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Reveal details of VFA review, negotiations with US – progressive groups

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reveal details of VFA review, negotiations with US – progressive groups
“We do not need the government to once again sell out our sovereignty.” – Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño

MANILA – As students and activists remembered nationalist Claro M. Recto and his branding of the Philippine government’ policies as “mendicant” in a forum at UP Diliman, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, in Congress, issued a strongly worded manifestation against the “transgressions” to Philippine sovereignty of US troops.

Last week, the Mindanao Examiner reported that US troops led a successful airstrike by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Sulu, killing three alleged leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an international terror network (based on US military intelligence reports). If the said US hand in the airstrike were true, said Ilagan, it would only be one of many such incidences reported in the past 10 years involving US troops.
The US government has been revealed to be maintaining camps in southern Philippines though officially its troops are just “visiting.” Their permanent “visit” has been going on for a decade now, noted the multi-sectoral group Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance).

Over the years, Filipinos, especially patriotic groups, have railed against “visiting” US troops. The Philippines had booted out these same troops in 1991, but “the US forces don’t want to say goodbye,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary-general of Bayan, during a forum on the “return” of the US Bases in Claro M. Recto Hall of UP.

The patriotic groups’ campaign against the return, in various forms, of US troops has prodded the Philippine Senate to issue a resolution calling for a review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). It is the pact between the US and Philippine governments that allows for US troops’ periodic “visits” and military exercises in the Philippines.

“Although the Senate resolution has no legal effect, it is testament to the fact that there is apparently something wrong with the VFA,” Reyes said in Filipino.

But rather than address these flaws, President Benigno Aquino III has recently allowed, or “invited,” as US officials claimed, an increase in US military presence in the Philippines. Aquino’s ‘invitation’ coincides with reports that the US government is planning to send about 4,500 U.S. Marines stationed in Japan to Guam and to rotate another 4,000 through Australia, Subic Bay and “perhaps a smaller base in the Philippines and Hawaii.”

Rep. Ilagan criticized President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s decision to “kowtow to the US government’s militarist plans in the region.” The US troops had committed many violations while ‘visiting’ and basing in the Philippines, Ilagan reminded the Congress. She decried the Aquino administration’s failure to learn from lessons past, as Aquino’s decision was seemingly made without the benefit of a review or study of the impact of US military presence in the Philippines.

Going into a deeper commitment without thinking it through?

Early into Aquino’s presidency, he ordered a review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Until now, though, amid the active foot traffic in Malacañang of top US officials in political-military affairs, not a page of the result of that review has been shared to the public. Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño charged that Aquino had not pushed through with the review. At the forum in UP, though, Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. claimed that a source had told them the review had been concluded..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/02/10/reveal-details-of-vfa-review-negotiations-with-us-%e2%80%93-progressive-groups/

‘Foreign military presence in Syria raises ghost of Libya’

‘Foreign military presence in Syria raises ghost of Libya’

Russian lawmakers declared their unanimous support for Moscow's official position on Syria, which one Duma member says may have been infiltrated by foreign military.

Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov spoke out following reports that a “foreign special task force” has been dispatched to Syria in an effort to provide assistance to the political opposition.

"According to the latest reports that are now being verified, a foreign special task force has been deployed in Syria,” Pushkov told reporters on Friday. “If these reports are proved to be true, the scenario will be absolutely the same as it was in Libya.”.... MORE

URL: http://rt.com/politics/syria-russia-libya-duma-statement-975/

Anonymous took down cia.gov

Anonymous took down cia.gov

Traditionally known as F*ckFBIFriday, this weekend's eve turned into F*ckCIAFriday, as hacktivists downed the official website for the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States cia.gov.

­At approximately 3:10 p.m. Eastern time one of twitter accounts related to the hackers' group announced "cia.gov DOWN. #UMAD?#Anonymous." 

The CIA website became the latest victim in a series of attacks conducted by the elusive group of hackers against US law enforcement agencies and copyright holders. As RT reported earlier, Anonymous took credit for crashing the websites of the US Department of Homeland Security, which was quickly revived, and the FBI..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/anonymous-hacked-cia-hackers-049/

UK miss-isles: Argentina fears nukes on Falklands

UK miss-isles: Argentina fears nukes on Falklands

Argentina’s foreign minister has accused the UK of deploying nuclear weapons near the disputed Falkland Islands, militarizing the South Atlantic.

Hector Timerman voiced the accusations as he lodged a formal protest with the UN on Friday. He said Argentina had intelligence that Britain had deployed a Vanguard class submarine in the area.

