Pinoy Weekly » Espesyal na Isyu http://pinoyweekly.org/new Philippine news, analysis, and investigative stories Mon, 06 Oct 2014 22:49:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 PMC STATEMENT | House Bill 4807: An Intrusion on Press Freedom http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/09/pmc-statement-house-bill-4807-an-intrusion-on-press-freedom/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/09/pmc-statement-house-bill-4807-an-intrusion-on-press-freedom/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 11:40:06 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=31350 Cameras laid down the ground in front of Batasan Pambansa as photojournalists' sign of protest against House Bill 4807. <strong>Kodao Productions</strong>

Cameras laid on the ground in front of Batasan Pambansa as photojournalists’ sign of protest against House Bill 4807. Kodao Productions

STATEMENT icon

We join photojournalists, photographers, videographers, filmmakers, and ordinary citizens who are appalled at the House of Representatives’ passage on second reading of House Bill 4807 or the Protection Against Personal Intrusion Act, also called as the “Anti-Selfie Act.”

Ludicrous as the moniker, or popular name, of the said bill may sound, it is actually an indicator of how overly broad and vague the provisions of HB 4807 are. The bill makes it unlawful “to capture, any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of any individual, personal or family activity for commercial purposes.” It is supposedly meant to protect an individual’s privacy by punishing those who use cameras and other recording devices to capture private moments, even if it is done on public property (or even if there is “no physical trespass” on private property).

HB 4807 is another repressive media law in-the-making, one that masquerades as being for the protection of individual privacy, but actually serves as a tool to inhibit freedom of expression and of the press. It has no place in a society that claims to be democratic, and especially in an age when digital information communication devices are now part of the everyday lives of citizens, and are being used as valuable tools for self-expression and active participation in society.

Like the Right to Reply Bill that came before it, and the Anti-Cybercrime Act that was treacherously passed by the president and Congress in 2012, HB 4807 criminalizes acts of expression and reportage. It is unnecessary and prone to abuse. It would create a “chilling effect” on media practitioners and ordinary citizens alike.

There is reason to believe that HB 4807 is motivated by the desire of corrupt public officials to shield themselves from the watchful eyes of the media and the public. These past two years, citizens especially have been very successful in exposing the extravagant lifestyles of individuals and public officials involved in the pork barrel scam. Photos of officials, including the president himself, with Janet Lim-Napoles in so-called private gatherings have surfaced. Are these the kinds of “intrusion to privacy” that our legislators are trying to prevent? We cannot help but think so.

Let the public be reminded that too many repressive media laws already exist–libel, including online libel, remains a criminal offense under the Revised Penal Code and the newly-passed Anti-Cybercrime Act. The killings of journalists remain unabated. Furthermore, the Aquino administration continues to twit and pressure the media, including citizen media, whenever it reports on issues and realities that challenge the government’s rhetorics on change and progress.

It is the citizens and the media who must protect themselves against such legislation that intrude onto our most cherished freedoms and rights. Junk HB 4807! Uphold freedom of expression and of the press! No to repressive media laws!

 

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*PMC is publisher of Pinoy Weekly and Pinoy Weekly Online

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Where did P11-B DAP for urban poor housing go? http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/07/where-did-p11-b-dap-for-urban-poor-housing-go/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/07/where-did-p11-b-dap-for-urban-poor-housing-go/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:22:09 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=30552 Houses in off-city relocation sites--where most of the DAP for housing went--are substandard. In Rodriguez, Rizal, several houses had their roofs blown away during typhoon Glenda. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Houses in off-city relocation sites, where DAP funds for housing may have been spent, are substandard. In Rodriguez, Rizal, several houses had their roofs blown away during typhoon Glenda. Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Urban poor residents in Metro Manila and off-city relocation sites are questioning where the billions of pesos in Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds meant for their housing went—and it seems like they have every reason to.

Former residents of Sitio San Roque, North Triangle, Quezon City today staged a protest at the National Housing Authority (NHA) office in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal to demand where the the P450 Million supposedly allocated for them under the DAP went.

Among the list of DAP projects released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last July 14 was a P450-M resettlement program for 10,000 North Triangle residents affected by the establishment of a business district in QC.

These funds, which supposedly went to the construction of medium-rise buildings (MRB) in Camarin, Caloocan City for the residents, were released to the NHA in 2011.

Jennie Espacio, a former leader in North Triangle and now a relocatee in Southville village, Brgy. San Isidro in Montalban, however, said that most of the residents were relocated by the government not to Caloocan, but to off-city relocation sites.

Kasuklam-suklam ang paglilihim ng gobyerno na may P450-M pala para sa in-city housing ng mga residente ng Sitio San Roque. Karamihan sa mga nabiktima ng demolisyon simula 2010 ay itinapon ng gobyerno sa malalayong pabahay at ngayo’y naghihirap dahil sa kawalan ng batayang mga serbisyo at hanapbuhay sa relokasyon (It is revolting that the government hid from us the fact that there is P450-M for in-city housing of residents of North Triangle. Most of the victims of demolition since 2010 are now suffering from lack of services and jobs in far-off relocation sites),” Espacio said.

She further revealed that they only received meager financial assistance from the NHA. “Hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin naibibigay sa amin ang ipinangako ng NHA na P1,000 piso kada pamilya na karagdagan sa P5,000 financial assistance (Until now, we have not yet received the P1,000 per family promised to us in addition to the initial P5,000 financial assistance),” Espacio added.

DBM's list of DAP projects for the National Housing Authority.

DBM’s list of DAP projects for the National Housing Authority.

Conflicting, vague data on accomplishments

Citing data from the Quezon City government, the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) said that majority, or 6,500 of the 10,000 families in North Triangle, were moved to off-city relocation sites in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan and Rodriguez, Rizal.

The group further said that like the North Triangle residents, most informal settlers living in so-called “danger zones” in Metro Manila were moved to off-city relocation sites, and not to in-city MRBs that were supposedly funded by DAP.

In the July 14 DBM list, P10 Billion was released to the NHA for the “On-Site Development for Families Living in Dangerous Areas” in 2011. The description read, “The NHA will construct in-city medium-rise buildings to provide shelter for about 20,000 ISFs (informal settler families) living in dangerous zones in the NCR.” This lump sum is among the biggest items in the DAP.

Recently, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Mar Roxas boasted that P10-B from the DAP has already been spent successfully in relocating informal settlers living in danger zones.

But his statement raised questions from the opposition party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Toby Tiangco, UNA secretary general, pointed out that the DILG may have also received DAP funds for housing, on top of the agency’s budget of P1.2-B for the same purpose. Tiangco claimed that Roxas, who many believe will be Liberal Party’s presidential bet in the 2016 elections, is using funds for informal settlers to boost his presidential bid.

According to the 2014 General Appropriations Act, the DILG, under “Special Provisions,” has a budget of P1,244,606,000 for the “Housing Program for ISFs Residing in Danger Areas Within Metro Manila.” Of this amount, P700 Million is for the Construction of Micro-Medium-Rise Buildings” and P544,606,000 is for an “Interim Shelter Fund for 40,000 Target Families.”

Uurban poor residents, meanwhile, do not believe that the Aquino administration has spent P10-B for their relocation and housing needs.

Imposibleng magastos ang P10-B para sa pabahay lamang ng mga maralita, lalo pa at kalakhan sa mga naipatayong pabahay ng gobyerno ay matatagpuan sa mga off-city relocation sites na substandard at tinipid ang pagpapatayo (It is impossible that the P10-B has been spent on housing for the poor, especially since the majority is in off-city relocation sites and are substandard or made with cheap materials),” said Gina Bola, spokesperson of Montalban Relocatees Alliance (MRA).

