Anakpawis partylist exposes the P859.7M e-passport scandal,

pickets the Manila Regional Trial Court for a favorable ruling on the mandamus petition

 

Manila

 

June 26, 2009

 

 

Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod said that the e-passport scandal costs the Philippines around P859.7 Million in taxpayers’ money and the agencies and companies involved are getting away with it since 2007

   
   
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Photos courtesy of Anakpawis Partylist
           
           

 

NEWS RELEASE
June 26, 2009

Truth behind corruption cases and the e-passport scandal must be relentlessly pursued. Anakpawis demands favorable ruling on mandamus petition to end cover-up of anomalous government transactions

Members of Anakpawis partylist once again trooped to the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 to demand a favorable ruling on a legal case they filed last March 30. They filed a Mandamus and Prohibition with application for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction in line with the irregularities and anomalous transactions on the production of the e-passport involving the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod said that the e-passport scandal costs the Philippines around P859.7 Million in taxpayers’ money and the agencies and companies involved are getting away with it since 2007. “Are we funding the pockets of the executives of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas? Will the French beneficiaries of this anomalous deal run away scot free with our hard-earned money?”

According to Maglunsod, in behalf of millions of taxpayers, Anakpawis had asked the courts to reprimand the DFA, BSP and Francois Charles Fiduciaire Oberthure to explain the deal which has left the Filipino people questioning its legitimacy and the motives of the parties involved.

”We are invoking the right of the people to information on matters of public concern and a full disclosure of their transactions regarding the e-passport project. We hope that our petition will help shed light on the issue of bid-manipulation on the e-passport.”

Maglunsod added that the involved parties on the e-passport anomaly are admittedly very powerful individuals who are very much capable of bending the laws. He said that the people are hoping that the courts would favor their petition in seeking the truth and prevent allegations of covering up for the respondents.

“What the court should decide here is whether the people can access the information surrounding the e-passport anomalous transactions. We are just seeking the truth. It’s up to the presiding the judge whether she will let the truth come out or let deceit and lies remain covered.”

“Our country is being ran by syndicates posing as government officials from Malacañang to its departments. Anakpawis will continue the campaign for clean governance by fighting all forms of corruption in government projects and agencies.” # # #
 

     
           
     
Anakpawis Secretgary General Cherry Clemente Anakpawis Information officer Randy Evangelista Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod
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KILUSANG MAGBUBUKID NG PILIPINAS (KMP)
PAMALAKAYA (Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas)

June 26, 2009
Joint Press Release
For Reference: Gerry Albert Corpuz, Information Officer
Contact No: 09286581787

Bahrain business execs here to scout for RP lands---groups revealed

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Friday revealed that Bahrain’s business delegation will be in Manila to scout for lands available for production of rice, fruit and vegetable for the consumption of the growing population of Persian Gulf state.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the business delegation left Bahrain yesterday and will embark on a week long trip to the Philippines and Thailand to look for available lands for rice, fruit and vegetable plantations.

According to Ramos, despite the advise of United Nation’s Food Security expert Olivier de Schutter to call for a code of conduct to regulate the purchase of farmland across Africa, Asia and Latin America by Gulf states and private business, the Bahrain business delegation pursued the trip to acquire if not lease lands abroad.

The KMP leader said Bahrain businessmen will stay in Manila until June 28; however Malacañang still refuse to reveal the details of the trip and the detailed agenda accompanying the week long business trip in the country.

“Malacañang continues to treat its business talk with Bahraini investors as top secret confined to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and to the national security syndicate, despite mounting calls from all affected sectors for the administration to disclose the agenda and come aboveboard with this highly secretive agreement,” Ramos said.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the initial agreement between the Philippines and Bahrain was signed in May 2008 after Bahrain trade minister Hassan Fakhro visited Manila to secure vast plots of land to grow Basmati rice for Bahrain’s consumption.

According to Hicap, details of the agreement was finally clinched on June last year, and it was signed by the minister of agriculture of Bahrain and agriculture secretary Arthur Yap for the Philippines, but the two agriculture officials agreed not to release the details of the agreement. However, according to Hicap, Fakhro was quoted as saying that several Bahrain companies will come in the Philippines to invest in rice production and livestock processing.

