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Families of OFWs on deathrow troop to Malacanang to appeal for #ClemencyPH

migranteinternational.org - 12 hours 16 min ago
Days before the two-year anniversary of the stay of execution of Mary Jane Veloso, her parents and other families of OFWs on deathrow trooped to Malacanang and appealed to the president to seek executive clemency for all OFWs on deathrow. “Umaasa kami na gagawin ng ating pangulo ang lahat ng kanyang makakaya para mailigtas ang […]
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STATEMENT: On the P8 Billion Free Tuition IRR of CHED and DBM

kabataanpartylist.com - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 11:44

Free Tuition Policy: Socialized Tuition, Nationwide!

The immense pressure caused by calls for free education compelled legislators to re-align P8 billion to fund tuition for all 114 SUCs. It all seemed too good to be true. But when the budget was signed, President Duterte inked a dangerous caveat– it shall be implemented conditionally, to benefit the poor but deserving.

It took the CHED-DBM almost six months to put their brains together to think of an ingenious way of following the President’s order while upholding the facade that they are for “free” education. It doesn’t need a genius however to uncover their lies.

The IRR of the Free Tuition Policy, promised free tuition for all those who are under the 4Ps program and for those who are recipient of Student Financal Assistance Programs (StuFAPs). The remaining students eligible will be “ranked according to their per capita household income”, similar in essence to UP’s socialized tuition system (STS). Each student will given a tuition subsidy worth P15,000.00. Tuition fees of STuFAP beneficiaries will be “charged to the relevant allocation of the said STuFAP, provided that the total annual benefit amount of these STuFAPs are more than P15,000.” For non-StuFAP beneficiaries, sadly, the CHED-DBM didn’t provide any other option aside from hoping for extra slots or if their income is ‘low’ enough for them to be considered poor.

Despite these, CHED admits that not all enrollees for the next academic year will receive free tuition.

FTP to Further World Bank’s 4Ps

The IRR of the Free Tuition Policy operationalized its prioritization to the “poor but academically-able” by adopting the Listahanan 2.0 database management system, used under the 4Ps program, to discriminate the “poor.” It uses a much-taunted proxy means test (PMT) that assigns weights to certain factors related to welfare, much to the tune of MORES-SEC being employed by UP’s Socialized Tuition System. The PMT is a metric pushed by the World Bank to determine beneficiaries of social protection programs under its wing.

The 4Ps as a ‘social protection program’ draws flak for its failure to alleviate poverty. Under former DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman, it has been a conduit for corruption which siphoned obscene amounts of public funds in the guise of helping people get by. The last time it was heard of, it was allegedly used by candidates to gain attendance in proclamation rallies during the last elections.

By subjecting FTP to 4Ps, it will only serve to justify this flawed poverty alleviation measure and further absolve the government from resolving the roots of poverty, in this case, the lack of education of its citizens. 4Ps, without the context of national industrialization, rural development, etc. will breed discontent among the people. It will only paint the illusion that people get by, while failing to breach the chains of social inequality.

Just like 4Ps, FTP will surely earn criticism for attempting to target the poor, instead of utilizing its funds to provide access to all enrollees of 114 SUCs as what students previously demanded. CHED-DBM intends for students to compete for their FTP slots and other merit-based programs under StuFAPs to access higher education in SUCs.

Hikes in Other School Fees, Profiteering Ahead

The FTP clearly wants to subject SUC students to socialized tuition. Learning from the experience of the University of the Philippines, by subjecting students to a competition of “poorest of the poor” to prove their worthiness, this has resulted to the edging out of the poor, by those coming from the upper/middle class who has relative capacity to comply with various requirements imposed by SUCs.

This has grossly resulted to UP’s collection of no less than P11 billion from tuition and other school fees from students. According to CHED’s own estimates, at least 1 million students are expected to enroll for AY 2017-18. The FTP can only shoulder 85% of this number, with the computation of P9345 tuition for 42 units/year. The remaining 15% who are not qualified will probably pay for the full cost of education.

Worse, the FTP only covers tuition and risks bloated collection of other school fees. For 2017, DBM estimates total OSF collections to 4.47 billion. This figure might go up as we expect SUCs to offset profit loses that will be incurred from the implementation of the policy.

Other Red Flags

This has implications in special cases such as in Cagayan State University, which is the only SUC with zero tuition, and in UP which reaches tuition in excess of P15,000 per semester, as well as a small number of scholarship beneficiaries.

The FTP aims to institutionalize reliance on scholarships, subsidies and prioritization schemes, instead of providing universal access to education.

It poses added dangers as it will set the pretext for future legislative efforts. Especially in the context that Senate Bill 1304 has already been passed and the House of Representatives is coursed to pass a similar effort in May.

Challenge for the youth

In the guise of “social justice” and “prioritizing the poor”, the IRR has fine-tuned “free tuition” to be consistent with the current neoliberal policies.

It is thus high time for the Filipino youth and students to strengthen the fight for free education. We say ‘NO!’ to a nationwide socialized tuition which translates to profiteering in SUCs nationwide.

We call for the abrogation of neoliberal policies on education which have turned even public schools into moneymaking ventures in collusion with the World Bank and other foreign entities. Education is supposed to be a right regardless of one’s ability to pay.

We should strengthen our resolve to fight for our right to education. In the coming days, expect more and growing protests upholding our right to free education.###

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5 years after SC decision “Occupy Luisita,” a moral, historical, overdue action – Anakpawis

anakpawis.net - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 05:15

Tarlac, Philippines – Five years after the April 2012 decision of the Supreme Court ordering the distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to farmworker-beneficiaries, the lands are still controlled by the Cojuangco family, through its firm Tarlac Development Corporation (Tadeco), Central Azucarera de Tarlac with co-owner Martin Lorenzo and partner firm Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC). This is according to Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao during the commemorative activity of the decision inside Hacienda Luisita.

“The claim of the farmers in Hacienda Luisita is moral, historical and even legal, but after five years following the decision of the highest court in the country, the lands remain under the control of the landlord oligarchy Cojuangco family,” Casilao said.

Casilao blamed the preposterous “tambiolo land reform” implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) under the Aquino administration, that even exempted 358-hectares of land located in Brgy. Balete and Cutcut, which were grabbed by Tadeco and the 500-hectare land in Brgy. Balete, controlled by RCBC, Luisita Industrial Park Co. (Lipco) and Luisita Land Co. (formerly Luisita Realty Corp.). Based on the Supreme Court decision, 4,915 hectares of land should be distributed but DAR was only able to cover a little more than 4,000 hectares.

“DAR under the new leadership of Secretary ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano has already issued a notice of coverage for the Tadeco lands, and revoked the conversion order involving the RCBC lands, hence, there are no legal impediments for the farmers to occupy these lands, but only the outright opposition of the Cojuangco and its partner oligarchs,” Casilao mentioned.

Casilao said that DAR of the Aquino administration clearly failed the Hacienda Luisita farmers, and even the Philippine National Police who serves as paid guard dogs of landlord oligarchs in the country.

