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Jessica Minh Anh lights up New York atop One World Trade Center

Army encounters NPA rebels, seizes claymore mines and other war materials in hinterland village of Ormoc City

8ID joins the nation in commemorating the 116th Philippine Independence Day

Government’s failure leads to a pregnant woman being stoned to death

7 billion people have a Red Cross or Red Crescent story

19IB's retiring soldier recognized, urges colleagues to be good public servants

87IB hands over a Philippine hawk eagle to DENR

Roxas: P1.79 billion ready for Yolanda rehab

President Aquino urged to heed UN climate report

8ID celebrates Philippine Army Day



“Martial law victim na, pinahihirapan pa”

Karapatan chairperson assails Human Rights Victims Claims Board

July 10, 2014

QUEZON CITY – Marie Hilao-Enriquez, a well-known martial law victim and one of the members in the Hawaii class suit filed against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, assailed the BS Aquino-appointed Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) in a press conference today.

“I accuse this government of sabotaging the implementation of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 or RA 10368! When BS Aquino was quoted by media reports saying there are ‘those who would want to sabotage this law,’ he was definitely talking about us who vehemently objected his appointment of PNP Gen. Sarmiento as HRVCB head. Now, by his actions, it is the Aquino government that is sabotaging the law at the expense of martial law victims,” said Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan.

According to Enriquez, it appears now that BS Aquino does not want the law intended to recognize martial law victims and indemnify them for the sufferings they experienced. “Aquino defended Gen. Sarmiento’s appointment by saying she is mature and physically able. He is adamantly standing by his choice and is ramming it on our throats,” Enriquez said.

The HRVCB was formed in accordance with RA 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, which shall process and accept applications of martial law victims.

“After two months of the law’s supposed implementation, problems are piling up. Aside from the former PNP general’s appointment as head of the claims board, the application process does not accommodate and even discourages martial law victims to file. Also, there is no categorical statement from the claims board that it shall recognize the 9,539 members of the class suit and the 24 direct action plaintiffs against Marcos in Hawaii,” Enriquez said.

She and fellow martial law victims personally monitored the application process carried out by the HRVCB in its main office in UP Diliman and its on-site regional centers, particularly in Iloilo on June 30 to July 1. “The claims board asks for too many requirements from the victims, many of which were outrightly unnecessary. Biktima na nga, pinahihirapan pa,” she said.

Victims described their “ordeal” in filing as “para kaming pinadadaan sa butas ng karayom.” Victims are asked to produce NSO-issued birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, original release papers among others.

“Those employed by the board as paralegals and lawyers forget that the incidents happened during martial law. Do the members of the claims board understand that it was martial law, when military power took over civilian institutions? How do you expect victims, many of whom are farmers and ordinary people, to acquire such documents? How could they ask for legal papers when they were massacred, abducted, arrested and tortured in huge numbers?” asked Enriquez.

According to the implementing rules and regulations of the law, only the legal heirs are required to present birth certificates for proof of relationship to the victim. Applicants who are direct victims only need to present an affidavit narrating the circumstances of the violation they experienced, and any government-issued ID and other supporting documents. “This is not what is happening in the submission of application,” according to Enriquez.

“The application process should accommodate the majority of those who have come forward to file. It is the claims board’s task to prove the veracity of their claims application. Denying application forms this early is contrary to the principle of recognizing victims,” explained Enriquez.

As a result, only a small percentage of the thousands who arrived from faraway provinces were accommodated in the regional on-site centers, which were set up for only two to three days in each location with the members of the Claims Board or their representatives staying in hotels or smug accommodations in the cities contrary to what they say as a caravan to go and know the victims better.

In Angeles City, Pampanga, the first of their regional on-site centers, the HRVCB only accepted 300 applicants in two days where a hundred more victims were not able to file applications. The HRVCB said they will return for pending applications in Central Luzon, with no exact date.

In Lucena City, only 93 individuals were processed out of more than six hundred victims who went to file their applications. In Iloilo City, only 268 victims were processed in two days out of more than 800 victims who arrived to file applications from the different parts of the Panay Island.

“Their actions lead us to ask, is it the interest of BS Aquino’s claims board to recognize victims, or another callous effort to disenfranchise them?” said Enriquez.

Meanwhile, Satur Ocampo, one of the delisted class action suit members, reiterated that the claims board should categorically state they shall automatically recognize as victims the 9,539 members of the Hawaii class suit.

The law states that it recognizes members of the historic class action suit filed against the late dictator Marcos, but does not mention the number of victims which totals to 9,539.

“We demand that the claims board acquire a copy of the masterlist of class suit members where the 9,539 victims are listed and were the ones remain intact,” said Satur Ocampo, who is among the so-called delisted class suit members.

Delisted members pertain to the more than 2,000 Hawaii-court recognized victims who were arbitrarily dropped from the list of class suit members and thus, are unable to claim reparation in two settlement agreements made by Atty. Swift.

