the Aquino government accountable for the death of Benny Barid. His
death is the face of martial law in our country today. He suffered and
died because of the cruelty and injustice of this government that
speaks of ‘democracy’ but denies the right of political prisoners to
be free,” said Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general.
years, Barid had stayed as a patient at the NBP Hospital. He suffered
from chronic asthmatic bronchitis with emphysema. He cannot stand up
alone, and needs to be put in a wheelchair to move from one place to
another. Fellow political prisoners are the ones who look for means to
acquire his needed medicines. His further stay at the NBP Hospital has
made him more vulnerable to various diseases. Fellow political
prisoners at the NBP mourned at the death of their kosa and kasama,
but likewise demanded justice.
“Halos tatlong taon siyang
nakaratay sa NBP Hospital sa labis na panghihina dahil sa kanyang
karamdaman na kanyang ikinamatay. Nagpapaabot po kaming mga bilanggong
pulitikal sa pamilya at kaanak ni Barid ng aming lubos na pakikiramay.
Salik ang malaking kakulangan sa sapat at maayos na serbisyong pang-piitan
sa mahirap na pinagdaanan ni Barid. Gayundin, nawalan na ng pag-asa si
Barid dahil sa kawalan ng kongkretong hakbang ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas
upang tugunan ang makatarungang pagpapalaya sa lahat ng bilanggong
pulitikal. Tuloy ang laban para sa kalayaan!” said the NBP political
prisoners in a statement.
Exactly a year ago, Alison
Alcantara, 55 years old and also a political prisoner at NBP, died of
pneumonia, sepsis and fatal arrhythmia. He was only brought to the
Philippine General Hospital after he fell into a coma at the NBP
“How many more ailing
political prisoners will suffer from the dire and subhuman conditions
inside different detention centers in the country? How many more after
Alison Alcantara and Benny Barid?” said Guevarra. Arrested in July
2006, Barid was accused of involvement in a massacre which happened in
2004. His child was allegedly hostaged by the military to force him to
surrender. He was a victim of trumped-up charges four times, the last
of which he was sentenced to three counts of lifetime imprisonment in
the NBP Maximum Security Compound.
He was a political detainee
of the Marcos dictatorship, but was granted amnesty under the Cory
Aquino government. He was again arrested sometime in 2004 for
subversion and illegal possession of firearms. The case was dismissed,
but his lawyer was killed after handling his case. In 2005, the
military detained him for almost two months, when they searched his
house and allegedly found firearms in his possession. In all
incidents, the military and police consistently pinned him down as a
member of the New People’s Army.
BS Aquino: Free ailing political prisoners now!
SELDA, meanwhile, dared the
Aquino government to immediately release ailing political prisoners on
September 21, the 42nd year commemoration of martial law.
The group said decades after
the martial law years, the Philippines continues to face the bleak
reality of the existence of political prisoners. Rights of political
prisoners are repeatedly violated as they are slapped with trumped-up
criminal charges, arbitrarily arrested and illegally detained. Many of
them are tortured and denied their right to counsel and due process.
They suffer inhumane prison conditions and prolonged imprisonment, and
snail-paced judicial process.
Of the 504 political
prisoners in the country under the Aquino government, 53 are ailing
“We dare Pres. Aquino to
immediately release ailing political prisoners on humanitarian
grounds,” SELDA spokesperson Roneo Clamor said, “The poor and
inadequate health services that the government provides endanger the
lives of the relatively more vulnerable sick and elderly political
prisoners. The meager budget allotted to prison inmates makes jails
and detention facilities barely habitable, unsafe and hazardous to the
health and general well-being of prisoners. Keeping the sick and
elderly political prisoners longer in prison leads to serious health
complications that could be life-threatening.”
“Pres. Aquino’s hands are
bloodied with the death of ailing political prisoners. His
government’s callousness and injustice against them are no different
from Marcos. The Aquino government perpetuates the culture of
impunity. We call on the people to unite and demand justice and
freedom for all political prisoners!” ended Clamor.
Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) President Roberto Aboitiz
gestures as he emphasizes the point that aside from building
classrooms, all stakeholders should also invest in building
competence, and citizenship of the students.
12 Cebu LGUs ink
deal with RAFI for construction of 218 classrooms
By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation
September 20, 2014
CEBU CITY – The Ramon
Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) and 12 local government units (LGUs) of
Cebu yesterday (September 19) entered into an agreement for the repair
and construction of 218 classrooms that would benefit an estimated
The classrooms include those
in schools in towns severely hit by super typhoon Yolanda last
Aside from building
classrooms, RAFI would also assist the LGUs and the Department of
Education in school governance.
“The challenge is not on
fixing the school buildings anymore. What we need is to prepare the
students so that they can compete,” said RAFI President Roberto
Aboitiz, adding that there is also a need to build the character,
competence, and citizenship of the students.
