ACT Teachers Partylist holds national convention

 

Quezon City

 

November 12, 2009

 

 

 

Top five nominees to represent ACT Teachers in Congress: Antonio Tinio, the national chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers; Francisca Castro, secretary-general of ACT; Jocelyn Bisuña, leader of the Bicol Concerned Teachers Alliance; Dr. Efleda Bautista, a progressive teacher-leader from Leyte ; and Atty. Greg Fabros,

 
   
   
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Photos courtesy of Prof. Roselle Pineda/CONTEND-UP
           
           

 

ACT Teachers Partylist holds national convention, declares nominees
Posted November 12th, 2009 by ACTNational

The ACT Teachers Partylist held its national convention this afternoon at the University of the Philippines campus. Attended by over 300 participants, including delegates from 10 of the country’s regions, the newly formed teachers’ partylist declared its intention to participate in the 2010 national elections.

The convention also declared its top five nominees to represent ACT Teachers in Congress: Antonio Tinio, the national chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers; Francisca Castro, secretary-general of ACT; Jocelyn Bisuña, leader of the Bicol Concerned Teachers Alliance; Dr. Efleda Bautista, a progressive teacher-leader from Leyte ; and Atty. Greg Fabros,

“ACT Teachers will be the true voice of teachers in Congress,” said Antonio Tinio, the party’s top nominee. “Teachers can be assured that the interests of our sector will be represented. Our partylist stands on the track record of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in upholding and advancing teachers’ rights and welfare over nearly three decades.”

Tinio explained that the raising of teachers’ salaries will be at the top of ACT Teachers Partylist’s legislative agenda. “We will strive to raise the starting salaries of all teachers, in public and private schools as well as universities, to P25,000 per month. That’s the level that gives due recognition to the valuable role played by our educators.”

A number of presidential and other candidates for the 2010 elections were present and gave solidarity messages. These included presidential aspirant Senator Chiz Escudero, vice-presidential candidate Sen. Loren Legarda, Sen. Pia Cayetano, and Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano, Makabayan senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza also attended.

ACT Teachers Partylist joins protest against Clinton

After their convention, the delegates proceeded to the Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City at 6 p.m. to join a multisectoral protest noise barrage against the visit of United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton is on a two-day visit to the Philippines from November 12 to 13.

“Our partylist not only advocates the interests of teachers and educators, but also strives for genuine change in our society,” said Tinio.

ACT Teachers called for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the withdrawal of all US troops in the country and urged Clinton to condemn Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s government for its appalling track record of human rights violations. “ Clinton must speak out on the extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture perpetrated by the Arroyo government. Otherwise, how can the administration of Nobel Peace Prize winner Pres. Barrack Obama justify its support for a murderous regime?” #

 

National Artist Prof. Bienvenido Lumbera
     
     

Sen. Pia Cayetano

Rep. Satur Ocampo Rep. Liza Maza
     
     

 

Canadian and Philippine organizations urge Canadian trade minister to address human rights issues
Posted November 13th, 2009 by ACTNational

Canadian and Philippine organizations today issued a joint statement calling on Canada ’s International Trade Minister Stockwell Day to address human rights issues in the Philippines.

Day is arriving in the Philippines on November 13 for a one-day visit to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between two countries. He will also announce a new project to support local business development and highlight the successes of Canadian companies in the Philippines.

The statement is signed by the Philippine Solidarity Network in Canada , Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines , Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4600, Mining Watch Canada , Philippine Migrants Society of Canada, and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippine s and Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy.

The statement questions the role played by Canadian investment and aid to the Philippines in perpetuating human rights violations. “Concerned organizations in Canada and the Philippines would like to remind Minister Day that Canadian companies and the Canadian government are complicit in the ongoing human rights violations taking place in the Philippines under the government of Pres. Gloria Arroyo.”

It highlights the link between Canadian mining firms operating in the Philippines , such as TVI Pacifica, Crew Development Corporation, and Olympus, and the repression of protests by communities affected by mining. “Canadian mining companies are involved in at least five major mining projects in the Philippines worth over US $1 billion in investment. In most of these projects, the decision to advance mining projects in the face of community opposition has led to human rights violations.”

It also criticized the Canadian government for providing military aid to the Armed Forces of the Philippines , citing the Military Training Assistance Program (MTAP) and the Counter-Terrorism Capacity-Building Program (CTCB).