“Ultimately, we are demanding that just recognition and reparation be given to the victims. The Aquino government should be warned not to disenfranchise victims more by violating the law which we, the martial law victims fought for in a long and hard struggle to be passed and implemented. We ousted a dictator who denied the people of their rights. We hope BS Aquino can learn the lessons of history. If he doesn’t want to be shamed if impeached, it is better for him to resign and remove himself in office NOW,” said Enriquez.





CBCP supports the People’s to abolish the pork barrel system

Press Release
July 8, 2014

CEBU CITY – The people’s initiative to abolish the pork barrel system got a big boost from the recently concluded plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

The Catholic Bishops agreed to support the people’s initiative, which aims to enact a law that abolishes presidential and congressional pork barrel, prohibits and criminalizes appropriation and use of lump sum discretionary funds and mandates line item budgeting.

The CBCP’s decision comes at a time when the Catholics nationwide are celebrating 2014 as “The Year of the Laity”.

During the discussion of various issues under the CBCP Committee on the Laity, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma appealed to his colleagues to give moral blessing and backing to two people’s initiatives – that of the People’s Initiative to Abolish Pork Barrel and the People’s Initiative Against Political Dynasties.

“In order to put a final lid on the pork barrel system, specifically in the legislative and executive branches of government, we support the proposal from anti-pork barrel groups in the whole country that the sovereign people use the 1987 Philippine Constitution provision on the passage of a law through the people’s initiative,” Archbishop Palma said.

The anti-pork people’s initiative is being spearheaded by the newly formed coalition, the People’s Initiative to Abolish Pork Barrel (PIAP).

PIAP includes the Abolish Pork Movement, Cebu Coalition Against Pork Barrel, Church People Against Pork Barrel, E-Pirma, Makabayan, Scrap Pork Network and Solidarity.

Many organizations also stand behind the people’s initiative in pushing to define and prohibit political dynasties. The CBCP had issued a pastoral statement in January 2013, denouncing the worsening problem of political dynasties nationwide.

After a discussion in the CBCP plenary, a consensus emerged to focus first and ensure the success of the people’s initiative to abolish the pork barrel system and next, the people’s initiative against political dynasty.

The CBCP saw the pork barrel as a burning and pressing issue that has sparked people’s outrage, providing favorable conditions for the initiative to end congressional and presidential pork barrel, a big source of corruption and patronage politics.

The Bishops agreed to back the August 23, 2014 People’s Congress being called by the coalition PIAP. The People’s Congress will finalize the people’s initiative proposed law against pork barrel and firm up plans for nationwide education and signature campaign. A kick-off rally will be held at Plaza Independencia on the same day to start the nationwide signature drive.






bayanihan activities send-off cerermony
Ormoc City councilor Pedro Ebcas addressing the bayanihan teams during the Send-off Ceremony held at Brgy. Boroc, Ormoc City on July 4, 2014.

Soldiers, cops formally send-off for bayanihan activities in Leyte

By 19th Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
July 7, 2014

KANANGA, Leyte – Troops under Army's 19th Infantry Battalion and PNP's Regional Public Safety Battalion in Region VIII were dispatched for peace and development missions dubbed as bayanihan activities in hinterland villages of Ormoc City and Carigara, Leyte.

This after two batches of combined Army and PNP troops were officially send-off during ceremonies held on July 2 at Brgy. Tinaguban, Carigara, Leyte and on July 4 at Brgy. Boroc, Ormoc City.

The ceremonies were attended by local officials who welcomed and pledged their commitment to support the mission of the government forces.

Lt. Col. Nedy Espulgar, commanding officer of 19IB, said at least 60 PNP personnel were augmented to the unit for the mission which is expected to terminate in the next three months.

Espulgar further said that during the mission, military and PNP shall jointly perform bayanihan activities which include identification of social issues and subsequently link them to appropriate government agencies and offices. While in the area, troops are likewise mandated to assist in the delivery of social services by domestic and foreign organizations.

"We will also look into opportunities of introducing Land Bank's program on natural, organic and sustainable farming system as this may help uplift and increase the income of indigent farmers in the area," Espulgar added.

The actions and activities of the bayanihan teams will be guided by the local officials and the LGU whom Espulgar jokingly call as the teams' acting commanders in their respective barangay.

After the ceremony, local officials and bayanihan teams shared a traditional military "boodle fight" which was ably prepared by the soldiers. After which, the local officials boarded on the military trucks and took the bayanihan teams who will be deployed in their respective villages.

For the said mission, bayanihan activities will be focused in nine barangays namely Canlampay, Paglaum, Caghalo, San Isidro and Hiluctugan in Carigara, Leyte; and Boroc, Patag, Hugpa and Quezon Jr. in Ormoc City.

