SONA NG BAYAN 2010    - Part 3


July 26, 2010


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SONA NG BAYAN 2010 Part 1


SONA NG BAYAN 2010 Part 2







Photos courtesy of John Miranda at Njersey City



July 25, 2010

Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA,

Weight Loss Plan for Aquino: Drop Arroyo’s Baggage and Adopt the 4K Program
Filipinos in the U.S. Urge Philippine President Aquino to Present Plan to Address the People’s Needs at This Year’s State of the Nation Address

BAYAN-USA will conduct actions in four cities across the United States on Monday, July 26, to mark the first annual State of the Nation Address delivered by Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. President Aquino’s term began ominously this month with the killing of five activists in less than two weeks, a troubling sign in the wake of the violence-ridden presidency of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“We want action, not excuses, from President Aquino,” said Bernadette Ellorin, Chair of BAYAN-USA. “If President Aquino feels weighed down by the mess left by Arroyo, he can shed the former president’s legacy by abandoning Arroyo’s failed policies and implementing programs that provide decent jobs, redistribute land, safeguard national sovereignty, and end state-sponsored terror by the armed forces and paramilitary.”

The demonstrations in the U.S. will coincide with actions conducted by BAYAN in the Philippines as well as in Hong Kong, Canada, and Australia where millions of overseas Filipino workers reside. Demonstrators will express their concern about the continuing human rights violations targeting activists, as well as present the “People’s Agenda for National Survival.” The Agenda includes specific recommendations to increase the “4K’s”:
• Katarungan [Justice] – investigate and prosecute Gloria Arroyo and all perpetrators of human rights violations; free the Morong 43 and all political prisoners; justice for victims of human rights violations
• Kalayaan [Sovereignty] – terminate the U.S.-R.P. Visiting Forces Agreement; eject all foreign military personnel from the Philippines; repeal the Mining Act of 1995
• Karapatan [Rights] – end state-sponsored violence; stop the killings of activists; terminate Operation Plan Bantay Laya and all counter-insurgency programs; advocate for the rights of Filipino migrants abroad including comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S.
• Kabuhayan [Livelihood] – institute a living wage increase; end the Value Added Tax on basic commodities; implement a genuine agrarian reform program; scrap the unfair stock distribution option

“The Filipino people suffered far too long under the deepening crisis of poverty and rampant state-sponsored violence perpetrated by the US-backed Arroyo regime. We need immediate relief, and President Aquino has the power to deliver it, if he so chooses,” stated Ellorin. “Aquino needs to stop the killings, prosecute GMA, and end the culture of impunity by conducting thorough investigations of past human rights abuses and prosecuting the abusers now.”



Bloodshed and corruption mark Arroyo legacy: BAYAN-USA calls on incoming Aquino administration to live up to campaign promises
June 29th, 2010

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro
BAYAN-USA Secretary General

A body count of six activists murdered within two weeks this June marked the countdown to the end of Gloria Arroyo’s presidency—a grim yet fitting conclusion to Arroyo’s nine-year presidential term infamous for extrajudicial killings, torture, mass arrests, and disappearances perpetrated by military, police and paramilitary forces. BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations, condemned the rash of killings and the brutal record of Arroyo. The Alliance also challenged president-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to make good on his campaign promises and take concrete steps to right the wrongs of the Arroyo administration.

End Counter-Insurgency Ops, Investigate HRVs Starting at the Top

“We can’t resurrect the dead or erase the scars of torture, but we can prosecute the perpetrators and attain justice for the victims,” said Bernadette Ellorin, Chair of BAYAN-USA. “Aquino must start on July 1 by immediately investigating Gloria Arroyo for the bloodshed committed under her watch,” Ellorin stated.

One of Arroyo’s signature policies was the Operation Plan Bantay Laya (“OBL”) counter-insurgency program. Dubbed a “blueprint for impunity” by human rights advocates, OBL has been blamed for 1,201 cases of extrajudicial killings, 205 enforced disappearances and more than a thousand cases of illegal arrests and torture. The Philippine military, including the likes of Major General Jovito Palparan, has been implicated in the vast majority of the cases.

“Aquino must abandon the failed OBL and all other counter-insurgency schemes if there is to be any hope for genuine peace and democracy in the Philippines. Aquino can demonstrate his commitment to change by freeing all political prisoners, including the Morong 43,” stated Ellorin, referring to the 43 health workers who were arrested en masse on trumped up charges with an illegal search warrant on February 6, 2010. The health workers remain in jail up to this day, despite an international outcry by prominent leaders of large human rights, labor, health care and faith organizations, as well as dignitaries and former elected officials.

“It would make far more sense for Aquino to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) than to pursue the disastrous counter-insurgency programs that Arroyo and her generals concocted,” said Ellorin. Arroyo’s administration has been criticized for paying lip service to peace talks while undermining them with unrealistic demands. “The peace negotiations as laid out by the NDFP provide a framework for attaining comprehensive social and economic reforms to end widespread poverty and exploitation, which all agree are at root of the conflict,” said Ellorin.

Treat Migrants Like Heroes, Not Criminals

“With her labor and economic policies, Arroyo pushed more Filipinos out of the country than any of her predecessors, but she never lifted a finger to ensure their safety,” said Ellorin. “Arroyo never advocated for immigration reform in the U.S., even though tens of thousands of Filipinos have been waiting for more than 20 years to reunite with their families because they are stuck in the immigration backlog, and about a million undocumented Filipinos work in slave-like conditions for American employers.” Immigration policies in the U.S. have been harshly criticized worldwide especially in the wake of September 11, 2001 when the already law enforcement-heavy system turned more openly racist and militaristic.