“While 70 percent of the peasant and fisherfolk population is still landless, Ms Arroyo entered into a secret, unlawful and immoral deal with Bahrain that will offer the country’s agricultural lands at bargain prices to foreign investors. Now, we have the business delegation from Bahrain coming in to formally scout for the country’s agricultural lands. This is treason to the highest order,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

KMP and Pamalakaya said, aside from the Philippines, the Manama-based General Trading and Food Processing Company, one of Bahrain’s largest public trading corporation is also interested in securing lands in Australia, India and Sudan to develop supplies of Bahraini market, which is composed of not less than 750,000 people.

“Secretary Yap and his lady boss in Malacañang have a lot of explaining to do over this highly secret agricultural deal with Bahrain. No official statements from the government side have been issued to the public and the entire Filipino people are kept in total dark about this escapade of President Arroyo and her agriculture secretary,” both groups added.

Pamalakaya noted that in 2007, the Bahraini food giant set up a $ 2.7 million joint venture food processing venture in Qatar with the Qatar Company for Meat and Livestock Trading, which is expanding its overseas operation.

The group said aside from the Philippines, the Bahraini government has also secured an agreement with the Thai government for the production of Jasmine rice for direct export to Bahrain. Hicap said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Bahrain and Thailand in May 2008, simultaneously with the visit of Fakhro in the Manila.

“Is this country for sale? Does President Arroyo maintain and execute a policy of selling the country’s agricultural lands to those who want to come to invest for agri-business undertakings? Is there such a policy? This seems to be the trend now with foreign groups coming in either to secure lease arrangements or buy lands in the country for production of agricultural products for super profits,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya noted that a Japanese holding company based in United Kingdom and its’ local subsidiary have been allowed by the national government to reforest 400,000 hectares in Northern Luzon with coconut trees for production of biodiesel products. The agreement between the United Kingdom based firm- the Pacific Bio-Fields Holding Plc. and its local counterpart the Northern Luzon based—Bio-Energy NL to utilize some 400,000 hectares of forest areas for coconut plantation was sanctioned by Malacañang, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) for 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.

Pamalakaya lamented that the incident involving the free use of 400,000 hectares of lands for the production of bio-diesel for the use of Japanese users is a clear proof that the Japan-Philippines Economic and Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) is really anti-Filipino and merely intended to address the need of Japanese transnational corporations.

“In exchange for 400 nursing and caregiving jobs in Japan, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will allow the corporate exploitation of 400,000 hectares of Philippine agricultural lands to foreign groups identified with and serving at the pleasure of Japanese car makers. No Filipino can stomach this kind of across-the-nation betrayal of national interest,” it said.

In an announcement in Tokyo which coincided with the state visit of President Arroyo, the Pacific Bio-Fields Holding Plc. said the project would make alternative auto fuel which it plans to sell to Japanese users in five years. Its counterpart the Bio-Energy NL headed by company president Salacnib Baterina denied that the government will allow the use of 400,00 hectares for the production of bio-diesel for free.

Earlier, Pamalakaya and KMP questioned the intervention made by the European Union (EU) pressuring the Manila government from pursuing Charter Change to lift ban on foreign ownership of lands in the country.

“The European Union is committing a national political foul play in lobbying for the passage of Chacha that would lift the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of land. This country is not for sale; its lands are reserved for public ownership and for the common good of every hardworking Filipino. Please don’t touch our lands and quit from conspiring with the government over the national auction of Philippine lands to European business giants,” they said.

“This diabolical economic agenda of the European Union will further exacerbate, complicate and worsen the problem of landlessness and agrarian injustice in the country. Are they trying to colonize this country through economic means under this era of globalization-led modern day slavery?” the groups added.

Former foreign affairs undersecretary Merlin Magallona warned lawmakers calling for the removal of nationalist economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution could be playing into the hands of the European Union.

Magallona, also former dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law said that the 27-member of the European Union had formally requested the Macapagal-Arroyo government under the World Trade Organization (WTO) to remove the ban on foreign land ownership.

The European Union also requested the government to allow foreign nationals, particularly lawyers to be allowed to practice in the Philippines, according to Magallona who was a guest speaker at a forum on Charter Change in UP College of Law on Wednesday.

Pamalakaya and KMP also accused the Macapagal-Arroyo government of keeping the details of the EU-RP Partnership and Cooperation Pact, which was done as early as 2002, like what the government did to the RP-Bahrain agricultural pact.


