Workers storm SSS,
slam calamity loans for Bohol, Cebu


Quezon City


October 21,  2013





Photos courtesy of Buhay Manggagawa


Media Release
21 Oct. 2103

Workers storm SSS, slam calamity loans for Bohol, Cebu

Hundreds of workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno stormed the Social Security System’s main office along East Avenue, Quezon City this morning to condemn the agency’s calamity loans for members in Bohol and Cebu who were hit badly by last week’s earthquake, saying the agency should give out direct financial assistance to these members instead.

The workers, who marched past the SSS gates to show their disgust, continued to condemn the P10-million bonus pocketed by the SSS board for 2012 and the recently-approved 0.6 per cent increase in members’ premium contributions.

“We are outraged that the SSS leadership is most insensitive to the plight of its members. It refuses to return its huge bonuses even as it asks members to pay a bigger premium and offers mere loans, not financial assistance, to members struck by the earthquake,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said the SSS’s three-month calamity package for members in Bohol and Cebu – which includes early renewal of salary loans, advance release of three-month worth of pensions, and relaxed loan terms for home repairs – does little to help SSS members living in calamity areas.

“Nilindol na nga, utang pa rin ang ibibigay (They already faced an earthquake, but are still being offered with loans). Faced with earthquake survivors, the SSS board conveniently forgets its claims about improved performance and bigger SSS funds and resorts to penny-pinching,” Soluta added.

KMU reiterated its demands for the SSS board to return its huge bonus, for the premium hike to be junked, and for earthquake survivors in calamity areas be given direct financial assistance, not loans.

“We will intensify our struggle until we achieve our demands. There’s something fundamentally wrong and anomalous with the way the SSS is working and we have barely scratched the surface,” the labor leader stated.

The labor center said the SSS has some P350 billion in investment reserve fund, has P70 billion in investments in the stock market, and has P139 billion in loans to the government.

“The SSS has been using the workers’ fund in favor of the government and big capitalists, not of members. The SSS leadership calls it investment, we call it theft,” Soluta said.

Soluta said SSS members continue to endure meager benefits, circuitous processes, and long queues even as their wages and incomes continue to be paltry.

Reference: Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general, 0928-7215313




Media Release
17 Oct. 2013

KMU slams civil society defenders of Aquino’s DAP

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the Caucus of Development NGO Networks or CODE-NGO, the Ateneo School of Government, and other civil society groups for defending the Aquino government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, claiming “NGO racketeers” in these groups are paying their political debts to Pres. Noynoy Aquino.

KMU said the groups are trying to shield Aquino from public outrage because the DAP fund is obviously a pork barrel fund created in violation of the country’s Constitution and laws and was used to bribe senators in relation to the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“While we are not surprised that these NGO racketeers are defending Aquino, we are still disgusted by them. By defending the DAP, these groups are shedding all pretense at good governance in order to defend the political largesse that they get from the Aquino government,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader said the groups are mistaken in saying that DAP funds will “fast-track the implementation of government projects and public spending,… promote economic growth and… support government programs and projects which are performing well” because these are being coursed through politicians known for pocketing the people’s money.

He said CODE-NGO, which was headed by Social Welfare and Development secretary and close Aquino ally Dinky Soliman, owes Aquino big time because the chief executive has refused to go after the group in relation to the P35-billion Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate (PEACe) bonds scam which exploded in 2001.

It also said that the ASoG is coming to the rescue of Budget and Management secretary Butch Abad, husband of its former director and now Batanes representative Henedina Razon-Abad.

In 2012, the female representative got a pork barrel fund of P92.5 million, bigger than the pork barrel funds received by other congressmen which average at P70 million.

“We cannot help but think that these groups are getting huge sums from the Aquino government. Their transactions with the Aquino government should be looked into,” Labog said.

The labor center said the groups can say they are against the Priority Development Assistance Fund, the pork barrel system in general, the misuse of the DAP and the Malampaya funds but have to be inconsistent with these stands in relation to Aquino, their patron in government.

“It is disgusting that those who make a lot of money criticizing political patronage in the Philippines in front of international audiences are beholden to their political patrons in Malacañang. They are very much part of the rotten dominant political culture in the country like the politicians they alternately criticize and support,” Labog stated.

