immediate release of P1-B People’s Survival Fund
By Office of Senator Chiz
October 22, 2015
PASAY CITY – As local
government units (LGUs) continued to grapple with the unmitigated
impacts of extreme weather events, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero asked
the government to immediately release the P1-billion People’s Survival
Escudero, who chairs the
Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, lamented that
many LGUs remained unaware that they could have access to P1 billion
in special fund to boost their long-term mitigation and adaptation
programs on climate change.
“You cannot just go from
storm to storm, flood to flood. Climate change is behind these
frequent and extreme weather events; LGUs should be more proactive in
addressing the problems at the root, instead of being merely
reactionary,” he said.
The PSF is a special fund
created by virtue of Republic Act 10124 or An Act Establishing the
People's Survival Fund to Provide Long-Term Finance Streams to Enable
the Government to Effectively Address the Problem of Climate Change.
Escudero, former chair of
the Senate finance committee, pointed out that the government is
mandated to earmark at least P1 billion for the PSF annually; any
portion of the fund that is unused will not revert to the national
As of June 30, there have
been no releases from the P1-billion PSF for 2015.
“Why is that money still
there? What is the point of having this special fund if nobody uses
it? Meanwhile, our local governments contend with the impacts of
climate change year-round – from prolonged droughts to heavy floods,”
“It’s been three years since
we passed the law – has the PSF even been useful to anybody? What is
stopping the government from releasing the money?” he asked.
Unlike in last year’s
National Expenditure Program (NEP) when there was no such stipulation,
the 2016 NEP provides that the P1 billion allocated as PSF “may
likewise be used to cover any deficiency in the implementation of the
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Program, and Yolanda
Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program, subject to the approval of
the President of the Philippines.”
The PSF may finance local
adaptation initiatives such as water resources and land management;
risk insurance for farmers, agricultural workers and other
stakeholders; infrastructure development and protection of natural
ecosystems; monitoring of vector-borne diseases triggered by climate
change; forecasting and early warning systems; contingency planning
for droughts and floods; establishing and strengthening information
networks to support adaptation initiatives; and other community
support programs by organizations accredited by the Climate Change
Escudero, the leading vice
presidential candidate, urged LGUs to submit climate mitigation and
adaptation proposals to the Climate Change Commission, which serves as
the secretariat of the PSF Board. The commission will then create a
shortlist from which the PSF Board will choose the funding recipients.
The PSF board is composed of
the Department of Finance, Climate Change Commission, National
Economic Development Authority, the Philippine Commission on Women,
Department of the Interior and Local Government, and representatives
from non-government organizations, business, and the academic and
stakeholders summit held to combat illegal fishing
October 20, 2015
The national summit seeks to discuss and discern the salient points in
the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the recently amended
Fisheries Code or Republic Act 10654, which sets stiffer penalties and
tightens rules against illegal and unregulated fishing.
QUEZON CITY – The
two-day Sustainable Fisheries Summit was attended by more than 100
participants from the academe, scientific community, local government
units, fisherfolk, and non-government organizations from all over the
Philippines. It is the first presentation of the approved IRR and
amended Fisheries code to key fisherfolk and community stakeholders,
held at the Institute of Social Order in the Ateneo de Manila
University in Quezon City.
The summit sought to
strengthen the fisheries network for sustainable fisheries management,
and emphasized the need for key fisheries stakeholders to understand
RA 10654 to effectively enforce the law and monitor its
It also underscored the need
to allow the recovery of the Philippine seas from decades of
degradation and overfishing – as the majority of Filipinos are
dependent on the sea as a critical source of food and livelihood.
For the longest time,
illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) wreaked havoc on
the once-abundant fishing grounds of the Philippines. A report made by
the National Stock Assessment Program of the Department of
Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR)
revealed that 10 out of 13 fishing grounds are already heavily
exploited, leading to the phenomenal decline of fish catch.
Simultaneously, the income of municipal fishers also declined, with
the highest poverty incidence level among fisherfolk at 39.1 percent.