“Thus far the UK refuses to say whether it is true or not,” he told a journalists in New York. “Are there nuclear weapons or are there not? The information Argentina has is that there are these nuclear weapons.”.... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/falkland-islands-nuclear-row-077/

Cost a bomb: Congress approves $82 million for army’s biggest weapon

Cost a bomb: Congress approves $82 million for army’s biggest weapon

It weighs as much as the bell in Big Ben; it’s capable of plunging through 60 feet of reinforced concrete and has the most ridiculously sexual name imaginable for a deadly weapon – but the Massive Ordnance Penetrator is THE bomb, says the Pentagon.

­Talk of beefing the bomb up with a hardened case and further advancements has been ongoing since the Air Force took delivery of it in September 2011. But Bloomberg reported that, in response to “an urgent request” from the Pentagon, immediate approval was given to shift $81.6 million to the so-called MOP program..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/pentagon-super-bomb-bunker-039/

2 activists nabbed in Laguna, charged with common crimes

2 activists nabbed in Laguna, charged with common crimes

“This illegal arrest validates that the Aquino administration is no different from the Arroyo regime that tolerates human rights abuses.” – Karapatan-Southern Tagalog
MANILA – Two members of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap- Southern Tagalog (Kadamay-ST) were arrested by joint operatives of the police and military.

At around 5:30 p.m. of February 7, Evelyn Legaspi, 53, Kadamay regional council member, and Pastora Latagan, 33, staff of the group’s regional chapter, were apprehended by some 50 elements of the local police, 1st Infantry Battalion and 202nd Brigade of the Philippine Army in Baranggay Maitim, Bay, Laguna.

The two were earlier reported missing by Karapatan-Southern Tagalog. Both were found by relatives and colleagues the next day at the Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna, according to Glen Malabanan, secretary general of Karapatan regional chapter..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/02/09/2-activists-nabbed-in-laguna-charged-with-common-crimes/

As oil prices, oil firms’ profits soar, groups seek to scrap Oil Deregulation Law

As oil prices, oil firms’ profits soar, groups seek to scrap Oil Deregulation Law

“Only our protests can force President Aquino to control oil prices.” – KMU

MANILA – Despite the peoples’ protests against the oil firms’ alleged persistent overpricing, and amid news of the oil firms’ bigger profits in the past year, oil companies have raised their prices anew this week. The latest hike followed a series of bigger increases imposed last month. Further increases also reportedly threaten to be implemented in the coming weeks, as the oil firms and the Department of Energy talk of various reasons why such increases would likely happen.

The result: just a month and a week into the new year, the oil firms have already raised the pump price of diesel by P1.30 per liter; unleaded gasoline by P3.10, and an 11-kg LPG tank by a staggering P115.50, based on the monitoring of multisectoral group Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan). The meager rollbacks the oil firms sometimes granted are always overran by the bigger and more frequent price increases, noted George San Mateo, chairman of transport group Piston (Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide).

The result, again, is worsening hunger among Filipinos as their wages and the availability of decent-paying jobs failed many times over to keep pace with the price hikes.

In all these oil price increases, the Aquino government, led by the Department of Energy, has always pointed to the Oil Deregulation Law or Republic Act (RA) 8479 as the reason why they cannot do anything but “monitor” prices. Yet, in the past, in the face of transport strikes and nationwide protests, the government (under Arroyo) was compelled to temporarily control oil prices, following a disaster which the oil companies had ignored when it raised its prices at the time. Under Aquino, he has promised, and failed so far, to scrutinize the books of oil companies. Aquino has also renewed the already discredited Pantawid-Pasada program, which gives token financial aid to public transport drivers..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/02/08/anniversary-of-oil-deregulation-law-to-be-marked-by-protests-calls-for-its-scrapping/

Somali pirates seize cargo ship with 21 Pinoys 02/11/2012

Somali pirates seize cargo ship with 21 Pinoys

Another group of 21 Filipino sailors was seized by ransom-seeking Somali pirates off Yemen, indicating that the threat of piracy and kidnapping across Africa and the Middle East remains active.

The latest kidnapping incident brought to 47 the total number of Filipino seamen being held by armed brigrands off the coast of Somalia, where they keep other foreign seafarers on board several vessels they hijacked.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Filipino crewmen of bulk carrier mv Free.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Philippine government has instructed its embassy in Bahrain to coordinate with the United States-led Combined Maritime Forces in monitoring the situation and its posts in Greece and Kenya to keep track of the negotiations with the pirates.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120211hed6.html

SC justices belittle prosecutor’s impeach threat 02/11/2012

SC justices belittle prosecutor’s impeach threat

“Bring it on” appeared to be the gist of the reaction by the Supreme Court (SC) justices who have been threatened by a congressman-prosecutor with impeachment for having voted to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Senate impeachment court in its bid to have the dollar bank accounts of Chief Justice Renato Corona at the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) disclosed before the impeachment court.