“Recently, the PNP is proving that they are paid mercenaries of the rich landlords and this ‘rule of law’ babble is sham, especially when they failed to execute the writ of installation of ARBs in former Lapanday lands located in Tagum City, and now in Hacienda Luisita, they responded in favor of RCBC, without knowing that their client is illegally and immorally occupying the lands,” Casilao said.

The police in Tarlac province has a long history of abuse against Hacienda Luisita farmers, including the September 2013 illegal arrest of former Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap who was inspecting the impact of “tambiolo land reform.”

“State agencies and machineries are clearly favoring the rich and powerful, hence, the farmers are only left with their amalgamated unity and collective effort, or through mass movement actions to attain fundamental reforms in society, “Occupy Luisita” and the numerous land occupations in Mindanao are forms of such,” he said.

He concluded that farmers across country is clamoring for free distribution of lands, as fundamantal reform, which was even agreed upon on the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) during the fourth round in Netherlands. It is also being proposed on the House Bill No. 555 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill filed by Anakpawis and the Makabayan bloc representatives.

“Regimes after regimes, agrarian reform laws after another, genuine land reform was systematically repressed and opposed, that led to an arrested development in the countryside and nation as a whole, consequently, it is only correct that the Filipino farmers, through the peasant movement to accomplish this noble task to advance social and economic reforms and land occupation, is its normative form at the present,” Casilao concluded. ###

Reference:
Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel Casilao, 0998-985-2143
Email ad: anakpawis.info@gmail.com
Facebook: /anakpawis.partylist Twitter: @AnakpawisPL
URL: http://www.anakpawis.net/

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On the creation of a “Department of OFWs”

migranteinternational.org - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 05:53
  Indeed, there has been a growing clamor among (overseas Filipino workers) OFWs and their families for a “one-stop shop” that would cater to better services and  the protection and promotion of OFWs. This is mainly because the present “one-country-approach” being implemented by agencies tasked to provide direct services to OFWs, namely, the DFA, DOLE, […]
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A Ticking Bomb in the Hands of Migrant Workers

migranteinternational.org - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 05:48
Filed under: References, Statements
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Anakpawis expresses solidarity with Lumad encamped at DSWD office, demanding rehabilitation and military pull-out

anakpawis.net - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 06:10

Quezon City – Anakpawis Party-list today joined around 70 delegates of Lumads which are presently encamped in front of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) central office in Quezon City, demanding for a comprehensive, sustainable rehabilitation and rebuilding of Lumad communities affected by militarization in the Southern Mindanao Region.

“Even before President Duterte’s pronouncement to ‘flatten the hills’ as counter-insurgency measures, human rights violations was already a pandemic in the Southern Mindanao Region,” Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao who hails from Davao City and a long-time advocate of Lumad rights before becoming a representative for Anakpawis.

According to Kerlan Fanagel, Chairperson of Pasaka, the Confederation of Lumad organization in Southern Mindanao region, to date, there are already 24 Lumad victims of extra judicial killings, these includes three couples and five women perpetrated by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed in the region.

Anakpawis with the Makabayan bloc also filed House Resolution No. 906 urging a house probe on the massive militarization and human rights abuses in Mindanao, especially the bombing operations on Lumad communities by the AFP. Some cases are:

• on July 7 to 8, 2016, the 67th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) dropped 12 to 18 bombs in Brgy. Pichon, Caraga, Davao Oriental endangering the lives of 11,500 individuals;

• on August 7, the 69th and 71st IBPA launched 6 aerial bombing in Barangay Parasanon, Maragusan, Compostela Valley destroying farms, forced 80 farmer families to evacuate, with reports of food blockade, hamletting and harassments;

• on February 15, 2017, at least 6 aerial bombs were dropped by 73rd IBPA in Sitio Tangis and Sitio Salutan, Barangay Datal Anggas, Alabel, Saranggani province that caused at least 100 Lumad families to evacuate and arrested 8 civilians as as guides in their operation;

• on March 11, 2017, the 46th IBPA dropped at least 10 bombs and used machine guns in firing upon on communities of 200 families, who also complained of looting by elements of military in Barangay Cabuyoan, Mabini, Compostela Valley.

“That is why Lumads and other national minorities staged various activities in the Manila to expose these continuing atrocities of state forces against the Lumad and activists who are pushing for genuine social change. We hold the the ‘rightists’ in the Duterte government primarily responsible, particularly Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP Chief Eduardo Año, who are executing the counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan,” Casilao said.

Casilao is also pressing for the implementation of the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines. CARHRIHL majorly protects the basic rights of civilians or non-combatants amid the armed confrontation of the AFP and NPA forces.

“With the joint agreement for the interim ceasefire signed by the GRP and NDFP panel during the fourth round, the AFP should be held accountable for its past and on-going violations, especially the occupation of farmer and Lumad communities, which actually undermines the pursuit for a just and lasting peace in the country,” Casilao ended. ###

Former Anakpawis Rep. Ka Pando Hicap with Lumad leaders at camp-out in front of DSWD Central Office, calling for rehabilitation of communities and immediate pull-out of military forces.

Former Anakpawis Rep. Ka Pando Hicap with Lumad leaders at camp-out in front of DSWD Central Office, calling for rehabilitation of communities and immediate pull-out of military forces.

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Youth party lauds Compostela workers’ successful strike

kabataanpartylist.com - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 08:01

Kabataan Party-list salutes and congratulates the workers of banana plantations in Compostela valley in the success of their 13-hour strike, participated by different unions and more than a thousand workers against the “pakyawan” scheme implemented by Japanese-based banana exporter Sumifru.

“We laud this small victory of our workers,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said.

According to the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the Maparat-Montevista Workers’ Union (MaMWU) in Compostela town commenced the strike at 10:00 in the morning of April 18, and was joined by 8 other unions from 7 banana packing plants and field operations. The strikes, which lasted for 13 hours, effectively paralyzed the operations of Sumifru.

The workers, affiliated with the National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU), eventually reached an agreement to revoke the pakyaw system after an exhaustive dialogue.

The pakyaw or piece-rate system reduces workers’ wages by at least half compared to what they earn based on the hourly rate. At the same time, they have to work longer hours to pack more boxes of export bananas, compared to the hourly rate.

Workers laboring more than 12 hours or with an overtime of over 4 hours – only receive a measly P341 (P28.42/hour) based on the piece-rate system, while the hourly rate could earn as much as P495.40 (P41.28/hour).

“But even the hourly-rate wage is very low to augment for the daily cost of living, which amounted to about P1,000 for a family of six,” Elago said.

The youth party supports the Kilusang Mayo Uno’s (KMU) call for a national minimum wage of P750/day and P16,000/month for public service employees.

“As youths to eventually join the labor force, we support the call for a higher and decent national minimum wage, as well for the long-overdue demand to end contractualization and all forms of oppression to our farmers and workers,” Elago added.

“For as long as the workers of the nation remain exploited and oppressed, expect more strikes to paralyse factories and workplaces. Expect greater resistance from the youth, workers and the people as they fight for greater victories against the oppressive system,” Elago concluded.