He likewise exhorted the
LGUs to maintain the same enthusiasm in partnering with RAFI in this
Mayors and or the
representatives of the towns of Alcoy, Aloguinsan, Asturias, Bantayan,
Barili, Borbon, Carcar, Naga, Madridejos, Samboan, San Remigio,
Sibonga signed separate agreements with RAFI for the P144-million
school rehabilitation project (SRP), as a continuing commitment to
provide the school children with a safer and more conducive learning
As stipulated in the
agreement, the 12 LGUs were expected to provide funds for manpower
requirements as counterpart for the rehabilitation of their schools,
among other obligations.
The 12 LGUs have also
committed to assume full responsibility of the actual implementation
and execution, from inception to completion, of the rehabilitation
works, in accordance with the project terms of reference and of the
RAFI, on the other hand,
would commit to extend assistance to the LGUs through the provision of
construction materials based on the approved scope of works, program
of works, and bill of materials.
Speaking on behalf of the
other LGUs, Tuburan Mayor Democrito Diamante thanked RAFI for the
assistance in repairing and constructing classrooms in his town. He
also requested that the foundation help his town in the successful
implementation of the K-12 program in 2016.
In the same event, RAFI also
honored three municipalities for their active participation in RAFI’s
The local government units
of Asturias, Tuburan, and Bantayan were recognized after being able to
rehabilitate more than 50 classrooms (Asturias, Tuburan) and more than
100 classrooms (Bantayan) affected by super typhoon Yolanda.
“By having this recognition,
we would like to show the public that these LGUs that are actually
helping and are really prioritizing education by partnering with us in
this endeavor, in this school rehab,” said Anton Dignadice, RAFI
Education Development Unit executive director.
The recognition was meant to
highlight the efforts and contributions of RAFI’s SRP partners and to
encourage participation and partnership of the local stakeholders in
the foundation’s projects.
“In RAFI, one of our key
attributes is collaboration. In everything that we do, including
promoting education we always involve partners; we always try to
engage the stakeholders. They are really a key element in the success
of the project and so, we would like to recognize those partners who
have actually helped us in ensuring the success of the project,” said
He said that the citations
mean that the three municipalities have partnered with RAFI for a
certain time and that they provided counterpart funding for SRP.
Yesterday’s recognition and
agreement signing took place at the RAFI-Eduardo Aboitiz Development
Studies Center on Lopez Jaena St., Cebu City.
continues to be pro-coal, plays double-speak in climate change
September 20, 2014
MANILA – With just a
few days away before President Benigno Aquino III delivers a speech at
the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, Greenpeace today
challenged the Chief Executive to end his “coal addiction” in light of
climate change and climate-influenced disasters, fuelled by dirty
“We question the President’s
sincerity and his measures to address the impacts of climate change on
behalf the Filipino people. While he is preparing to drumbeat about
his administration’s so-called successes in terms of addressing
climate change in front of a global audience, back home he continues
to prioritize coal-fired power plants over renewable energy sources to
address the country’s growing power needs,” said Reuben Andrew Muni,
Climate and Energy Campaigner from Greenpeace Philippines. “Aquino’s
pro-coal stance is already costing the Philippines its climate, and
all efforts to combat the impacts of climate change are being laid to
waste by his administration’s penchant for coal.”
Greenpeace raised the alarm
over President Aquino’s recent statements during a business forum in
Davao City, where he declared that coal is the most viable power
source in Mindanao, also asserting how the country’s renewable energy
(RE) is limited and may be more costly.
Coal is a highly polluting
energy source and emits much more carbon per unit of energy than oil
and natural gas. Coal burning is one of the leading contributors to
The environmental group said
that despite growing evidence of climate change affecting highly
vulnerable countries like the Philippines, the Aquino government
continues to approve more coal-powered plants as the country’s main
source of energy. In fact, the current Philippine Development Plan
2011-2016 prioritizes coal-fired power plants in the coming years.
More than 34% of the
Philippine’s power generation comes from coal. A new Greenpeace
report, True Cost of Coal in the Philippines, gave estimates on how
coal has disadvantaged the Philippines in terms of economic losses
related to environmental and health impacts, and more. To make matters
worse, the current administration has 45 new coal projects in the
pipeline, this would increase the Philippines’ carbon dioxide (CO2)
emissions by over 64.4 to 79.8 million metric tons a year. Building
more coal-fired power plants would undermine the Philippines’ role in
any international agreements to tackle climate change.