“Filipino migrants are the backbone of the Philippine economy, but Arroyo was spineless when it came to standing up for migrants’ rights. Aquino needs to take a position in favor of protecting the safety and well-being of migrants. That includes advocating for immigration reform in the U.S., which receives more Filipino migrants than any other country,” said Ellorin. Since 2005, BAYAN-USA has been part of the immigrant rights movement calling for comprehensive immigration reform and legalization for all, elimination of the visa backlogs, an end to collaboration between local police and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and a stop to the skyrocketing deportations.

End Corruption at All Levels

“From ‘Hello Garci’ to NBN-ZTE, corruption was the lifeline of the Arroyo presidency,” said Ellorin, referring to two of the dozens of corruption scandals that plagued Arroyo throughout her nine years in office. “Aquino should ensure that Arroyo and her cronies are held accountable for the elections, lives and billions of pesos that they stole from the Filipino people. He can start by investigating the wholesale electoral fraud committed in both the 2004 and 2010 elections.”

People Over Profits, Sovereignty Over Subjugation

“Under Arroyo, Filipinos got hit with the Value Added Tax (VAT), rice shortages, and tuition fee hikes. Government spending for health care, education and housing shrunk, while spending on national debt and military increased. Is it any wonder that poverty is at a record high while Arroyo’s approval rating is at a record low?” said Ellorin. “Aquino can stop the nation’s endless downward spiral by repealing the senseless automatic appropriation law for debt servicing, and redirecting funds to meeting the people’s basic needs. He should also provide immediate relief to the poor by scrapping the VAT and increasing wages to a livable level.”

“The Philippines will remain an outpost and launching pad for imperialist ambitions unless Aquino changes course immediately,” said Ellorin. “Arroyo did nothing to stop the rapes of countless ‘Nicoles’ by U.S. soldiers, the injury of Filipino children by U.S. war games, the displacement of thousands of Bicolanos for the Balikatan exercises, or the death of Gregan Cardeno while working for the U.S. military. Aquino needs to stop the hemorrhaging of the Philippine nation by terminating the R.P.-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement, which has sold off Philippine sovereignty and turned the entire Philippine archipelago into one big military base for the U.S. to use at will. He should also evict all U.S. forces currently in the country and thoroughly investigate all allegations of human rights violations committed by U.S. military personnel in the Philippines,” stated Ellorin.



National Lawyers Guild delegates of the People’s International Observers Mission present eyewitness accounts of electoral fraud, military intimidation during national elections in the Philippines and a visit to the 43 detained health workers
July 13th, 2010

Contact: Daya Mortel
Southern California Coordinator, BAYAN USA

Los Angeles, CA – Reporting from the UCLA Downtown Los Angeles Labor Center, delegates of the People’s International Observers Mission from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) presented eyewitness accounts from the Philippines elections. Witnessing electoral fraud and military intimidation, they concluded the Philippine national election was neither fair nor free. NLG delegates participated in the largest People’s International Observers Mission to date, joined by church, labor and community leaders from Asia, North and South America, and Europe. NLG, BAYAN USA, and GABRIELA USA presented the latest updates regarding the 43 detained health workers and the ongoing spate of human rights violations post-inauguration of President Noynoy Aquino two weeks ago.

Attorney Radhika Sainath opened the forum declaring,“This is more than a reportback because what we found, what we witnessed, has significance outside of Philippines.” Atty. Sainath described electoral fraud that she witnessed in the forms of vote-buying and illegal vote-casting and confirmed that these were also documented in every region that NLG delegates observed elections. Military intimidation, lack of staff, defects with the electronic voting system, and a gunfight within the polling place were just some of the issues noted in their report. Lincoln Ellis, an NLG member from Los Angeles said, “Too often election observers simply base their conclusions on what they saw on the day of the election,” referring to COMELEC observers who generalize their positive individual experiences to the whole of the country. “We looked deeper to interview candidates and human rights activists about intimidation, harassment, fraud and violence that took place months or years before the 2010 Philippines election. These problems affected everything from the names that did or did not appear on the ballot, to the make-up of the election commission (COMELEC), that eventually tabulated the results,” concluded Ellis. Ellis observed elections on the island of Panay where Fernando Baldomero of Bayan Muna party-list was assassinated last July 5, 2010.

The NLG delegation put forward several recommendations including investment in social infrastructure so that people’s basic needs are met, restructuring appointments of COMELEC, and fully investigating and prosecuting politically motivated human rights violations.

BAYAN USA and GABRIELA USA addressed the latest human rights violations including the assassination of Fernando Baldomero earlier this month. “President Noynoy Aquino has just been inaugurated and already his term is marked with more extra-judicial killings under the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) counter-insurgency plan started during the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime,” said Kuusela Hilo, Vice Chairperson of BAYAN USA. “Violently dispersing farmers camping out in front of Malacanang Palace to demand land reform and expanding the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Oplan Bantay Laya will only exacerbate the problems of poverty and impunity that plague Philippine society, but these are the actions of the newly inaugurated Aquino administration. Aquino’s commitment to seek justice will hold no water if it carries on with Arroyo’s OBL,” explained Hilo.