The youth party and various sectors are gearing up to join the workers’ big mobilization on International Workers Day on May 1. ###

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PNP, swift on “tokhang,” slow on agrarian reform – Anakpawis on delayed installation of ARBs on Lapanday lands

anakpawis.net - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 03:32

Manila, Philippines – A militant lawmaker questioned the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its failure to assist the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) with the implementation of its Writ of Installation of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) belonging to the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) on the 145-hectare lands, used to be part of the banana plantation of Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC), located in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte.

“Elements of the PNP are quick to react on drug-related cases, but a ‘no-show’ to implement a landmark and pro-farmer decision by the President’s alter-ego for agrarian reform, Sec. Ka Paeng Mariano,” Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao who was with the members of MARBAI since Monday.

Casilao filed the House Resolution No. 634 that called for a congressional inquiry on the shooting of ARBs by armed guards of Lapanday last December. He suspected that the strong influence of the Lorenzo family, who owns LFC, had a major role with the PNP’s failure to assist DAR on carrying out its mandate on serving the farmers.

“If the ARBs are not to be installed immediately within a few days, we will be compelled to push for a congressional inquiry on how the PNP abandoned DAR, though with PNP Chief Dela Rosa’s personal commitment to Sec. Mariano,” Casilao said.

MARBAI farmers said that LFC deployed more than 700 armed guards on the land as defiance of the DAR installation order.

“This deployment of armed guards by Lapanday, is an admission of guilt that they were indeed involved with the December violent shooting against the ARBs, when during a committee hearing in congress, its representatives even claimed that the perpetrators were members of the MNLF,” Casilao said.

The lawmaker said that the agrarian reform agenda is a major concern that would impact the Duterte government, as its sincere fulfillment will benefit millions of farmers nationwide. He urged President Rodrigo Duterte to express his full support on the installation of MARBAI ARBs and expel the armed resistance of the Lorenzo family.

“The president recently criticized a member of the oligarchy during his state visits abroad, when in fact, his agrarian reform secretary is head on against another oligarchy, the Lorenzo family, just to fulfill his campaign promises for fundamental change in society; with all the babble about being strong willed against criminality but actually being tolerant of a rich family who is already affronting his cabinet leader, it is a character of being sham and pretension,” Casilao said. ###

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Migrante to Duterte: Regular jobs, wages, pro-labor policies will entice OFWs to come home

migranteinternational.org - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 07:53
Migrante International lauds the ongoing repatriation efforts of the PH government, as Pres. Duterte arrives home today with stranded OFWs who availed of the amnesty program of the Saudi Arabia government for undocumented migrant workers. Repatriation efforts, however, will fall short if thousands upon thousands of returned OFWs will only fall victim anew to forced […]
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#ClemencyPH Duterte urged to seek clemency for all OFWs on death row

migranteinternational.org - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 05:08
Migrante International today urged President Rodrigo Duterte to seek clemency for all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row, especially the innocent and those who were not given proper legal assistance by the previous administration. Duterte is set to arrive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today to seek audience with King Salman. Before he […]
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Youth party welcomes success of 4th

kabataanpartylist.com - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 15:41

Youth party welcomes success of 4th round of GRP-NDF talks, backs call for free land distribution

Kabataan Partylist lauds the GRP and the NDFP for another successful round of peace talks, and the agreement of both parties for free land distribution.

“The fourth round of talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines concludes on a positive note with more agreements on free land distribution to support agrarian reform and rural development. We welcome this breakthrough as a just and necessary step to address landlessness and agrarian unrest, and to correct the social injustices long suffered by farmers,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said.

According to the Joint Statement of both parties on the fourth round, “The Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs-SER) firmed up their agreement on distribution of land for free as the basic principle of genuine agrarian reform.”

“The NDFP believes that free land distribution is key to dismantling the so-called land monopoly or the concentration of thousands of hectares of land in the hands of very few families. The President has expressed support for this and, in fact, the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill is considered one of the administration’s priority bills,” Elago added.

To complement land distribution, the NDFP also pushes for rural industrialization which includes “the provision of more farm technicians, agricultural credit to the tillers, post-harvest facilities, marketing agencies, irrigation systems, and farm-to-market roads which shall be an integral part of the agrarian reform program,” as stated in the NDFP Draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

“This landmark round sets the tone for the succeeding rounds of talks which we envision having a more fruitful, albeit heated, discussion on fundamental reforms necessary to address the roots of armed conflict. The signing of the Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire aims to provide a more enabling and conducive environment towards the signing of CASER, but it is still our firm resolve to continue to strengthen the mass movement and collectively rally towards achieving peace based on justice,” Elago explained.

Expedite release of prisoners

Aside from forging an Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire, the parties also agreed to release prisoners. The GRP recommended the conditional pardon of 23 NDFP-listed prisoners, including three consultants, exploring all means necessary to do so.

The NDFP and GRP also agreed to undertake measures to immediately and safely release the four remaining New People’s Army captives.  Those held in SOCSKSARGEN are to be released before Easter (April 15) and those in Bukidnon and CARAGA after Easter.

“We welcome the release of prisoners. Both parties must expedite the safe release of these prisoners, but must also discuss the release of the other 400 political prisoners nationwide,” Elago said.

CASER before ceasefire

“We remain wary that the GRP merely wants to elicit a bilateral ceasefire from the NDFP. We think of it as a tool for pacifying and capitulating the revolutionary forces. We’d like to remind the President that it is the strength of the revolutionary forces and strong public support that enabled the peace talks to move forward. We also like to remind him that the talks are about bringing fundamental socio-economic changes to address the roots of armed conflict, and not merely surrendering arms without seeking answers to longstanding problems,” Elago said.

“We implore the FIlipino youth and the people to rally behind the cause for genuine agrarian reform, starting with free land distribution. Aside from providing relief for our farmers, genuine agrarian reform will build the foundation for national industries to spur our economy and change the decades-old rotten system. Moreover, it is in the youth’s interest to support the peace talks because included in CASER is the provision of free education for all at all levels, which will more likely be tackled in the following rounds of talks. That’s why the youth needs to rally behind the passage of CASER, and other substantive agendas, and the implementation of genuine reforms,” Elago added.

“As long as these roots of our crises remain, the youth and the people will keep fighting for a just and lasting peace, under a humane society free from oppression,” Elago concluded. ###

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Youth party welcomes joint truce agreement, questions gov’t sincerity in peace talks

kabataanpartylist.com - Thu, 04/06/2017 - 01:26

Kabataan Partylist welcomes the recent signing on Wednesday of an agreement of an interim joint ceasefire between the GRP and NDFP, during the fourth round of peace talks which started on April 3.

According to the NDFP, this Comprehensive Joint Ceasefire Agreement is expected to be more stable than the previous unilateral ceasefires that existed from August 2016 to January 2017.

The guidelines and ground rules for this agreement include, among others, (1) the presence of armed units and elements of both parties in local communities and the creation of buffer zones, (2) an agreement on what constitutes prohibited, hostile, and provocative acts, and (3) a ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism to oversee the ceasefire’s implementation and handle complaints and alleged violations.

This follows complaints of previous alleged ceasefire violations that took place during earlier rounds of peace talks last year, and eventually lifted previous ceasefires and terminated the talks.

