Archive | February, 2012

Prosecution shuts door to Sereno testimony, truth about Corona partiality to GMA

Posted on 29 February 2012 by admin

Press Statement

February 29, 2012

Reference: Renato M. Reyes, Jr. BAYAN secretary general

We are gravely concerned, puzzled and extremely dismayed by the actions of lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas who shut the door completely to the possible testimony of Supreme Court Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno before the impeachment court. It is puzzling because despite public clamor, and even before Sereno could reply to the request letter of Rep. Neri Colmenares, Tupas already removed any possibility of Sereno testifying. The move boggles the mind and raises questions as to what Aquino’s allies in the prosecution really want to accomplish with the impeachment.

The impeachment is not just about Article 2 or the SALN of Corona. However, the way the LP-directed prosecution is conducting the trial, all other Articles–including those related to Corona’s partiality towards GMA– are either incidental, peripheral or at worst, just window-dressing. We would have wanted the issue of GMA and Corona be fully ventilated, but such doesn’t seem to be the intent of the LP-directed prosecution.

We doubt the LP-directed prosecution is serious in uncovering the truth about Corona’s partiality in granting a TRO for GMA. We doubt if GMA’s ties with Corona was ever really an issue in the impeachment, contrary to the rhetoric of the Aquino administration at the start of the impeachment process. It is a great disservice to the work conducted by the public and private prosecutors of Article 7 who set out to uncover the truth but apparently did not enjoy the support of the ruling party.###

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Prosecution preempted Sereno reply

Posted on 29 February 2012 by admin

News Release
February 29, 2012

The decision of the Liberal Party-directed House prosecution panel to end the presentation of evidence and witnesses in the impeachment trial may have preempted the reply of Justice Ma.Lourdes Sereno to the request of Rep. Neri Colmenares to appear before the trial. The House panel also announced they were dropping the five other articles of impeachment and will just stick to Articles 2, 3 and 7.

The decision to end the presentation of evidence came on the same day that Colmenares sent his letter to Sereno. The Senate meanwhile announced yesterday that they will include in their Monday caucus the matter of the SC’s refusal to heed a Senate subpoena of certain employees.

“It is indeed a mystery why, despite growing public clamor for Sereno to appear before the Senate, and with a formal request just recently given to Sereno, the LP-directed prosecution would stop the presentation of witnesses and evidence. It would not hurt their cause if they waited a few more days for a reply from Sereno, or if they made reservations that would allow Sereno to later on appear should she decide to do so. To end the presentation now, with these issues still left hanging, is puzzling to say the least,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Article 7 is important because it strikes at the heart of the alleged partiality of the Chief Justice towards Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The issues should be fully ventilated and all means to uncover the truth must be exhausted. We must not allow the SC to simply get away with a blanket declaration of confidentiality while public interest and accountability suffer. This would make any future impeachment of an SC justice even more difficult. The LP-directed prosecution should have put up a more principled fight instead of rushing to end the presentation in an anti-climactic manner,” he added.

The Gloria Panagutin! Movement meanwhile said that the public waited long to have the issue of GMA brought up in the impeachment trial but it would appear that there are those in the prosecution who are not that keen in pursuing this issue.

“While we do not want a protracted trial, the case of CJ Corona’s partiality towards GMA should be vigorously pursued and the SC resolution on confidentiality should be strongly opposed. Resting the presentation of evidence at this stage may give the impression that the prosecutors themselves are already resigned regarding the SC maneuvers,” said Fr. Joe Dizon.

“Are Aquino and his allies really serious in bringing out the issue of GMA in this impeachment trial? Or is the GMA issue a mere sweetener or token in the impeachment complaint? Of course we all want to see a conviction but the process should also help to uncover the truth and educate the public,” he added.

On the dropping of the five other articles of impeachment, the group said that the poorly written impeachment complaint was one of the main stumbling blocks in trial. “Dropping the other articles may have been just damage control, an effect of the poorly crafted impeachment complaint from the House. Had they really prepared for the trial, they would have only included the strongest cases in the complaint to avoid a protracted battle,” Dizon said.

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Pantawid Pasada, unacceptable: Aquino insensitive to the poor, inutile amid soaring oil prices

Posted on 28 February 2012 by admin

Press statement
Feb. 29, 2012
Reference: Eleanor de Guzman, deputy secretary general

As the country braces for another round of oil price hikes this week – the eighth for this year already – the Pantawid Pasada program of the Aquino administration is becoming ever more unacceptable as a mitigating measure to ease the impact of escalating pump prices on the public. President Aquino is again increasingly exposed as insensitive to the plight of the poor and inutile in the face of skyrocketing oil prices and overpricing by oil companies.