 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           

 

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
(Peasant Movement of the Philippines)
161-B Chico St., Proj. 2, Quezon City
Telefax 928-41-84 Email ad kmp@kilusangmagbubukid.org
Website www.kilusangmagbubukid.org

PRESS RELEASE
June 24, 2009
REFERENCE:
Roy Morilla, KMP Public Information Officer (0905-421-7305)

Groups “declare” the Philippine islands, “Chacha-Free Zone,” lambast Arroyo’s selling of a tenth of country’s lands to foreign countries

About 20 members of militant peasant groups such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Pamalakaya-Pilipinas (fisherfolk), Amihan (peasant women), UMA (agri-workers), NNARA-Youth (peasant advocates) and Anakpawis Partylist “declared” the replica of the Philippine islands at Rizal Park, Manila as a “Chacha-Free Zone.” They significantly protested againts the provision of the Charter Change, allowing 100% foreign ownership of land.

“We are declaring the 7,107 islands of the country Cha-cha-Free Zone,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General. He added, “This is to signify our call against Chacha and the 100% foreign ownership of land. This is against genuine land reform and against the fundamental interest of the Filipino people to utilize our country’s land and should not to be sold to foreign countries.”

Selling 10% of the country’s lands, 20% of agricultural lands

The group said that this is the implementation of President Arroyo’s plan since she has been stating that 3 million hectares of lands would be allocated to foreign countries, such 1 million hectares for Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s partnership with the Malaysian firm Kuok Group, 1 million hectares for China through the RP-China Agreement on Agriculture, and about 0.4 million hectares for United Kingdom-based Japanese firm Bio-Energy NL. Also, Arroyo’s trip to South Korea reports of deal on bio-fuel.

“With the 3 million hectares alone, Arroyo is actually selling 10% (of the 30 million hectare) of the Philippine territory and 20% (of the about 14.1 million hectare) of our agricultural lands to foreign countries,” disclosed Ramos.

“Selling the country is definitely treason, betrayal of the Filipino people and long history of fighting against foreign rulers controlling our lands, Arroyo should be condemned by Filipino citizenry for pushing the 100% foreign ownership of land,” added Ramos.

“Arroyo is turning our country into a big area for lease agreements that usually take 25 years and renewable for another 25 years, which is essentially selling out our lands as peasants cultivating the lands would be transformed into poor farmworkers stripped off of their rights to land, and foreign corporations would enjoy total control,” shared Ramos.

The Arroyo government is step-by-step selling our country as she started with RP-China Treaty, Japanese-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), and other bilateral agreements that are onerous and unfavorable to the country.

 

Also, the government is eager to cash in the $1,000-per-hectare venture with Cojuangco and Kuok Group, pushing for the utilization of 1 million hectares, making the project value at $1 billion for 25 years.

In addition, Arroyo’s latest trip to Korea shows her hunger for the $649 million investment on biofuel and $49 million coconut-based sweeteners to be cultivated on ‘idle’ lands. The Arroyo government depicts lands as idle which are in reality lands kept from farmers cultivating them.

Moreover, KMP said that it criticized Arroyo’s subservience to the European Union (EU) who was reported to request the Philippine government to remove the ban of foreign ownership to land and to fully implement the provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“Foreign countries formation such as the EU would certainly salivate with the country’s vast resources, it is up to Filipinos to fight against this measure and we could start by opposing Chacha and removing Arroyo from power as she is the primary broker of this transaction,” said Ramos.

Foreign ownership through CARPER

“This is also a strong basis of why Arroyo pushed for the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with ‘Reforms’ (CARPER). As it would easily pave the way the entry of foreign agro-corporations through its market-oriented land reform component and agrarian reform communities (ARCs). Moreover, CARP has a bloody record of displacing farmers of their lands and favoring landlords and foreign agro-corporations, thus, there is no contradiction between CARP and foreign ownership of land,” Ramos said.

“Though there is CARP for 20 years, foreign agro-corporations such as Del Monte, Dole and their subsidiaries have proliferated primarily in Mindanao. With 100% foreign ownership, we would expect more of this classic exploitative examples turning farmers into plain agricultural workers with low wages, could easily be displaced and with no right to their lands,” added Ramos.

Threat to sovereignty

“Also, 100% foreign ownership of land is not simply an issue of the peasants, and definitely not a business decision, this is creeping direct colonialism, threatens our sovereignty, as foreign countries would have material control of our lands and natural resources, disregarding the rights of Filipinos to their country,” added Ramos.