"We do not discount the fact that this mission may stir-up the presence of the political and armed components of the NPA. In the next few days, they might start bombarding criticisms and “black propaganda” against government forces. But our efforts will not be towards them, it will be for the people in the community who needs our support", Espulgar concluded.





Cayetano: PNoy may have lost a battle, but he is winning the war against corruption

By Office of the Senate Majority Leader
July 6, 2014

PASAY CITY – “Although Malacañang lost the battle, I think they have won the war.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said this as he welcomed the recent decision of the Supreme Court declaring specific acts under the President Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

“Malacañang lost in the sense that mali na na-augment nang walang item sa budget, mali na i-consider ito na savings na hindi pa nagagastos... But it shows that democracy is alive, it shows checks and balances, it shows the respect of the President sa Supreme Court, kaya dapat sundin natin ang desisyon ng Supreme Court,” the senator said.

The Chief Executive and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad have earlier defended the controversial initiative, saying it was necessary to fast-track growth in the economy.

This, however, was criticized by SC justices, who pointed out that the cross-border transfer of funds from one government branch to another was not allowed in the Constitution.

Following the high court’s decision, several groups have expressed their dismay over the President and the budget chief for implementing the stimulus fund. Some advocates also called for Abad’s resignation and for Aquino’s impeachment.

But Cayetano believed that instead of considering the decision as a defeat by the current administration, people should look at it as one of Aquino’s great achievements insofar as the justice system in the country is concerned.

“The decision shows that the justice system works… Noong panahon ng Arroyo administration, either hindi yan i-take up o patay-malisya lang,” he said.

Reacting to calls for an impeachment trial against the President, the Senate leader said Aquino cannot be held culpable for merely adopting what the previous administrations did, adding that the money which was allotted to fund several projects were spent in good faith and were not stolen.

“Iba yung ninakaw mo, iba yung in good faith. Ginawa mo ang akala mong tama, pero sinabi ng Supreme Court, mali ang proseso. Agree ako na mali, agree ako na Kongreso ang dapat mag-appropriate. But disagree ako sa nagpapalabo ng isyu na sinasabing ikulong na ang mga yan dahil hindi naman nila ninakaw ang pera,” he said.

“The DAP was an honest mistake on the part of Malacañang because they adopted what the previous administrations did. Some constitutional bodies and other departments also did the same thing. Mauubos ang nasa gobyerno kung tuwing merong unconstitutional, ipapakulong niyo sila, kasi ang illegal, immoral at unconsititutional, magkakaiba yun… Let's be reasonable, let's welcome the decision and implement it fully but let's not go overboard,” he added.





Liberal Party and its tyranny of numbers

Aquino, Abad and Rep. Evardone bastardizing democracy, labor group says

By Bukluran ng Manggawang Pilipino
July 4, 2014

QUEZON CITY – Amidst the snowballing calls for resignation and accountability from all sectors of society, the top-brass of the ruling party, the Liberal Party (LP) has not budged a bit and continued to assert their defenses for their involvement in the design and usage of unspent funds or the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Workers group Bukluran ng Manggawang Pilipino (BMP) claimed that the officials’ refusal to acknowledge and abide by the unanimous Supreme Court decision and consciously organizing the suppression of any impeachment moves in the Batasan Pambansa is the death “democracy” and the constitutional processes.

“Noynoy Aquino, Butch Abad and even Representative Ben Evardone (Eastern Samar) are not only bastardizing the very concept of democracy and fundamental principles of good government but are murdering democracy in front of our very eyes,” said Gie Relova of the BMP.

He added that, “The suppression of a constitutionally-warranted impeachment process obscures every single letter of the Constitution; it stifles the fervor of an abused nation to seek justice for the billions of pesos in taxes quenched from their brow of every decent Filipino.”

Since the Supreme Court declared part of the DAP unconstitutional, Malacanang has been claiming that they have done nothing wrong. Meanwhile, its allies in Congress led by Evardone have been busy issuing statements that they vow to block any and all efforts to impeach Aquino.

“If they, Aquino and his technocratic bureaucrats such as Abad and Cesar Purisima pledge innocence and uprightness, what do they have to fear in an impeachment court? That is what democracy is all about,” asserted Relova.

The group is seeking accountability and prosecution of all those involved in the blatant violation of the Constitutional provision limiting executive powers whether technocrat or elected official.

The labor leader also noted that the Aquino and his LP partymates are emulating then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s tactics in controlling its “co equal” branch of government, in an effort to block impeachment processes against her in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

“It’s now a battle between the peoples’ resolve and thirst for justice versus the tyranny of numbers of the Liberal Party, the true enemies of democracy,” Relova surmised.

Relova warned that, “The cumulative pent up anger of the Filipino nation in its search for justice and accountability against corrupt Presidents coupled with low wages, contractualization of labor, high prices and abandonment of social services shall eventually explode like a massive social volcano reaching unprecedented political heights”.