The groups called on Day and the Canadian government to investigate and review military aid to the AFP, stop Canadian mining operations that have direct links to human rights violations, and make Canadian aid and trade conditionally tied to the overall improvement of the human rights situation in the Philippines.#
 

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November 12, 2009

JOINT STATEMENT BY CANADIAN AND PHILIPPINE ORGANIZATIONS
ON CANADIAN TRADE AND AID TO THE PHILIPPINES

On the occasion of the visit of Canada’s International Trade Minister Stockwell Day to the Philippines on November 13, 2009, to foster new business initiatives and highlight the so-called successes of Canadian companies in the Philippines, concerned organizations in Canada and the Philippines would like to remind Minister Day that Canadian companies and the Canadian government are complicit in the ongoing human rights violations taking place in the Philippines under the government of Pres. Gloria Arroyo. Any aid or trade initiatives must address Canadian complicity and take measures to genuinely improve the overall human rights situation in the Philippines.

Since 2001, more than a thousand workers, peasants, women, human rights advocates, and political activists have perished in the Philippines . They are the victims of a state-sponsored military-backed “Dirty War” on dissent. Many have perished defending their lands from the mining operations that have destroyed their livelihoods and wreaked havoc on the environment.

Canadian companies are complicit in this human rights disaster. TVI Pacifica, a major recipient of Canadian aid through the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives, has forcibly removed people that had previously been residents on its mining lease. Protests by the indigenous Mangyan in Mindoro to Canadian Crew Development Corporation’s nickel mining project were met with brutal militarization in Mindoro and led to the killing in 2004 of Naujan Vice-Mayor Juvy Magsino, a strong opponent of the project. Opposition to the mining project of Toronto-based Olympus in Capcapo in a Cordilleran community has led to the deployment of troops in the region. There are many more examples of mining-related military repression of the rights of Filipinos in other parts of the country, such as those that involve Canadian Altai Resources in Sibuyan, and the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company in Mankayan (12.5% owned by Canadian Ivanhoe Mines).

Despite this, the Canadian government describes the Philippines as a “functioning democracy with a vibrant civil society.” Canada has strong bilateral ties with the Philippines . Bilateral trade between Canada and the Philippines is worth approximately $1.5 billion Canadian dollars. The Philippines is the third largest source of immigrants to Canada and is among the top sources of foreign temporary workers. There are roughly 400,000 Filipinos living in Canada and 7,500 Canadians living in the Philippines.

Instead of giving aid that would benefit those who need it, the Canadian government provides millions of dollars in direct aid to the Philippine military through the Military Training Assistance Program (MTAP) and the Counter-Terrorism Capacity-Building Program (CTCB) under the guise of capacity development and security reform. According to a recent statement from Washington D.C.-based Development Assistance Research Associates, “Canadian political commitment to effective humanitarian aid isn’t as strong as it has been in the past years”.

Canadian trade and foreign direct investment has focused on supporting the Canadian mining sector. Canadian mining companies are involved in at least five major mining projects in the Philippines worth over US $1 billion in investment. In most of these projects, the decision to advance mining projects in the face of community opposition has led to human rights violations.

We are deeply concerned that Canada ’s aid and trade relations with the Philippines are supporting a regime that perpetrates persistent and widespread human rights violations, instead of giving much-needed help to the most vulnerable and in need of humanitarian aid. The very people that should benefit from trade and aid are the very victims of the economic and military apparatus that Canada is propping up.

We call on Minister Day and the Canadian government to:

· Investigate and disclose information about Canada ’s support for military and police training, the Philippine government’s counter-terrorism capacity building and the operations of Canadian mining companies that have contributed to heavy militarization and widespread human rights violations in the Philippines .

· Stop Canadian aid to mining operations and other initiatives in the Philippines that have direct links to human rights violations.

· Make Canadian aid and trade conditionally tied to the successful implementation of measures to stop the extrajudicial killings and the improvement of the overall human rights situation in the Philippines.

Philippine Solidarity Network in Canada (PSNC)
·Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights- British Columbia
·Philippine Network for Justice and Peace
·Centre for Philippine Concerns - Montreal
·Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
·Victoria Solidarity Group
·Damayan-Manitoba
·Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4600

Mining Watch Canada

Philippine Migrants Society of Canada

Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT-Philippines)
Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND)
Quezon City Public School Teachers’ Association (QCPSTA)

References:
Antonio L. Tinio (0920-9220817) , ACT National Chairperson
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines , ochrp.ottawa@ gmail
 

     
     
     
     
     
     
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Posted October 5th, 2009 by ACTNational

Invest in teachers to attain quality public education
Statement for World Teachers’ Day 2009

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers salutes teachers today, World Teachers’ Day 2009. This year’s theme, “Invest in Teachers,” aptly underscores the need for governments all over the world to provide teachers with the resources and support necessary to attain quality education for all.

Such a call goes against the grain of the neoliberal economic regimes being enforced by governments throughout the world, such as privatization, deregulation, liberalization, and concomitant reductions in public spending on social services. In the Philippines, the Arroyo government has imposed tight controls on public sector salaries and strict ceilings on social spending, resulting in lowered incomes for teachers, worsening shortages of classrooms, teachers, and other resources, and the forced commercialization of schools and universities.