Rights group KARAPATAN reported during said period, among others, the killing of 24 peasants and indigenous peoples; the enforced disappearance of two lumad activists; at least 14,659 incidents of threats, harassment and intimidation; and 4,170 incidents of indiscriminate firing and bombings by troops who have occupied communities in the countryside despite the ongoing ceasefire.

GRP’s sincerity questionable

“We should stay vigilant, especially as no ceasefire is yet in effect,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said.

The youth party questioned the GRP’s sincerity after the opening of the fourth round of talks was delayed due to a phone call from the president.

“Even before the GRP panel left, the president’s marching orders to them were to get him a bilateral ceasefire. That makes their sincerity questionable. It reeks of plain capitulation and pacification,” Elago said.

“It’s plain pacification. Not to mention the AFP’s utter disregard of previous agreements (e.g. CARHRIHL, JASIG), with the AFP Chief even urging civilians to condemn the NPA for their ‘atrocities and anti-development activities.’ They will stop at nothing to ‘flatten the hills,’ terrorize communities, and vilify innocent civilians as NPA sympathizers which has actually cost them their lives and livelihoods,” Elago explained.

Another peasant activist killed

Just last Sunday, another peasant activist was killed by suspected military agents. Danilo Nadal, 37, was shot dead by suspected agents of 46th IBPA at Barangay Tibagun, Pantukan, Compostela Valley at 11:30 in the morning of April 2, 2017, according to a statement from human rights group KARAPATAN.

“We strongly condemn the killing of Nadal. His death is a reminder that the old system has not changed and has in fact gotten worse. As the people continue to call out Duterte’s empty promises, what they get in return are guns and bullets. The administration’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan has only affected innocent civilians and activists,” Elago said.

Tackle socio-economic agenda

“We must not forget that the peace talks is not just about laying down arms, but rather addressing the roots of armed conflict, and with it poverty and criminality,” Elago said.

The fourth round of talks seeks to discuss the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR). Among the proposed reforms are free education at all levels, free land distribution to the farmers and rural and national industrialization.

“Both parties must prove their sincerity in achieving peace, especially on the part of the GRP. After all, they have powerful interests behind their back who will not easily give up their vast tracts of land or their huge corporations, and maintain the decades-old order that has only benefited them. The GRP must have the political will to accomplish fundamental reforms, and address the roots of armed conflict, criminality and poverty, or else these agreements will be useless,” Elago added.

Call for greater support

“We urge the Filipino youth to more actively participate in the peace negotiations. Included in CASER is free education at all levels that’s why it’s in our interests to actively push for the implementation of these socio-economic reforms,” Elago said.

“Expect the youth and the people to mount more and bigger protests to denounce the worsening commercialization and deregulation of education, and the persistence of contractualization and landlessness in our society,” Elago added.

“The people have nothing to lose if they stand up for their rights. Duterte is slowly becoming the authoritarian and fascist he’s been dreaming of, but the people have a long and rich history of fighting against dictatorship and tyranny. The Filipino people will not hesitate to hold Duterte accountable for his broken promises and his crimes against the people,” Elago concluded. ###

(photo courtesy of Kodao Productions)

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HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 919 ON THE IMPACT OF AGRIBUSINESS VENTURES ARRANGEMENT AND DEMAND FOR ITS REVOCATION

anakpawis.net - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 10:29

Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City

SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS
First Regular Session

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 919

————————————————————————————————————-
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES
ARIEL B. CASILAO
CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE, EMMI A. DE JESUS, ANTONIO L. TINIO,
ARLENE D. BROSAS, FRANCE L. CASTRO, AND SARAH JANE I. ELAGO
————————————————————————————————————-

RESOLUTION
DIRECTING THE COMMITTEE ON AGRARIAN REFORM TO CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON THE IMPACT OF AGRIBUSINESS VENTURE ARRANGEMENTS (AVAs) IN THE COUNTRY, IN LIGHT OF THE MOUNTING DEMAND OF AGRARIAN REFORM BENEFICIARIES (ARBS), FARMERS AND AGRICULTURAL WORKERS FOR ITS REVOCATION

WHEREAS, after almost three decades of implementation of the expired Republic Act No. 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), the monopoly control and ownership of vast haciendas and plantations of the biggest landlord families and agro-corporations remain intact, while the poorest of the country’s rural poor – the farm workers and agricultural workers – remain as landless peasants barely getting by with slave-like wages;

WHEREAS, the CARP as part of its numerous loopholes provided hacienderos and corporate landlords with options for non-land transfer schemes as provisioned by Section 8 on Multinational Corporations, Section 11 on Commercial Farming, and Chapter VIII on Corporate Farms, that contradicted the universal ideal of agrarian reform which is “land to the tiller,” and “social justice,” “owner-cultivatorship,” and “equitable distribution and ownership of land” as mentioned on Section 2 or Declaration of Principles and Policies;

WHEREAS, as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has firmly promoted Agribusiness Ventures Arrangements (AVAs) since its DAR Administrative Order No. 2, Series of 1999, DAR AO No. 2, Series of 2002, DAR AO No. 9, Series of 2006 and DAR AO No. 4, Series of 2016, where ARBs were enchained by contracts favoring hacienderos, local agro-corporations and agri-transnational corporations through corporative schemes, contract-growing, profit-sharing agreements, block-farming, leasehold, leaseback and other such arrangements;

WHEREAS, according to DAR, as of 2015, there are 433 existing AVA contracts covering some 57,000 hectares, and about 63 percent of the total land area in the inventory is devoted to some form of lease arrangement, and a total of 77 percent of the contracts pertain to lease;

WHEREAS, government data showed that in 2013, around 1.2 million hectares of land located all over the country are under AVAs and during the Aquino administration, sugar block farming, leaseback contracts and various types of AVAs were being peddled to supposed beneficiaries, including those in Hacienda Luisita along with sham land distribution and continued repression;

WHEREAS, in March 2013, DAR signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to establish 29 sugar block farms in Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Bukidnon, Iloilo, North Cotabato, Tarlac, Batangas, Albay, Antique, Capiz and Davao Del Sur;

WHEREAS, as promoted by RA 6657 CARP Chapter VIII on Corporate Farms, eleven (11) stock distribution option (SDO) scheme continue to operate in Negros island, Iloilo and Davao Del Sur;

WHEREAS, according to National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), 1,905 farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs) under SDO still live like typical hacienda workers who receive measly dividends as low as P340 to P500 annually, based on their share in the capital stock of the estate; moreover, the “corporative scheme” or joint venture agreement, covering 4,654 hectares of hacienda lands, implemented by Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr., persist in Negros;

WHEREAS, the perpetuation of various AVAs is in line with destructive neo-liberal policies that undermine agrarian reform and attack the democratic rights and livelihood of millions of peasants in the country;

WHEREAS, AVAs primary objective is control over vast tracks of land and undermining of the agrarian reform beneficiaries’ (ARBs) rights to the awarded land and this is manifested by the on-going agrarian dispute between the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) and Lapanday Foods Corp. over the 145 hectare land in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, that led to the cruel shooting of ARBs by the latter’s armed guards in December last year;

WHEREAS, in December 2015, the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) issued a final and executory order reinstating MARBAI farmworkers, followed by the installation process ordered by DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano since October last year; while DAR issued a cease-and-desist order against Lapanday, it continued its defiance and continue to oppose the installation of ARBs with its armed guards remain to occupy the supposedly awarded lands to the ARBs;

WHEREAS, upon assuming office in July 2016, DAR Sec. Mariano suspended the implementation of DAR AO No. 4, and is conducting a review of all AVA contracts, which was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte during the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) meeting in September 2016;

WHEREAS, as AVA is a neo-liberal measure to preserve the export-orientation of the country’s agriculture, it runs contrary to Genuine Agrarian Reform and rural development, as well as food security, national sovereignty and patrimony;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Committee on Agrarian Reform to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the impact of Agribusiness Venture Arrangements (AVAs) in the country, in light of the mounting demand of agrarian reform beneficiaries, farmers and agricultural workers for its revocation.