Reference: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, 0908-1636597




Media Release
19 Oct. 2013

Workers show support for people’s initiative vs. pork

Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno gathered in noise barrage protests in Sandiganbayan, Quezon City and Pasig Palengke, Pasig City this afternoon to show support for former Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s call for a people’s initiative against the pork barrel system.

KMU said the initiative, which is based on the 1987 Constitution and Republic Act No. 6735 or “The Initiative and Referendum Act,” stems from the recognition that Pres. Noynoy Aquino is defending the pork barrel system and will use pork to thwart moves in the legislature aimed at abolishing the said system.

The labor center welcomed the people’s initiative as one of the means to intensify the campaign to abolish pork, saying the initiative entails further expanding the number of people who are educated and mobilized on the issue and will contribute to efforts to further increase the number of people joining protest actions.

“We support the people’s initiative against the pork barrel system and we vow to do everything we can to make it a success. We are calling on all Filipinos to show their disgust over this system of corruption and deceit by signing against it,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

Saying the people’s initiative against the pork barrel system would certainly entail financial costs, the workers also launched their “Piso para sa People’s Initiative” drive, which they say is proof of their seriousness in supporting the initiative.

The workers said that they are eager to have a copy of the official petition for the initiative, which requires the signature of 10 per cent of all registered voters or over 5.2 million Filipinos and at least three per cent of the voters in every legislative district.

“We have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Filipinos is very critical of the pork barrel system. We urge them to show up in huge numbers in various public forums aimed at explaining critiques of the pork barrel system and at gathering signatures,” Soluta added.

The labor leader also called on various organizations and personalities to show support for the people’s initiative by holding public forums and going directly to people in order to ask for signatures.

“We are also calling on all Filipinos to join the upcoming protests against the pork barrel system. Let us hold noise barrage protests on Nov. 13 and big rallies on Nov. 30, the 150th birthday of working-class hero Andres Bonifacio,” Soluta stated.

Reference: Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general, 0928-7215313




News Release

October 20, 2013

Reference: Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, 09178350459

If this happens, more than P25 billion from Malamapaya funds will be spent on AFP-DND

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares today asked Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III where the funds for purchasing a squadron of Korean FA-50s would be sourced. The fighter jets would cost P18.9 billion and supposedly would be used to bolster the Philippine’s aerial power and defend its territory in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

It can be remembered that Aquino administration recently bought two Hamilton class cutters of 1960 vintage that has been decommissioned by the US government using the Malampaya funds.

“While we already spent P425 Million for that cutter, we pay P850 Million for its yearly maintenance and dry docking. Now we are buying jets while the country reels from one calamity to the next calamity. It is the president’s prerogative to buy his guns, ships and planes but I hope he does not get it from the Malampaya funds or the Disbursement Acceleration
Program (DAP). But if we consider the reasoning of Pres. Aquino, I think that he would use the same argument with the purchase of Hamilton class cutters with that of the FA-50s--that it will be used for an energy related project such as defending the Malampaya energy fields,” said the senior deputy minority leader.

“This is not only a stretched interpretation of the law but it is not also true that Presidential Decree (PD) 910 allowed the Malampaya funds to be spent on such a general and vague term as "energy related projects". According to Section 8 of PD 910 governing the Malampaya funds "All fees, revenues and receipts of the Board from any and all sources including receipts from service contracts and agreements xxx as well as the government share representing royalties, rentals, xxx shall be used for energy exploration development",” said the progressive solon.

“It is very clear that the fund must be used for "energy exploration, development" and certainly buying a fighter jet, much less a warship, cannot be deemed energy development at all,” said Rep. Colmenares.

“In 2011, a total of P13,266,555,424.00 was spent from the Malampaya funds. The Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) got the largest share of P4,954,580,167 and DOF-NPC with P4.6 billion as the biggest
spenders. Pilit naman masyado ang rason na ang pambili ng barkong pandigma energy related dahil poprotektahan daw nito ang Malampaya. Pati dry docking ng barko kasama sa Malampaya. Kung ganito ang reasoning e baka icharge din sa Malampaya kapag bumili ng nuclear missile si Noynoy para protektahan ang Malampaya at ngayon nga,mukhang pambili ng fighter jets,” said Rep. Colmenares

“In 2012, the total disbursement for the Malampaya fund was P1,988,861,066.00 with the Department of Defense (DND) and the DOF-NEA electrification as the only two agencies that accessed it. Malaki na talaga ang napupunta sa military use mula sa Malampaya funds sa halip na sa dapat talagang paggamitan nito,” said the progressive solon.