Meanwhile, the Aquino
government continues to snub the country’s renewable energy sources
which are naturally abundant in the Philippines, creating clean jobs
and green growth. Renewable energy provided over 26% of the country’s
electricity generation in 2010. In fact, RE has the technological
potential to contribute to more than 50% of the Philippines’ energy
needs by 2020. Worldwide, RE power generation is growing, providing
one-fifth of the world’s electricity and has added about half of the
world’s new generating capacity each year since 2008.
“It is obvious that
President Aquino is merely paying lip service to prioritizing climate
change adaptation and mitigation measures for the country if he
continues to burn more coal in his own backyard. He is also grossly
misinformed about the potential of RE sources to adequately provide
for the growing power needs of the country, especially in Mindanao
which also relies on solar, geothermal and hydrothermal plants,” added
Greenpeace believes that it
is not too late for Aquino to change his energy policies, and calls on
the President to take the lead and be part of the global solution to
climate change by embracing clean and renewable energy as the foremost
long-term solution to the country’s growing power needs.
“With the country
perennially battling extreme weather events, we need to face facts and
act now. The Philippine Climate Change Commission, the Department of
Energy, and the President himself must set us on a clear path to quit
coal,” said Muni.
A “grading system”
to track down education expenditures needed - Chiz
By Office of Senator Chiz
September 19, 2014
PASAY CITY – Senator
Chiz Escudero is proposing a “grading system” that will track down
education expenditures after education officials failed to report on
the status of classrooms built, books bought, teachers hired this
year, for which Congress appropriated billions of pesos during the
Department of Education’s (DepEd) budget hearing last Wednesday.
Escudero, chairman of the
senate committee on finance said DepEd officials left many pertinent
questions on key education projects unanswered. “It was like a spot
quiz. I wanted to know how the agency has allocated the P309 billion
budget of the year.”
The senator first asked how
many of the 33,194 teachers who were supposed to be hired this year
have joined the DepEd workforce.
DepEd officials present, who
included all regional directors, could not give a number. They instead
promised to collate the data and submit it to the Senate “as soon as
Escudero also inquired how
many of the 43,183 classrooms programmed to be built in 2015 have been
DepEd officials replied that
they did not possess the information on how many brand-new classrooms
have been turned over and being used.
Escudero’s next questions –
on how many of the 42.6 million books have been bought and if 1.6
million new chairs have been delivered – also merited the same reply:
No data available.
Even a purchase which, the
senator stressed, was easy to track because of smaller volume involved
– 38,315 sets of science and laboratory equipment – “also escaped the
He said “if the fund
absorptive capacity of DepEd is low, then we must identify what and
where the spending and implementation bottlenecks are.”
“Ang approved national
budget ay parang lesson plan sa pag-gasta. Pag ganyan kababa at
kabagal ang ating pag-gasta ay lalo nating pinapatindi ang problema sa
ating mga pampublikong paaralan,” he asked DepEd brass.
The senator said “spending
chokepoints in DepEd, or in the DBM which releases the funds, or in
the DPWH which builds some of the classrooms must be identified and
decongested. We want to maximize their fiscal space.”
“Ang assumption kasi natin
ay ang General Appropriations Act (GAA) ay mismong release document na.
Kung ganun, bakit naaantala pa ang pag-implement nito?” Escudero said.
Because Congress saw to it
that the GAA will take effect “on the first hour of the first day of
the first month of the year” then agencies are not pressed for time in
utilizing funds, Escudero added.
“Maiintidihan ko ang anumang
delay kung March na halimbawa ang effectivity ng budget. Sa ngayon na
sabay ang bisa ng national budget sa pagpasok ng bagong taon, wala
akong nakikitang acceptable na alibi,” Escudero said.
He reminded Education
officials present that Congress acted on their plea for higher funding
on the premise “that it was for urgent things and on the promise that
it will be spent promptly.”
“When we approved your
request, in full and without deduction, you entered into a contract
with us that the personnel will be hired and the equipment will be
bought in time for the start of the school year and you have a
six-month lead time,” he said.
He reminded DepEd officials
that the Senate has always given “preferential treatment” to their
request. “Pagdating sa inyo, ang motto kasi namin ay ‘DepEd budget: Do
Escudero said “procurement
and recruitment chokepoints” must be addressed this early so that the
departments would be able to “absorb tens of billions for new teachers
and classrooms and books next year.”
For 2015, government will
open up 39,066 teaching positions at a first year compensation cost of
“Dapat siguro lagyan ng
special provision ang budget item na ito na dapat ang recruitment
process ay January pa lang simulan na para tapos ang vetting,
nakapirma ng kontrata at nakasumpa nab ago ang pasukan,” he said.
A selection window of six
months is more than enough, Escudero insisted.
