Archive | June, 2012

Protests mark Aquino’s second year in office

Posted on 29 June 2012 by admin

News Release

June 29, 2012

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan led protesters in a march inside Manila’s communities before reaching Mendiola bridge to mark the second year of the Aquino administration. The protesters carried placards denouncing the absence of “genuine change” under the current regime.

The group also announced that it is now preparing to mount a nationwide day of action in time for Aquino’s third State of the Nation Address on July 23.

“It’s been two years of the so-called ‘daang matuwid’ was announced. Gloria Arroyo is under hospital arrest. Gen. Palparan has eluded arrest. And the government has failed to arrest rising unemployment, poverty and hunger. With the situation not getting any better, people are starting to see what this government is really about,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Under this regime, the mega-rich have gotten richer and the plunderers and human rights violators of the past have largely gone unpunished. This government thinks it can get by on the basis of PR (public relations) gimmicks. It’s a government that uses ‘weapons of mass deception’ such as the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme, Public-Private Partnership programs and empty anti-corruption rhetoric,” he added.

Bayan said that Aquino will likely highlight two things in his upcoming SONA; the Corona impeachment and the supposed economic growth this year. The president is likely to hail the supposed 6.4% first quarter GDP growth as an achievement. He is also expected to sing praises to the PH stock market. The militant group however is not impressed. Recent surveys have shown that more than half of Filipinos consider themselves poor. Hunger also reached a historic high under Aquino with 4.8 million experiencing hunger according to SWS.

“Aquino will make a big deal about the Corona impeachment and the alleged economic growth the country is said to be experiencing. The reality is that despite Corona’s impeachment, there is no headway in efforts to make GMA truly accountable for plunder, human rights violations, and even the 2004 election fraud,” Reyes said.

“As for the economy, Aquino promised inclusive growth but the opposite is happening. Despite claims of GDP growth;  joblessness, hunger and poverty are on the rise if we are to go by recent SWS surveys. While there are now 15 billionaires in the country, there are between 10-11 million families, more than 50% of the total, who consider themselves poor. Most of the poor are in the countryside where land reform remains a major problem. Whatever supposed economic growth registered this year is more in favor of big multinational corporations and their local partners. The mega-rich will have a field day with Aquino’s PPP programs where services and government functions will be privatized,” he added.

Poverty incidence when Aquino took office in 2010 stood at 43%. Even the recent SWS survey on poverty shows that more than 50% of Filipinos consider themselves poor.

Bayan also said that sovereignty, human rights, and accountability have taken setbacks under the Aquino regime.

“Aquino’s so-called daang-matuwid has taken us off the cliff and plunged us deeper in crisis. People are justified in protesting this regime’s policies,” Reyes said. ###

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Global Day of Action coincides with the RIO+20 Conference

Posted on 27 June 2012 by admin

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2 Taong walang pagbabago! Singilin ang papet, pahirap at inutil na Rehimeng US-Aquino!

Posted on 26 June 2012 by admin

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Bayan calls for probe of US port calls, private defense contractor in Subic

Posted on 26 June 2012 by admin

News Release

June 26, 2012

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today decried the entry of another United States nuclear attack submarine in the Philippines through a “routine port call”. The USS Louisville docked in Subic yesterday according to the US embassy in Manila. According to the US embassy, the ship will resupply and its crew will be out on rest and recreation.

“The port calls by US warships are becoming more common now that the US is rebalancing their forces towards Asia. Over the next few years, 60% of US ships will be positioned in Asia. The US treats the Philippines as its military outpost, a virtual base where its warships can just go in and out any time, under the catchphrase ‘routine port call’. This is another violation of our sovereignty that needs to be  stopped,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“In particular, the Senate should investigate the presence of a US defense contractor in  Subic which provides repairs and other logistics services for US ships. The biggest builder of US nuclear warships is now operating in Subic. The US company AMSEC-Huntington Ingalls has entered into a partnership with Hanjin in Subic to service an increasing number of US warships. It’s like the bases are back but under different terms and under private management,” Reyes added.

The group said that the presence of a private defense contractor in Subic is “slowly transforming the civilian facility back into a US military hub.”

Bayan slammed both the US and Philippine governments for misleading the public by making it appear that the entry of US ships is “routine” and therefore nothing out of the ordinary.

“Can anyone from Malacanang or the Department of Foreign Affairs tell us what these routine port calls are? What are the, protocols, terms of reference and under what agreements are these allowed? The Palace is making it appear that these nuclear warships, presumably armed with weapons of mass destruction, are just normal fixtures in Subic. Malacanang wants us to get used to them,” Reyes said.

The group said that the “rebalancing of US troops towards Asia should spur the PH government to at least review its position on the Visiting Forces Agreement.”

“The US will use the VFA to get a more permanent and expanded foothold on PH territory. They will use military exercises, port calls and rotational deployment to make sure that they will never leave the Philippines. This is clearly in violation of our sovereignty. The permanent presence of foreign troops on PH soil is proof that we are not truly free,” Reyes said.