Farnoosh Hashemian, one of the NLG delegates, was able to visit the detained 43 healthworkers who were illegally arrested, tortured and detained on February 6, 2010. “One of the women I met, Judy, is expected to give birth soon in detention if not released,” said Hashemian. “Hearing their stories and their willingness to continue their community health work once they are released is inspiring,” said Hashemian. Hashemian showed one of the necklaces beaded by the detained health workers and shared that solidarity, even in the form of sending beads, will help to raise awareness about their fight for freedom. Terrie Cervas, Vice Chairperson of GABRIELA USA, emphasized the need for international solidarity from people in the United States. “The issue of the 43 health workers is not an isolated incident, and we must let our Congressperson, Representative Howard Berman, know that we do not want our taxpayer money funding human rights violations in the Philippines,” declared Cervas. Cervas invited the audience to sign postcards for Rep. Berman who is the current Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Riko Maniago, lead vocalist of Flattbush and member of Habi Arts, concluded the program with the song calling for the end to government corruption. The final National Lawyers Guild report on the Philippines International Observers Mission findings will be available at To sign onto to the Free the 43 Petition, visit



Photos courtesy of United Filipinos in Hong Kong



Press Release

25 July 2010

For reference:    Dolores Balladares-Pelaez
                           Tel. No.: 97472986
“Do not disappoint us”
HK OFW leaders send demands to PNoy in joint letter

In time for President Noynoy Aquino’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA), leaders of OFW organizations in Hong Kong gathered for the first All President’s Meeting today to come up with a list of common calls that they wanted the new government to address.

“We urge PNoy to take heed of the demands of OFWs that we have long called for but were denied us. There is no better time than now for PNoy to make true his promises of change to the people. Mr. President, do not disappoint us,” said Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) that spearheaded the event.

The meeting was attended by more than 140 leaders and representatives of organizations, alliances, federations and church-based groups. It resulted with a joint open letter signed by 121 organizations outlining the demands of HK OFWs on various issues. (See attached joint letter)

“Our concerns are real and concrete and they deserve no less than concrete and real response from Pnoy and his government,” Balladares-Pelaez added.

According to the letter the participants signed, PNoy’s inaugural declaration of the people being his boss is a “welcome development” as OFWs were treated before as mere “milking cows and commodities for sale.”

Referring to the GMA administration, the meeting participants said that their demands have fallen on deaf ears in the past.

“We were given promises. We heard motherhood statements. We were even hailed as modern economic heroes. But the promises were broken, the statements were proven empty, and the heroes were neglected,” the statement said.

The participants also stressed the urgency of their issues. They said that PNoy’s promise of cleaning up the mess left by the past administration also meant “cleaning up” the messy condition of OFWs.

They further stated that “each day that these concerns are not addressed, more and more OFWs will be overcharged, neglected, and our rights violated. While these issues remain unaddressed, we OFWs will always be victimized.”

Some of the demands that the participants agreed to advance included lowering of fees charged to OFWs especially e-passport fee, scrapping fee requirements for getting an overseas employment certificate or OEC, enhancement in services of the government to OFWs such as providing onsite medical and legal assistance as well as free hospitalization for OFWs, decisively addressing overcharging and scrapping of the POEA Guidelines on Hiring of Filipino Household Service Workers and the training scheme for OFWs, and providing for an OFW Card with benefits similar to those of senior citizens.

Additionally, the participants came up with demands that should be implemented in the Philippines such as price control for basic commodities, lowering of tuition fee, national industrialization for employment of people, and a genuine agrarian reform program.

“We have expressed our aspirations and we look forward to their realization. Do surprise us by issuing concrete orders and policies that will answer these demands during your SONA,” the statement said.

Balladares-Pelaez said that they will send the said letter to Pnoy and shall closely follow it up for his response.

“Some of these issues can already be solved by a mere stroke of Pnoy’s pen. We urge Pnoy to do so as soon as possible for as long as these rules are in place, OFWs shall always be burdened with more fees and lack of services,” she remarked.

Balladares-Pelaez said that the APM was the first of activities that UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK is set to do to push for the immediate resolution of OFW concerns.

“The organizations that gathered today are all united in making our demands a reality. Pnoy must also do so with his promise,” Balladares-Pelaez concluded.



The Secretariat
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
2/F., New Hall, St. John's Cathedral,
4 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. (852) 3156-2447     Fax. (852) 2526-2894



Statement of BAYAN Canada
On Aquino’s Philippine State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, 2010

BAYAN Canada, an alliance of progressive Filipino organizations in Canada is outraged and concerned about the direction the newly-elected Aquino administration is leading the country. During his first State of the Nation Address, President Aquino cited the scandalous pilfering of the previous administration, which has left the country’s finances in peril. The president then began to list the solutions needed to heal the country’s economy. Streamlining investment, increasing privatization and developing infrastructure, according to Aquino, are the necessary actions to improve the depressed Philippine economy.

“What was said in the address to the nation was at the least, lacking and a step in the wrong direction” Joey Calugay, Secretary General of BAYAN Canada said. “Despite the fact that the neoliberal policies of the past have ruined the economy and has favoured foreign corporations, Aquino is still insistent on further destroying the nation’s finances by implementing and repeating the tested and failed policies of the past.” Calugay added.

BAYAN members in the Philippines, U.S., Canada, Australia and Hong Kong have laid out their own demands for the Philippine government to address, which tackle the real issues facing the country’s citizens and the millions of Filipino migrants around the globe. The demands and issues of the people are based on the four K’s: Katurungan, Kalayaan, Karapatan, and Kabuhayan.

Katurungan (Justice)
During the previous administration, there were approximately 1200 cases of extrajudicial killings and over 200 cases of enforced disappearances. BAYAN Canada Chairperson, Chandu Claver stated, “Nowhere in his address did Aquino acknowledge the extrajudicial killings that plagued the country during the last decade…. his silence on the killings does very little to comfort the families of the victims who are still hoping and demanding for justice.” The United Nations, U.S. State Department and countless people’s organizations have accused the state security forces of the Philippines and for carrying out the extrajudicial killings.

We demand that former President Arroyo and all perpetrators be investigated for human rights violations.

Kalayaan (Sovereignty)
VFA: There are currently 5000 U.S. soldiers in the Philippines permitted under the Visiting Forces Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines. Although the presence and actions of the U.S. forces are embroiled in secrecy and controversy, the soldiers remain on Philippine soil—free to engage in combat and harass Filipino citizens.