Decent Salaries for Teachers


In the past year, ACT led a nationwide campaign to raise teachers’ salaries. Teachers mobilized throughout the country, holding mass meetings and assemblies, signing petitions, and marching in the streets in their thousands. We gained the support of the public and developed alliances with sympathetic legislators, politicians, and administrators. The campaign likewise enabled ACT to expand its membership and build more chapters throughout the country. As a result of our efforts, in July 2009, the Arroyo government implemented the first tranche of the so-called Salary Standardization Law 3, which upgraded the Teacher I position by one salary grade (from Salary Grade 10 to 11) and provides an increase of P6,500 over four years.

The pay hike granted by SSL3, coming after a 6-year moratorium on public sector salary increases, remains inadequate because it fails to restore the purchasing power of teachers’ salaries eroded by the rising cost of living. Furthermore, the SSL3 fails to address the long-standing distortion in standardized salaries whereby teachers are paid lower than other positions with lower qualifications.

For these reasons, ACT will continue the struggle for decent remuneration for teachers by campaigning for the upgrading of teachers to a minimum of Salary Grade 15.

No to education budget cuts!


On World Teachers’ Day, ACT denounces the reductions in public spending on education that the Arroyo administration has been imposing in the wake of the global economic crisis. At a time when 5.6 million school-age children are out of school, the situation calls for greater investment in quality public education, not budget cuts.

In 2009, the Malacañang meted out a Php 1.46 billion cut in the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses budget of the Department of Education and a Php 1.89 billion reduction in Capital Outlay. Further cuts are to be expected in 2010, with a reduction of Php 507 million in MOOE and a huge Php 4.04 billion in CO in the proposed Department of Education budget.

Inadequate funding and resources for basic education is being cited by the DepEd as a justification for implementing a new streamlined curriculum requiring shorter teaching and learning hours for the elementary grades. This curriculum change has potentially far-reaching implications and must be opposed because it targets those subjects (Filipino, Sibika, HEKASI) that educate the youth on the basics of Filipino identity and citizenship.

The government is also inflicting similar cuts in higher education. The proposed 2010 budget for the country’s 108 State Universities and Colleges will be reduced by Php 3.2 billion, even as enrolment in public higher education institutions continues to grow. Notable in the 2010 budget proposal are the denial of Capital Outlay funds to all SUCs despite the desperate need to construct more classrooms and other facilities and the substantial reductions in MOOE (such as the unprecedented Php 280 million cut for the University of the Philippiens) , which are intended to force SUCs to adopt even more commercialization measures to generate operating funds.

Debt servicing continues to be the top priority of the Arroyo government, taking up 22% of the proposed 2010 budget.

GSIS benefits denied


Throughout the term of the current administration, teachers and other public sector workers have been deprived of the fair and just enjoyment of their social security benefits due to the oppressive policies of the Government Service Insurance System. Unwarranted automatic deductions are being made on their benefits without the benefit of due process. The collapse of their computer system in recent months has resulted in the breakdown in the delivery of services to GSIS members and pensioners. Yet Malacañang continues to coddle the GSIS management led by Winston Garcia, denying accountability to its disgruntled and oppressed members.

Human rights violations in the education sector


Teachers and teacher organizations have not been spared from the record of gross human rights violations of the Arroyo administration. In January, 20-year old school teacher Rebelyn Pitao was killed in Davao by suspected military intelligence agents. An alternative learning school for lumads in Lianga, Surigao del Sur was targeted by military operations in July. ACT members in Maliwalo, Tarlac were harassed by a unit of the Philippine Army in August. In September, a botched surveillance operation conducted by the Philippine Marines, targeting former ACT national chairperson Prof. Bienvenido Lumbera was exposed to the public. Such acts of violence and harassment, which take place in a climate of impunity, are among the worst violations of basic rights that take place under the Arroyo administration.

The government’s failure to provide security to teachers serving in isolated and conflict-ridden areas was highlighted by the kidnapping this year of two separate groups of teachers, one in Zamboanga City and the other in Zamboanga Sibugay. In both cases, the teachers were held in captivity for many months before being released by their abductors.

Relief and rehabilitation for flood victims


Lastly, we commemorate this year’s World Teachers’ Day even as hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, including many thousands of teachers, remain affected by the floods brought about by tropical storm Ondoy. We urge the government to prioritize the allocation and release of additional funding for relief and rehabilitation efforts. At the same time, we support calls for an independent and thorough review of government policies and structures that will pinpoint accountability for those factors that contributed to the scope of the disaster and formulate genuine reforms that will minimize human suffering in the face of similar natural calamities in the future.

Decent salaries for teachers! Salary Grade 15 for teachers!
No to education budget cuts! Rechannel debt payments to education and other social services!
Oust Winston Garcia! Reform the GSIS!
Uphold human rights, end impunity!
Immediate relief for the victims of storm Ondoy!

 

     
     
     
     
           
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