A DBM statement in December 2013 reveals that only 6,511 families living in danger zones in Metro Manila have been relocated since 2011, majority of these in “off-city relocation sites.” Funding for the relocation program “supported land acquisition and development, as well as provision of community facilities,” the DBM said.

The same statement announced the release of an additional P3.38-B—from “FY 2011 savings” and as part of its “P10-B allocation”—to the NHA to complete its housing program. This was on top of the P3.82-B it already released to the NHA in August of that year, which supposedly funded the construction of 12,291 housing units.

In the more detailed list of DAP projects released by the DBM on July 24, the day of DBM Sec. Floriencio Abad’s appearance at the Senate, it is this figure–12,291 housing units—that is claimed to be the actual output of the P10-B fund for informal settlers living in danger zones.

The list does not mention the P450-M that supposedly went for the housing of North Triangle residents, and instead mentions an additional 500 housing units under the general entry “Resettlement, Relocation and Housing Projects.”

But none of these figures by released the DBM corresponds with what President Aquino actually said.

In the statement released by the Office of the President on July 15, the day after Aquino’s nationally-televised speech on DAP, the President claimed that DAP funded the completion of 21,175 housing units for informal settlers. He also claimed that 700 housing units were constructed for North Triangle residents (also not mentioning where these units were).

Macky Macaspac/PW File Photo" class /> An urban poor community in an area the government considers "danger zone" in Metro Manila. <strong>Macky Macaspac/PW File Photo</strong>

An urban poor community in an area the government considers “danger zone” in Metro Manila. Macky Macaspac/PW File Photo

Acuzar: Aquino ally, housing developer

The MRA also pointed out that “aside from Aquino allies in the DILG and NHA who most likely benefited from the DAP funds for housing,” a large part of the funds went to a real estate developer also closely linked to Aquino—Gerry Acuzar, the brother-in-law of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

This assertion bears a closer look, with the DBM’s December 2013 statement that majority of the housing funds went to units constructed for off-city relocation sites, and not in-city MRBs as claimed in the agency’s July 14 DAP list.

Acuzar owns New San Jose Builders, Inc. (NSJB), the housing developer of Kasiglahan village in the Montalban relocation site. He is also rumored to own Goldenville Realty and Development Corp., the developer of Towerville in the San Jose del Monte relocation site.

The Montalban relocation site, which was supposedly constructed to remove informal settlers from “danger zones”, is located in a fault line and prone to flooding. Housing units were also found by residents to be substandard. Most recently, several houses had their roofs blown away during typhoon Glenda.

Sa katotohanan, wala ni anumang kaginhawaang natamo ang mga biktima ng demolisyon mula sa pondong ‘yan ni Aquino. Sa halip na mabigyang serbisyo ang mga maralita ay pinagkakakitaan pa kami ng gobyerno at ng kaalyado nilang mga negosyante (In reality, we did not benefit at all from Aquino’s funds. Instead of providing services to the poor, the government and their allied businessmen rake in profits in our name),” said Bola.

In Aquino’s upcoming State of the Nation Address, urban poor residents and relocatees will join thousands who are expected to protest in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City against what they call “worsening poverty and corruption” under the present administration.

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PW SPECIAL ISSUE | Independence Day 2014 Magazine issue http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/06/pw-special-issue-independence-day-2014-magazine-issue/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/06/pw-special-issue-independence-day-2014-magazine-issue/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 07:34:51 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=29882

PW ESPESYAL NA ISYU - MAGAZINE - 2014-06-12 NOYNOY PORK OUST cover-smallBasahin sa itaas ang Pinoy Weekly ngayong Hunyo 12, Araw ng Kalayaan, ng espesyal na magazine issue. Pangunahing laman ang analisis sa pagkanlong ni Pangulong Aquino sa mga alyadong sangkot sa pork barrel scam at pananangutan niya sa bayan. Laman din ang sumusunod: EDCA at Araw ng Kalayaan; Monopolyo sa lupa at CARP; Pagdepensa ng mga Manobo kontra sa militarismo at agresyon; Di-makataong pagtrato kay Andrea Rosal; Kolonyal at elitistang edukasyon; at Usapang pangkayapaan at mga bilanggong pulitikal. (Iklik ang anumang pahina para lumaki.)

Maaaring ma-download ang isyu dito (i-right click at save).

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Tinakasan ng kapitalista, ipinagkanulo ng gobyerno http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/05/tinakasan-ng-kapitalista-ipinagkanulo-ng-gobyerno/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/05/tinakasan-ng-kapitalista-ipinagkanulo-ng-gobyerno/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 05:09:58 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=29224 Laban ng mga manggagawa ng Carina Apparel: Kaanib ng paglaban ng manggagawang Pilipino sa kontraktuwalisasyon, mababang sahod at neoliberal na mga polisiya. <strong>King Catoy</strong>

Laban ng mga manggagawa ng Carina Apparel: Kaanib ng paglaban ng manggagawang Pilipino sa kontraktuwalisasyon, mababang sahod at neoliberal na mga polisiya. King Catoy

Hindi makapaniwala ang halos 3,600 na manggagawa ng Carina Apparel Inc. sa sinabi sa kanila ng manedsment na magkakaroon sila ng isang linggong paid leave. Sa kanilang 15 taon na pagtatrabaho, hindi pa sila pinagbakasyon nang may sahod. Nagsuspetsa nila na may mali.

Hindi sila nagkamali. Noong Pebrero 21, huling araw ng kanilang “leave,” pinatawag ng manedsment ang mga manggagawa at sinabi ang kanilang kinatatakutan: magsasara na ang kompanya; nalulugi raw ito.

Imposible ang sinasabi ng kompanya, ayon sa mga manggagawa. Kamakailan lang, pinamadali sa kanila na matapos ang napakalaking order: 10 container vans ng mga bra, panty, at iba pang lingerie na may mamahaling international brands gaya ng Victoria’s Secret, Dillard’s, Marks & Spencer, Uniqlo, at iba pa.

Mamahaling lingerie, murang sahod

Pabrika ng Carina Apparel.

Pabrika ng Carina Apparel.

Ang Carina Apparel sa Laguna International Industrial Park ang pinakamalaking pagawaan sa bansa ng imported na lingerie. “Akala ng mga Pinoy sa labas ginagawa, dito lang gawa ‘yon,” sabi ng isang manggagawa. Ang mga manggagawa rito’y sinasahuran ng mula P337 hanggang P408 kada araw para sa masinsing paggawa ng mga produktong binebenta sa merkado nang mula $18 hanggang $70 kada isa.

Noong Pebrero, dapat sana ay papasok na ang kanilang unyon sa panibagong round ng Collective Bargaining Agreement. Pero nagsara na nga ang kompanya, bago pa man ihapag ng mga manggagawa ang kanilang mga kahilingan, pangunahin ang dagdag-sahod.

Karamihan sa kanila, nagmula na sa iba’t ibang pagawaan ng garments (sister companies ng Carina), na ‘ilegal’ ding nagsara rin noong dekada ’90. Hinala nila noon, isinara ang dating mga kompanya at itinayo ang Carina para mabuwag ang mga unyon at makapagtanggal ng mga manggagawa.

Ngayon, sa ‘ilegal’ na pagsasara naman ng Carina, parehong dahilan ang kanilang nakikita: pambubuwag ng unyon, pagtatanggal ng regular na mga manggagawa para palitan ng kontraktuwal. O di kaya, ang paglilipat ng mga operasyon sa Sri Lanka, kung saan sinasabing lalong mas mura ang lakas-paggawa.

