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25 years of worsening poverty DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 12/09/2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

25 years of worsening poverty

Herman Tiu Laurel
Early this week, another one of those “summits” on the dire economic straits of the country was in the news — this one convened by religious and “civil society” leaders together with a leading member of the Edsa I political crowd (who is also a counsel of choice of the oligarchs). Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and Christian Monsod had a three-day “summit on poverty, inequality and social reform,” which, as expected, grumbled and griped about RP’s impoverishment.

“Our nation,” the archbishop said, “is in an explosive situation… Poverty is mounting, streets… are teeming with beggars and dislocated indigenous peoples…” And this probably why the other intoned in his keynote, “The task today is no less heroic than at Edsa — it is liberation from the yoke of poverty that would make democracy more meaningful to the poor… Twenty-five years after Edsa, where are we on that promise?”

Where indeed is the country today after those Edsa coup cohorts of the US and the oligarchy took over the reins of government?

Monsod should be the first to know. Didn’t he lawyer for what is touted as one of the most exploitative businesses in the country? Didn’t he preside over the dramatic deterioration of the electoral system when he, as chairman of the Comelec (Commission on Elections), removed party representation in the Board of Election Inspectors while allegedly padding the voters’ list prior to the 1992 polls, which (many say) enabled Fidel Ramos to steal victory and spawned worsening election cheating ever since?

Heck, Monsod and his wife were even at the forefront of Edsa II, which ousted the only Philippine president in the past 25 years who never approved — but, in fact, vigorously disapproved — any power or water rate increases in his attenuated two and a half year term. And hasn’t his wife been the poster girl of globalization economics in the country all these years?

Together, the two only embody the prevailing economic-political-corporatist system of the past 25 years under the Yellow banner.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Ledesma, I am told, is genuinely for the poor. But the religious “bleeding heart” rhetoric and busy “good Samaritan” activities of these well-intentioned human beings (like the antics of running priest, Fr. Robert Reyes) seldom translate into actionable programs that uproot the sources of poverty and its consequent moral decline.

Even during periods of ideological radicalization within the Roman Catholic Church (such as the flowering of liberation theology), the geopolitics of Rome (which has always been intricately linked with the western oligarchy’s pre-eminence) always gets in the way. Although the Vatican has chastised capitalism in many encyclicals of popes past, to this day, it ultimately yields to the power of capital, especially in its politics.
Back here, the situation is no different as the Catholic Church still persists in harping on government corruption when, in fact, it is the corruption of unfettered and extreme, globalized capitalism that systematically concentrates wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands.

The Church spearheaded the ouster of Marcos who, in his 21 years of authoritarian government, began laying the foundations for economic democracy in building publicly owned energy, water, irrigation, transport, health, shelter, as well as social and physical infrastructures.

Such publicly owned utilities are at the heart of economic democracy, where capital from taxes, utilities payments, and profits are plowed back for the expansion and development of these shared assets and services. Without economic democracy as a foundation, any political democracy can only be a farce.

Edsa I and II reversed our budding economic democracy when these assets — financed by past and future taxes of the people — were handed over to the voracious profit-seeking local oligarchy and western corporatocracy, effectively privatizing the profits while socializing the capitalization of these privatized assets.

In the ouster of President Joseph Estrada, the Catholic Church also fell prey to the schemes of the foreign and local corporatist-swindlers. It must never be forgotten that the central issue in the ouster of Erap was not jueteng, which 10 years later is still rampant in the country. The real goal was the massive privatization of our state assets, beginning with the power generating plants.

The evidence is there: The singular focus of the Edsa II regime of Gloria Arroyo was the passage of the Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) that was railroaded through the lame duck Congress in May 2001, allegedly through the carrot of $300 million in ADB loans and millions of lobby money distributed by then and current Speaker Sonny Belmonte. That’s why it is no longer a surprise to hear power oligarch Erramon Aboitiz say (before the Management Association of the Philippines) that “We considered the privatization process as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The oligarchs never had it so good when they took over our nation’s cheapest and natural energy resources (such as our hydroelectric and geothermal plants); then hiked their production cost, making our rates “the highest in Asia” (four times higher than Vietnam or China); then distributed such electric power at prices that are lopsided against residential consumers by a ratio of as much as 20:1, in favor of commercial and industrial users (like giant malls and factories).