Aquino should stop insisting on the Pantawid Pasada program as it is severely lacking even as a stopgap measure. First, at P1,200 per card, the fuel subsidy is not even enough to cover a day’s diesel need of a jeepney driver. Second, at 100,000 cards, the Pantawid Pasada excludes hundreds of thousands of other jeepney drivers. Third, the process of reloading all the cards takes a while even as oil prices increase almost weekly, thus further negating its efficacy as an emergency measure. Fourth, the program excludes other marginalized sectors such as farmers and fishers who, like the jeepney drivers, rely on fuel for their livelihood.

We reiterate our demand that the more important mitigating measure amid soaring oil prices is to cancel the 12% value added tax (VAT) on petroleum products. This measure has an immediate and substantial effect on pump prices. For instance, the pump price of diesel and gasoline could go down by almost P6-7 per liter if the oil VAT is removed. The retail price of cooking gas (11-kg LPG tank) could go down by almost P100. These are tangible benefits that can be at once felt by many poor sectors, and not only the jeepeny drivers, without the complicated process of reloading and distributing fuel subsidy cards.

We are appalled that Aquino has not even displayed any sense of urgency and political will to protect the interest of ordinary consumers and motorists. Instead, he chose to exert his energy and influence on the Corona impeachment trial that has already been underway and will proceed even without his intervention. His intervention and vast political power are better used in facilitating the passage of important and long pending bills and resolutions in Congress that seek to control oil prices, but which he has ignored.

However, the leadership of Congress, including the concerned committees on energy and ways and means, should not wait for Aquino’s seal of approval on bills that seek to remove the oil VAT, junk the Oil Deregulation Law, and effectively regulate the oil industry. From the start, Aquino has already made it very clear that he will continue the anti-people policies on oil of his predecessor, Mrs. Gloria Arroyo. But we challenge the leadership of the House of Representatives (HoR) and the Senate to protect the interest of the people that they supposedly represent. We know that several congressmen and senators from various political groups have already filed bills that intend to address the problem of exorbitant oil prices and uncontrolled price hikes. We urge our people to keep on pressing legislators to act on these pending bills very soon. #

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On the visit of Assistant US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis to the Philippines

Posted on 28 February 2012 by admin

Assistant US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis’s visit to the country comes amid renewed US push to consolidate, deepen, and expand its role and influence not only in the Philippines but in the Asia Pacific. His visit underscores the less talked about but is actually the underlying reason behind the campaign of the Obama administration to increase US military presence in the region.

The US is facing its worst economic crisis since the 1930s Great Depression. It is desperate more than ever to seek new trade and investment opportunities for American goods and capital. It is aggressively looking for more natural and human resources to exploit in a vain attempt to reverse its economic decline. The Obama administration sees these opportunities for the beleaguered US economy in the Asia Pacific. As Secretary Hillary Clinton of the US State Department noted, the Asia Pacific will yield the biggest returns in US investments at a time when the country is facing a severe crisis. The region, said Clinton, hosts vast markets and investment areas that are crucial to the US’s own economic recovery.

Marantis is here in the Philippines to push this US agenda of securing new markets and investment areas. Specifically, he will engage Filipino trade officials in further discussions about the possibility of the Philippines joining the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. The TPP is the newest major project of the US to push for the dismantling of the remaining trade and investment barriers in the region. With fresh liberalization commitments in the World Trade Organization (WTO) successfully derailed by people’s resistance, the US has been forced to rely on bilateral and regional free trade agreements such as the TPP.

However, the country’s bitter experience in more than three decades of liberalization provides more than enough reason to oppose the TPP or any new free trade and investment deals with the US. The wanton plunder of our natural resources and the massive destruction of our productive economic sectors under the WTO should compel policy makers to dismiss the illusion of prosperity and development that the TPP promises to bring.

The ongoing row with the US on the issue of handling frozen meat illustrates how so-called free trade deals undermine domestic producers, the economy, and the country’s sovereign right to determine its policies. American trade negotiators have resorted to blackmail and warned that they will block the Philippines’ bid under the WTO to extend the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice imports which will expire this June if we will not withdraw the policy of labeling frozen meat and meat products to ensure safety and quality. Such policy, according to the US, hurts American exporters of meat to the Philippines because it “discriminates against imported meat products”. Liberalization has destroyed the country’s agricultural sector and made us a net food importer from a net food exporter, including on rice. But we are being forced to give up even the token safety nets allowed by the WTO to protect our rice sector through the QR at the expense of our rice producers.