Piketlayn ng mga manggagawa ng Carina. <strong>King Catoy</strong>

Piketlayn ng mga manggagawa ng Carina. King Catoy

Sa ngayon, wala pang pinatutunguhan ang paghahabol nila sa Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ng kasong illegal closure sa mga may-ari ng kompanya, na pinangungunahan ng dayuhang si Andrew Sia ng ACE Style Intimate Apparel Ltd., mother company ng Carina na nakabase sa Hong Kong. Kailanman, hindi nakita ng mga manggagawa ni anino ni Sia. Hindi rin maobliga ng DOLE ang may-ari na humarap sa mga manggagawa, lalo pa at sinasabi ng mga abogado ng kompanya na nagpalit na ang mga may-ari ito.

“Sa ngayon, hindi namin alam kung saan kami kukuha ng ng ikabubuhay, kung paano kami makakapagsimula ulit. Dapat humarap ang may-ari at panagutan ang pinsalang ginawa niya sa aming manggagawa,” sabi ni Elmer Mercado, bise-presidente ng unyon.

Sa ngayon, marami ang napipilitang manahi sa ibang pagawaan sa piece rate, o napakababang halaga na 20 sentimos kada piraso. Umaabot lang sa P150 ang kinikita nila maghapon—sapat lang, umano, para sa isang kilos bigas at galunggong na ipangkakain sa pamilya.

“Walang pangangalaga (si Pangulong Aquino) sa amin. Napakaraming foreign investors ang tinakasan ang mga manggagawa, at hinahayaan lang ng gobyerno na panay ang akit sa padating nila,” dagdag ni Mercado. Aniya, milyun-milyong Pilipino na nga ang walang trabaho, madadagdagan pa ng 3,600 mula sa kanilang hanay.

Mga ‘pahirap’ ni Aquino

Noong Mayo 1, Araw ng Paggawa, muling pangungunahan ng sentro ng paggawa na Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) ang malakihang mga pagkilos ng mga manggagawa at iba pang sektor ng lipunan sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa. Nanawagan silang wakasan na ang pagpapahirap umano ni Pangulong Aquino sa mga mamamayan, lalo na sa mga manggagawa.

“Galit ang mga manggagawa sa polisiya ng murang paggawa ni Aquino. Bigo ang pangulo na lumikha ng disenteng trabaho para sa mga Pilipino, at lalo pang pinahirapan ang mga manggagawa,” sabi ni Elmer Labog, tagapangulo ng KMU.

Ayon sa sarbey ng Social Weather Stations noong huling kuwarto ng 2013 nasa 12.2 milyong Pilipino ang walang trabaho. Tinatantiya rin ng Migrante International na 4,000 Pilipino ang umaalis kada araw para magtrabaho sa ibang bansa, dahil sa kakulangan ng trabaho at mababang sahod sa bansa.

Sa loob ng apat na taon, ayon sa KMU, hindi dininig ni Aquino ang panawagang P125 dagdag-sahod ng mga manggagawa
sa buong bansa. Barya-barya kung mag-utos man ang gobyerno ng taas-sahod. Ipinatupad ang Two-Tiered Wage System, na kinakaltasan pa ang sahod ng  mga manggagawa o di kaya’y pinapako ito sa napakababang halaga.

Lumala rin ang kontraktuwalisasyon. Sa tantiya ng Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research o Eiler, mahigit pa sa apat na milyon ang mga manggagawang kontraktuwal sa bansa. Kalahati nito ay mga agency-hired, na tumatanggap ng mas mababang sahod kaysa direct-hired.

Sinabi ng KMU na hangga’t walang pundamental na mga pagbabago sa lipunan, lalala lamang ang kawalang trabaho at pagpapahirap sa mga manggagawa.

“Sa gita ng pandaigdigang krisis, kailangan natin ng pag-eempleyo na hindi nakaasa sa dayuhang pamumuhunan para lumikha ng mga trabaho. Kailangan palayain ang potensiyal ng ating mga produktibong puwersa sa pamamagitan ng tunay na reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon,” ani Labog.

Pero kabaligtaran nito ang ginagawa ni Aquino. Ayon nga sa tinakasang mga manggagawa ng Carina, “walang maasahan” sa gobyernong nagkanulo sa kanila. Nabigla man sila sa pagtanggal sa kanila sa trabaho, handang-handa naman silang lumaban.

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BUKLATIN | PW Espesyal na Isyu: Mayo 1, 2014 Araw ng Paggawa http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/05/buklatin-pw-espesyal-na-isyu-mayo-1-2014-araw-ng-paggawa/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/05/buklatin-pw-espesyal-na-isyu-mayo-1-2014-araw-ng-paggawa/#comments Thu, 01 May 2014 04:32:12 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=29223

Naglabas ang Pinoy Weekly ng espesyal na isyu para sa Mayo 1, Pandaigdigang Araw ng Paggawa. Kasama rin dito ang espesyal na supplement na naglalaman ng panayam sa dalawang bilanggong pulitikal na sina Benito Tiamzon at Wilma Austria-Tiamzon. Nasa supplement din ang mensahe nila para sa Mayo 1.

LAMAN NG ISYU: Sabwatan ng kapitalista at gobyerno: Ang kaso ng mga obrero ng Carina Apparel | Kontraktuwal sa gobyerno | 10 katotohanan hinggil sa “pagkakaibigang” PH-Amerika | Anino ng Batas Militar | Pandarahas sa Hacienda Luisita | Cha-cha, banta sa soberanya | Gang of 5 sa Yolanda | West Philippine Sea: Teritoryo ng Pilipinas | Infographic: Monopolyo sa kuryente

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PW Espesyal na Isyu: Hinggil sa panawagang hustisya ng mga biktima ng bagyong Yolanda (14 Pebrero 2014) http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/pw-espesyal-na-isyu-hinggil-sa-panawagang-hustisya-ng-mga-biktima-ng-bagyong-yolanda-14-pebrero-2014/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/pw-espesyal-na-isyu-hinggil-sa-panawagang-hustisya-ng-mga-biktima-ng-bagyong-yolanda-14-pebrero-2014/#comments Sat, 08 Mar 2014 06:25:41 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28386
Espesyal na print issue ng Pinoy Weekly na lumabas noong Pebrero 14, 2014. Nasa loob: Hustisya ang hangad ng mga biktima ni Yolanda at kapabayaan ng gobyerno; One Billion Rising for Justice; Kuntsabahan sa taas-singil sa kuryente; Pagmahal ng edukasyon sa buwan ng Pebrero; Kababalaghan sa Disbursement Acceleration Program o presidential pork barrel; at marami pang iba.
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Dateline: Bali | A Pinoy Weekly newsblog on WTO Bali MC9 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2013/12/dateline-bali/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2013/12/dateline-bali/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 09:27:45 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=26830 dateline bali iconPinoy Weekly believes economic and trade issues need to be reported from the perspective of ordinary people and marginalized sectors. Because of this, PW is now in Bali, Indonesia to cover the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 3 to 6, 2013. This page will serve as our news blog, covering both the ministerial conference in the plush and heavily militarized Nusa Dua Convention Center as well as the parallel activities designed as counterpoint to the meeting, namely the People’s Global Camp, sponsored by the Indonesian People’s Alliance (IPA) in Ngurah Rai Sports Center in Denpasar, Bali. WTO is the international organization that oversees trade negotiations between governments and the multilateral trade system. But many analysts have been critical of the organization — many are even calling for its junking — for its undemocratic processes dominated by developed countries, primarily the United States, which through various means influence the negotiations for its own benefit and at the expense of the impoverished countries.

* * *

7 December 2013

Bandung Conference in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955: prefiguring hope for the future of the community of nations, despite WTO Bali. (Photo from chinaculture.org)

Bandung Conference in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955: prefiguring hope for the future of the community of nations, despite WTO Bali. (Photo from chinaculture.org)

2PM: A rebirth of the World Trade Organization?