“We should take note that the minimum of 3 million hectares is already 10% of our country, that is why all of us should oppose this measure of the Arroyo government, various sectors, patriotic groups and forces, government officials, the church, professional, the workers, the youth, should totally protest this provision as this is a threat to the future of the next generations to come,” the peasant leader called.#

 

 

PRESS RELEASE
June 27, 2009
REFERENCE:
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (63-905-421-7305)

Arroyo's selling of country's lands to fuel heightened agrarian dispute, group said

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) warned that President Arroyo's move on selling lands to foreign countries would cause more agrarian dispute in the country. The Arroyo government has earlier pronounced that it is offering 3 million hectares to foreign agro-corporations which is demonstrated now by the president's non-stop visits to foreign countries such as Japan, South Korea, Brazil, U.S., Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Italy, U.A.E, Syria, Russia and more.

The said lands are reported to be surveyed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous People's (NCIP), National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Arroyo government has allocated 1 million hectares to San Miguel Kuok Food Security, Inc. (SMKFS), Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco's partnership with Malaysian firm Kuok group based in Hongkong, and another 1 million hectares to Fuhua Agricultural Science and Technology Development Co., Ltd. (Fuhua Co., a hybrid rice corporation) from China and 400,000 hectares or 0.4 million hectares to Agriculture Department of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (ADGZAR). On Arroyo's recent trip to Korea, she has offered 0.4 million hectares of land to Bio-Energy NL which is based in United Kingdom. The said lands already composed 1/10 (of the 30 million hectares) of our country and 20% (of the about 14.1 million hectares) of the total agricultural lands.

Moreover, the Arroyo has become a "broker" when it is concretely pushing with the lifting of the ban to 100% foreign ownership and Charter Change, coinciding with the demands of the European Union after it has granted €61 million(euros) or $90.22 million last year. Of this aid, €36 million would go to social services like healthcare, €12 million to Mindanao peace effort and €13 million to trade development.

"As a trickster as she is, Arroyo is pushing through with her auction of the country's lands to foreign countries and agro-corporations even without Chacha (charter change) or the lifting of ban to 100% foreign ownership of land," said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Co-convenor of Tanggol Magsasaka.

"After pushing with the passage of CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with `Reforms') to deceive Filipino farmers, she is now focused in how to rake huge wealth from selling our country's lands," added Flores.

"In addition, she has formed the Investment Defense Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines last year to `protect' the would-be foreign investments in agriculture, but in reality, this would be used to attack and displace farmers who are already cultivating their targetted lands. This would mean worsening of political repression to the peasants, more extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and `arrest and detention,'" the peasant leader shared.

"Arroyo and her lackey agriculture secretary Arthur Yap are total liars when they claim that these lands (3 million hectares) are idle, where in fact they are being cultivated by Filipino peasants. We need not go far, where in Sitio Paragawan, Montalban, Rizal, Rep. Iggy Arroyo is pushing with the jathropa project `blessed' by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, though there are farmers cultivating upland rice and fruit trees, who are now being harassed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)," Flores said.

Also, the group said the entry of foreign agro-corporations would definitely transform peasants into helpless farmworkers such as the case of Dole and Del Monte in Mindanao, where those farmers' cooperatives who nominally own the lands could not manifest their ownership as the lands are under a leaseback agreement with the giant fruit companies. They are being subjected to low wages and unhealthy working conditions such as being exposed to deadly agro-chemicals used at plantations. Worse is being experience by those farmworkers at Dole and Del Monte's subsidiary as they depress wages to cope up with the underpricing of agricultural product enforced by the said companies.

"The agricultural workers in Mindanao went on strike in 1996 as they only receive P96 for a day's work, though they could produce more of the 3,000 boxes of banana quota per day. They were victorious in claiming that they own the said lands but unable to sell them, but they were crippled when the fruit giants prohibited them in using infrastructures such as roads. Naturally, the military and police terrorized them displacing their union leaders," Flores recalled.

"We are definitely sure that the miserable experience of agricultural workers in Mindanao would be replicated and worse if foreign agro-corporations would be allowed to fully own the lands in the country," added Flores.

Also, the group warned that if we allow foreign countries to own 1/10 of the country's lands, it would be the start of totally selling our country to foreigners.

"Nothing would be left for our future generations to enjoy and utilize. Arroyo would be the one to raise hell in the Philippines as we would be transformed into mere slaves in our own country," said Flores.
 

           
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