It was the PSBank’s petition to the high court, seeking the TRO from the high court which was granted.
The Chief Justice’s petition for a TRO was not taken up by the special en banc session Thursday, since the raffled favored SC Senior Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco who had, however, inhibited himself from deciding on the petition, as his son is a member of Congress..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120211hed3.html

VP Binay: Russia to extend aid to quake survivors 02/11/2012

VP Binay: Russia to extend aid to quake survivors

Russia will be extending humanitarian aid to survivors of the recent major earthquake in Negros Oriental and other natural calamities, Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday.

The Vice President said 60 tons of relief goods, which comprise of blankets, tents, sugar and preserved fish and meat, will arrive in two batches on Feb. 11 and 14 both at 4:20 a.m. via IL76 flights SUM9705 and SUM9707, respectively.

In an aide memoire that Russian Ambassador Nikolay Kudashev turned over to Binay during the former’s courtesy visit at the Coconut Palace, the Russian government asked the Office of the Vice President to assist in facilitating the delivery of the relief goods to affected areas..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120211nat3.html

EU urges speedy forging of Mindanao peace pact 02/11/2012

EU urges speedy forging of Mindanao peace pact

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — While calling for the speedy forging of a final peace agreement, ambassadors from the European Union (EU) have reiterated their support to the Mindanao peace process, wherein the regional bloc currently provides P180 million in grants.

EU Head of Delegation Guy Ledoux and ambassadors Wilhelm Donko of Austria, Jorge Domecq of Spain and Stephen Lillie of the United Kingdom came to Cotabato City on Wednesday to voice anew the bloc’s support to the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Our visit to Mindanao demonstrates the EU’s strong support for the Mindanao peace process. A peaceful settlement to the conflict is essential for the Philippines’ economic and social development, and we commend the GPH and MILF panels on their efforts so far,” Ledoux said in a statement..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120211nat2.html

Recto wants bank secrecy laws revisited Angie M. Rosales 02/11/2012

Recto wants bank secrecy laws revisited

Angie M. Rosales 02/11/2012

Called moves to press for the opening of alleged dollar deposits of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona in the ongoing impeachment trial has stirred alarm in the banking industry, an administration senator admitted yesterday.

Sen. Ralph Recto said he has in fact been receiving “friendly admonitions” from concerned members of the banking community about the ramifications of waiving or liberal application of the laws on Foreign Currency Deposits Act (FCDA) and the Bank Secrecy Act.

“The sum of the friendly heads-up that I have been getting is that this may result in a complete break down of confidence in the banking system,” Recto said. “Businessmen would be pondering the question — if the current banking laws would not be able to protect us, who would?”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120211nat9.html

Makati City mayor orders holding of quake drills in all public schools 02/11/2012

Makati City mayor orders holding of quake drills in all public schools

An estimated 90,000 students, faculty and staff took part in simultaneous earthquake drills ordered by Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. in all public schools in Makati.

The drill was conducted by Dep-Ed Makati, in coordination with the Makati Disaster Risk Reduction and Management City Council (MDRRMC), in 28 elementary and 10 high schools.

Binay had directed the DepEd-Makati officials to prioritize the conduct of preparedness drills for students, faculty and other school personnel in case of an earthquake and other emergencies..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120211met4.html

Congress laying groundwork for ‘people power,’ says solon By Charlie V. Manalo 02/11/2012

Congress laying groundwork for ‘people power,’ says solon

By Charlie V. Manalo 02/11/2012

Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay yesterday lashed out anew at her colleagues in the House of Representatives for sounding calls to impeach the eight Supreme Court (SC) justices who voted in favor of the temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop PS Bank from revealing the contents of the embattled Chief Justice’s bank account, saying the prosecution is playing fast and loose with ousting members of the judiciary and are merely seeking to enrage the public into staging another People Power.

In a statement, Magsaysay said it was very obvious that the House prosecution team is coercing the members of the high court into submitting to their whims which is very much the same line being employed by the Aquino administration against its perceived enemies..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120211met1.html

Road rage case highlights corruption at BoC 02/11/2012

Road rage case highlights corruption at BoC


A road-rage case involving a lowly paid port clerk driving a Porsche has highlighted huge problems in trying to clean up the Philippines’ corruption-riddled Customs bureau, its chief said yesterday.

Paulino Elevado, a Customs officer at Manila’s port, could face attempted murder charges following last month’s incident in which he allegedly shot at a university student, according to the government’s prosecutor’s office.

Customs Chief Rufino Biazon said bureau investigators were also checking how Elevado, who earns less than P10,000 a month, could afford to be driving a Porsche worth $118,000..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120211met5.html

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