011

Magsaysay joins calls for wage increase for workers nationwide

Amid the irrevocable implementation of the 12 percent VAT on toll starting today, October 1, Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay joined progressive lawmakers in calling on the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to reassess the feasibility of a wage increase for workers to able to cope with inflation and skyrocketing prices of goods.

According to Magsaysay, even a recent report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) indicated that wages in the country have been stagnant compared to our Asian neighbors.

“Compounding this issue is the incessant increases in the prices of basic commodities, and expenses such fares and the worst being the high prices of petroleum products which cause a ripple effect on goods and transport, which is exacerbated by the 12 percent VAT on toll and the impending increase in MRT and LRT fares,” Magsaysay said.

Militant lawmakers have been calling for a legislated P125 across-the-board wage hike..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111001met2.html

No price hike in basic goods despite VAT on toll — Palace By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 10/01/2011

No price hike in basic goods despite VAT on toll — Palace

By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 10/01/2011

Even with the implementation of the value added tax (VAT) on toll starting today, Malacañang downplayed claims that this would jack up prices of basic commodities and may even warrant a fare increase in public utility vehicles plying along tollways.

At a press briefing yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said there’s nothing to worry about even if toll rates would now be higher by 12 percent as a result of the VAT on toll because “the effects on transport fare and goods of the tax measure would be minimal.”

“The effect on goods, or the effect on passenger buses and the effect on passengers will be very insignificant,” Lacierda said as he noted that “any incremental increase in fares would be shared by passengers and the effect would be minimal.”

But while allaying fears that the effect of the VAT on toll would be hardly felt by the public, Lacierda raised the possibility that some traders might take advantage of the situation and jack up their prices..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111001met1.html

Super Nora explosion By Kathleen Llemit 10/01/2011

Super Nora explosion

By Kathleen Llemit 10/01/2011
The sleeping town of Aling Sula and local tinseltown stuck in the doldrums were shaken by the homecoming of a star that was thought by many to have faded into oblivion. In just a month after an eight-year hiatus from the land that gave birth to her showbiz Superstar status, La Aunor, Ate Guy or Nora Aunor reentered the scene in which she had reigned for so long like a supernova, explosive and intense.

And like a supernova, the Superstar caused a pandemonium as soon as her plane landed at the NAIA earlier last month as legions of her loyal fans, some of which reportedly came from the provinces and rented a bus just to see her, were seen crying at the sight of their long lost idol.

As explosive as a supernova, La Aunor has managed to be the face of several glossies including her controversial cigarette-holding cover of the latest issue of Yes! magazine, which had some sectors reacting that her cover does not help in the promotion of a smoke-free Philippines.

In the same issue, La Aunor spills the beans about her real sexuality, her “admiration” for erstwhile “rival” and now Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, and her straightforward answer on why she chooses not to work with a certain station, all of which generated an overflow of reactions ranging from approval to blind fanaticism to severe dislike in several entertainment Web sites such as www.pep.ph..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110930com6.html

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