So, should Christian Monsod and Archbishop Ledesma still wonder why the “The nation’s top 1 percent of… families — 185,000 — have an income equal to (that) of the bottom 30 percent of poor families numbering 5.5 million,” or that “the percentage of hungry families at 21.5 percent (has risen) from 15.1 percent in July?”

True, their summit may have dwelt on such issues as Hacienda Luisita, the conditional cash transfers, or the conflict in Mindanao. But, the simple truth is that all these will still have to hinge on the resolution of one fundamental injustice: The socialization of costs and the privatization of profit.

What they did to power, they did to water, toll ways, telecoms, ad nausea. These people can summit all they want; but they who created the problem can never be expected to provide the solution.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Saturday, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111209com6.html

The CIA's most secret prison revealed

The CIA's most secret prison revealed

In the historic city of Bucharest, the CIA tortured and interrogated high-risk terrorists for years in a basement prison, under the nose of roughly two million Romanians.

An investigation carried out by reporters for the Associated Press led to the news organization revealing on Thursday that in the years after the September 11 terror attacks, the Central Intelligence Agency operated an underground holding center for some of the most sought after alleged terrorists. There in a small six-cell jail, prisoners such as al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were beaten and detained, all unbeknownst to the citizens of Romania or American authorities outside of the CIA.

This revelation from the AP comes after officials have adamantly denied any such institution in the past..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/prison-revealed-cia-bucharest-371/

Iran shows intercepted CIA drone unscathed (VIDEO)

Iran shows intercepted CIA drone unscathed (VIDEO)

Days after the Pentagon first denied and then admitted that it lost touch with a high-tech drone aircraft, authorities in Iran are now saying that they have the plane — and its condition is pristine.

The unmanned, robotic aircraft — a RQ170 Sentinel drone plane — disappeared last week. American authorities quickly dismissed claims that they lost the plane over Iran, only to later admit that the CIA was flying a reconnaissance mission over Afghanistan when they lost touch with the top-secret stealth drone. Soon after it was believed that communication was cut once the plane waded through the air in Iranian territory. American officials then claimed that satellite imagery showed that the drone had crashed and was beyond repair.

Officials out of Tehran, however, now say that they intercepted the craft and have it in perfect shape. For proof, Iran television has even broadcast footage of the craft..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/iran-drone-plane-craft-385/

Election-meddling fiasco hits US-Russia relations

Election-meddling fiasco hits US-Russia relations

Revelations about email transactions between the US State Department and the Russian election watchdog Golos prior to Russia's parliamentary elections threaten to bring the reset to a grinding halt.
Before a single vote was cast in the parliamentary elections, a string of incidents indicated that foreign governments were already exerting influence over the election process.

Golos, an independent watchdog that has been monitoring elections in Russia for 10 years, was fined 30,000 rubles ($1,000) last week by a Moscow court for publishing “election-related opinion polls and research” after a deadline for publishing such material had passed (it is illegal in Russia to publish such information five days or less before an election).

Duma officials who petitioned to start a probe with the prosecutor’s office argued that the NGO was funded by “foreign organizations” hoping to influence the results of the elections.

­Watchdogs to guard the watchdogs?

The Russian news website Life News on Friday published emails it claims show correspondence between the US State Department and the Russian election watchdog Golos that detail payments for work done to discredit the results of Russia’s parliamentary vote.