This is, at least, what folks in WTO have been touting since all 159 member-countries, including “a few bad apples” (our term) like India, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, expressed support for the Bali Package this morning.

Following intense negotiations brokered by WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo, Cuba finally caved — and approved of a package that this time contained a clause on inclusivity of all trading countries in trade facilitation (including Cuba, who is under a 51-year trade embargo by the United States — causing the unnecessary suffering of countless Cubans for generations). It was a compromise, as one imagines Cuba would have wanted a more categorical promise of lifting the harsh embargo (that had been condemned by the UN bodies and many countries, by the way). Nevertheless, one surmises that other factors must have come into play in Cuba and the ALBA countries’ decision — like the affect their refusal of the Bali Package would have on their relationship with other trading partners.

The problem, of course, is that based on many studies and progressive analyses the TF clause in Bali would only facilitate trading of countries who already are at an advantage to begin with — the developed countries, and especially the United States. TF does nothing to facilitate the development of national industries that would provide food security and basic needs of any given developing country.

In the mean time, WTO is “reborn”. Neo-liberal multi-lateralism is purportedly given a new lease in life. One hopes that this development (or, to put it another way, a lack thereof) conclusively proves the futility in reforming creatures of imperialism like the WTO, and that it is time, no it is long overdue, to fight for an alternative system of trade and economic cooperation among nations that is based on human rights, national sovereignty and mutual respect and cooperation.

Let us end this blog with a quote. It forms part of a speech of another Indian minister. This time, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He spoke these words at the closing of an African-Asian conference that was held in a place not far from Bali, in Java, Indonesia. It was in Bandung, and it happened almost 60 years ago. It has been called the Bandung Conference, and it produced one of the rare documents of human history that prefigured a more equitable and prosperous community of nations. In Bandung  on April 1955, Nehru said:

Nehru in Bandung, April 1955. (awcungeneva.com)

Nehru in Bandung, April 1955. (awcungeneva.com)

We are not `yes-men’, I hope, sitting here saying `yes’ just to this country or that, saying `yes’ even to each other. I hope we are not. We are great countries in the world who rather like having freedom, if I may say so, without dictation. Well, if there is anything that Asia wants to tell them it is this: No dictation there is going to be in the future; no `yes-men’ in Asia, I hope, or in Africa. We have had enough of that in the past. We value friendship of the great countries and if I am to play my part, I should like to say that we sit with the great countries of the world as brothers, be it in Europe or America. It is not in any spirit of hatred or dislike or aggressiveness with each other in regard to Europe or America, certainly not. We send our greetings to Europe and America, I hope, from all of us here, and we want to be friends with them, and to cooperate with them. But we shall cooperate only as friends, as equals. There is no friendship when nations are unequal, when one nation has to obey another, and when one dominates over another. That is why we raise our voices against the domination of colonialism from which many of us have suffered so long, and that is why we have to be very careful that any other form of domination does not come in our way.

KR Guda

5 AM:  It had already been announced to the press: At 3 AM, there will be a heads of delegation session that would virtually put a stamp, by consensus of the 159 members of the World Trade Organization, on the latest draft of the Bali Package containing, among others, trade facilitation (essentially, agreement to allow trading countries easier access to markets and/or raw materials) and food security.

Cuban head of delegation to the WTO 9th Ministerial Conference

Cuban head of delegation to the WTO 9th Ministerial Conference

But they spoke too soon. A while after that, it was announced that the ceremony had been moved to 4:30 AM, due to delays in ironing out the wording of the section on food security. (India, which had been its most vocal advocate, reportedly softened its stance and approved WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo’s proposed text that promises a “permanent solution” to increase agriculture subsidy, possibly after four years.)

THEN, a briefing. WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell announces: No deal in Bali, as of now.

Cuba, which had been pushing for an inclusion of a section about the longstanding US trade embargo on it, backs out of the deal. This after the text on the removal of the trade embargo mysteriously disappeared from the latest draft agreement. Now standing with him against the Bali Package are the ALBA countries: Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

Rockwell said the WTO will continue consultations, even as some country delegates had already left. “We’re keeping the rooms!” Rockwell says, indicating their intention to continue the talks in an effort to salvage the Bali Package.

As we say in Manila: Pasabog (bombshell).

KR Guda

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

6 December 2013

3:33PM There are rumors circulating among media that India has struck up an agreement with the United States, presumably regarding the agriculture proposal in the Bali Package. Other countries, in the mean time, have yet to sign on. Again, this is a rumor, and it is possible that there are attempts at disinformation by vested interests during this crucial time. Press people are still waiting the final word. A closing session that was set at 3PM appears to have been put off.

In the mean time, allow us to share this statement from one of the country delegates here in WTO Bali:

“A new tyranny is thus born,invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own  laws and rules. An even worse development is that such policies are sometimes locked in through trade rules negotiated at the WTO or in bilateral or regional FTAs. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this, we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”

This statement does not come as a surprise now. It is because it comes from the Vatican representative.

The Indian minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma, during a press conference on Dec. 5. (WTO/Antara)

The Indian minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma, during a press conference on Dec. 5. (WTO/Antara)

1PM: Last day (?) of the negotiations. The mood is sombre, people a little uneasy. The WTO spokesman, Keith Rockwell, said that the director-general is working on a compromise (of a compromise) deal that would save the talks. An extension in the negotiations is possible. The protests are getting more frequent — and closer — and this puts the police, the security here at the convention center, further uneasy. Hearing the Indian minister, Anand Sharma, yesterday, one senses that a deal at this point would be far-fetched. Despite the insinuations, the brickbats, even from the western media, Sharma and the Indian delegation stood firm on the proposal to allow governments the policy space (supposedly) to assist their countries’ farmers.  Whatever the motivation (they say political, because Indian elections is coming up next year, and the ruling party wanted to project a nationalist image to voters), India has stood its ground against the bullying and other pressure tactics of the US and other developed, (er, imperialist?) countries.

Meanwhile, at a rally held at the gate of Nusa Dua Convention Center, some 50 peasant activists from various South and Southeast Asia identified with the 15-million strong Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), International Fisherfolk and Fishworkers Coalition (IFWC) and the Indonesian People’s Alliance (IPA) said Azevedo is a triple platinum liar, a rabid apologist of WTO and a salesman of neo-liberal globalization. The peasants were joined by members of youth and workers’ organizations. The protest, as well as that of yesterday with women activists, happened despite the increased security, the public declaration by the Indonesian government that they will be disallowing protests in Nusa Dua.

Indonesian police push back peasant, youth and worker activists protesting against WTO in Nusa Dua, Bali. (Boy Bagwis)

Indonesian police push back peasant, youth and worker activists protesting against WTO in Nusa Dua, Bali. (Boy Bagwis)

KR Guda / Boy Bagwis
 
 For more photos of the protest action, visit our Facebook page. For more updates,  follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook
 
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5 December 2013

Women solidarity action against the WTO. (Boy Bagwis)

Women solidarity action against the WTO. (Boy Bagwis)

With just a day left at the WTO 9th Ministerial Conference, women from the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere belonging to the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) staged a protest rally right at the doors of the World Trade Organization to cries of “NO Deal in Bali” and “Junk WTO”.

An hour earlier, India’s trade Minister, Anand Sharma, went on press conference to say that India will not budge from its stand on food security and did not buckle under US pressure.    With this a Bali trade deal is deemed unlikely.