Municipal fishers have long
clamored for the amendment of the Fisheries Code, in response to the
prevailing illegal and unregulated fishing practices to the Philippine
The passage of RA 10654 aims
to address IUUF by increasing the penalties against illegal and
unregulated fishing. It also strengthens the vessel monitoring
mechanisms and calls for the creation of harvest control rules to
determine sustainable fish catch levels.
RA 10654 revised significant
provisions leading to institutionalization and further strengthening
of the following: (1) traceability, which ensures that fishery
products are sourced out from healthy fishing grounds and which used
sustainable fishing practices, and handling of fish catch meet
acceptable standards; (2) reference points, which determines the
maximum sustainable yield for fishing; and (3) harvest control rules,
which sets the regulations on the use of fishing gears, fish catch
limitations, spatial and temporal restrictions, among others.
These provisions shall
primarily lead to establishment of a sustainable fisheries regime
beyond the 15-kilometer municipal waters, the exclusive economic zones
and in high seas.
The summit also launched
PaNaGaT (Pangisda Natin Gawing Tama), the largest Philippine network
of conservationist and Community-Based Coastal Resources Management
(CB-CRM) practitioners, to combat IUUF.
candidacies as the “alternative” to traditional politicians of the
October 16, 2015
QUEZON CITY – Not to
be outdone by their elitist counterparts, platform-centered candidates
filed Certificates of Candidacies before the Commission of Elections (COMELEC)
early morning Friday together with thousands of their members and
Running on a platform of
social progress with social justice, Sanlakas partylist fielded
veteran labor leader and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino chairperson
Leody de Guzman as its first nominee, Cebuano lawyer Aaron Pedrosa,
the coalition’s Secretary-General for its second nominee and longtime
development worker Roldan Gonzales of Ozamis City as its third
Gender and climate justice
advocate Flores “Oyie” Zacate a native of Sulat town in Eastern Samar
and foreign policy expert Rasti Delizo were their fourth and fifth
They claimed that their
brand of politics defies the traditional mode that “binds the poor to
further misery, exploitation and alienation from politics”.
“Sanlakas has consistently
fought for the underprivileged masses, never compromising its
principles no matter the political odds. We pledge to be worth every
hard-earned peso taxed from wage-earners and informal workers”, said
“Rest assured, our nominees
will fight for and remain genuine representatives of the masses”, he
The partylist coalition
defines their platform as the concretization of the peoples’
aspirations, ranging from the broadening of their democratic rights,
people-centered reform agenda and full reversal of the neo-liberal
policies and programs which includes the privatization of social
services, deregulation of strategic industries, trade liberalization
and the contractualization of labor.
Sanlakas now combines its
strength with other progressive stalwarts to form a national and
nationwide force to challenge the elite’s Trapos with their own slate,
bound by a common platform for reforms and social change.
The partylist accompanied
senatorial candidates, Young Officers Union founder Dado Valeroso and
former Representative Walden Bello in a sunrise march from Luneta to
the Comelec office. Joining them were bona fide public school
teachers’ partylist Ating Guro, Ang Nars and Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM),
their national political party.
“Despite victories for our
public school teachers gained these past years, we all know that it is
not enough, a seat in Congress will take us closer to reclaiming our
dignity. The welfare and issues of teachers go beyond the four corners
of our classrooms,” Ating Guro first nominee Benjo Basas asserted.
For his part, PLM
Chairperson Sonny Melencio, urged voters to once and for all denounce
elitist politics and traditional political dynasties who forced the
masses settle for dole-outs and piece-meal reforms.
“The time has come for us to
end the rule of the elite and elect true representatives of the
people,” he said.
PARTNERSHIP. Assumption Alumnae Association Inc. (AAA) through
its Assumption Cares program, recently held a memorandum of
agreement signing and check turnover with Philippine Business
for Social Progress (PBSP) at the Assumption College in Makati
City. The partnership is for a P1.3M project called 'Food for
the Table' Bio-Intensive Gardening Project for Yolanda survivors
in Mercedes, Eastern Samar.
help sustain communities in Eastern Samar
October 14, 2015
EASTERN SAMAR – In
the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda, the once thriving coastal town
of Mercedes in Eastern Samar was reduced to rubble, leaving families
homeless, without food and livelihood.
