Archive | May, 2011

Filipinos protest entry of American Warship USS Carl Vinson, assert abrogation of VFA

Posted on 31 May 2011 by admin

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Palace must release VFA review results and move to terminate agreement Statement of the JUNK VFA Movement on the 12th anniversary of the RP-US VFA

Posted on 27 May 2011 by admin

We the undersigned call on Malacanang to release to the public the results of the legal review of the Visiting Forces Agreement. It has been 12 years since the VFA was ratified by the Philippine Senate and there have been many controversies and violations during this period.

We have seen how the VFA has been used to justify the permanent and continuing presence of US troops in Mindanao. We witnessed how the VFA was invoked so that a convicted US serviceman would evade detention in a Philippine facility.

During the 2010 elections, President Benigno Aquino promised to review the controversial provisions of the VFA. While the review apparently focuses only on provisions related to custody of US troops accused of violating Philippine laws, it is still important that the pubic be made aware of the results.

The actions of the President, including his target shooting with US troops in Balikatan, and his recent visit onboard the USS Carl Vinson, are hardly encouraging signs that the current government’s attitude towards the VFA has changed.

The VFA review conducted by Malacanang is a test of the resolve of the present government to uphold national sovereignty and national interest. The Filipino people need to know what the Aquino government will do to rectify many of the abuses by US troops permitted under the previous administration. The review should lead to the termination of this one-sided neo-colonial instrument. There is no better time to do this than now, as the nation marks the 20thanniversary of the historic rejection of the US military bases treaty by the Senate in 1991. ###

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People Power & the transition council as alternative by Fr. Joe Dizon – Jul 2005

Posted on 27 May 2011 by admin

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Aquino’s “emergency employment” program won’t make dent vs. unemployment

Posted on 26 May 2011 by admin

Unemployment remains high because the Aquino government has chosen “pantawid” programs for jobs instead of a genuine national industrialization agenda.

This was the observation of the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan after the Social Weather Station survey results placing the country’s unemployment at 11.3 million Filipinos. The survey also indicated that some one million people joined the ranks of the unemployed since November of last year.

“The country’s chronic unemployment problem cannot be solved by ‘pantawid’ programs for emergency employment. Neither can these be solved by merely relying on labor-intensive infrastructure projects that also provide unstable employment,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The Aquino government has not embarked on a program of genuine industrialization and land reform and thus has not created the necessary economic basis for employment. The government has instead relied on foreign investment-driven job opportunities as well as foreign-funded infrastructure projects,” he added.

During his inauguration in June 30, 2010, President Benigno Aquino III said he will undertake an emergency employment program similar to what President Corazon Aquino did during her term. In the his first Labor Day message as president, Aquino also claimed that more than one million jobs will be created by projects enrolled in the Community-Based Employment Program or CBEP. The CBEP is enshrined under Republic Act 6685 enacted during the first Aquino government.

Department of Labor and Employment data placed the job-creation target of the CBEP to be only at 832,132. A huge part of the jobs (360,191) will be coming from infrastructure projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways. Jobs created by other government agencies will also focus on infrastructure support programs. The jobs created will end upon construction of the project.

“The employment program of the Aquino government is hardly different from the Arroyo government. Both relied on infrastructure projects and business process outsourcing to create temporary employment. It is no wonder that the unemployment rate remains high and may even worsen in the coming years. There is no long-term plan to develop industry and agriculture,” Reyes said.

Bayan also pointed out that government data also shows that the contribution of manufacturing and agriculture in total GDP has either stagnated or decreased over the past three decades. Meanwhile, the percentage of service sector in total GDP has increased. “The decrease in the share of manufacturing and agriculture affects the capacity of the economy to absorb its labor force,” Reyes said.

“The problem of unemployment should be addressed in Aquino’s upcoming State of the Nation Address. “Pantawid Trabaho”, if that’s what it is, will not suffice. It is no different from what Arroyo did when she employed people to clean the streets during elections. People demand stable jobs with living wages,” Reyes added. ###

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Regional Updates Test

Posted on 25 May 2011 by admin

Regional Updates Test

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A primer on the killings of activists

Posted on 24 May 2011 by admin

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5 reasons why we oppose Arroyo’s Charter change

Posted on 24 May 2011 by admin

English Version

Filipino Version

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Legal opinion on the VFA – Public Interest Law Center

Posted on 24 May 2011 by admin


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PH election to UN rights council called an embarrassment

Posted on 22 May 2011 by admin

It’s an embarrassment for the United Nations Human Rights Council.