Adopted,

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HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 918 ON THE DEMAND FOR A NATIONWIDE MORATORIUM OF PLANTATION EXPANSION

anakpawis.net - Wed, 04/05/2017 - 10:22

Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City

SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS
First Regular Session

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 918

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INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES
ARIEL B. CASILAO
CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE, EMMI A. DE JESUS, ANTONIO L. TINIO,
ARLENE D. BROSAS, FRANCE L. CASTRO, AND SARAH JANE I. ELAGO
————————————————————————————————————-

RESOLUTION
DIRECTING THE COMMITTEE ON AGRARIAN REFORM AND COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE TO CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON THE NATIONWIDE MORATORIUM ON EXPANSION OF AGRICULTURAL PLANTATIONS

WHEREAS, there are large rubber, banana, pineapple, sugar and oil palm plantations in the Philippines;

WHEREAS, these include those owned by giant fruit companies like Del Monte, Sumifru and Dole which encroach on peasant communities and ancestral lands of indigenous peoples and Moro people in Mindanao, likewise in other provinces like Bohol, Palawan and Negros; these also include vast haciendas of sugar barons owned by traditional Filipino big landlords including that of the family of former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino;

WHEREAS, vast tracts of land, mostly in Mindanao remain targets for expansion of the world’s biggest agri-business companies operating these plantations, which include for sugar and bio-ethanol production;

WHEREAS, according to the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Resist Expansion of Agricultural Plantation – Mindanao (REAP Mindanao), in the last 10 years, land areas covered by agri-plantations in Mindanao have increased by a total of 79 percent. Rubber plantations nearly tripled its size from 81,667 hectares in 2005 to as much as 214,314.6 has by 2014; oil palm plantations are also rapidly expanding and nearly doubled its spread in Mindanao from 23,478 hectares to 42,731 hectares in the same period;

WHEREAS, the groups added that foreign monopoly lords over the plantation lands, such as Dole, Del Monte, Japanese firm Sumifru, South American Unifruitti, while rubber plantation firms and exporters supply to primary markets in Malaysia and Singapore, to eventually end up to foreign monopoly corporations such as Yokohama, Dunlop, Mitsuboshi and other firms;

WHEREAS, the neo-liberal design of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and contract agriculture through various agri-business venture arrangements (AVAs) sanctioned by state policy further highlight the dismal failure of agrarian reform in the country; the unbridled expansion of these plantations – now at an alarming and unprecedented rate covering tens of thousands of hectares only during the past few years – has pushed peoples deeper into poverty;

WHEREAS, the expansion of agricultural plantations, harsh conditions and atrocities fuel resistance of farmers, indigenous peoples and other sectors in the countryside, but their legitimate grievances often fall on deaf ears and are often violently repressed, such as the case subject of House Resolution No. 690 filed by former Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap during the 16th congress, on the impact of palm plantation operation of A. Brown Company, Inc. on indigenous communities;

WHEREAS, those who oppose the expansion of agricultural plantations are being subjected to human rights abuses such as the case of the Lumad communities against the A. Brown oil palm plantation expansion in Opol town, Misamis Oriental, where an indigenous people’s leader, Gilbert Paborada was killed on October 3, 2012, and their communities are heavily occupied by elements of the military; moreover, agricultural workers in Dolefil who are advancing their labor rights are being vilified and harassed by elements of the military;

WHEREAS, for many decades, plantation firms have been exploiting agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) who are held constricted of agri-business ventures arrangements or contracts, such as the case of oil palm plantations in CARAGA, where leases on land are at low P160 per month per hectare and Dole-Stanfilco fixed-pricing on a box of cavendish bananas or 13kg at USD 2.50;

WHEREAS, landless agricultural workers toiling these plantations remain dirt poor – exposed to hazardous working conditions, slave-like wages and brutal repression; furthermore, plantations endanger whole communities with the adverse health and environmental effects of crop conversion and massive use of agro-chemicals, and with these circumstances, UMA, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, REAP Network and other people’s organizations are demanding a moratorium on the expansion of agricultural plantations, during the public launching of REAP Network in October 2015 in UP Diliman campus, and the Street Conference for Stop Oil Palm Expansion on November 2015 in front of the Department of Agriculture central office in Quezon City, that prompted the filing of this house resolution;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Committee on Agrarian Reform and Committee on Agriculture to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the nationwide moratorium on expansion of agricultural plantations.

Adopted,

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Youth party tells Duterte: look further into housing crisis

kabataanpartylist.com - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 15:40

Kabataan Partylist compels President Rodrigo Duterte to look further into the country’s housing crisis, following his recent pronouncement to give the housing units in Bulacan occupied by members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) this March.

“We laud the victory of collective action, as the occupants led by KADAMAY militantly asserted their just right to housing through the occupation of idle housing sites,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said.

Duterte recently conceded and said that he will give the occupied housing units to the KADAMAY members, and promised to supervise another housing project for the supposed military and police beneficiaries.

“We hope that this is not another of those flip-flop statements of his. We now challenge the Duterte administration to the next step – to hold an investigation and address the housing situation in the country, not just for the state forces but for everyone,” Elago said.

According to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), the housing backlog as of December 2016 is pegged at 2.02 million units, and this is expected to swell to almost 6.80 million by 2022. According to the National Housing Authority (NHA), there are about 52,341 idle housing units as of last year.

“The Duterte administration should investigate why so many houses are left unoccupied despite the huge housing backlog. They should look into the reported substandard quality of these housing units and the fact that some of these units are being used as a business venture, selling them to would-be buyers who are not poor.

“More than the ‘anarchic’ occupation of houses, these are the KADAMAY occupants’ demands: that the President address the longstanding housing problem in the country, accompanied by ensuring regular jobs and decent wages for everyone,” Elago said.