­Life News reported it has come into the possession of 60 megabytes of Golos' private online correspondence sent and received by Golos Executive Chief Lilya Shibanova and her deputy Grigory Melkonyants. Judging by the published documents, the Russian election watchdog, which claimed to be an independent entity, was actually funded by the US State Department to advance US foreign policy objectives..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/politics/russia-us-elections-clinton-putin-2012-usaid-427/

Another Filipino executed in China, OFW group calls for ‘Zero Remittance Day’ on Dec. 18

Another Filipino executed in China, OFW group calls for ‘Zero Remittance Day’ on Dec. 18
“No Filipino goes out of the country with a death wish. Our 12 million overseas Filipino workers were compelled to leave the country to seek so-called greener pastures abroad in the absence of jobs, livelihood and decent living conditions in the Philippines.” – Garry Martinez, Migrante International
BUSTILLOS CHURCH, Manila — Shortly after noon, Vice President Jejomar Binay confirmed the execution in China of the 35-year-old Filipino who was sentenced to die for smuggling heroin. In front of Bustillos Church, a stone’s throw away from Mendiola, a moment of silence was offered to another victim of government neglect.

“I came here to extend my condolences to the family. I know how they are feeling right now. Seeing, touching your loved one and then after a few minutes, you see them lying down, cold and lifeless,” Basilisa Ordinario, mother of Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, a Filipino executed in China on March 30, told Bulatlat.com.

Ordinario said she knows how difficult it is to accept an execution of a loved one. She broke down in the middle of the campout dubbed “Kampuhan laban sa Krisis, Kaltas at Kahirapan” when Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, relayed the execution of the 35-year-old OFW in China.
“They need prayers so they could gather their strength,” Ordinario said. “Our government runs under a rotten system.”

Basilisa Ordinario, mother of Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, breaks down during the moments of silence offered to the unidentified OFW executed in China on Dec. 8(Photo Janess Ann J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)
Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, said the government should try telling the news to Mrs. Ordinario in person. Ordinario has not received any significant help from the government after Sally’s execution on March 30.
“The labor export policy has brought about deaths of OFWs,” Martinez said, “Even if we die abroad, they would not speak to protect our rights for fear of losing billions of dollars in remittances.”

Last minute efforts?
The unidentified OFW was arrested for trying to smuggle in 1.495 kilos of heroin at the Guilin International Airport in China. Last November 28, the Philippine Consulate General in Guangzhou received a confirmation that the Supreme People’s Court has affirmed the lower court’s decision imposing the death sentence on the OFW. On Nov. 30, the DFA announced that the OFW would be executed.

The DFA stressed that the Filipino was not an overseas Filipino worker but entered China as a tourist. Consequently, on Dec. 3, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said the Filipino was a “veteran drug mule,” receiving about $4,000 to $6,000 every operation..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/12/09/another-filipino-executed-in-china-ofw-group-calls-for-zero-remittance-day-on-dec-18/

Worse hunger cited in blocking fare hike petition, other price hikes

Worse hunger cited in blocking fare hike petition, other price hikes

“At this point any increase in transport fares will be rendered insignificant amid continuing oil price increases.” – Lana Linaban, Gabriela
MANILA – Filipinos are known for being optimistic and happy, but many still cannot escape the harsh reality of increasing prices and dwindling income. More than half of Filipino families (10.4 million) have rated themselves as poor in the third quarter of this year, up from last quarter’s 9.8 million families, based on a Social Weather Stations survey. “Moderate” and “severe” hunger also reportedly worsened, as an estimated 4.3 million families experienced having nothing to eat in the past three months.

These only confirmed what progressive groups have been saying each time they press the government to put an end to hikes in prices of oil products and utilities, and for a substantial wage hike. The monthly budget of Filipino families has been eroded through the years without a substantial wage hike amid nonstop price hikes.

In a study released last April, independent think-tank Ibon Foundation revealed that the current minimum wage in the National Capital Region, where wage is relatively highest in the country, is down to two-fifths of the estimated average family living wage (FLW) of P988 ($22.976) a day. Wages have thus shrunk further from being at least half of the average family living wage in 2001 to just two-fifths of living wages today.