Mining Act of 1995: The Philippines is one of the top producers of chromium and gold. Unfortunately the resources and profit of the country’s vast mineral wealth are not shared with its citizens. Multinational corporations are able to extract minerals, destroy the environment while displacing indigenous populations and above all they are permitted to repatriate all profit!

We demand the repeal of this unconstitutional agreement and legislation, which debase our national sovereignty.

Karapatan (Rights)
The International Federation of Journalists declared the Philippines as the most dangerous country for journalists for the past two years. Death squads have targeted and killed workers, unionists, journalists, politicians and students.

We demand that the Aquino administration dismantle the military program “Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL)” or “Operation Plan Freedom Watch”, which targets mainly civilians critical of ggovernment and people’s organizations suspected as communist fronts for “neutralization”.

Kabuhayan (Livelihood)
Over one million Filipinos leave the country every year to find work. Despite its rich resource base and educated population, the Philippines economy cannot employ its own workforce. The majority of Filipinos work as landless tenant farmers. The economy is based on the export of its physical and human resources. There are no heavy industries that employ a significant portion of the population.

We demand that the Aquino administration implement genuine agrarian land reform. We demand that the Aquino administration create jobs in the Philippines instead of promoting the Labour Export Policy, which was instituted by the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.



An Open Letter to President Benigno Aquino III

Dr. Claver with his wife Alice who was caught in the crossfire and became a victim of an assination attempt on the doctor's life in 2006.







I am Chandu Claver. My family was the target of an ambush by suspected State agents nearly four years today on July 31, 2006 in the province of Kalinga. My wife Alice was killed, as a result. Because of continuing threats on what remained of my family, I was forced to seek political refuge in Canada. In the Canadian hearing connected with this, I testified that the death of my wife was linked to the present Philippine counter-insurgency Operation Plan Bantay Laya which specifically targets civilians and social activists. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has found my claim for refuge to be valid and has declared me and my family as Convention Refugees.

Like many hopeful Filipinos hungry for change, I have intently listened to your recent State of the Nation Address. As a victim of the extra-judicial killings perpetuated in the name of Oplan Bantay Laya, and as one of the families actively continuing to seek justice, I found your speech very disappointing.

I had hoped to hear from you bold and definite steps to stem the carnage that has resulted in more than 1000 bloody executions and more than 200 abductions. I had hoped that you would prevent more killings by at least putting Oplan Bantay Laya under review. I had hoped that you would implement the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur Phillip Alston on the matter. The link of Oplan Bantay Laya to the killings and disappearance has been established many times in the recent past by respected institutions, both in the Philippines and abroad. But you never even mentioned Oplan Bantay Laya in your speech.

I had hoped that you would make some positive pronouncements regarding the plight of political prisoners, especially the Morong 43 – health workers like me, who have been languishing in jail since February on obviously trumped up charges. Considering all these, I am hoping that this is not because you are afraid of intimidating the military institution. In your speech, it was good that you had initiated steps to try to solve the cases of the six new cases under your administration. But your failure to mention any plans to solve the very large number of extrajudicial killings and disappearances during the past administration made me very uneasy.

This fear was increased when you laid down your intention with the Truth Commission. The only reference to going after human rights violators as part of the Truth Commission was a short vague phrase about “going after killers”. Much of your speech was spent painting a very detailed and graphic picture of the corrupt practices of the past administration. In contrast, you only mentioned a very few vague words on an issue that has taken the precious lives of many and devastated countless family members. I cannot help coming away with a very strong suspicion that you would prefer not to deal with the problem of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. To me, it felt that you were washing your hands of the cases occurring in the past administration, and that your lack of adequate reference to the issue felt like you were sweeping the dirt under the rug. I fervently hope that I am wrong in thinking that.

At the very minimum, I had hoped to hear from you a clear and unequivocal warning that members of the military linked to these killings would face the full force of the law. This was a crucial statement that human rights organizations (both in the Philippines and abroad) have long been recommending to the previous administration. This was a necessary first step that we believe would serve as a strong warning that would start to counter the “culture of impunity” related with these killings and disappearances. This initial statement would start the process of preventing similar tragic events.

But Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was never able to make that simple statement. You have not done that in your SONA speech either, nor in any of your public speeches. I can only think of three possible reasons why you did not make that crucial, simple and logical statement: that you harboured hidden feelings that the killings served a good purpose; that you did not have the will to go against the military establishment; or your speech writer forgot to put it in. Which is it, Mr. President?

We need the killings to stop. Your spokesman had declared that extrajudicial killings are not your administration’s policy. Then prove it, sir – shut down Oplan Bantay Laya, and truly investigate and actively prosecute the military perpetrators and their political coddlers, whether in the past administration or in yours.

For as long as the perpetrators of these extrajudicial killings and disappearances believe that their leaders are tacitly approving their heinous crimes through inaction and mixed signals, the blood will continue to flow. And unless you act more decisively, that exactly is what would happen. ##



SONA NG BAYAN 2010 ,  Amsterdam

Photos courtesy of  Ilena Rose Saturay



Migrants in Holland ask President Aquino:
Implement land reform and national industrialization


[Amsterdam, 27 July] Filipino migrants in the Netherlands held a colorful picket in Amsterdam on Monday to deliver to President Simeon Aquino III the “people's challenge”, on the occasion of Aquino III's first State of the Nation Address before the Joint Session of the Philippine Congress.


Led by four performers wearing big brown masks and black robes, the picketers bewailed the poverty and injustice in the country, and how millions of Filipinos are forced to leave the country for slave-wages and conditions abroad. In a statement distributed to passers-by in Amsterdam's main square De Dam, Migrante – Europe stated, “Regardless of who's the president, the continuing migration of Filipinos is the best proof that hunger, poverty, unemployment and social insecurity remain unsolved and continue to worsen.”