Escudero also noted that
there is P52.88 billion in the DepEd “wish list” for 1.3 million
chairs, 31,728 new classrooms, for the repair of 9,500 classrooms,
the purchase of 1.3 million seats, and the setting up of 455
“Sa classrooms, dapat we hit
the ground running in January. Kasi hindi maulan sa first half ng taon
at summer. We take advantage of the good weather and we ready the
rooms in time for class opening in June,” he said.
“These must be procured in
the fastest time possible without circumventing procurement,
accounting and auditing rules,” he said.
SELDA hit BS Aquino’s claims
"Never again will
we become victims," Martial law victims say
September 18, 2014
QUEZON CITY – SELDA
criticized the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) for
continuously refusing to state categorically that it recognizes as
victims the 9,539 members of the class suit against former Pres.
Marcos in 1986. Aside from the 9,539 class suit members, there are
also 24 direct action plaintiffs who have been recognized and verified
by the US Federal Court in Hawaii.
“The HRVCB itself is
violating the law. Conclusive presumption becomes disputable
presumption in their denial to recognize the victims who have time and
again proved they suffered abuses and rights violations under the
Marcos dictatorship,” said SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.
“The framework of the HRVCB
in its process of accepting applications is not aimed at recognizing
the most number of martial law victims. The actual conduct of the
claims board on the ground is also not encouraging either for them to
file. They are treated like persons who are only after money, of a
very small amount that can never make up for their sacrifices and
sufferings as victims. They are after justice and reparation,”
“Survivors of martial law
are being victimized again, this time by a body formed by Pres. Aquino
led by a former state agent with lack of sense of history and complete
knowledge of martial law. Their actions and pronouncements lead to
disenfranchisement of victims,” Enriquez added.
The group said Pres. Aquino
is the one to blame that he appointed a former PNP general as head of
Martial law victims
previously condemned the appointment of Sarmiento, saying it is an
insult to victims that a former member of the Philippine Constabulary,
forerunner of the PNP which led and implemented the worst form of
rights abuses under martial rule.
“We were victims of martial
law under the Marcos dictatorship. Never again do we become victims,
this time of BS Aquino!”
Aquino’s revised Fisheries Code is invalid and undemocratic
September 16, 2014
MANILA – Around 100
fishermen from the Save the Fisheries Now Network (SFNN) trooped to
the Makati Business District to deliver a letter to the European Union
(EU) Delegation, citing complaints against the Aquino government for
hastily amending the Philippine Fisheries Code (RA 8550), which the
president will be presenting to the EU Council in Brussels, Belgium
later today. The group said that the Fisheries Code was quickly
revised without due process, after the Philippines received a “yellow
card” sanction from the EU over the country’s failure to combat
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF).
"Fisherfolk, who already
feel disadvantaged, also feel discriminated against by our own
government for not informing us in the first place that the country
got sanctioned by the EU. The yellow card sanction, plus the new
amendments have a direct impact on fishermen who rely solely on
fishing,” said Pablo Rosales, National Chairperson of Pangisda
Pilipinas. “No consultations at the national scale were initiated. As
stakeholders, municipal fishermen should have been informed and
The sense of frustration
among small-scale fisherfolk left them no alternative but to send a
distress call to the EU Delegation in Manila. SFNN sent a letter to
the EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux in Manila, since part of President
Aquino’s agenda in Europe is to assure the European Community that
drastic measures are now being taken to deter IUUF.
Illegal, Unreported and
Unregulated Fishing has long been the scourge of Philippines seas and
remains a big threat to small-scale fishermen who easily lose their
fish catch to large commercial fleets that encroach on municipal
waters. SFNN is deeply concerned that trade-related incentives,
concerning tuna imports bound for the European markets, were
government’s only consideration for complying with EU regulations.
"We’ve long asked help from
the government to combat IUUF but it seems they will do whatever it
takes to continue ‘unlimited fishing’, even step on the rights of
marginalized fisherfolk, just to satisfy the greed of large tuna
companies," said Ruperto Aleroza, spokesperson of the Pambansang
Katipunan ng Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK).
Save the Fisheries Now
Network said that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)
convened a meeting in August, mostly attended by the commercial sector
and non-government organizations, but with hardly any representatives
from small-scale fisheries. SFNN questioned BFAR’s lack of
transparency and accountability, arguing that the government should
have given all stakeholders enough time to study and even propose
provisions that should have been included in the Fisheries Code
amendment. While the group agreed to the high penalties to be imposed
on violators, the lack of consultation makes the amendment process
undemocratic and discriminatory.
“It took the entire
fisheries sector several years to craft the original Fisheries Code,
which was already weak in many ways. So how can the government make
amendments, within just two months, and hope it will be encompassing
and strong enough to meet EU compliance,” asked Dennis Calvan,
Executive Director of NGOs for Fisheries Reform. “The EU should not
even accept President Aquino’s new proposal because it is not
constitutional and does not reflect the sentiments of Filipino