“The Aquino government promised to review the VFA two years ago, especially provisions on criminal jurisdiction and custody for erring US troops. Nothing has come out of that. It was all a sham. Aquino even welcomed US rebalancing towards Asia despite many outstanding problems with the VFA. He thinks that by kowtowing to US dictates, the AFP will modernize. That’s simply a mendicant and colonial mindset,” he added. ###

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Private defense contractor helps US regain foothold in former PH base

Posted on 25 June 2012 by admin

The crew of the Los Angeles class submarine USS Louisville (SSN-724) pose for a picture with their submarine.“In light of the announcement that another nuclear-powered submarine is set to dock in Subic today, we are re-issuing this analysis on how the US is regaining its foothold on its former naval base via a private defense contractor. AMSEC-HII will be operating in Subic for the repairs and other needs of US warships that will now be frequenting the Philippines. We will see more of these so-called “routine port calls” as part of the rebalancing of forces being done by the US. The US plans to shift 60% of its warships towards Asia in the next 10 years. The private character AMSEC-HII does not take away its military purpose, that of providing supplies, repairs and other logistics for US warships. The company is slowly transforming Subic from a civilian facility back into a military hub. The USS Louiseville is the second nucelar-powered submarine to dock in Subic this year, after the USS North Carolina. The US bases are back, under a different facade and different terms.”

Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

A private defense contractor has posted the first US Navy-related job opening in 20 years in Subic, Zambales, Philippines. From the job description, it appears that US warships will be frequenting the former US naval base. The position of project manager is open only to US citizens and requires a Secret-level security clearance and about 15 years experience in the US Navy.

Umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), who campaigned for the rejection of the US bases in 1991, says the privatecontractors are being used to circumvent the Philippine constitutional ban on US bases by making it appear that military operations are mere commercial transactions. US warships, including an advanced nuclear attack submarine, have had frequent port calls in the Philippines this year.

The job opening was issued by AMSEC, a subsidiary of private military contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries which is the biggest builder of nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the US Navy and Coast Guard. AMSEC is in partnership with Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines to provide maintenance, repair and logistics services to the U.S. Navy and other customers in the western Pacific region.

“For more than a century, HII has built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder,” HII’s website says.

“This is a part-time position with a focus on growing U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command maintenance work at a commercial ship construction ship yard. Work hours are expected to grow as maintenance work increases, and occasional travel to the U.S. or Singapore may be required,” the AMSEC job placement says.

From this ad, it appears that the US is serious in using Subic for its warships. In a subtle way, the US is transforming a civilian facility back into a military hub through the use of private defense contractors. The use of these contractors to provide logistics and other support services for US warships may also be intended to circumvent the Constitutional ban on US bases absent a treaty ratified by the Senate. US bases were kicked out from the Philippines in 1991 and both the US and PH governments are careful not to indicate that they intend to bring back the bases now.

Instead of the US Navy itself that operates maintenance and logistics support services, they get a private contractor to do it so it won’t be so obvious that the US bases are back.

The US would make it appear that these are mere commercial transactions between the US Navy and private firms, but there is no mistaking the military character of the operations that will be conducted in Subic. The high-level security clearance and lengthy US navy experience required for the position of AMSEC project manager shows the sensitive nature of the job. The private contractor HII is the biggest producer of US nuclear and non-nuclear warships.

It won’t be long before full-blown logistics and servicing operations for US navy warships are conducted in Subic.

According to the job advertisement a successful candidate will have “a thorough knowledge of U.S. Navy readiness organizations, budgets, and leaders; a familiarity with surface ship maintenance industry competitors; and an in-depth knowledge of U.S. Navy contracts and programs. The candidate will participate in assessing shipyard repair capability, development of the strategy to grow this capability, and then drive the execution of the strategy”.

This is not the first time private military contractors have operated in the Philippines. DynCorp, a logistics provider for the US military has done work in the past for US military facilities in the Philippines, including the building of US forward bases in Mindanao. A DynCorp subsidiary recruited Filipino translator Gregan Cardeno, who later died under mysterious circumstances a day after he started work with US troops in Marawi province in Mindanao. The notorious Blackwater private military contractor was also reported by media to be operating out of Subic in the past. Private contractor Corporate Training Unit, an affiliate of Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR)-Haliburton meanwhile operated in the former Clark Airbase.

Privatize military/defense contractors make the US government a bit removed from any direct accountability to the Philippine government. They however remain part of the US military machinery and we may be seeing their increasing involvement in the Philippines as the US shifts most of its warships to Asia in the next ten years. ###

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Rich got richer: Forbes’ list highlights growing inequality

Posted on 22 June 2012 by admin

News Release

June 22, 2012

The rich are getting richer while the poor are increasing in number.

This was the assessment of  the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan as Forbes released its list of 40 richest Filipinos, topped by mall and real estate tycoon Henry Sy. The 40 richest people in the Philippines saw their wealth grow over $13 billion to $47.4 billion this year,

The Philippines now has 15 certified billionaires according to Forbes, up from 11 last year. Sy leads the pack with $9.1 billion, up by $1.9 billion from last year. The SM group has been criticized recently for its plans to cut or earth-ball trees in Baguio City to pave the way for a parking lot for the mall.