This was how the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan described the election of the Philippines to a fresh term in the UN Security Council, after garnering the second highest number of votes.

“This seriously impacts on the credibility of the UNHRC. The Philippines has a very poor human rights record dating back to nearly a decade of the Arroyo regime. It has gained notoriety for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention. These practices continue to this day,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The PH government has yet to ensure the conviction of perpetrators and masterminds of the murder of activists. Meanwhile, some 40 cases of extrajudicial killings have already been recorded, less than a year into the Aquino government. The Philippine Human Rights Commission even practically cleared the AFP in the abduction and torture of a Fil-Am activist,” he added.

The group said that the results of the vote may be the result of intense public relations blitz and lobbying rather than actual improvements in the human rights situation in the country since the time of the Arroyo government. It said that during the worst period for human rights under the Arroyo government, the Philippines was still able to get itself elected to the UNHRC.

“It’s really no achievement since even during GMA’s worst onslaught of human rights violations, the Philippines still got elected. It’s a shame really,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that the PH government can only do two things; continue the old ways of the Arroyo government, or make human rights a priority and hold accountable rights violators of the past and present.

“The current government seems to be going down the same path of the Arroyo government. The number of new extrajudicial killings remains alarming. The conviction rate of suspected perpetrators remains less than 2%. There are more than 300 political prisoners languishing in jails around the country. How can our foreign affairs officials say that human rights is a priority of this government?” Reyes asked. ###

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VFA turns 12 next week amid unresolved issues

Posted on 21 May 2011 by admin

The RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement turns 12 years next week amid continuing controversies on its implementation in the Philippines. The military agreement was ratified as a treaty by the Philippine Senate in May 27, 1999. It has not been ratified by the US Senate but the American government says it considers the VFA a treaty.

“The US embassy has recently issued patently self-serving and misleading statement to the effect that there are no problems with the VFA. This is farthest from the truth. There is an ongoing Palace review focused on criminal jurisdiction and custody of US troops who have violated Philippine laws. There are calls for the expulsion of the overstaying US troops in Zamboanga. There have been questions on why a nuclear-powered warship was allowed entry into the country despite the nuke-free provisions of the PH Constitution,” said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Of course the US embassy will say it isn’t broke, so don’t fix it. The US government wants to keep this one-sided agreement intact. It would be a shame if the Philippine government will not stand up to this barefaced lying and manipulation being done by the US government,” Reyes said.

Bayan has repeatedly questioned the indefinite presence of US Special Forces form the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines who have been based in Zamboanga since 2002. The group said that their presence already goes against the definition of “visiting” troops.

The VFA was also embroiled in controversy after the US government refused to have then convicted rapist Daniel Smith placed in a Philippine detention facility and had him transferred from the Makati City Jail. The Philippine Supreme Court ruled that the transfer of Smith was illegal.

“The US embassy has become a factory of lies for the retention of the VFA. It cannot find comfort in the Supreme Court decision that the VFA is constitutional. That ruling will not stand the test of time and will become untenable as new problems related to the VFA arise each year,” Reyes said.

“US troops are engaged in so many undefined activities in the country, especially in the name of the ‘war on terror’. We will not be surprised that US forces have engaged in actual combat operations similar to what they did in the raid against bin Laden in Pakistan. We would not be surprised if they operate secrete prisons or rendition facilities in the country, under cover of so-called counter-terror training,” Reyes said.

Bayan called on the Aquino government, through the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Department of Justice, to release the results of the VFA review as the assailed agreement marks its 12th year of implementation.

“The Palace review of the VFA is the first by the executive in 12 years that the VFA has been in effect. The review should lead to the termination of the VFA. The pact is beyond redemption and is a violation of our sovereignty. We can definitely live without this one-sided agreement. The country will not collapse simply because we do not get US military junk and hand-me-downs,” Reyes said.

“It’s time this government assert national sovereignty and national interest and discard the myth of ‘special relations’, mutuality and reciprocity of the VFA. We must remember that under the VFA 2 counterpart-agreement, Filipino troops do not get any of the benefits and privileges enjoyed the US troops in the Philippines,” he added. ###

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