Despite strict warnings on rallies by Indonesian security forces, the women sprung a surprise and gathered at the gate of the WTO MC9 meeting.  They came straight from the People’s Global Camp (PGC) at GOR Ngurah Rai Sports Center where a four-day protest activity against WTO was being held. Among the protesters were members of GABRIELA, including Gabriela Partylist Representative Emmie de Jesus.

The protest was followed by a snake rally inside the WTO building staged by women  participants of PGC, mostly indigenous women,  and belonging to the ILPS (International League of People’s Struggle).

IWA said that standing up against big bullies in WTO should be every poor nation’s stance to safeguard one’s sovereignty.  It deemed that all talks about “trade facilitation,” strengthening special and differential treatments, and a “peace cause” mean nothing at all to women who face worsening situations today.  All of these offer no significant shelter or relief for hunger and impoverishment.

“We have had enough of this; there should not even be any meetings at this point. These ministers should just go home.” says IWA Chair Liza Maza. Prior to this, pre-MC talks already broke down when India strongly demanded for protection of its farmers and those of other poor nations.

The WTO MC 9 meeting is bound to fail even as the US tries to resurrect and conclude the Doha Development Agenda, said Gabriela Representative de Jesus.  She said that resistance has been growing outside and inside the WTO especially against the bullying of the US of developing and least developed nations who refuse to toe the US line particularly on the issue of subsidies on food and agriculture.

Yanni Fernan

 For more photos of the women solidarity action, visit our Facebook page. For more updates,  follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook

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4 December 2013

Agriculture Undersec. Romeo Recide (Photo from http://www.bas.gov.ph/)

Agriculture Undersec. Romeo Recide (Photo from http://www.bas.gov.ph/)

Behind closed doors, country delegates were busy negotiating, looking to work on a deal here in Bali that WTO believes would help in regaining credibility for the neo-liberal, multilateral trade system. Outside, news was rife that the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in an apparent act of desperation, was set to call the Indian Prime Minister, to help convince the latter to accept bits of the Bali Package, particularly the one on trade facilitation — the very part of the package that would purportedly benefit multinational corporations from developed countries like the US. The Indonesian President’s spokesman confirmed such plan, but did not provide details.

Meanwhile, Filipinos from Focus on the Global South, Alliance of Progressive Labor and other allied groups, sought a dialogue with the Philippine delegation, and Pinoy Weekly was invited to observe. They were met with Agriculture Undersecretary Romeo Recide and his colleagues, who explained the Philippine government’s position on the negotiations on agriculture subsidies. Essentially, the government folks said that they were in favor of the Peace Clause (that is, the US proposal that gives a 4-year moratorium on countries violating the 10% limit on agriculture subsidies). It was a compromise, they said, as the Philippines were one of the stalwarts of the G33 proposal on agriculture that essentially rewrites the original Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) that entered into force with the establishment of the WTO — the new proposal allows for more subsidies for agriculture, especially for subsistence farming.

It was a compromise, indeed. But the problem, as Ibon International’s Paul Quintos noted, was that by saying it agrees on trade facilitation while negotiating for a better deal on agriculture, the Philippines no longer has any leverage on the latter. In other words, by its own admission, it has weakened its position on negotiating for the right to subsidize agriculture — even one as compromised as the G33 proposal.

“Maybe we must look at this as a challenge to step up (in the free market competition),” says one Philippine government delegate. To which, of course, one can answer that it is one thing for us to step up to challenges of the future and another to face these challenges utterly unprepared, ill-equipped and left to fend for ourselves.

KR Guda

 * * *

REPORT FROM PEOPLE’S GLOBAL CAMP | Militant calls mark opening plenary of People’s Global Camp

Opening plenary of the People's Global Camp (Boy Bagwis)

Opening plenary of the People’s Global Camp (Boy Bagwis)

Bubarkan WTO! Junk WTO!”

These slogans echoed inside Ngurah Rai Sports Center as the People’s Global Camp (PGC) opened its plenary session this morning, December 4, with around 500 participants.

Yesterday Dec 3, a march-rally of a thousand participants marked the first day of the PGC from the Puputan Park to the PGC venue. However about a hundred youths wanting to come to the rally from Banyuwangi district were prevented and violently dispersed by the police at Kalipuro sub-district before they could reach Puputan Park.  Nine were arrested, but were later released.,

International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) Chairperson Jose Maria Sison opened the session with a solidarity message highlighting peoples’ resistance. Two decades of neoliberal globalization have led the world to a state of fast-accelerating recurrent crisis with the broad masses of the people fighting back, according to Sison.

He challenged the PGC to further develop the capacity to hold globally coordinated action. He also called on all positive forces to expand and consolidate their mass base at the national and grassroots level.

International and local speakers discussed various issues related to WTO and the imperialist policy of neoliberal globalization.

Antonio Tujan Jr. of Ibon International contextualized the global neoliberal policy, its multiple crises and the renewed neoliberal offensive. “The Bali conference is a critical arena in the neoliberal offensive against enabling and empowering poor countries to shape their own agenda for sustainable development,” he said.

Tujan further stressed that “the hard truth is that the WTO is actively preventing the development of the economies of poor countries”. He added that the goal should be system change and sustainable development for all.

Our World Is Not for Sale (Owinfs) global network’s Deborah James reiterated the network’s demand against trade facilitation and WTO expansion. She called on countries to agree in Bali to remove WTO rules against food security.

Meanwhile, International Women’s Alliance’s Azra Sayeed criticized the United States for its imperialist aggressions over countries through its US military industrial complex. Approximately 400,000 US military personnel are forward-stationed everyday around the world, Sayeed said citing the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

Nur Hidayati of Walhi (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia) highlighted climate change, trade and commodification of nature in Indonesia. She raised concern over false solutions such as REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) or “green grabbing” which is similar to taking over peoples’ control over their lands in the name of conservation to save the climate.

“The domination and control of US imperialism through WTO has been shown to destroy the national economy, undermine the political sovereign, national culture and brought evil to Indonesia,” Ahmad SH, spokesperson of the Indonesian People’s Alliance, said in his speech.

He challenged the peoples of the world “to understand the rottennes and evil schemes of imperialism through WTO and various forums and institutional cooperation that made them.”

After the morning session,  the participants huddled into several tents to hold workshops, view photo exhibits, and staged cultural performances.

Yanni Fernan

 For more photos of the PGC plenary, visit our Facebook pageFor more updates,  follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook

 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

3 December 2013

Indon Pres. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo (center), and Indon Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan. (Antara Photo)

Indon Pres. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo (center), and Indon Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan. (Antara Photo)

If the fortress-like security within the convention center that is the venue of the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was not enough, the Indonesian security personnel further beefed up its security. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was to speak at the WTO opening session, so security limited the number of people passing through the lobby near the plenary session hall. A special badge had to be secured (they only gave 150 badges for press people).

The opening session was uneventful in itself, with WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and President Yudhoyono, as well as the trade minister and chair of MC9, Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, reiterating earlier statements that WTO is now in a “do or die” situation: the ministers had to approve the Bali Package (essentially, proposals on trade facilitation, agriculture, trade in services, information technology — but talks mostly centered on trade facilitation and agriculture or the G33 proposal) or WTO will lose all credibility as a major instrument for multilateral trade system.

The problem, as critics themselves have noted, was that the speeches were laced with threat: approve the package — that mostly benefits developed countries like the US and European Union — or you shall be the cause of the collapse of multilateral trade. India, in particular, had been the subject of thinly-veiled threats, as it has stood firm on the admittedly-flawed G33 proposal on agriculture (essentially, revising the Agreement on Agriculture to allow countries to subsidize subsistence farmers, purportedly to prevent massive poverty and hunger) despite pressure from the developed countries and the WTO secretariat.

Already, Indian representatives have declared that they will stand firm on the proposal.