“The Filipino youth will remain in solidarity with the urban poor in the fight for a free and decent housing program, and the struggle for a just and humane society. We will exert all avenues, from the socio-economic agenda of the GRP-NDF peace talks, to the demonstration of our collective action in asserting our right. For as long as the crises of the urban poor in housing and labor remain, expect more occupations and re-occupations as a growing resistance to the rotten anti-poor system,” Elago concluded. ###

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HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 916 URGING PRESIDENT DUTERTE TO STOP THE KILLING OF FARMERS IN THE COUNTRY

anakpawis.net - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 07:55

Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City

SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS
First Regular Session

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 916

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INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES
ARIEL B. CASILAO
CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE, EMMI A. DE JESUS, ANTONIO L. TINIO,
ARLENE D. BROSAS, FRANCE L. CASTRO, AND SARAH JANE I. ELAGO
————————————————————————————————————-

RESOLUTION
URGING PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE TO EFFECT MEASURES TO STOP THE KILLING OF FARMERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND SERVE JUSTICE BY HOLDING THE PERPETRATORS ACCOUNTABLE AND PROVIDE APPROPRIATE REPARATION

WHEREAS, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other state forces are now implementing the counter-insurgency program Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan or DSSP Kapayapaan or Oplan Kapayapaan, the main components such as heavy militarization of farmers’ communities and human rights abuses persist, making it comparable to Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration, Oplan Bantay Laya of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime, Oplan Makabayan of the Estrada regime, Oplan Lambat Bitag of the Ramos regime, Total War Policy and Low Intensity Conflict of the Corazon Aquino regime, as well, as the martial law rule of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos;

WHEREAS, from July 2016 to April 2, 2017, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Philippine Peasant Movement) and Karapatan Human rights group documented forty-four (44) cases of extra-judicial killings of 37 male and 7 female farmers, indigenous peoples and agricultural workers across the country;

WHEREAS, from July to December 2016, a total of nineteen (19) were killed including: ten (10) farmers and nine (9) indigenous peoples under the extended implementation of Oplan Bayanihan; by location, seven (7) victims from Bukidnon; six (6) from Davao, Misamis Oriental, Davao del Norte, Agusan Del Sur and Cotabato; five (5) from Nueva Ecija and Pampanga in Central Luzon; and one (1) in Isabela, Cagayan Valley region;

WHEREAS, from January to April 2, 2017, a total of twenty-five (25) were killed including: the fifteen (15) farmers, eight (8) indigenous peoples and two (2) agricultural workers under the implementation of Oplan Kapayapaan; by location, thirteen (13) from Davao City, Compostela Valley and North Cotabato; two (2) from Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte in Caraga region; three (3) from Capiz; two (2) from Bukidnon; two (2) in Negros Occidental; one (1) from South Cotabato, Soccsksargen; and one (1) from Quezon province in Southern Tagalog;

WHEREAS, according to KMP, an average of one farmer was killed in every two days in February 2017 that resulted to fourteen (14) cases of extra-judicial killings primarily occurred in Mindanao regions particularly in northern and southern Mindanao and Caraga;

WHEREAS, according to Karapatan, most farmers (14) were killed in February 2017:
• February 3, Renato Anglao, Bukidnon;
• February 4, Matanem Pocuan, Bukidnon;
• February 6, Glenn Ramos, Davao City;
• February 6, Emelito Rotimas, Compostela Valley;
• February 11, Pipito Tiambong, Agusan del Norte;
• February 11, Jerson Bito, Agusan del Norte;
• February 11, Orlando Eslana, Capiz;
• February 16, Edweno ‘Edwin’ Catog, Compostela Valley;
• February 16, Roel Rico Satingasin, Davao;
• February 16, Ariel Gelbero, Davao City;
• February 19, Willerme Agorde, North Cotabato;
• February 24, Ian Borres, Capiz;
• February 24, Lorendo Borres, Capiz;
• February 25, Gilbert Bancat, Quezon;

WHEREAS, many farmers are advocating genuine agrarian reform through the legal-democratic movement, that is sanctioned by the Philippine constitution, particularly, the right for government redress of grievances, right to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to self-organization;

WHEREAS, the Role and Rights of People’s Organizations are explicitly stated in Article XIII of the Philippine constitution:

“Section 15. The State shall respect the role of independent people’s organizations to enable the people to pursue and protect, within the democratic framework, their legitimate and collective interests and aspirations through peaceful and lawful means.
People’s organizations are bona fide associations of citizens with demonstrated capacity to promote the public interest and with identifiable leadership, membership, and structure.

Section 16. The right of the people and their organizations to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political, and economic decision-making shall not be abridged. The State shall, by law, facilitate the establishment of adequate consultation mechanisms.”

WHEREAS, while the Philippine government ratified its adoption of the Protocol II of the Geneva Convention in November 1986, or the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, state forces continues its neglect and violation, particularly Article 13 or Protection of the civilian population, that stated:

“1. The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules shall be observed in all circumstances.

2. The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.”

WHEREAS, the continuing killings of farmers, who were usually leaders of peasant organizations, activists in the localities and even members of Anakpawis Party-list are violative not only of the Philippine constitution and Geneva Convention, but as well as, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly Article 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Article 6, and of the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP);

WHEREAS, these violations of Philippine laws and international conventions often involved AFP, other state forces and private armed groups of landlords, hacienderos, and firms for plantation, mining, logging and other ventures that violate the farmers’ rights to land;

WHEREAS, Anakpawis Party-list and the Makabayan Coalition representatives has been pushing for legislative inquiries on the killings of farmers as brought up by at least 11 house resolutions:

• House Resolution No. 434, on the killing of Isabela peasant leader Ariel Diaz on September 7, 2016, in Delfin Albano, Isabela;
• HR 679, on the killing of Pampanga peasant leader Jimmy Sotto on December 24, 2016 in Floridablanca, Pampanga;
• HR 726, on the killing of sugar worker leader Alexander Ceballos on January 20, 2017;
• HR 727, on the killing of indigenous people’s leader Veronico Delamente on January 29, in Claver, Surigao Del Norte;
• HR 764, on the killing of indigenous people’s leader Renato Anglao on February 3, in Bukidnon;
• HR 765, on the killing of farmer Wenceslao Pacquiao on January 25, in Calatrava, Negros Occidental;
• HR 804, on the killing of indigenous people’s leader Edwin Catog on February 16, in Pantukan, Compostela Valley;
• HR 805, on the killing of peasant leader Willerme Agorde on February 19, in Arakan, North Cotabato;
• HR 837, on the killing of farmers Lorendo and Ian Borres on February 24, in Maayon, Capiz;
• HR 838, on the killing of peasant leader Gilbert Bancat on February 25, in San Andres, Quezon;
• HR 893, on the killing of peasant couple Leonila and Ramon Pesadilla on March 2, in Compostela, Compostela Valley;

WHEREAS, Anakpawis Party-list joins KMP, other peasant, human rights and multi-sectoral groups, and other rights advocates for campaigning the “Stop Killing Farmers” with the objective of: putting an end on the killings against farmers and; urging President Duterte to stop the fascist attack and repressive policies of the AFP; and to hold the perpetrators such as the AFP, other state forces, private armed groups, accountable;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the House of Representatives adopt this resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to effect measures to stop the killing of farmers across the country and serve justice by holding the perpetrators accountable and provide appropriate reparation.