Aquino administration and price hikes, worse hunger

Instead of correcting this problem of forced belt-tightening of Filipinos, the Aquino government has “time and again wronged the people by failing to provide a much needed respite from scandalous increases in prices of oil and other commodities,” said Lana Linaban, secretary-general of women’s group Gabriela.
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has been accused of conniving with the oil cartel and sharing in their “greed,” to the detriment of Filipino consumers. Aquino has also been criticized for not acting on pricing abuses of telecommunication companies, power companies, drug companies and schools and universities. His 2012 budget was likewise condemned by critics as skewed against the actual needs of the people and more in favour of paying big financial institutions and arming the military..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/12/08/worse-hunger-cited-in-blocking-fare-hike-petition-other-price-hikes/

Police use violence against protesters marching to Mendiola again

Police use violence against protesters marching to Mendiola again

“Prohibiting such activities, and branding it as “seditious,” goes against the core principles of democracy, transparency and accountability which are central in Aquino’s vision of a straight path and contrary to the call of the Aquino administration for active public participation in the governance of our country.” – UP Resident Alfredo Pascual

MANILA – Police once again violently dispersed protesters when they tried to march toward Chino Roces Bridge on the second day of Occupy Mendiola, Dec. 7, Wednesday, barely three days before International Human Rights day on Dec. 10. The progressive solons of Bayan Muna, Kabataan Party-list, ACT Teachers Party and Gabriela Women’s Party condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the violent dispersal of hundreds of protesters attempting to reach Chino Roces Bridge (former Mendiola Bridge).

Police violence has seriously injured three student protesters.(Photo courtesy of Alvin Tenedero / Bulatlat.com)
“The state violence exercised by the Aquino administration against the protesters is reminiscent of the Calibrated Pre-emptive Response (CPR) and other human rights violations under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It is deeply alarming and ironic that the Aquino administration confidently inflicts violence against peaceful protesters during the international celebration of human rights week,” the progressive bloc said in a statement sent to Bulatlat.com.

At about 3:00 p.m the protesters who marched from Plaza Miranda were once again prevented from reaching Mendiola. The police blocked the protesters near Bustillos church, a few blocks away from Mendiola, and used water cannons and truncheons to stop them. Some of the protesters were injured and was arrested by the police. According to Anton Dulce of Anakbayan who joined the protest, three were seriously injured and five protesters are still being detained – three PUP students, one member of Anakpawis and a member of Karatula cultural group – by the police at the Western Police District.

“Who would not revolt in a country where fascism is widespread? The police should apprehend criminals and not innocent people. The straight path of Aquino is zigzaged. Another falsehood in the litany of his promises,” Jing Paz, public information officer of College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) said in text message sent to Bulatlat.com..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/12/08/police-use-violence-against-protesters-marching-to-mendiola-again/

A practical Christmas NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 12/09/2011

A practical Christmas

Armida Siguion-Reyna
Seventeen days to go before Christmas. Given the squabbling from left and right of frame, here’s a stanza of the one song combatants would perhaps do well to heed, if at least only for the season.

Ngayon ay Pasko Na
Ngayon ay Pasko na/Panahon na maligaya
Ang mga kalungkutan atin munang kalimutan/
At ang mga kaaway ating kaibiganin/ At kung Pasko’y tapos na/
Saka na lang muling awayin

I know I can’t force people to kiss and make up, as I in my younger days couldn’t be convinced to give up a fight. What’s additional cause for worry is the fretting and worrying over the season’s tradition of gift-giving. To give or not to give in this time of want, this is the question, in the month where Santa Claus seems to be purposely hiding. He’s nowhere to be found in the US, not in Europe, nawala na lang siyang bigla.... MORE
SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111209com4.html

SC justice’s impeach dependent on House leadership By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales 12/09/2011

SC justice’s impeach dependent on House leadership

By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales 12/09/2011
The impeachment case filed against Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo is going to succeed if it has the stamp of the House leadership given the limited time Congress has to tackle the issue.

“If the House leadership wills it, there will be time,” Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said yesterday. He is the vice chairman of the House committee on justice.

Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, who is also a vice chairman of the justice panel, said the House is left with only 10 session days before the Christmas break of which only three are left to the justice panel to come out with a committee report on the complaint..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111209hed5.html

SC questions DoJ-Comelec panel’s ‘secret’ probe rules, rushed rulings By Benjamin B. Pulta 12/09/2011

SC questions DoJ-Comelec panel’s ‘secret’ probe rules, rushed rulings

By Benjamin B. Pulta 12/09/2011

The Aquino lawyers may yet again lose their case before the Supreme Court (SC), as the Department of Justice-Commission on Elections (DoJ-Comelec) panel appears to have neglected publishing the rules of the panel probing the alleged 2007 senatorial fraud, along with the speed with which the DoJ wrapped up the preliminary investigation against former President Gloria Arroyo.

The non-publication of the rules of the panel investigating the alleged fraud in the 2007 elections was among the issues raised yesterday before the SC as it resumed hearing the oral arguments on the constitutionality of the DoJ-Comelec panel.

In oral arguments at the high court yesterday, several justices questioned the lack of publication of the rules of the joint preliminary investigation of the DoJ-Comelec panel.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111209hed2.html

House to frustrate Noy on RH bill By Gerry Baldo 12/09/2011

House to frustrate Noy on RH bill

By Gerry Baldo 12/09/2011

President Aquino, despite his imprimatur on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, may not be able to get what he wants from his congressional allies.

According to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, the House may not be able to grant the President’s wish to vote on the RH bill before the House goes on a Christmas break.

Belmonte said that the President had told to him put the issue of the RH bill to a vote before Dec. 17 but the Speaker said he may not be able to play Santa Claus to the President and grant his wish because of the long list of lawmakers who want to question the sponsors of the bill..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111209nat1.html

SC petitioned to issue final ARMM polls ruling By Benjamin B. Pulta 12/09/2011

SC petitioned to issue final ARMM polls ruling

By Benjamin B. Pulta 12/09/2011

A Group has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to declare with finality its ruling originally issued last October which upheld the law synchronizing elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the national elections.

In a motion for early resolution, the Bangsamoro Solidarity Movement asked the court to turn down the motions for reconsideration filed by veteran poll lawyer Romulo Macalintal, former Tawi-Tawi Gov. Almarim Centi Tillah, Prof. Datu Casan Conding and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Laban and other petitioners seeking the reversal of the court’s ruling.

Before the law, Republic Act 10153 was passed, the ARMM polls were supposed to take place last August. The SC ruling also affirmed Malacañang’s authority to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) for the ARMM..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111209nat3.html

Solon hails DILG acquisition of fire trucks By Charlie V. Manalo 12/09/2011

Solon hails DILG acquisition of fire trucks

By Charlie V. Manalo 12/09/2011

Citing the pressing need at the municipal level to provide increased access to disaster relief services, Kasangga Rep. Ted Haresco yesterday lauded Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo for purchasing 170 fire trucks to cover the needs of about 666 municipalities throughout the country.

This would greatly boost the capacity of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to handle fires throughout those municipalities which currently make do with old and dilapidated units.

Haresco said the lack of infrastructure, especially in the rural areas, already contributes to severely limited access to social services, underscoring that this poses hazards to lives of people..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111209met2.html

Militant labor group lambasts Aquino gov’t for harassing activist-protesters By Pat C. Santos 12/09/2011

Militant labor group lambasts Aquino gov’t for harassing activist-protesters

By Pat C. Santos 12/09/2011

The militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) yesterday condemned the filing of trumped-up charges against five leaders and five participants in the Mendiola Campout protest action, saying the Aquino government is harassing activists holding peaceful protests against unabated hunger and poverty in the country.

The Manila Police District (MPD) yesterday filed before the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office charges against Vencer Crisostomo (Anakbayan chairman), Joel Maglunsod (vice chairman of Anakpawis Party-list and KMU), three other leaders and five participants in the Mendiola protest action.

“This is political harassment from a president who promised us change. President Aquino has not changed the dire economic situation in the country and he has not changed the government’s repressive approach to protesters,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairman..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111209met1.html

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