“More than ten percent of the population,” the statement continues, “has been forced to leave their families behind and gamble their meager savings to illegal recruiters and human traffickers just to be able to go abroad. And once abroad, they are abused and exploited by their employers, and neglected, heavily taxed and made into 'milking cows' by the government in Manila.”


In another statement also distributed during the picket, the Rice & Rights Network of migrants organizations, Pinay sa Holland-Gabriela, Migrante-Netherlands, Nederlans-Filippijnse Solidariteitsbeweging, Kabalikat, and Migrante Sectoral Party, said that they endorse the call of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan back home, reminding President Aquino III of the people's demands. “With the strongest conviction,” the statement read, “we demand for (the implementation of) genuine land reform, starting with Hacienda Luisita, which will bring real and genuine development and progress for the people.”


Overseas Filipinos are tired of political rhetoric, said the migrants at the picket. “Ninety nine percent of us want to go home and reunite with our families. But until (an incumbent) government implements genuine land reform and national industrialization, no amount of public relations rhetoric could spark any single hope for meaningful change,” they asserted.


The Amsterdam picket was concluded by a continuous chanting of the “people's agenda” for “jobs & livelihood, human rights, justice & peace, and freedom & sovereignty”. [Rice & Rights]


For reference, please contact:

Rice & Rights
Postbus 59507

1040 LA Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 6165288



SONA NG BAYAN 2010,  Davao City

Photos courtesy of  BAYAN - Southern Mindano Region and Karlos Manlupig



Southern Mindanao Region
Regional Address: Door 32, RGU Apartment, Medical Drive, Bajada, Davao City
Contact 3: (082) 224-2642 Email Ad:

July 28, 2010

Bayan challenges Noynoy’s clear-cut actions vs. poverty, injustices

When it was thought to be a SONA of truths and a start of great changes for the nation, less was heard than a “tell-all” of old stories.

It was not uplifting to hear again enumerations of corruption by the past administration for what could inspire people to do more and not just dream again is to see Gloria Arroyo suffer in jail. And on behalf of Gloria Arroyo’s victims of corruption and various human rights violations, we believe prosecuting Arroyo would indeed be a better start –off, a move which will make Pres Noynoy Aquino more of a president than of a mere man of words.

It is wise to be realistic than to go with the flow. There is no way the people can dream again with the priorities uttered by Noynoy in his speech. Noynoy has revealed himself as a believer and follower of US imperialist dictates, as a US-puppet in the making.

Take away the expose and “tagalog” speaking president, the essence of Noynoy’s SONA are retentions of US-dictated economic policies -- privatization, deregulation, and liberalization embody the framework of his policy making.

There were no mention of scrapping anti-people and anti -poor policies that were enacted during the previous administrations such as the E-VAT, Oil Deregulation Law, and the Visiting Forces Agreement and Mutual Defense Treaty.

With his support for the intensification of built-operate-transfer scheme, privatization of more Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC) and its heavy toll on the Filipino poor majority is clear to worsen.

Noynoy’s presidency is not far from ending-up like the conventional ones --- the type that is bound to exist and end with its term of office. For the 15th time that the country had a change in presidency, the people have not seen any President brave enough to breakaway from the controls and dominance of US imperialism.

There has not been a time that genuine land reform -- the total distribution of lands among the farmers and creation of a planned agriculture which products are for local sustainability rather than for exports -- was given a priority as a government policy.

Filipino workers continue to work at the mercy of greedy capitalists. While salaries and wages are nailed at its lowest rate amidst the skyrocketing cost of living, the workers remain unsecured as our own labor policies favor contractual employments.

Our indigenous peoples are up to now waging the struggle for their right to ancestral domain as their lands have been the targets for mining, plantation expansions and profit-driven dam and energy construction.

Noynoy could have said much about truths that is at the heart of every Filipino’s dream for genuine political change but he chose not to for having hailed from a landlord family owning more than half of Tarlac, other haciendas and private monopolies in the business industry and him, being a landlord himself, his own family is at stake.

There are bigger problems than corruption that cause inequities among the people. For more than hundred years now that our people and resources are exploited for foreign-vested interests, such is worse than corruption. It is hard to believe that Noynoy can address insurgency when he chooses to ignore the root cause of poverty and inequities in the country. For every Filipino who is perennially deprived of his rights to dignified job, food, shelter, education, and other basic social services, insurgency will continue to be a resort for his defense and assertions.

There is more to fear when we see Noynoy acting blind about the political killings which greeted his first 26 days in power. As the AFP’s commander-in-chief, he is not innocent about the operations of the institution he leads. It is his duty to stop the military’s brute and anti-people operations under Oplan Bantay Laya unless he wants to suffer for himself the same anger the people have for the former president.

Noynoy’s 6-year term is crucial at this point when everybody longs for genuine change. He’d better rethink his administration’s economic and political policies than his disappointing first SONA. The people’s demands and not just dreams are clear in reminding Noynoy of his mandate to uphold human rights and lead firmly as the country’s president. We don’t need him to act merely as a US puppet.

For Reference: John Birondo, Spokesperson, Bayan-SMR, Contact #: 09396568925



Friday, July 2, 2010

Bayan demands justice for US military murder victim Gregan Cardeño, pins US military personnel as suspects

Press Release
July 2, 2010

Davao City- In a march rally held late afternoon yesterday, human rights advocates lighted their torches to condemn the gruesome killing of a Filipino interpreter for US troops Gregan Cardeño and to demand for an independent probe of US military intervention and cover-up.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) spokesperson John Birondo, “We take up the issue of Cardeno who is a clear victim of the US military forces operating in the country, and whose case gives credence to the need for the scrapping by the Aquino administration of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the abrogation of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).”