One of the organizations
that heeded the call for help is the Assumption Alumnae Association
(AAA) through the Assumption Cares program. They adopted six barangays
in the municipality of Mercedes by rebuilding their houses, repairing
their parish halls, and constructing disaster-resilient domes that
will serve as community centers in Barangay Busay.
As the program is nearing
its completion, AAA decided to continue their support leading to the
sustainability of the residents who lost their livelihood. “We don’t
want to end the project with just homes, we want to give them
something to sustain their lives,” said Regina Hechanova, Assumption
Cares Program Chairperson.
Hence, they partnered with
Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) for a short-term
livelihood project called “Food on the Table” through Bio-Intensive
Gardening (BIG). The project which is part of Assumption Cares’
continuing program in Mercedes, aims to benefit at least 100
households in Brgy. Busay.
PBSP, in collaboration with
the local government of Mercedes and the Municipal Agriculture Office,
will conduct training sessions on BIG technology for the recipients
and build 100 bio-intensive gardens in selected households.
Implementation of the P1.3 million project began last month and is
expected to be completed in February 2016.
AAA and PBSP recently signed
a memorandum of agreement and check turnover for the project. Present
during the event were Regina Gabaldon-Hechanova, Board Member and
Chairperson, Assumption Cares Program; Ma. Luisa Ledesma, AAA
President; Connie G. Valdes, AAA Administrative Officer; Dida Salita,
AAA Trustee; Gina Africa-Aboitiz, AAA Member; former Ambassador
Bienvenido Tan, AAA Adviser and Sponsor, concurrent PBSP Trustee,
President and General Manager of The Bookmark, Inc.; Emma Tan, wife of
Amb. Tan; Roberto A. Umali, PBSP Trustee and Chief Operating Officer
of Magsaysay Transport and Logistics; Caroline Grace Pedragosa,
Director, PBSP Project Management Office-Livelihood and Enterprise
Development (LED); Mercedita Rosetes, Portfolio Manager of PBSP LED;
and Amy Chua, Portfolio Manager for Backbone Support of PBSP LED.
mission for Balangiga Bells
By ROSE SAN DIEGO
October 12, 2015
CHICAGO – WWII
veterans gathered on a brisk afternoon around newly appointed
Commander of their flagship Filipino-American Post 509 of the American
Legion, with John Holmes, a former combat vet and member of US Army
Special Forces. It has been over two decades that a non-Filipino has
been elected to this top position.
During such a time the
After-Action Summary on their recent Memorial program of the Balangiga
Bells was presented and discussed. They had felt closeness to these
bells in a similar way, because they too felt forgotten and neglected
due to father time. They were all reminded that if they keep the story
of the fallen during the battle of Balangiga and the bells alive we
are hopeful that their stories of conflict will also be shared as part
of global studies.
They have served in honor of
their country the Philippines not once, but twice. They had
volunteered for a selfless purpose greater than their own in 1942 and
now once again for a century old cause hoping to negotiate the release
of at least one of the three church bells and the historic old cannon
removed from the town square of Balangiga in E. Samar.
Prior to adjournment
Commander Holmes recommended the group returns next month for a day of
silence and then to join the Veterans Day remembrance this November,
with other area veteran organizations and memorials to reflect on the
fallen from all eras, and all battles. We will continue our mission to
partner with all VSO’s and groups for a positive win-win solution for
the church bells return.
Red Cross helping
fire survivors in Leyte Regional Prison
October 12, 2015
MANILA – Following
the fire that raged in Leyte Regional Prison for almost eight hours,
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Philippine
Red Cross (PRC) delivered emergency items to support the authorities’
efforts to attend to the needs of the affected inmates.
The fire that broke out on
October 8 in this prison hosting more than 1,800 convicted detainees
under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) killed 10 people, caused minor
injuries to others, and completely destroyed the Maximum Security
Compound of the detention facility.