But the machinations did not end there. When not threatening developing and least-developed countries, US and others entice the poor countries with proposals that supposedly make it easy for LDCs to develop their industries and trade with the rich countries. In particular, they proposed the Peace Clause, which allows India not to be sued for 4 years only while it insists on subsidizing its farmers. Obviously, the proposal is aimed at softening the stance of India, who now faces the possibility of sanctions for standing firm on its cotton subsidies.

The negotiations, of course, can go either way. But whatever the outcome in Bali, what is certain is that the developed countries led by the US will continue to pursue its imperialist interests (via bilateral or regional trade agreements, for example) at the expense of the vast majority of the peoples of the world — with or without the WTO.

(KR Guda)

* * *

REPORT FROM PEOPLE’S GLOBAL CAMP | Philippine activists join People’s Global Camp vs. WTO

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano (center), with Indonesian People's Alliance spokesperson Ahamd SH, at the start of the cultural parade against WTO to commence the People's Global Camp. (Boy Bagwis)

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano (center), with Indonesian People’s Alliance spokesperson Ahamd SH, at the start of the cultural parade against WTO to commence the People’s Global Camp. (Boy Bagwis)

BALI, INDONESIA — On the opening date of the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Bali, Indonesia, international organizations today joined Indonesian groups in a kick-off cultural protest parade at the Puputan Park to mark their opposition against neoliberal policies of the WTO.

Representatives and delegates from various Philippine grassroots and people’s organizations, under the umbrella of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) , participated in the cultural protest parade.

The Philippine organizations include Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Health Alliance for Democracy, Anakbayan, Migrante International, League of Filipino Students, Gabriela, Salinlahi, COURAGE, Cordillera People’s Alliance, Piston. They were also joined by think-tank IBON International and the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS)-Philippines.

After the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Philippine people’s organizations said they find more reason to oppose and reject neoliberal policies of the WTO, especially the so-called “Bali package” and the “post-Bali agenda”, which are focused mainly on agriculture and trade liberalization and further deregulation of the global labor market.

Women activists of Gabriela joined the People's Global Camp in Denpasar, Bali. (Boy Bagwis)

Women activists of Gabriela joined the People’s Global Camp in Denpasar, Bali. (Boy Bagwis)

The Philippine activists hit the continuous subservience of the Aquino government to the imperial dictates of the WTO. According to them, this, coupled with the regime’s criminal incompetence in providing immediate relief and rehabilitation for Yolanda survivors,  will certainly result in the worsening of massive poverty, displacement and joblessness, violation of labor rights, and expropriation of land, natural and human resources in the Philippines.

“The impact of the disaster on the Philippine economy is very grave. It will become even graver with the renewed neoliberal offensive of the WTO on agriculture and trade. Already, hardest-hit areas of the supertyphoon are being targeted as staging grounds for increased foreign investments and control of the local economy.  This is made more glaring by the presence of foreign troops under the guise of ‘rehabilitation’ and ‘humanitarian foriegn aid’, said Bong Labog, chairperson of KMU and vice-chairperson of Bayan.

Labog cited the case of post-earthquake Haiti  wherein foreign and local private-sector investment played a huge part in the “re-building” of infrastracture needed to promote economic development and attract foreign corporations to finance roads, power lines, factories, markets, farm lands and the like.

The Philippine participants will be holding workshops and self-organized activities within the People’s Global Camp. The PGC will be held from December 3-6, 2013 at the Ngurah Rai Sports Center.

Some 1,000 delegates from local and interntional organizations are  participating in the event.

Go to our Facebook page album for more photos. For more updates,  follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook

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2 December 2013

QUITE THE TALKER. Keith Rockwell, WTO director for information and external relations division. (Boy Bagwis)

QUITE THE TALKER. Keith Rockwell, WTO director for information and external relations division. (Boy Bagwis)

In his first press briefing a day before the official start of WTO 9th Ministerial Conference here in Bali, Indonesia, WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell addressed issues facing the upcoming negotiations, including the much-criticized “Bali package“. Rockwell admitted that forging an agreement within the conference is crucial to the existence of the multilateral trade system, and that “there is no Plan B” for the WTO should talks fail — as they have failed many times before.

A member of the Front Mahasiswa Nasional (FMN), a large youth organization in Indonesia, unfurls the banner of the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS), in a protest action against the World Trade Organization. The students protested near the US consulate today because they criticized the US government for its maneuvering to force poor countries to accept liberalization policies and other neoliberal policies that favor US businesses while virtually killing local industries of the the poor countries. (Boy Bagwis)

A member of the Front Mahasiswa Nasional (FMN), a large youth organization in Indonesia, unfurls the banner of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) in a protest action against the World Trade Organization. The students protested near the US consulate today, criticizing the US government for forcing poor countries to accept liberalization policies and other neoliberal policies that favor US businesses while virtually killing local industries of the the poor countries. (Boy Bagwis)

Meanwhile, near the US consulate in Bali, more than a hundred students marched, unfurling banners and flags that condemn the WTO and the dominant force behind it — the US government.

Youth members of the Front Mahasiswa Nasional (FMN), which is one of the biggest youth organizations in Indonesia, declared their intention to take part in the various expressions of resistance against the WTO, including the People’s Global Camp (PGC) to be held in Ngurah Sai Sports Center in Denpasar, Bali at the same time as the ministerial conference.

“We are joining the growing people’s resistance against the WTO as we demand that the youth and the people’s interests, not neo-liberal policies, be made priority by national governments like the Indonesian government,” said Sandy Ame, FMN general secretary.

FMN also decried the removal by the WTO of the accreditation of some of its members who were earlier accepted as nongovernment organization (NGO) observers to the ministerial meeting.

According to the group, on afternoon of November 30, L. Muh. Hasan Harry Sandy Ame, general secretary of FMN, went to Hotel Santika to collect the registration badges for him and his three other colleagues.

There they were denied their badges. After pressing for answers, FMN’s Ame was eventually met by four representatives of Indonesia’s foreign and trade ministries who said that (1) “FMN’s platform and framework of the WTO run counter to each other”; (2) FMN “poses a security risk to the WTO”; and (3) FMN is “not legally registered as an organization in Indonesia.”

“Clearly, the FMN, despite having critical view of the WTO, wants to join in the WTO debate inside the ministerial. It is part of the
Indonesian civil society that wants to be involved in the process and lobby with other sectors and interest groups to governments for a human rights-based and people-centered trade framework. Is this what the Indonesian government scared of?” lamented Ahmed SH, spokesperson of the Indonesian People’s Alliance (IPA), of which FMN is a member.

IPA is sponsoring a People’s Global Camp as a counterpoint to the WTO ministerial meeting, to be held on December 3 to 6 at Ngurah Sai Sports Center, Denpasar, Bali.

Updates by KR Guda & Boy Bagwis

More photos of the FMN protest action here. For more updates, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook

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BANTAY BADYET | Sino ang ‘Pork Barrel King’? http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2013/09/bantay-badyet-sino-ang-pork-barrel-king/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2013/09/bantay-badyet-sino-ang-pork-barrel-king/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 06:04:52 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=26173 BANTAY BADYET icon“Kapanalig natin sa paglaban sa korupsiyon.”

Ganito inilarawan ni Pangulong Aquino ang mga mamamayang nagrali kontra sa pork barrel noong Agosto 26. Pero sa kabila ng mga pahayag niya at ni House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. na tatanggalin na nito ang Priority Development Assistance Program o PDAF sa 2014 badyet, nanatili pa rin ang lump sum appropriations para sa mga mambabatas.

Ang malala, malaking bahagi – mahigit kalahati pa nga ng badyet, kung tatanungin ang Kabataan Party-list – ng pambansang badyet ay nakalaan sa lump sum appropriations ng Office of the President.