Gregan Cardeño, a resident of Zamboanga City had allegedly committed suicide, on the eve of February 2, 2010 in his room inside the camp of 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army in Camp Ranao, Saber, Marawi City. Gregan was supposed to leave for Cotabato City the day before to work as interpreter of Bahasa language for the US military troops under JSOTFP through Capt. Javier Ignacio, CO of MP-WESMINCOM. His employment was coursed through the Skylink Security and General Services.

Contrary to the police reports, BAYAN said its own investigation revealed a foul play in Gregan’s death. Bayan noted the results of the Fact Finding Mission conducted by human rights group Kawagib last March 2 to 4, 2010 that have triggered suspicion on the real cause of Gregan’s death.

“The autopsy alone would show evidences of several puncture wounds, contusions and hematoma in the head of the cadaver that could have been caused forcefully by other persons,” Bayan-SMR spokesperson John Birondo said.

Bayan noted that at 7:48 am of February 2, Gregan’s elder sister Carivel Cardeño received a text message from Gregan informing the latter that he was not brought to Cotabato but to Marawi City instead. At 4:00 pm of the same day, Gregan called his wife Myrna crying and telling her that he was doing a job different from being an interpreter. He further said that the job was difficult and he wanted to go home.

“What caused more suspicions were the inconsistencies in the statements of SPO3 Ali Guibon Rangiris on the part of the local police and Capt. Kay of the US military. Rangiris first reported to Gregan’s family that they saw his body hanging on the roof of his room. He later retracted his statement and had admitted that the body of Gregan was already lying on the floor when they arrived at the scene of incident,” Birondo noted.

“There are more to dig out in this case and we will know the truth no matter what it takes. This is just one of the many atrocities wrought by the presence of US military forces in the areas where the Balikatan exercises are being conducted,” Birondo stressed.

Bayan said “The case of Cardeno was a clear test for Pres. Aquino as regards to promoting genuine patriotism and respect for national sovereignty given that he has been a clear choice by the US government as its next puppet in Asia during the last elections. Pres. Aquino should act on Cardeno’s case now and revoke the VFA and the MDT. ”
Posted by BAYAN-SMR at 11:31 PM 0 comments


SONA NG BAYAN 2010,  Cebu City

Photos courtesy of  BAYAN - Cebu  and AMA-Sugbo KMU



Noynoy Neoliberal: Pahayag ng Kilusang Mayo Uno hinggil sa unang SONA ni Aquino

Sa kanyang unang State of the Nation Address, malinaw na ipinakita ni Pangulong Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III na ang kanyang rehimen ay maglilingkod sa imperyalismo at mga naghaharing uring burgesya-komprador at panginoong maylupa – hindi sa masang manggagawa, magsasaka at iba pang maralitang sektor ng lipunan.

Taliwas sa pangako niyang magdudulot ng “shock,” maglalahad ng “katotohanan” at magiging “educational” ang kanyang talumpati, sa pangkalahatan ay walang bago sa sinabi niya. Sa halip, ang inilahad niya ay bagong pagpapakete lang sa mga kontra-manggagawa at kontra-mamamayang patakarang neoliberal ng mga naunang rehimen.

Nagsiwalat si Noynoy mga hakbangin at luho ng rehimen ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo na naging dahilan umano ng pagkaubos ng kabang-bayan. Pero hindi niya malinaw na sinabi na kakasuhan at paparusahan si Arroyo at mga kasapakat nito. Ipinangako niya ang pagtatayo ng Truth Commission, pero hindi siya tumugon man lang sa mga kritisismo na ang itinalaga niyang pinuno nito, si dating Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., ay maka-Gloria at hindi magiging patas sa pag-iimbestiga nito sa dating pangulo.


Tinuntungan niya ang ipinangako niyang paglalantad sa mga eskandalo ng rehimeng Arroyo – ang mga katiwalian, maling patakaran at luho nito – para idiin ang pagkaubos ng pondo ng gobyerno. Tinuntungan naman niya ang pagkaubos ng pondo ng gobyerno para pagmukhaing bago at kagyat na kinakailangan ang sinasabi niyang solusyon, ang “pagtutulungang gobyerno-pribadong sektor (public-private partnerships).” Ang mga halimbawa niya: iskemang build-operate-transfer at pagpaparenta ng mga pag-aari ng gobyerno sa malalaking korporasyong dayuhan at lokal. Aniya, bukod sa mag-aakyat ng pondo ang nasabing “pagtutulungan” sa pamahalaan, magbibigay rin ito ng trabaho sa mga mamamayan.

Ang sinasabing pagtutulungang gobyerno-pribadong sektor ay walang iba kundi ang mga patakarang liberalisasyon, pribatisasyon at deregulasyon sa ekonomiya. Pinagandang katawagan lamang ito para sa mga bulok na patakarang ipinatupad ng mga naunang rehimen simula sa diktadura ni Ferdinand Marcos. Hindi rin ito solusyon sa kawalan ng pondo ng gobyerno, sa kawalan ng trabaho para sa mga manggagawa at mamamayan, at sa iba pang matitinding suliranin ng bansa.

Sa katunayan, ang sinasabing “public-private partnerships” ang siyang ugat ng kasalukuyang krisis sa tubig sa malaking bahagi ng Kamaynilaan. Sa ilalim ng rehimen ni Fidel Ramos, ipinagkaloob ang serbisyong patubig ng Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System o MWSS sa pribadong kumpanya at dayuhang korporasyon. Sunud-sunod na tumaas ang singil sa tubig, habang hindi naman sumaklaw ang inaabot ng serbisyo.