“The net worth of these tycoons appear obscene, happening amid a sea of poverty and hunger in the Philippines. The gap between the rich and poor has grown over the past years. We now have 15 billionaires on one hand and some 11.2 million poor families on the other hand,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The growing number of billionaires on one hand, and the growing number of poor people on the other hand, belie the Aquino regime’s claims of inclusive growth. And we can assume that whatever economic growth that happened during the first quarter of the year (6.4% GDP) benefited only the mega-rich. These issues will definitely hound the president in his upcoming State of the Nation Address,”  Reyes said.

Also included in the top 10 richest Filipinos are Lucio Tan; $4.5 billion, Enrique Razon Jr.; $3.6 billion, John Gokongwei Jr.; $3.2 billion, David Consunji; $2.7 billion, Andrew Tan; $2.3 billion,  Jaime Zobel de Ayala; $2.2 billion, George Ty; $1.7 billion, Roberto Ongpin; $1.5 billion, and Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.; $1.4 billion.

“The Aquino government has failed to address the growing gap between rich and poor because it has no real program for land reform and rural poverty, no sustainable program for job-generation, and no plan for industrialization. It views gains in the stock market as a reliable indicator of growth, instead of looking at the actual conditions of the people,” he added.

“While the fortunes of these tycoons are increasing, Aquino has prevented workers from receiving a P125 wage increase,” Reyes said,

Bayan said that the net income of the country’s top 1,000 corporations has grown over the first decade of the millennium. The combined net income of these companies in 2009 (P756B) is more than 600% of their combined net income in 2001 (P116B).

In contrast, the basic pay of wage and salary workers over the same period has hardly risen, starting at P222/day in 2001 and P291/day in 2009.

“Expect these personalities to get richer as government engages in profit-driven private-public partnerships. Meanwhile, the poor are left to fend for themselves and are merely given CCT dole outs and pantawid measures,” Reyes said.

According to data from the National Statistics Office in 2009, the highest income 20% of the population already accounted for over half (51.9%) of total family income leaving the poorest 80% to divide the remaining 48.1% among them.

Citing a study by Ibon Foundation, Bayan asserted that severe inequality in the country can be seen by comparing reports by Forbes Asia on the wealthiest Filipinos with the results of the 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey. “In 2009, the net worth of the 25 richest Filipinos of US$21.4 billion is equivalent to the combined annual income of the country’s poorest 11.1 million families.

“The top ten in the latest Forbes list already control almost everything from energy, transportation, real-estate, mining, banking, toll ways and many others. They are part of the powerful 1% of Philippine society,” Reyes said. ###

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No Bail for GMA!

Posted on 21 June 2012 by admin

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Posted on 21 June 2012 by admin

June 21, 2012 NO BAIL FOR GMA
June 21, 2012 NO BAIL FOR GMA

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Bayan leads protests vs GMA bail

Posted on 20 June 2012 by admin

News Release

June 21, 2012

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today led simultaneous protests at the Pasay Regional Trial Court and the Veteran’s Memorial  Medical Center to protest the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s attempts to be granted bail by the high court. Arroyo is facing charges of election sabotage in relation to the 2007 polls. The crime is non-bailable. Arroyo however remains under hospital arrest at the VMMC.

The protest came a day after an Arroyo ally in the Lower House appealed to the president for leniency towards Arroyo. The group also called on the Aquino government to show seriousness in going after Arroyo for her other crimes.

“Arroyo does not deserve bail. We seriously doubt the so-called surveys saying that the people are OK with her being granted bail or placed under house arrest. Also, the election sabotage case is not the only heinous crime of the former president. The Aquino government will surely be to blame if Arroyo goes out on bail. It would be a big disservice to the people and a huge embarrassment for this mediocre government. We were told that the impeachment of Corona was about making GMA accountable, but now GMA might be out on bail if it is shown that evidence against her is not that strong,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“To keep GMA in detention, her other crimes must be pursued by this government. These include gross human rights violations, plunder and the wholesale election fraud of 2004. Failure to do so would mean that this government is not serious in going after GMA,” Reyes added.

Bayan however is concerned that the rushed case of election sabotage filed against Arroyo, at the time when she was attempting to leave the country, will show weaknesses that can be exploited by Arroyo’s defense.

“Everyone knows that GMA was on top of the massive cheating that happened in 2004 and 2007. The problem is that it took the Aquino government more than 500 days before it could file the first case against the former president. And it was only because GMA was already attempting to flee the country after the Supreme Court granted her a Temporary Restraining Order versus a DOJ travel ban,” Reyes said.

Arroyo’s defense lawyers are expected to begin today their presentation of evidence regarding their petition for bail. The former president is being linked to election fraud by lone witness, Norie Unas, a former Maguindanao provincial administrator. Unas had told a court hearing on Arroyo’s petition for bail on Thursday that he overheard Arroyo telling Ampatuan to ensure a 12-0 victory for the administration’s senatorial candidates. ###

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Posted on 18 June 2012 by admin

June 8, 2012 Protest Action on Pnoy US visit

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