Hari ng baboy?

Sa pagdinig sa Kamara kaugnay ng panukalang badyet ng Office of the President noong Setyembre 9, iginiit ni Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa na walang “pork barrel” ang Pangulo. “Hindi namin nakikita ito (Special Purpose Fund o SPF) bilang pork barrel. Ang SPF ay dumadaan sa parehong proseso tulad ng regular na badyet. At napapailalim din ito sa pangingilatis ng Kongreso, na siyang aapruba rito,” sabi ni Ochoa.

Pero kung pagbabatayan ang mismong katangian ng SPF at iba pang pondo na nasa ilalim ni Aquino, malinaw na lump sum appropriation, o pondong walang tinukoy na paglalaanan at nasa direktang kontrol ng Presidente, ang mga ito.

Sa pag-aaral ng Kabataan na pinamagatang Prime Cuts: Dissecting the Presidential Pork Barrel, inilinaw nito kung ano ang maituturing na pork barrel: (1) Alokasyong lump-sum na bulnerable sa korupsiyon at pagmamaniobra sa pulitika; (2) Pondo na tanging Pangulo lang ang may kapangyarihang maglaan at maglabas; (3) Pampublikong pondo na di makikita sa pambansang badyet pero kinokolekta at ginagamit ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno, lalo na ng Ehekutibo (sa pamumuno ni Aquino), na walang financial oversight (karapatang suriin at i-audit ng Kongreso o ninuman).

Batay sa depinisyong ito, pasok na pasok ang SPF ni Aquino na nagkakahalaga ng halos PhP 450-Bilyon. Nasa ilalim nito ang badyet-suporta sa mga korporasyon ng gobyerno na nalulugi, alokasyon para sa local government units, calamity funds, DepED School-Building Fund, Priority Development AssistanceFund (PDAF!), E-Government Fund, Feasibility Studies Fund, Pension and Gratuity Fund, International Commitments Fund, Miscellaneous Personal Benefits Fund at Contingency Fund. Ang mga ito ay bahagi ng pambansang badyet na nagkakahalaga ng PhP310-B.

Magkakilala? P-Noy at Janet Napoles, sa isang sosyalan noong Nob. 2012.

Magkakilala? P-Noy at Janet Napoles, sa isang sosyalan noong Nob. 2012.

Pero bukod dito, mayroon ding unprogrammed funds ang Office of the President. Ito ang mga pondo na wala sa pambansang badyet, pero mula sa pondong mula sa kita ng gobyerno, halimbawa sa Pagcor at Malampaya Project. Aabot sa PhP140-B ang unprogrammed funds. Suma total, PhP450-B ang SPF ng Pangulo.

Mismong si Aquino, dinepensahan ang pananatili ng pork barrel sa kanyang badyet. “Sa katangian nito, may mga pondong hindi puwedeng ma-itemize,” sabi ni Aquino.

Sa kanyang kolum sa diyaryong Philippine Star, mistulang sumang-ayon si dating senador Ernesto Maceda sa suri ng Kabataan kaugnay ng PSF. “Ano ngayon ang pagkakaiba (sa PDAF)? Ang PSF ay lump-sum na pinagmumulan ng ipinapautos ng Pangulo na ilabas ang espikipikong halaga para sa soft (i.e. mga pagsasanay) at hard projects (imprastraktura) sa mga ahensiyang inaprubahan ng Pangulo. Walang pinag-iba ito sa PDAF,” sinulat ni Maceda, sa wikang Ingles.

Bayad-utang, pondo sa paniniktik

Bukod dito, bahagi ng pambansang badyet ang pondong direktang inilalaan bilang pambayad-utang lamang.

Sa ilalim ng Automatic Appropriations Act na isinabatas ng ina ng kasalukuyang pangulo, si dating pangulong Corazon Aquino, maaaring awtomatikong maglaan ng pondo ang gobyerno para bayaran ang mga utang nito sa iba’t ibang dayuhang korporasyon (i.e. iyung gumawa ng MRT, LRT, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, atbp.), pati ang internasyunal na mga institusyong pampinansiya tulad ng World Bank, International Monetary Fund at Asian Development Bank.

Kabilang sa taun-taong binabayaran ng gobyerno ang interes sa mga utang na nagkakahalagang PhP352-B, mga ipinangakong kita ng mga dayuhang kompanyang kinasosyo ng gobyerno,  at marami pang iba.

Kung isasama ang pambayad-utang, na aabot sa PhP700-B, at pati ang intelligence funds na nakalaan para sa Pangulo, aabot sa pagitan ng PhP1-Trilyon at PhP1.5-T ang pork barrel ni Aquino.

Sang-ayon dito sai Leonor Briones, propesor sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas at dating national treasurer. Aniya, bahagi ng pork barrel ng Pangulo hindi lamang ang lump sum appropriations na direktang nakaalan at nasa diskresyon ng Pangulo, kund iyung nakalaan sa mga ahensiya ng Ehekutibo

Aabot nga sa mahigit PhP1-T ang pork barrel ni Aquino kung isusuma ang lahat, ani Briones.

Ginisang baboy

Protesta kontra pork barrel sa tarangkahan ng Malakanyang sa Mendiola noong Setyembre 21. (KR Guda)

Protesta kontra pork barrel sa tarangkahan ng Malakanyang sa Mendiola noong Setyembre 21. (KR Guda)

Noong budget hearing, sunud-sunod na pinagtatanong si Ochoa ni Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tino, at iba pang kongresista, hinggil sa mga pondong hinihingi ng Office of the President.

Ikinagalit ni Colmenares ang pagtanggi ni Ochoa na sagutin ang mga tanong kaugnay ng paglalanan ng mga pondo na nasa diskresyon ng Pangulo sa ilalim ng 2014 pambansang badyet.

Kasabay nito, noong Setyembre 10, naglabas ng temporary restraining order ang Korte Suprema sa paglabas ng PDAF. Isinama pa nito ang mga pondo mula sa proyektong Malampaya.

“Kami sa Bayan Muna ay natutuwa sa bagong debelopment na ito kontra sa sistemang pork barrel. Ipinapakita ng pagsama sa TRO ng pondo ng Malampaya, na nagkakahalagang PhP132-B, na walang pinag-iba ito sa PDAF, na nagkakahalagang PhP25-B lang, dahil sa katangian nitong lump-sum na nasa diskresyon lang ng Pangulo,” paliwanag ni Colmenares.

Hiniling ni Colmenares at ng progresibong mga organisasyon na agad na ilaan ang naturang pondo direkta sa mga serbisyong panlipunan tulad ng pampublikong mga paaralan at ospital.

Samantala, iginiit naman ni Maceda, sa kanyang kolum, ang pangangailangang imbestigahan pa rin ang nakaraang kuwestiyonableng mga paggamit ng Pangulo sa pork barrel nito.

“Dapat maipaliwanag at ma-audit ang P23.6-B na inilabas mula sa Malampaya Fund bago ang eleksiyong 2010,” sabi pa ni Maceda.

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BANTAY BADYET | Habang sumisiba ang baboy: edukasyon, kalusugan pinababayaan http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2013/09/habang-sumisiba-ang-baboy-edukasyon-kalusugan-pinababayaan/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2013/09/habang-sumisiba-ang-baboy-edukasyon-kalusugan-pinababayaan/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 05:39:46 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=26168 BANTAY BADYET iconGinagarantiya dapat ng Saligang Batas na prayoridad ng gobyerno ang mga serbisyong panlipunan tulad ng edukasyon at serbisyong medikal. Pero ang polisiya ngayon ng administrasyong Aquino, patuloy na pagkaltas sa pondo ng naturang dalawang serbisyo – at itulak sila patungo sa pribadong sektor.