The raging global crisis has underlined the lesson that we need to build internal growth sources instead of relying on external markets as promoted by the WTO and now the TPP. We should end our membership to existing free trade deals and reject any new agreement for more liberalization. We should assert our sovereignty to decide on our own domestic economic policies and defend our local industries from undue foreign competition. #

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Posted on 27 February 2012 by admin

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EDSA’s unfulfilled dreams will not be realized under second Aquino regime

Posted on 25 February 2012 by admin

News Release

February 25, 2012

As it was with the first, so shall it be with the second Aquino regime.

This was the assessment of the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan as it joined the nation in observing the 26th anniversary of the EDSA People Power 1 which toppled the Marcos Dictatorship.

“We pay tribute to the Filipino people who rose in their millions against the US-Marcos dictatorship. EDSA was the culmination of a long movement against the US-backed Marcos dictatorship. Let us also remember the many youth and students who went underground and offered their lives while fighting the dictatorship,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“We commemorate Edsa I not because it represents a heroism that is singularly ascribed to any one person or political ‘color’. We commemorate Edsa I because it represents the Filipino people’s dreams and aspirations that have yet to be fulfilled. And these dreams and aspirations will not likely be fulfilled even under the second Aquino regime. We should definitely have no illusions in that regard,” Reyes said.

The group said that the president’s speech was basically a rehash of the “daang matuwid” message which was used in last year’s EDSA 1 commemoration and his two ‘State of the Nation’ speeches. The speech again celebrated such government initiatives as the Conditional Cash Transfer program. Aquino’s speech also made mention of improved ratings from foreign ratings agencies.

“Twenty-six years after EDSA, there is still continuing hunger, poverty, rising unemployment, increasing US intervention as well as persistent human rights violations. Sadder still is that the human rights victims under the Marcos dictatorship have not received true and complete justice. They are joined by the human rights victims of the Arroyo regime who also have yet to receive justice under the so-called ‘daang matuwid’,” Reyes added.

“If there’s anything we learned from EDSA and the last 26 years is that we can’t pin our hopes and aspirations for change on the ruling elite. These dreams have been betrayed by all post-Edsa1 regimes. The current regime’s combination of anti-corruption rhetoric, CCT and PPP won’t bail us out of the worsening crisis,” he said.

“The biggest lesson of EDSA is that if we want real change, we have to rely on the people’s collective and determined struggle for national independence and genuine democracy,” Reyes said. ###

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SC resolution on confidentiality now biggest stumbling block in impeachment trial

Posted on 25 February 2012 by admin

Press Statement

February 25, 2012

The Supreme Court is stonewalling the impeachment trial.

The February 14 resolution of the Supreme Court setting the guidelines on coverage of judicial privilege and confidentiality is the biggest stumbling block to truth at this stage of the trial.

The resolution is patently self-serving as it aims to conceal the truth on the maneuvers that occurred in the SC in the granting of a TRO so that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can leave the country. The resolution perpetuates impunity as far as judicial misconduct is concerned.

The resolution was also tailor-made for the impeachment as it seeks to suppress the presentation of vital documents, court records and witnesses who will show that Chief Justice Renato Corona, through his individual acts, maneuvered for the speedy issuance of a TRO for Arroyo. These documents and witnesses can shed light on the allegations of Justice Sereno and Justice Carpio that Corona revising the resolution of the SC to favor GMA, making the TRO in full force even if certain conditions have not been complied with by the Arroyo camp.

The Feb.14 resolution will now ensure that no employee of the SC, from the Justices down to the security guards and drivers, will be allowed to testify before the Senate. Amazingly, the SC Clerk of Court is even appealing the subpoena issued by the Senate for two prosecution witnesses, a SC security guard and a chauffeur. The SC Clerk of Court said that that the testimonies of the two subpoenaed witnesses may affect the final ruling of the SC.

The Senate must not give in to this obvious cover-up of the truth. As Senator Allan Cayetano explained last week, the rule on confidentiality is not absolute. There are exceptions such as in the commission of a crime or an investigation into judicial misconduct. The impeachment trial should be considered as an exception since there is great public interest at stake and the trial aims to uncover the truth about judicial misconduct.