Mahalaga ring pansining ilan sa malalaking kontrobersyang kinsangkutan ng rehimeng Arroyo - ang NBN-ZTE at IMPSA sa partikular – ay uminog sa iba’t ibang porma ng “pagtutulungan” ng gobyerno at pribadong sektor na tulad ng itinutulak ngayon ni Noynoy.

Sa paglalahad ng pagkasaid ng kabang-yaman ng bansa, inaampat din ni Noynoy ang pag-asa at pag-aasam ng mga manggagawa at mamamayan para sa pagpapamura at pagpapasaklaw ng mga serbisyong panlipunan na dapat ibinibigay ng gobyerno. Tumotono siya ng “paghihigpit ng sinturon” o pagtitipid sa mga serbisyo – habang marami sa kanyang mga hakbangin, bagamat umano’y hindi gagastusan ng gobyerno, ay huhuthot naman sa mga manggagawa at mamamayan ng dagdag-buwis at singilin.


Hindi lang korupsyon ang dahilan ng pagkaubos ng pondo ng pamahalaan, kundi ang mga patakarang neoliberal din. Hindi lulunasan ng mga patakarang ito ang problema kundi lalong palalalain. Taun-taon, halimbawa, halos 60% ng pambansang badyet ang ipinambabayad lamang sa utang panlabas – na ipinagkaloob sa gobyerno sa kondisyong patuloy na ipapatupad nito ang mga patakarang neoliberal. Napalaki ring pondo ang nawawala sa pamahalaan dahil sa mga insentibang ibinibigay sa malalaking kapitalistang lokal at dayuhan – wala o mababang buwis kapag mamumuhunan sa bansa, wala o mababang taripa kapag magpapasok ng kalakal sa bansa, at iba pa. Nagaganap ang huli sa balangkas ng liberalisasyon ng kalakalan at pamumuhunan.

Hindi lulutasin ng mga patakarang neoliberal ang kawalan ng trabaho at kabuhayan sa bansa. Ang totoo, ang mga patakarang ito ang mayor na dahilan sa kawalan ng trabaho at kabuhayan. Simula dulo ng dekada 1970, ipinapatupad na ang mga patakarang ito, pero hindi nila nalutas ang suliranin. Sa balangkas ng pakikipagkumpetisyon sa ibang bansa para sa dayuhang pamumuhunan, ipinatupad ng gobyerno ang ibayong pagbarat sa sahod, pagpapalaganap ng trabahong walang seguridad, at ibayong pagsupil sa kilusang unyon sa bansa. Sa pagpapasidhi ng mga patakarang neoliberal sa ilalim ni Arroyo, lalong naging bulnerable ang mga manggagawa sa malawakang tanggalan at mas masahol na pleksibleng kaayusan sa paggawa (flexible work arrangements), na pinatunayan halimbawa noong 2008-2009. Patuloy na dumarami ang mga walang trabaho habang papadausdos ang halaga ng sahod.

Kaya rin naman naitulak ang marami na mangibang-bansa para makahanap ng trabaho – bagay na ginawang patakaran ng gobyerno alinsunod pa rin sa dikta ng mga imperyalistang bansa. Bukod pa rito, dahil hinihikayat ng mga patakarang neoliberal na maglingkod ang produksyong agrikultural sa pamilihang pandaigdig, maraming magsasaka ang naitaboy sa lupang dati nilang sinasaka ng pagpapalit-gamit sa lupa (land-use conversion): kung dati’y laan sa produktong agrikultural ang sakahan, inilalaan na ito sa tinatawag na cash crops.

Kontra-mamamayan ang mga patakarang neoliberal at nagdulot na ng kahirapan at kagutuman ng mga mamamayan. Ang mga ito ang nagdulot ng walang-ampat na pagtaas ng presyo ng mga batayang bilihin at langis, gayundin ng mga pampublikong utilidad tulad ng tubig at kuryente. Ang mga ito rin ang sanhi ng pagmahal ng mga serbisyong panlipunan tulad ng edukasyon at kalusugan – at ang pangkalahatang pagtalikod ng estado sa pagsubsidyo sa mga serbisyong panlipunan. Sinasaid at winawasak nito ang kalikasan ng bansa. Pinapahina ng mga patakarang ito ang kakayahan ng gobyerno na harapin ang mga kalamidad katulad ng bagyo at lindol.

Sa pag-ayon ni Noynoy sa mga patakarang neoliberal mauunawaan ang hindi niya pagtugon sa mahahalagang panawagan sa kanya ng mga manggagawa at mamamayan – kaugnay ng dagdag-sahod, reporma sa lupa, pagtigil sa demolisyon, at pagdagdag sa badyet sa edukasyon at iba pang serbisyong panlipunan. Hindi magawa ni Noynoy na positibong tugunan ang mga panawagang ito dahil pawang bumabangga ang mga ito sa mga patakarang neoliberal na kanyang itinataguyod at sinisikap pabanguhin.


Dahil nangangahulugan ang mga patakarang neoliberal ng ibayong kahirapan at kagutuman ng mga manggagawa at mamamayan, inuudyukan ng mga ito ang huli na magsama-sama at kumilos para ipaglaban ang kanilang kahilingan. Pandarahas at paglabag sa mga karapatang pantao ang tugon dito ng gobyerno. Kaya nga sinasabing kaakibat ng neoliberalismo ang pasismo ng Estado. Sa kasaysayan ng bansa, makikita ito sa sunud-sunod na programang kontra-insurhensyang ipinatupad ng magkakasunod na rehimen. Biniktima ng mga oplan na ito hindi lang ang mga rebeldeng sinasabi nila, kundi ang karaniwang mga aktibista at mamamayan.