"Kung ginastos ito sa pag develop ng energy industry ang Malampaya fund baka makatulong pa sa pagpababa ng kuryente o pag lessen ng brown outs. This kind of spending is what makes pork barrel, especially presidential pork barrel, anomalous," he added.

“Kung susumahin, aabot na sa P6,258,259,243 ang nagastos na para sa AFP-DND na halos kalahati na ng total P15 bilyon na nakuha mula sa Malampaya fund. Kung dadagdagan pa ito ng pambili ng FA-50s na P18.9 bilyon, nahigitan pa nito ng halos P4 na bilyon ang kabuuang nagastos mula sa Malampaya funds sa loob ng 3 taon. Kapag ganito ay mahigit P25 bilyon na ang magagastos ng administrasyong Aquino para sa gamit pandigma at hindi para sa enerhiya galing sa Malampaya funds,” ended Rep. Colmenares.###



People’s initiative vs “pork”
by Carol P. Araullo

Former Chief Justice Renato Puno’s proposal to the Filipinos who participated in the August 26 Million People March to use “people’s initiative” -- the Constitutional provision by which the people can enact a law without the participation or intervention of Congress or the President -- in order to bring about an end to the pork barrel system has resonated far and wide.

At the start there were misgivings that a “people’s initiative” would be a tall order given the extensive logistical and organizational resources needed to meet the requirements of Republic Act No. 6735, "The Initiative and Referendum Act". The petition for enactment of a law against the pork barrel must be signed by 10 per cent (or roughly 5.2 million) of all registered voters with at least 3 per cent from every legislative district. Then, assuming the numbers are reached, there is the long and tedious process of signature verification by the Commission on Elections before a national referendum is called wherein the people will vote for or against the measure.

What prevailed is the recognition of a tremendous political advantage already in existence. Not only is public opinion overwhelmingly in favor of the abolition of the “pork” system, a vital social movement is fast building up and gaining momentum calling for an overhaul of the way Philippine traditional politics has hitherto functioned and been imposed on the people.

Now there is excitement and a sense of challenge, of daring and optimism, on how to harness this new element in the battle against “pork”, a battle that has transformed into a fight against the political and social status quo.

In a recent exchange of views with CJ Puno, church people and activist groups and individuals at the forefront of the #abolishporkmovement distilled several important principles and guideposts.

CJ Puno summarized the “evil” that is the pork barrel system. What is immediately apparent is how it has lent itself to abuse by those in authority to plunder the people’s money. More than this, how the republican system of separation of powers and the doctrine of checks and balances has been grievously undermined if not destroyed by “pork” and actual tyranny exists wherein the Executive branch can and does dictate the making of laws. The two-party system that had provided the people a modicum of choice of political platforms and a mechanism for recall has disappeared, in its place a multiparty system without clear-cut political distinctions.

Consequently, the electoral system itself is undermined and rendered farcical with political dynasties fattened and entrenched on “pork” dominating ever-more expensive and ever-more-fraudulent electoral campaigns. And once the dust settles and the victors emerge, the administration party draws almost all the members of Congress to its fold either through turncoatism or the convenience of loose inter-party alliances upon the promise of “pork” and more “porK”.

On “people’s initiative”, CJ Puno asserted that it is an expression of the people’s will or sovereignty. It is in this transcendental sense that the “people’s initiative” can be a powerful tool in the struggle to rid the country of the pork barrel system.



Mr. Puno stressed that the doctrine "the people are the sovereign" means that the power to enact laws does not reside exclusively in Congress but can be wielded directly by the people. In fact, this power is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution and a law already exists to define it.

The people should use this power whenever their elected representatives default in the performance of their sacred duty to enact laws to promote the general interest, or worse, whenever they betray the public trust and act against the people’s interest. CJ Puno's call implies that neither can the people expect the Executive branch to uphold the public trust and truly abolish “pork”.