Adopted,

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HOUSE BILL NO. 5403 – REPEAL IRRI’S IMMUNITY FROM SUIT

anakpawis.net - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 07:52

Republic of the Philippines
House of Representatives
Quezon City

SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS
First Regular Session

HOUSE BILL NO. 5403

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INTRODUCED BY ANAKPAWIS PARTY-LIST REPRESENTATIVE
ARIEL B. CASILAO
CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE, EMMI A. DE JESUS, ANTONIO L. TINIO,
ARLENE D. BROSAS, FRANCE L. CASTRO, AND SARAH JANE I. ELAGO
————————————————————————————————————-

EXPLANATORY NOTE

A world without International Rice Research Institute is a world free from monopoly of rice crop varieties and from diseases and deaths brought by IRRI’s agro-chemicals. IRRI’s existence in the Philippines is more than half a century but failed to contribute in attaining food security in the country. This concrete situation pushed Filipino peasantry, agriculturists and scientists, food security advocates and people’s organizations to press the government of agricultural programs and policies based on genuine rural development, free from foreign monopoly control and sincere in achieving food security for the people.

IRRI was established in 1959 by virtue of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and both the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. The institute was envisioned to be the world’s prime mover in rice science and technology purportedly to reduce food-insecurity-related poverty in the Philippines as well as in the rest of the rice-producing countries in the underdeveloped regions.

Fifty-seven years hence, however, according to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), a nationwide peasant organization, IRRI cannot at all claim of its positive contribution to the food security of the country or of other poor and agricultural countries. IRRI’s researches, which they claim to improve rice and even corn production have not led to any significant development in the country’s agricultural productivity. In fact, the state of Philippine agriculture has consistently worsened to the point that the very host country of IRRI, fell to becoming the world’s biggest net importer of rice in 2008, and being the third last year, following China and Nigeria.

One of the highlighted cases of extreme starvation and production difficulties was experienced by more than 6,000 farmers and Lumad people from Kidapawan and other parts of North Cotabato in Mindanao, who protested demanding food on April 1, 2016. While this was predominantly driven by the extreme drought, they also suffered abuses such as displacement and militarization that hampered their agricultural cultivation and exacerbated their access to food. Worsening was, the government neglect, amidst the many reports of hunger, the local and national government failed to address the situation, through immediate food relief and assistance. The farmers’ action were replied with a bloody dispersal by the Philippine National Police known as the Kidapawan Carnage that left two farmers dead, more than a hundred injured and seventy eight detained, including elderly and pregnant women.

If IRRI actually accomplished anything, it was the institutionalization of a rice production system that is highly dependent on agro-chemical products such as pesticide, promoted by its transnational corporation (TNC) partners. IRRI’s science and technology mandate has long been geared almost solely toward the constant development and dissemination of hybrid, genetically engineered crops to complement and perpetuate the use of the said harmful chemicals promoted by predatory TNCs such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow Chemical, Du Pont and BASF among others. For over five decades now, IRRI has indeed been an instrument of monopoly capital’s onslaught upon the agriculture of the Philippines and of other Third World nations.

The introduction of IRRI’s high yielding varieties of rice and corn grains during the now infamous Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s led to an unprecedented use of and dependence to agro-chemicals that eventually harmed the natural ecosystem in the rice fields. Scientific tests have in fact proven how genetically modified (GMO) crop varieties produce particular types of toxins and allergens that not only prompt allergic reactions but could also cause damage to vital human organs.

On April 8, 2015, Bill Gates, the 2017 Forbes richest billionaire, donated USD10.3 million dollars to IRRI through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) intended for various research on genetically modified Golden Rice, a genetically manipulated variety that contains beta carotene. According to Masipag, a network of farmer’s groups and scientists, the funding will be used for high technology purported solutions like chemical farming and GMOs that would create further trouble among poor peasant families and consumers.

Moreover, IRRI is enjoying its immunity to the point of blatant disregard of its workers who were exposed to harmful and dangerous agro-chemical products and outright violations of labor rights. According to Brotherhood of IRRI Support Services Group (BISSIG), a labor organization in IRRI, it has been abusing its international status through its seemingly endless list of violations of its workers’ rights to organize, to collectively bargain and negotiate, and to hold strikes. Moreover, IRRI is enjoying its immunity to the point of blatant disregard of its workers who were exposed to harmful and dangerous agro-chemical products and outright violations of labor rights. According to Brotherhood of IRRI Support Services Group (BISSIG), a labor organization in IRRI, it has been abusing its international status through its seemingly endless list of violations of its workers’ rights to organize, to collectively bargain and negotiate, and to hold strikes. At least 8 former IRRI workers, who used to apply pesticides in IRRIs field test farms, had died due to pesticide poisoning, as reported by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Philippines based from its fact-finding mission in 2000.

In 1979, President Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1620 declared IRRI as an international organization, with all the privileges and immunities that came with the granting of such status. IRRI thus has been able to justify its anti-labor practices. IRRI has intermittently carried out mass lay-offs in 1989, 1993 and 1996. It has implemented a questionable retrenchment program that has warranted the unfair dismissal of regular employees. The institute has also engaged in union busting which included the harassment of union leaders and members.

These workers have failed in their various attempts to seek redress from the courts given IRRI’s immunity from suit which it enjoys under Presidential Decree No. 1620. The same immunity has also been invoked to bar the workers from claiming compensation for having been afflicted with illnesses due to exposure to toxic chemicals and to inhuman working conditions.

Presidential Decree No. 1620, however, is not an international pact that cannot be repealed. IRRI does not in fact approximate a party such as a representative of any sovereign state entitled to privileges and immunities as are contained in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Neither can IRRI invoke to be an entity comparable to a specialized agency of the United Nations.

Moreover, the international agreement signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos and representatives of ten (10) countries in May 19, 1995, which acknowledged IRRI as an international organization has yet to be ratified by the Philippine Senate. The said agreement furthermore does not compel any party to the agreement to grant IRRI any privileges and immunities or any form of financial support.

This legislative measure seeks to repeal PD 1620 precisely to strip IRRI of these said unjustifiable privileges and immunities which have been used to grossly violate the fundamental rights and freedom of IRRI workers with impunity, as well as, shielding from potential legal liabilities brought about agro-chemical agriculture, impact on the environment and health. This bill, which was filed during the first regular session of the Fourteenth Congress by then Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano and during the third regular session of the Sixteenth Congress by former Representative Fernando Hicap is being refiled today to fulfill the rights of Filipinos and decisively challenge the collusion of IRRI and agro-chemical TNCs, in the hope of altering the country’s agricultural dependence on agro-chem, which is contributory to the deterioration of people’s health, producers, as well as consumers, and significantly, wiped out the traditional practices of food production in the country. Thus, this is not only in defense of the welfare of Filipino workers and peasants but also a commitment to Philippine sovereignty and patrimony.

In view of the foregoing, the speedy passage of this bill is earnestly sought.