This prison is one of the
detention facilities the ICRC currently visits in the country to
assess and improve general conditions of detention. Both the ICRC and
the PRC, which are partner humanitarian organizations in the
Philippines, send their sympathies to the families of those who
perished in the fire.
“As reports of this dramatic
incident reached us, we immediately dispatched a team from our
Tacloban office to evaluate the damage and pressing needs, to be able
to provide rapid assistance,” said Sari Nissi, head of the ICRC
delegation in the Philippines.
Thanks to readily available
items in the PRC warehouse in Leyte, PRC and ICRC teams were able to
distribute sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, bath and laundry
soaps, bottles of water and jerrycans; as well as medical items from
the ICRC, over the weekend.
“These people who are
serving their sentence in jail deserve the same humanitarian
assistance that we give to victims of other disasters and emergencies,
as the Red Cross provides assistance to anyone who needs it,
especially the most vulnerable,” stressed PRC Chairman Richard Gordon.
The ICRC had previously
provided assistance when the prison was hit by a fire in 2013. As part
of its continuing support to Leyte Regional Prison, the ICRC is
building a new infirmary to enhance access to medical care for the
The ICRC will continue to
assess the most pressing needs and is in dialogue with authorities to
find a permanent solution for the living conditions of the inmates.
Recent TPPA deal:
Another deathly prescription to Asia’s people
By Health Alliance for
October 12, 2015
QUEZON CITY – Health
groups today condemn the recent agreement reached on US-led Trans
Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) stating the free trade deal will
cement US ‘pivot to Asia’.
Health Alliance for
Democracy or HEAD sees stronger US control over products, including
medicines in TPPA member countries. The trade deal, tagged by US
representative for trade Michael B. Froman as “an important first
step” may very well be “a step that will crush all trade barriers of
member states for US domination over 40% of the global market,” said
Dr. Joseph Carabeo, secretary general of HEAD.
According to reports, the US
trade representative said the pact would eventually end more than
18,000 tariffs that the TPP countries have placed on American exports.
“The US is driven by its
goal to defeat China in the global economy by aggressively making
American products (and its trade terms) dominate the Asian market
which comprises 40% of the global economy,” Dr. Carabeo added.
Even if the Philippines is
not party to the agreement yet, current deals to the economic pact
signal further price monopoly on products such as medicines. In
particular, the patent on “biologics,” or advanced medicines derived
from living organisms, was compromised to only a “mandatory minimum of
five years.” Meaning, drug makers will be able to withhold data, and
consequently control prices, for 5 long years before other
manufacturers can produce “biosimilars” at more affordable prices.
“When no cap is set on the
maximum number of years a patent can be had, who would opt for the
minimum 5 years?” pointed Dr. Carabeo. “At the end of the day,” he
said, “it’s business as usual for these pharma giants.”
The US-led economic pact
capped its meeting with 11 heads of state in Atlanta, Georgia on
October 5, 2015 after years of negotiation.
HEAD is an Alliance of
individuals and organization in the health sector. HEAD has been an
active education campaign-information center coordinating health and
national campaigns towards the increase of social awareness and
Bakwits. In this photo taken February 2015 during a fact-finding
mission, farmers who fled their upland sitios gather as they
plan to evacuate to the town center to protest military
presence, harassment. The military has returned and set up their
camp in this school campus lately this September.
'threatens' farmers, HR workers during live radio interview on
reported rights violations in Samar town
By KATUNGOD SB
October 11, 2015
TACLOBAN CITY –
Farmers from an upstream barangay in Basey, Samar who went to Tacloban
City on October 10 to report on radio the encampment of military men
in their barrio center ended up being threatened themselves by the top
commanding officer of the accused military battalion.
Leni Sabaniao, the Sitio
Captain of Burabod, a sitio of Barangay Mabini, Basey decry what she
called as ‘threatening response’ of 87th Infantry Battalion commanding
officer Colonel George Domingo as if to warn her for reporting the
occupation on media.