The former Chief Justice affirmed the continuing need to build a strong social movement that would undergird, run parallel to and complement the legal process of crafting the petition for the abolition of “pork”, collecting the required number of signatures and discussing the petition during the campaign period for a national referendum. He even reminded the body that in world history, it is in fact these social movements that bring about great changes for the betterment of society.

And it is precisely such a social movement that could overcome the seemingly daunting requisites dictated by law not to mention the anticipated countermoves of the pro-pork politicians of whatever stripe, most especially the Aquino regime itself that has emerged as key to defending, preserving and upholding the “pork” system.

The educational and organizational process involved in building, expanding, strengthening and mobilizing such a social movement has incalculable and long term benefits, whether or not the people's initiative petition is actually passed into law.

The greatest achievement of the people's initiative cum social movement campaign would be the empowerment of the people. First, in galvanizing the consensus that there is a need to reform our entire socio-politico-economic system. Corruption, electoral fraud, social injustice, puppetry and subservience to foreign interests cannot be eliminated, not even significantly minimized, with a mere periodic change of leaders. Second, in making the people realize from their own direct experience that it is in their power to act, together and decisively, to effect that system change, towards one that will truly uphold the interest of the majority and not the few.

With this genuine empowerment of the people, real and manufactured fears that the struggle to abolish the “pork” system can be worn out and defeated by deception, intrigues, and over-all fatigue or used and manipulated by factional in-fighting among the ruling elite lose their fearsomeness and are rendered largely ineffectual.

The pro-pork and anti-pork divide has quickly developed into a pro-status quo and anti-status quo alignment of forces. Who will prevail? The people, without a doubt. #
Published in Business World
18-19 October 2013



Oct 17 at 10:54 AM
Reference Benjie Valbuena (0916 2294515)
ACT Philippines National Chairperson
Media Liaison: April Valentin Montes (0908 8832706)

GSIS income should be used for increase benefits of members not for large bonuses of BOD ! ACT

While GOCC executives is in competition who will get the highest perks among them “kami namang mga guro at kawani ay nakapako o di kaya binabawasan ang mga natatangap na benepisyo”. According to Benjie Valbuena Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) national president.

According to recent report, the Government Service Insurance System or the GSIS of which Public school teachers make up one-third of GSIS’s 1.6 million members and whose meager income is way below the cost of living allowance the Governance Commission for Government Owned or Controlled Corporations (GCG) granted bonuses to GSIS board of directors amounting to P10.448 million.

Aside from these, PNoy's Executive Order No. 24 gave President and General Manager Robert G. Vergara the title “highest paid government executive for 2012” and recorded to have received a total of P16.36 million in salary in 2012, almost double the P8.32 million he received in 2011 according to 2012 Report on the Salaries and Allowances (ROSA) posted by the Commission on Audit. Vergara’s 2012 pay included P9.65 million in basic salaries for 15 months; P4.97 million in “bonuses, incentives and benefits”; P1.684 million allowances; P7,500 personal economic relief allowance (PERA); and P51,000 listed only as “Others.”

“It’s ironic that while hundreds of thousands of teachers and government employees, who are members of GSIS receives meager income and despite of this make sure he or she pays his/her monthly contribution to the GSIS, patuloy naman nagpapakasarap sa milyong sweldo at benepisyo ang pamunuan nito. Habang na nanatili parin naman ang problema ng reconciliation of records, updating of individual members accounts at unjust deductions sa mga myembro” . Added ni Benje Valbuena.

“Hindi dapat mapunta ang increase income ng GSIS sa bulsa ng mga direkor dapat itong pakinabangan ng mas na kakaraming myembro sa pamamagitan ng mataas na benepisyo at mahusay na serbisyo”. added Benjie Valbuena.
2/F Teachers' Center Building, Mines st. corner Dipolog st., Brgy. VASRA, Quezon City
Tel.Fax: (+63 2) 453 9116, (+63 2) 426 2238
Mobile: Mr. Benjamin Valbuena, ACT Chairperson (+63 916 -229 4515)
Ms. Francisca Castro, ACT Secretary-general (+63 917-8502124)