We call on the people to be vigilant and protest these insidious maneuvers of the SC. ###

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Edsa I Symbolizes the People’s Unfulfilled Hopes

Posted on 24 February 2012 by admin

Excerpts from a previous statement issued by BAYAN

Feb. 25, 1986 marks a point in history where the Filipino people came together to bring down a much-feared and much-hated fascist dictatorship that was steering the country on the road to perdition. It represents a moment when the Filipino people decided to cast their lot with the call for change and installed a regime that promised the restoration of democracy and the improvement of the people’s condition.

We commemorate Edsa I not because it represents a heroism that is singularly ascribed to any one person. We commemorate Edsa I because it represents the Filipino people’s dreams and aspirations that have yet to be fulfilled.

All the post Edsa I regimes from that of Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada to that of Mrs. Arroyo have merely entrenched the backward, semi-colonial, semi-feudal character of Philippine society. Those who took over the reins of power after Edsa I but failed to bring about real and substantive change sought to denigrate the significance and true meaning of “people power”.  They have tried to lull the people into passivity by saying there is no more need for “people power” and that the people should rally around government instead.

But the country’s backwardness and the people’s abject conditions underscore the continuing relevance of, and need for, “people power”. Edsa I remains relevant because the elite, anti-people, pro-imperialist ruling system prevails.  The dreams and aspirations that drove the Filipino people in their millions to Edsa in 1986 have remained unmet.

The lesson is clear:  Only our people’s collective and determined struggle for national independence and genuine democracy can pave the way towards an equitable, just, prosperous and peaceful Philippines. #

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Posted on 23 February 2012 by admin

February 23, 2012 Convict Corona, Jail GMA! Protest action near Senate

11 Photos

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Convict Corona, Jail GMA! Statement on the Corona trial and Arroyo’s arraignment

Posted on 22 February 2012 by admin

Press Statement

February 23, 2012

REFERENCE: Renato M. Reyes, Jr BAYAN Secretary General

Today we gather near the Senate to add our voices to the ongoing impeachment trial against Chief Justice Renato Corona and the arraignment of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It is a welcome coincidence that Arroyo’s arraignment takes place at the same time the Senate is hearing evidence on CJ Corona’s maneuvers in granting Arroyo a TRO which would have allowed her to escape justice.

Corona should be held accountable for his individual acts as Chief Justice that facilitated the TRO on Arroyo’s watchlist order. Corona is liable for hastening the SC issuance of the TRO, for changing the results of the SC deliberations on the conditionality of the TRO and in ensuring that the TRO would be immediately enforced through irregular means, including the extension of office hours.

Corona cannot hide behind the mantle of collegiality since documents from the SC have revealed his individual role and partiality in granting of the TRO.  The TRO fiasco showed us how Arroyo intended to use the SC as her last line of defense to evade accountability. We saw how the SC was all too willing to accommodate Arroyo’s demands.

We condemn the SC February 14 resolution which seeks to suppress evidence on this issue by declaring certain documents as confidential and by preventing court officials from testifying before the Senate. The public deserves to know what actually transpired during the deliberations of Arroyo’s petition for TRO. The Senate should oppose this grand cover up by the SC. It is frustrating that the Senate through its rulings has further narrowed the avenues for seeking the truth on Corona’s misdeeds.

The Corona impeachment and Arroyo’s arraignment remind us that much still needs to be done to hold Arroyo truly accountable for ALL her crimes.

It was the SC TRO that precipitated the filing of a criminal case against Arroyo, in an effort to render the SC TRO moot and keep Arroyo in the country. We reiterate our position that Arroyo should be jailed for the criminal case she faces in the Pasay RTC. Her continued hospital detention smacks of special treatment and double-standards. Her accountability should not be limited to the 2007 elections but should cover gross human rights violations, plunder and wholesale election fraud of 2004.

The SC TRO debacle was the result of the failure of current president Benigno Aquino III to prosecute Arroyo during his first year and a half in office. Arroyo’s attempt to escape justice was helped by no small means by the inability of the Aquino government to file cases in court against the former president. And were it not for Arroyo’s attempt to flee, through the SC TRO, the Comelec would not have immediately filed the case of election sabotage at the Pasay RTC.

What is clear is that nearly two years into office, Aquino has not prosecuted Arroyo for her more serious crimes What is becoming increasingly clear is that Aquino has used the impeachment to divert attention from this and other failures and to pin all blame on the SC.

While Corona’s removal from the SC will, to some extent, help in the prosecution of GMA, we should be reminded that it is still the Executive which has the ultimate responsibility in ensuring GMA is held accountable. Aquino too will eventually be judged based on these expectations. ###

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