Colonel Domingo was quoted
as telling the farmers over radio: “Huwag po kayong mag-alala… kayong
nagsumbong diyan sa Bombo Radyo, hindi po ako magkakamali, mas mahal
nyo po ang [New People’s Army] NPA kaysa sa sundalo kaya magbabantay
din po ako sa inyo… sila yung nagrereklamo, at sila ‘yung nasasaktan
dahil nung pumasok na ang sundalo nawawalan na ng clout ang NPA sa
KARAPATAN human rights group
was also red-tagged on air by Colonel Domingo saying “Alam naman po
natin na ang National Democratic Front, katulad ng KARAPATAN ay
miyembro ng National Democratic Front. Ito ‘yung mga nagdedepensa at
nagsusuporta sa armado [NPA] at sila rin ang nagrereklamo kapag
pumapasok ang sundalo…”
Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas
spokesperson Jun Berino assailed this red-tagging made by Colonel
Domingo. “It is alarming that the military has publicly tagged the
farmers as NPA supporters. It is even more alarming to note that they
would not recognize their rights just for being labeled as [NPA]
supporters,” Berino said.
Berino, while explaining the
civil rights of the civilians, was also commented on by Colonel
Domingo: “Hindi niya karapatan ang kanyang ipinaglalaban kundi ang
karapatan ng masa na nagsusuporta sa NPA, ‘yan ang kanyang
Berino expresses alarm over
Colonel Domingo’s statement and hopes this does not result to further
rights violations upon recalling that during the reign of former Major
General Jovito Palparan in Eastern Visayas in 2005, red-tagging
consequently leads to harassment and a number of extrajudicial
killings or arrests against individuals or organizations who are
subjected to such by the military.
Early this year, the
presence of military in the barrios of Basey prompted the farmers to
evacuate from their communities to the municipal town center. Katungod-SB
has documented various cases of rights violations in the said
communities. Berino of Katungod-SB stressed that under Aquino’s Oplan
Bayanihan, the military launches operations in the name of ‘peace and
development’. However, Katungod-SB said that ‘verified reports belie
the military’ pointing out to the incident of indiscriminate firing
that involved elements of the 87th Infantry Battalion last February
16, this year, in Sitio Burabod, Barangay Mabini hitting 4 houses in
the community and grazing a 14-year-old female high school in her
Colonel Domingo, however,
denied the violations and suggested that Sabaniao and rights group
Katungod must not be protected by law. Domingo insisted, referring to
the farmers: “They are part of the problem, ngayon inirereklamo nila
kami. Tandaan po natin mga taumbayan, silang mga lumalabag sa batas
wala pong karapatan sa protection of the law…” and continued saying
“ang mga taong hindi sumusunod sa batas ay walang karapatang
magreklamo.” He would repeat the same statement many times in the
course of the interview.
At the end of the interview,
Colonel Domingo added, “tatandaan niyo, dahil sa pagsasalita nyo d’yan
sa Bombo Radyo, makikilala ko kayo, at makikilala niyo rin ako.”
Domingo admitted they have
occupied the high school building in Brgy. Mabini but with permission
from the Municipal Mayor and barangay officials in Mabini. “Mayroong
approval ang mga barangay officials na sila [the soldiers] ay
pansamantalang makitira doon sa eskwelahan sapagkat ilalayo ko sila
doon kapag naipasok ko doon ang mga tent namin… kinausap ko rin po ang
Mayor, ipinaalam po natin dyan. Ngayon kung sila ay aatakehin ng NPA,
na sila ay nasa eskwelahan, bakit nyo po sisisihin ang sundalo, at
bakit hindi nyo sisihin ang NPA?” said Colonel Domingo.
The farmer-leader wants the
armed so-called ‘Peace and Development Teams’ to pull out immediately
from their community and school. Just last month, the military
encamped in the barrio center had an encounter with reported members
of the NPA. They have been staying for more than a month since
September. Domingo said the encampment is temporary and insisted that
reports of human rights violations are all but accusations of
statements is in itself a clear testament to his fascist tendencies
and practice of his men. If he can utter those words in public with
impunity, what other things is he capable of doing with no media
around? There must be accountability here. The military must cease all
forms of intimidation and immediately pull out from civilian
communities,” ends Berino.