Kung titignan ang mga numero ng 2014 pambansang badyet, tumaas ang pondo ng dalawang nabanggit na serbisyo. Pero kung susuriin ang tunay na pinaglalaanan ng mga pondong ito, tila hindi ang edukasyon at kalusugan ang prayoridad ng administrasyong Aquino.

Ayon sa Kabataan Party-list, walang signipikanteng naidadagdag ang administrasyong Aquino para sa edukasyon. Sa 110 state colleges and universities (SUCs) sa bansa, nasa 79 SUCs ang nakaambang kaltasan ng badyet sa taong 2014 sa kabila ng sinasabing pagtaas sa badyet.

Nasa PhP34.7-Bilyon mula sa dating PhP32.8-B ang matatanggap ng SUCs sa bansa, base sa Department of Budget and Management (DBM). Malayo ito sa PhP54-B na pangangailangan ng SUCs na orihinal na isinumite.

Piket sa Batasan Pambansa ng mga manggagawang pangkalusugan sa ilalim ng HEAD. (Pher Pasion)

Piket sa Batasan Pambansa ng mga manggagawang pangkalusugan sa ilalim ng HEAD. (Pher Pasion)

Planadong pagkaltas

Ayon sa Kabataan, sistematiko ang pagkaltas sa badyet sa edukasyon dahil sa Roadmap for Higher Education Reform (Rpher) na programa ng administrasyong Aquino para sa edukasyon.

Sa ilalim ng Rpher, target na “i-rationalize” ang pagpopondo ng gobyerno sa SUCs para itulak ang mga ito na maging self-sufficient sa pamamagitan ng pagsasagawa ng income generating projects at mabawasan na umasa ng pondo mula sa gobyerno.

“Sa ilalim ng RPHER, tinutulak na maging self-sustaining (ang SUCs). Bahala silang mag-raise ng sarili nilang pondo. Mula sa pagtataas ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin. Kaya lip service lamang yung pagtataas ng pondo. Mahalaga ‘yung maintenance and operating expenses ng paaralan, mababa pa rin,” ayon kay Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon.

Maliban pa dito, mayroon din umanong PhP5-B pork barrel ang Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Sa ilalim ng 2014 badyet para sa SUCs, ang PhP5-B ay binabanggit bilang “allocation for capital outlay and scholarships programs.”

May kuwestiyonableng alokasyon din sa CHED gaya ng “social protection package for former combatants” sa ilalim ng Pamana (isang anti-insurehensyang programa ng gobyerno) na nagkakahalaga ng PhP4-Milyon, dagdag ng Kabataan.

Samantala, “tumaas” ang pondo ng Department of Education na makakatanggap ng PhP337-B pondo para sa 2014. Pero para sa Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), malayo pa rin ito sa pangangailangan ng batayang edukasyon.

Ayon sa ACT, aabot lamang sa tinatayang PhP44.6-B para matugunan ang kakulangan sa mga klasrum, upuan, textbooks (6 libro/estudyante), tubig at sanitasyon para sa paaralan.

Nasa PhP55.2-B naman aabutin para matugunan ang dagdag na sahod, karagdagang teaching items, annual medical exam (P500/guro), implementation of grant of cash allowance, hardship pay, ERF conversion to MT, reclassification of position and payment of step increment, at Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) Incentives ng mga guro.

Matutugunan sana ito kung direktang ilalaan sa edukasyon ang pork barrel, ayon sa ACT.

PPP sa edukasyon

Isa sa kinukuwestiyon ng ACT ang paglaki ng pondo ng Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (Gastpe), programa ng gobyerno para umano i-decongest ang mga publikong paaralan sa pagpopondo sa mga mag-aaral na lilipat patungong pribado.

“Parang sub-contracting (ito). Privatization ito sa esensiya,” ani France Castro, pangkalahatang kalihim ng ACT.

Maikukumpara ang Gastpe sa Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) at Philhealth. Kung sa ang CCT ay pagbigay ng kakarampot na panggastos sa iilang mahihirap sa halip na bigyan ng sapat na trabaho sila, at Philhealth ang binabayarang insurance para “makamura” sa serbisyong medikal sa halip na magbigay na sapat na pondo sa pampublikong mga ospital, ang Gastpe ay pagpasa ng iilang maralitang estudyante sa pribadong mga eskuwelahan sa halip na maglaan ng sapat na pondo sa mga pampublikong eskuwelahan.

Sa kaso pa ng Philhealth at Gastpe, napupunta ang pondo ng gobyerno sa pribadong mga ospital at eskuwelahan.

Sa budget hearing sa Kamara ng DepEd, isiniwalat ni Education Undersec. Francis Varela na aabot sa PhP7.5-B ang hinihingi ng DepEd para sa Gatspe. Napasabi tuloy si ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio na tila “pribadong mga paaralan pa ang may pinakamalaking pinaglalaanan ng pondo” ng DepEd.

Sinabi ni Castro, na isang pampublikong guro sa elementarya, na di nakakatulong ang Gastpe sa pag-decongest umano ng public schools. “Ang nangyayari, masyado ring anomalous ito. Di ba kukuha dapat sila ng estudyante mula sa public schools, ang nangyayari, yung nasa private school na mismo ang binibigyan ng tulong.”

Bahagi ng programang Public-Private Partnership o PPP ang Gatspe.

Badyet sa kalusugan

Pagmamalaki ng DBM, “lumaki” ang badyet para kalusugan na aabot sa PhP87.1-B. Pero lumalabas na wala itong pinagkaiba sa 2013 badyet. Sa P35-B dagdag-badyet sa serbisyo-kalusugan noon, PhP12.6-B ang inilaan sa Philhealth.

“Imbes na sa mga ospital ibigay ang pondo, malaking bahagi nito ang sa Philhealth…(H)indi naman lahat ng mga mamamayan ang mayroong (Philhealth),” ani Gene Nisperos, doktor at vice-chairperson ng Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD).

Sinabi pa ni Nisperos na di rin naman lahat ng serbisyong pangkalusugan ay sakop ng Philhealth.

“Imbes na serbisyo ang dapat na prayoridad at ilaan ang malaking pondo sa pampublikong mga ospital natin, sa Philhealth pa ito ibinibigay.  Ibig sabihin, binabayaran ang serbisyong pangkalusugan,” dagdag niya.

Habang umaapaw ang pondo para sa pork barrel, taun-taong tila pulubing namamalimos ang mga batayang serbisyo para sa paghingi ng pondo.

May ulat ni KR Guda

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PW SPECIAL ISSUE | Pork Barrel at ang 2014 Budget (September 2013) http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2013/09/pw-special-issue-pork-barrel-at-ang-2014-budget-september-2013/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2013/09/pw-special-issue-pork-barrel-at-ang-2014-budget-september-2013/#comments Sat, 21 Sep 2013 07:26:06 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=26183

PINOY WEEKLY SPECIAL ISSUE (September 2013)

Pork Barrel at 2014 pambansang badyet

Tampok sa isyu:

PNoy: Pork Barrel King?
Pondo para sa maralita, pondo para sa demolisyon
May pork barrel, may pork baril
Habang sumisiba ang baboy: Edukasyon, kalusugan pinababayaan
Koalisyon vs pork barrel, lumalawak
WTO: dominasyon sa mahihihirap ng mundo
Infographic: Buhay-baboy sa pork barrel system
Pagkondena ng mundo sa panghihimasok ng US sa Syria
Kartel at mataas na presyo ng bigas
Boni@150

Cover art: “Eleksyon de leche” ni Iggy  Rodriguez
Inset art: TaBaKK

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