REP. ARIEL B. CASILAO
ANAKPAWIS Party-list

REP.CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE
BAYAN MUNA Party-list

REP. EMMI A. DE JESUS
GABRIELA Women’s Party

REP. ANTONIO L. TINIO
ACT Teachers Party

REP. ARLENE D. BROSAS
GABRIELA Women’s Party

REP. FRANCE L. CASTRO
ACT Teachers Party

REP. SARAH JANE I. ELAGO
KABATAAN Party-list

Republic of the Philippines
House of Representatives
Quezon City

SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS
First Regular Session

HOUSE BILL NO. 5403

————————————————————————————————————-
INTRODUCED BY ANAKPAWIS PARTY-LIST REPRESENTATIVE
ARIEL B. CASILAO
CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE, EMMI A. DE JESUS, ANTONIO L. TINIO,
ARLENE D. BROSAS, FRANCE L. CASTRO, AND SARAH JANE I. ELAGO
————————————————————————————————————-

AN ACT REPEALING PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1620 OTHERWISE KNOWN AS “GRANTING TO THE INTERNATIONAL RICE RESEARCH INSTITUTE (IRRI) THE STATUS, PREROGATIVES, PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES OF AN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION”

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Presidential Decree No. 1620 otherwise known as “Granting to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) the Status, Prerogatives, Privileges and Immunities of an International Organization” is hereby repealed.

SECTION 2. All laws, jurisprudence, executive orders, executive issuances or letter of instructions, or any part thereof, inconsistent with or contrary to the provisions of this Act are hereby deemed repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation.

Approved.

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Youth party condemns mass arrest of KADAMAY members in QC

kabataanpartylist.com - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 05:01

KABATAAN Party-list condemns the unjust and illegal arrest of urban poor citizens who attempted to “re-occupy” their land in Apollo Street, Tandang Sora, Quezon City, after being forcibly and unjustly evicted nine months ago.

Fifty-seven (57) members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) were arrested are detained at the QCPD Headquarters in Camp Karingal yesterday. Of the 57, 16 are minors and 8 are senior citizens, according the Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.

“We vehemently condemn the use of fascist force on our fellow urban poor who merely wanted to get back to their homes. This after the QC government unjustly forced evicted them to give way to big businesses,” Elago said.

According to KADAMAY, the residents of Apollo were forcibly evicted by the QC government, despite the claimant losing in disputes and court cases over the said area. The place was even labeled as fire hazard, despite the non-occurrence of fires in the area, to justify the forced evictions.

“This shows how the government would easily prefer businesses over the poor’s livelihoods. Sobra-sobra na ang dahas ng kapulisan at estado sa ating mamamayan! Kung hindi papatayin at pararatangang nanlaban, palalayasin ng sapilitan sa mga bahay nila, o kaya’y bubulukin naman sa kulungan,” Elago exclaimed.

“We demand the immediate release and custody of the 57 KADAMAY members who were unjustly and illegally arrested. Homelessness and being poor is not a crime, it is the skewed priority of the government over business elites that is,” Elago said.

The youth party also calls on the Filipino youth and the poor to hold Duterte accountable for his lack of urgency in addressing the housing problem in the country. According the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), at least 4,209 families were forcefully evicted in Metro Manila alone during the Duterte administration’s first eight months.

“We hope that both parties tackle the housing question on the ongoing fourth round of the peace talks. Meanwhile, if Duterte insists on answering the urban poor’s just demands with silence or force, he should expect more occupations and reoccupations to happen, together with the solidarity and the rising resistance of the youth,” Elago concluded. ###

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Anakpawis condemns mass arrest of urban poor in Quezon city, demands immediate release of 57, including children and elderly

anakpawis.net - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 02:41

Quezon City, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao today condemned yesterdays’ the mass arrest of 57 urban poor occupants of Apollo St. Tandang Sora, Quezon City and demanded their immediate releases. The lawmaker responded to facilitate legal aid the arrested at Camp Karingal last night.

Recently, the victims returned to their homelots of almost three decades where they were displaced. In June last year, their community was demolished by the Quezon City Task Force for the Control, Prevention and Removal of Illegal Structures (Task Force COPRIS), arbitrarily invoking that it was a fire hazard.

“It is ironic that Quezon City mayor Bautista who once observed at the peace talks between the gov’t and National Democratic Front of the Philippines, outright violates the rights of urban poor at his own area of responsibility,” Casilao said.

Casilao said that the displaced urban poor residents sought assistance of his office last year, thus, the filing of House Resolution No. 239, calling for a house probe on the violent demolition of their community. The victims said that after their displacement, they endured living at the nearby peripheries for about nine months, that prompted them to take back their homelots.

The land grabber, named Reynaldo Guiyab, who the victims believe has connections within the Quezon City local government, lost his case of claiming the 400-square meter twice in 1999 and 2001. The urban poor residents were only displaced due to an arbitrary order from the Quezon City Hall declaring the community as a fire hazard area.

“We remind the Quezon City local government office that the Apollo street issue is exposing more its elitist and anti-poor idea of development, or the obtuse mission of simply kicking out urban poor out of the city and not working for their socio-economic upliftment; though the victims are economically poor, it is the government officials who are essentially suffering poverty in philosophy,” Casilao said.

Casilao expressed his plan to file another resolution on this incident and condemned the absurdity of the local police who arrested the victims.

“The members of Quezon City police had the gall to arrest the victims, without knowing the basic background of the case. The police force is really oriented to follow the orders of the rich, whether they have no legal bases,” Casilao retorted.

Casilao said that it is becoming clear that whether it is the National Housing Authority (NHA) who opposed the occupation of unused relocation housing units in Bulacan by urban poor families, or the local government of Quezon City, the rights of urban poor are grossly violated. On the other hand, the urban poor sector is becoming more and more learned of the lesson of direct action or organized effort of concretizing their rights to shelter. ###

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Landlessness, peasant leaders killings make peace negotiations urgent, necessary -Gabriela

gabrielawomensparty.ne - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 09:49

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas today expressed her support anew for the peace negotiations, adding that while the unexpected postponement of peace negotiations creates a cloud of uncertainty, it prods women to continue to pursue much needed reforms in other avenues including that of having the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill immediately passed in Congress.

Gabriela Women’s Party representatives who are among co-authors of several resolutions by the Makabayan block supporting the resumption of peace negotiations remain hopeful that the temporary roadblock to the resumption of the fourth round of talks will be resolved by both panels.

“There is compelling reason to resume peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Philippine government. Everyday, Filipino farmers’ assertion for their right to own the land they till is being violently blocked and violated by landlords and their allies in the AFP,” said Brosas.

“Every farmer killed by AFP elements in cahoots with landlords and corporate plantation owners adds urgency to the long-term solution to landlessness, which breeds the armed conflict in the countryside,” she added.

Brosas cited documentation from Karapatan noting that from February 4 to March 31 2017, there have been 21 cases of extra judicial killings, 19 cases of illegal arrest and detention and several instances of aerial bombings which posed threat to an estimated 8,758 individuals from the peasant communities and national minorities.

“These violations are the result of the AFP’s continuing implementation of its counterinsurgency program that clearly intends to sabotage the GRP-NDFP peace talks.”

Karapatan Southern Mindanao reported the killing of peasant leader Danilo Nadal, member of the Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Pantukan (HUMAPAN) by suspected agents of the 46th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army yesterday, April 2. Nadal sustained ten (10) gunshot wounds.

Karapatan Southern Tagalog also reported that on March 30, at least sixteen (16) bombs were dropped by the 203rd Infantry Brigade on Mangyan communities in sitios Karumata and Kalungbuyan, Brgy. Benli in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro, affecting at least 250 families.#

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