Despite the ruling party’s insistence of committing no wrongdoing, Relova says that, “Justice will not be served in a silver platter and the axe must be wielded firmly by an aggrieved and desolate people, led by the deprived working class”.

“Let the axe fall where it should,” he concluded.





Labor group hits DAP defenders, tells lawmakers to abide by the SC decision

By Bukluran ng Manggawang Pilipino
July 3, 2014

QUEZON CITY – A labor group reacted to the avalanche of statements made publicly on the recently concluded Disbursement Acceleration Program by the Supreme Court (SC). The statements, the group says is tantamount to the refusal of Palace allies to act in accordance with the decision and shield Aquino and themselves from accountability.

Among the lawmakers and public personalities which defended the DAP were Senator Antonio Trillanes, Representatives Walden Bello of Akbayan partylist, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Winston Castelo of Quezon City, Miro Quimbo of Marikina and renowned constitutionalist Joaquin Bernas S.J.

“Now that the SC has decided, these so-called representatives of the people have revealed that they are not of the people but representatives of Aquino. They are obviously parroting the statements and positions of Palace officials,” said Gie Relova of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP).

“After fattening themselves, the least they could do is shut up and abide by the SC decision. Though we expect them to be kapal-muks, they should instead start admitting their roles in the illegal disbursement of public funds” he added.

The lawmakers’ statements ranged from a mere “administrative lapse” to “done in good faith”, also the statement issued by Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

Relova noted that most of the statements made by the lawmakers in defense of the DAP was also contiguous to their positions to whether President Aquino would be held accountable for the juggling public funds without going through Congress.

BMP took exception at the opinion of Joaquin Bernas who was reported to have said that, “It seems to me it’s more of ignorance of the Constitution, and ignorance is not a ground for impeachment”.

“For a veteran constitutionalist and professor of the law, the good Father maybe suffering from mental lapses. Ignorance of the law maybe applicable for petty infringements such as traffic violations since traffic routes are often altered. But the Constitution has not been changed since 1987” he said.

Relova further explained that, “How can Bernas claim Aquino's ignorance of the DAP's constitutional violations, when then Senator Aquino filed Senate Bill 3121 or the Budget Impoundment Control Act in March 4, 2009, in his Explanatory Note Aquino cited Article VI Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution acknowledging its existence and limitations of the power of the Executive. The very same provision the Supreme Court says the DAP of Aquino, Abad and Purissima violated in its decision”.

Article VI Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution stipulates that, “Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the Government as specified in the budget. The form, content and manner of preparation of the budget shall be prescribed by law".

“Bernas is acting as a modern-day Padre Damaso in his defense of Aquino and his abuses’” Relova held.

The militants insisted that Aquino and all the bureaucratic technocrats such as Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Treasury officials Roberto Tan and Rosalia de Leon for they willfully committed blatant constitutional violations and should be held liable.

“We all know that they are not honorable and will not resign from their posts, so the only option remaining for the nation to achieve justice is to oust them from office. No matter the cost, if that is the only way to regain our dignity,” Relova concluded.





TUCP Partylist Rep. Mendoza dares Herrera to replace him

July 1, 2014

QUEZON CITY – Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP) Party-list Rep. Raymond Mendoza dared former Senator Ernesto Herrera to file the necessary complaint at the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) if he thinks he can replace the congressman.

Meanwhile, Mendoza announced he will officially begin his being member of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) membership today.

“I am fully prepared to work even harder as I begin my other important role as member of the Commission on Appointments. I am ready to take to a higher level the promotion of the workers’ legislative agenda in congress. I am happy that all of my labor policy proposals are being intelligently vetted by various committees including the proposal to strengthen the security of tenure which has been eroded to the massive contractualization promoted by so-called labor leaders,” Mendoza said.

“With regards to Mr. Herrera’s claim that he will replace me as TUCP party-list representative, I encourage him to attempt it. He has been a senator and he has been a congressman before so he knows well that jurisdiction for such a move lies with the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET). Good luck to him,” Mendoza added.

Herrera issued a press statement the other day saying he is going to replace Mendoza as TUCP Party-list congressman following a Court of Appeals (CA) decision last week affirming its earlier decision putting him as holdover president of the labor center Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and ordering the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to conduct an election as soon as possible for members to determine rightful leaders of the biggest labor center in the country.

In July 2012, the DOLE ruled in favour of Atty. Democrito “Kito” Mendoza as president of TUCP. However, Herrera brought the case to the CA.

TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay, on the other hand, clarified that the CA ruling pertains only to the TUCP as labor center and it has no bearing on the TUCP party-list as a duly registered political party. The party-list is separate and distinct from the TUCP labor center.

Both have separate board structure with the party-list registered with COMELEC and not the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).



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