Kaya naman nakakabahala na bagamat sinabi ni Noynoy na nalutas na ang tatlo sa anim na kaso ng ekstrahudisyal na pagpaslang sa ilalim ng kanyang rehimen, hindi niya itinuro ang militar na siyang nagpapatupad nito. Hindi rin niya tinukoy ang Oplan Bantay Laya bilang ugat ng ekstrahudisyal na pagpaslang. Kahit nga ang “karapatang pantao” ay hindi niya binanggit sa kanyang SONA at maging sa kanyang inagurasyon.

Nakakabahala rin ang mga pahayag niya patungkol sa usapang pangkapayapaan sa National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Gusto niyang palabasing puro batikos lang ito at walang kongkretong mungkahi – kahit pa noon pa ma’y panawagan na nito ang reporma sa lupa, paggalang sa karapatang pantao, at pagbasura sa mga patakarang dikta ng dayuhan. Binabatikos ng NDFP ang gobyerno dahil hindi inaaksyunan ng huli ang mga panukala at mga panawagang ito.

Higit pa riyan, tulad ni Arroyo, tila ginagawa niyang prekondisyon sa pagbubukas ng usapang pangkapayapaan ang pagbababa ng armas. Matagal nang tinanggihan ng NDFP ang ganitong hakbangin, at siya ngang naging dahilan ng pagkabalam ng usapang pangkapayapaan sa rehimeng Arroyo. Sa ganitong mga aksyon, lumalabas na hindi seryosong isulong ng rehimeng Aquino ang usapang pangkapayapaan sa NDFP.

Sa kasaysayan, lalo na sa huling karanasan sa Oplan Bantay Laya, nangangahulugan ang kawalan ng kaseryosohan sa usapang pangkapayapaan ng isang gobyerno ng pandarahas at paglabag sa karapatang pantao hindi lang ng mga rebelde, kundi maging ng mga aktibista, kritiko ng gobyerno at maging karaniwang mamamayan.


Ipinapakita ng mga patakaran sa ekonomiya at kontra-insurhensya na inihayag ni Noynoy sa kanyang unang SONA na walang pundamental na pagkakaiba ang rehimen niya sa mga nauna. Pare-pareho silang tagapagsulong ng mga patakarang neoliberal at ng pasismo. Ngayong sariwa pa ang ipinagmamalaki niyang “pagpili” ng mga mamamayan sa iniaalok niyang “pagbabago,” hindi niya magawang isulong ang mga pagbabagong gusto ng mga manggagawa at mamamayan. Puro pagbabagong pabor sa mayayaman at makapangyarihan ang isinusulong niya – kaya hindi na bago ang klase ng pamumuno niya sa kasaysayan ng bansa.

Katulad sa mga naunang rehimen, walang makakamit ang mga manggagawa at mamamayan na pagbabagong magbibigay ng kagyat na ginhawa kung hindi tayo magbubuklod at sama-samang kikilos. Katulad sa mga naunang rehimen, kung hindi tayo kikilos, patuloy tayong paghihirapin, gugutumin at gagawing busabos, hindi boss. Nasa ating mga manggagawa at mamamayan ang pag-asa at pagbabago, hindi sa gobyerno. Kailangan nating igiit ang ating mga panawagan at kumilos sa lansangan. Kailangan nating labanan ang pagsusulong ni Noynoy ng mga patakarang neoliberal at pasista at isulong ang ating kapakanan.

Sa huli, wala talagang maaasahan ang mga manggagawa at mamamayan sa mga gobyernong iniluklok ng mga imperyalista at naghaharing uri kundi ang mga patakarang maglilingkod sa mga ito. Kaya nasa balikat talaga nating mga manggagawa at mamamayan ang tungkuling kamtin ang pagbabagong gusto natin – pagbabagong maglilingkod sa sambayanan, hindi sa dayuhan at iilan. Kailangan nating paigtingin ang pagmumulat, pag-oorganisa at pagpapakilos sa ating hanay para magawa ito.



Aquino continues Arroyo’s wage policy with measly hikes in S. Mindanao, W. Visayas
28 July 2010
Reference Person:  Elmer "Bong" Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information: 0908-163-6597

The recently approved wage increases in the Southern Mindanao and Western Visayas portends a continuation of measly and sparse hikes which workers experienced under Arroyo, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said today.

In Southern Mindanao, the regional wage board approved a P21 increase in daily pay, while the Western Visayas regional wage board approved a P15 wage increase – increases which KMU said is an omen for

“President Noynoy Aquino said Filipinos can dream again. But how could workers dream again with P15 and P21? These measly amounts were no different from what the Arroyo regime granted in the past nine years, an indication that there’s nothing new in Aquino’s wage policy,” said KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog.

“This is highlighted by the fact that Aquino did not mention anything about wages in his first State of the Nation Address. We suspect that the Aquino administration would use these measly increases to discredit workers’ call for a P125 nationwide wage hike,” he added.

Labog said workers have been pushing for the approval of the P125 nationwide wage increase since the Estrada administration. “Aquino is hinting that he will continue the attitude of past administrations on dealing with wage hike calls – dishing out crumbs region after region to create an illusion of a nationwide increase.”

Last month, the regional wage board in the National Capital Region granted a P22 wage increase, a pittance which Arroyo boasted as her legacy to labor.

“This move by the regional wage boards in Western Visayas and Southern Mindanao under Aquino is also proof of how inutile wage boards are in addressing the workers’ plight. That is why we have also been demanding the scrapping of the wage board system,” Labog said.

“Workers are poised to intensify the wage hike campaign in the coming days for Aquino’s failure to hear our demands. We will push for the prioritization of House Bill 375 seeking a legislated P125-nationwide wage increase, which was filed by Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano.