Marking the 65th International Human Rights Day
 Manila    ■  Davao, Bicol, Capiz


On Oplan Bayanihan and the Prospects of Peace and Environmental Justiice

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison


 December 10, 2013





BS Aquino the Wrecking King

Marking the 65th year of the International Human Rights Day, the groups demanded justice for all victims of state atrocities under the strategic program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) known as “Oplan Bayanihan”.

The groups also brought with them an effigy of Noynoy Aquino dubbed as the “Wrecking King” – a parody of the song “Wrecking Ball” popularized by Miley Cyrus.

The Guni-Guri Collective, a Quezon-province based artists’ group claimed that Aquino “came in like a wrecking ball” to the peoples of Southern Tagalog – destroying the basic human rights enshrined in the U.N. Declaration. Karapatan-ST likened Aquino’s policies - from public-private partnership, land-use conversion, contractualization, mining, abandonment of social services coupled with the pork barrel system– as a “curse, deluge and butcher of our right to life”.
--- From a statement of KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog

BS Aquino the Destroyer

“P-Noy the Destroyer”
to be main effigy at Human Rights Day rally, Dec. 10

DAYS BEFORE the rally to mark International Human Rights Day, the making of an effigy to symbolize the destruction caused by the Aquino government’s policies, especially on human rights, is almost ready.

The killing of farmers and indigenous people. Defense of the pork barrel. Disastrous disaster response. Large scale mining and environmental destruction. Demolition of urban poor communities. All these wreak havoc on people’s lives and rights. Hence, the name “P-noy the Destroyer.”

tion, 0908-8121982

The making of “P-Noy the Destroyer” effigy by Karapatan, Bayan-NCR and SABAK (Sining ang Bala ng Kabataan) is at Erythrina Building, #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts. Brgy. Central, Quezon City (ground floor of Bayan office).

On Tuesday, December 10, a multisectoral protest march led by Karapatan will commence at 10am at Blumentritt corner España going to Mendiola. The burning of the effigy, which is made from wood, bamboo and paper mache and stands 10.5 feet tall, 10 feet long and eight feet wide, will be at 11:30AM.

Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, 0917-3162831
Lorena “Aya” Santos, Karapatan public inf


Photos by Arkibong Bayan, Artists Arrest, C.J. Despuez, Sarah Raymundo, Efren Ricalde,
Rommel Rodriguez and Edge Uyanguren as indicated by the filenames


Press Release
December 9, 2013

For reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Aya Santos, HR Day Media Liaison (0908-8121982)
Christian Yamson, HR Day Media Liaison (0915-9758683)

Commemoration of the Int’l Human Rights Day marked by series of killings –Karapatan

As human rights groups and people’s organizations gear up for the commemoration of the International Human Rights day on December 10, the BS Aquino government opted to commemorate the event by going on a rampage, resulting to a series of extrajudicial killings committed by State forces, and in violation of human rights and international humanitarian laws.

“We are outraged by the unabated killings committed by the BS Aquino government. Dito magaling ang gobyernong Aquino, sa paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Pero sa kagalingan ng mahihirap nating kababayan, wala siyang silbi,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Two successive cases of extrajudicial killings were presented to the media by the military as a result of an encounter between the AFP and the members of the New People’s Army.

On Dec. 6, 54 year-old Pedro Tinga, a farmer and a leader of the Mansaka tribe, was killed by elements of the 71st Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army at Brgy. Malamodao, Maco, Compostela, Valley Province. Initial reports from a fact-finding team of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao said Tinga, after he tended his farm early in the morning, was on his way to another piece of land he planted with corn when the soldiers fired at him. He instantly died of gunshot wounds.

Tinga was one of the survivors of typhoon Pablo in 2012, and was among the beneficiaries of Indug Kautawan, an organization of the survivors of typhoon Pablo. Tinga’s death is the 26th documented case of extrajudicial killing in Southern Mindanao, under the Aquino regime.

On Dec. 5, around 7 a.m., Aldrin Briones Rabulan, 44, was found dead around at Purok 2, Brgy. Tomagoktok, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur. Soldiers were still around him when a village guard saw Rabulan’s body, lying face down and with gunshot wounds on his back and feet. Residents in this village said they heard gun fires at around 4 a.m.

At around 3 a.m., some 20 members of the Bravo Coy 49th IIB-PA based in Brgy. Banga Caves, Ragay, Camarines Sur, entered the house of village councilor Aquino P. Salcedo. The soldiers, led by 1Lt. Howard A. Ardedon, searched the house and found Rabulan. The soldiers immediately tied Rabulan’s hands and feet. Before leaving, the soldiers reprimanded the Salcedos for allowing a member of the NPA to stay with them. Aquino Salcedo retorted they were not aware Rabulan was a member of the NPA. Salcedo said Rabulan requested them to allow him to stay for a night. Rabulan was unarmed.

Rabulan was one of those falsely charged with murder for the death of a certain Corporal Perillo at Bgy. Maot, Labo, Camarines Sur. At the time of his killing, the warrant of arrest issued against him by the Regional Trial Court in Camarines Sur was suspended.

Earlier, on December 1, another member of the indigenous tribe Higaonon, Rolen Langala, 35, died of two gunshot wounds and a still undetermined number of stab wounds while his companion, Ruel Tagupa survived the attempt on his life. The two were on their way home after attending a town fiesta in Bgy. Bagocboc, Opol, Misamis Oriental, when village councilors Nestor Bahian, Eugene Papin, and Ramil Salvan accosted them. Tagupa saw how Bahian shot Langala, who was lying on the ground, already bleeding from stab wounds.

Residents in Bgy. Bagocboc knew the councilors who were involved in Langala’s killing as “hitmen” of the village captain.

Langala was a member of Pangalasag, an indigenous people’s organization opposed to the operation of A. Brown, an agribusiness corporation that has a palm oil plantation in Opol. Pangalasag chairperson Gilbert Paborada was gunned down by unidentified men on October 3, 2012.

“We commemorate the International Human Rights Day with rage and protests over the morose record of the US- Aquino regime’s gross human rights violations in the past three years. We hold B. S. Aquino accountable for the extrajudicial killings and frustrated killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detentions on trumped up charges, tortures and other gross human rights violations affecting a great number of the peasantry, indigenous people and urban poor dwellers,” said Palabay.

A multi-sectoral protest march is scheduled tomorrow, December 10 from Blumentritt to Mendiola. The group is set to burn the effigy dubbed as “P-Noy Destroyer”, to depict the people’s rage against what it calls the destruction brought about by the Aquino regime on the people’s rights, lives, and livelihood. ###

Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146


The Destroyer

Click here forVideo of Human Rights Day by Kodao



Press Statement
December 8, 2013
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, 09189790580


The Filipino people commemorate the International Human Rights Day with rage and protests over the morose record of the US- Aquino regime’s gross human rights violations in the past three years.

The events that unfolded during the last half of the year had intensified such anger and discontent. It was not just the human rights victims crying for justice who pour into the streets, but a multitude of disappointed, dissatisfied, distrusting people from all walks of life. People were enraged over the magnitude and impudence of corruption as divulged in the Napoles pork barrel scandal, and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), despite Aquino’s pretense to curb it. People were enraged with the negligence and apathy of the Aquino government over the plight of the victims of disasters, while the whole world were shaken and concerned.

Today, we hold B. S. Aquino accountable for the 152 extrajudicial killings and 168 frustrated killings, 18 enforced disappearances, 358 illegal arrests and detentions on trumped up charges, tortures and other gross human rights violations, in his term, affecting a great number of the peasantry, indigenous people and urban poor dwellers.

His counterinsurgency policy, Oplan Bayanihan, and his promotion of the pervading culture of impunity sanctions all these. The author of Oplan Bayanihan, which is patterned after the U.S. Counterinsurgency Plan, was appointed to head the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Military officials charged for masterminding abduction and tortures are promoted to higher ranks. Masterminds of extrajudicial killing and disappearances are at large; and many were let off the hook by the courts for their crimes. But people will not forget the killings of Fernando Baldomero, the first victim of extrajudicial killing under Aquino Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, development worker Wilhelm Geertman, leader of typhoon victims Cristina Jose, environmentalist Gerry Ortega, scientist Leonard Co, and tribal leader Jimmy Liguyon. People will not forget the injustice done them and will continue the fight to pursue justice.

We hold Aquino accountable for the deepening poverty and intensifying oppression of the Filipino people. His Public-Private Partnership program has rendered many poor and neglected sectors homeless and all the more deprived of social services. The people are increasingly suffering with the high rate of unemployment and the soaring prices of basic goods and commodities.

We hold Aquino accountable for his gross negligence during disasters, such as that of typhoons Pablo and Yolanda that exacerbated the sufferings and anguish of the victims. While stocks of rice and relief goods rot in government warehouses, people are starving and dying, as he plays the blame game and later goes selfie.

We hold Aquino accountable for the sellout of our national patrimony and sovereignty. Foreign mining corporations and plantations plunder our natural resources, grab ancestral lands and kill. Tribal leader Genesis Ambason and massacred Capion family and many others offered their lives in defense of their land and livelihood.

The frequency of U.S. military exercises in the country and the continuing presence of American troops and war armaments revive the defunct U.S. military bases, which the Filipino people have evicted in the past. The Aquino government is hatching an agreement to legalize their continuing and increased presence in the country. Furthermore, his ultimate and shameless puppetry manifests as he parrots U.S.’s interest and sentiments in world forums.

Aquino’s militarist solution to the Zamboanga crisis and his blunder in handling the Sabah issue have resulted to rights abuses and deaths of many of Moro peoples, as well as the surrender of our legal claim to Sabah.

We hold Aquino accountable for his inaction and inutility. After a long and tedious battle by victims and their relatives for the enactment of the bills on enforced disappearance and martial law victims’ recognition and reparation, Aquino, wanting to impress on his posturing for human rights, finally signed the bills into law. However, his masquerade is uncovered by his inaction to implement the laws. Enforced disappearances still happen with brazenness and impunity boosted by the existence of the Order of Battle that the law has provided against. The Claims Board which will implement the indemnification law has not been constituted by Aquino 10 months after its signing.

Political prisoners, 449 of them, are languishing in jails, while criminals are accorded special treatment or set free. Trumped-up charges against political activists and leaders of people’s organizations are filed to threaten and silence their protests, while criminals in government preen and flaunt their power and wealth. Peace talks are derailed as conflict worsens and the cause of unrest, unaddressed.

We hold Aquino accountable for the pervading and worsening corruption in government that came to full view with the people’s vigilance and grit to expose and fight against it through continuous mass actions. His defense of the pork barrel, especially of his own pork, exposes Aquino’s true stand and interest – the preservation of his rule and the protection of his real bosses, the elite class where he belongs.

The people’s rage against corruption has shaken and drove the rotten system berserk. The bureaucrats fought each other tooth and nail over spoils; the check and balance placed to safeguard the exploitative system has proven to be vulnerable as the system itself is.

Aquino’s bubble of “tuwid na daan” has burst. His so-called spell over the people, stemming from the reputation of his roots, has gone. We believe B.S. Aquino, too, must go. After all, popularity is not a license or a test to truly serve the people. And, the system he is dying to save is moribund and desperately needs a change. ###


Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.




Press Release
December 10, 2013
Reference: Cristina Palabay, secretary general, 09173162831
AYa Santos, HR Day, media liaison, 09088121982

On 2013 HR Day commemoration
Burning of “P-Noy the Destroyer” symbolizes people’s anger and discontent—Karapatan

Oppressed people are angry people. And even as the BS Aquino government take steps to contain this anger and gloss over the dismal human rights situation in the country, it cannot quell the rising discontent and distrust of the people.

This was the main message at today’s rally to commemorate the International Human Rights Day as speakers from the different sectors lambasted the Aquino regime for the damage it has caused on the rights, lives and livelihood of the Filipino people, especially the poor majority.

“We hold B. S. Aquino accountable for the 152 extrajudicial killings and 168 frustrated killings, 18 enforced disappearances, 358 illegal arrests and detentions on trumped up charges, tortures and other gross human rights violations, in his term, affecting a great number of the peasantry, indigenous people and urban poor dwellers. His counterinsurgency policy, Oplan Bayanihan, and his promotion of the pervading culture of impunity sanctions all these,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Karapatan said at least one extrajudicial killing per week was committed by state security forces under Aquino. “This December alone, we documented at least four cases of extrajudicial killing committed by State forces. In the past two weeks, media organizations have reported two journalists killed,” she added.

Palabay further said that the “people were not surprised that BS Aquino’s trust ratings, starting the second half of 2013, continue to drop dramatically. The survey does not even cover the months when BS Aquino opted for a militarist solution in “resolving” the Zamboanga crisis, that further victimized the residents of Zamboanga City; or when he displayed before the world how disastrous was his response to the victims of typhoon Yolanda.”

“BS Aquino is accountable for the destruction that happens in the daily lives of the people, as we all contend with the rising cost of food, fuel and electricity, water and gasoline, transportation, and education and health services. People’s lives are sacrificed and people wallow in poverty and/or killed because BS Aquino chose to uphold the interests of his political allies, and the foreign and big business. Even the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) concedes that at least one out of five Filipino families live below the poverty line despite government pronouncements of economic growth,” said Palabay.

The rally’s program outlined 11 points of BS Aquino’s accountability to the Filipino people: the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan that resulted to unabated human rights violations; continuing impunity and injustice; privatization and failure to provide the poor majority with basic services; eviction of urban poor dwellers and demolition; unemployment and unjust wages; massive landgrabbing; plunder of natural resources; corruption and pillage of the nation’s coffers through the pork barrel system; puppetry to the US dictates; and underhandedness in the conduct of peace negotiations.

“We hold the Aquino regime accountable for protecting a rotten system that continues to oppress and exploit the Filipino people. The burning of ‘P-Noy the Destroyer’ is not only about the people’s rage and discontent. As ‘P-Noy the Destroyer’ burns, the fervour in the people’s hearts is fired up to even work harder to change the system he represents,” concluded Palabay. ###


Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146


The Wrecking King


Press Release
December 11, 2013
For Reference: Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 09173162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Malacanang cannot hoodwink Filipinos with pro-human rights slogans—Karapatan

BS Aquino, through its Communications secretary Sonny Coloma’s statement that it is “one with the Filipino people’s pursuit for human rights by pushing for the ‘right of the Filipinos to a better life’ is a miserable attempt to salvage the dismal human rights record of the Aquino administration said Karapatan.

“BS Aquino has only made lives better for the foreign plunderers, the few rich politicians and businesses, but made the lives of the poor worse than before. With the rising costs of fuel, electricity and MRT/LRT rates, the high prices of basic goods and social services, and the increasing number of homeless families due to demolitions, Aquino cannot hoodwink the Filipino people into believing that it is respectful the right of the people to better lives,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

“Even the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) concedes that at least one out of five Filipino families live below the poverty line despite government pronouncements of economic growth. Coloma’s statement is stupendously unbelievable against the backdrop of corruption scandal plaguing the Aquino administration, and its criminal negligence of the typhoon victims,” she added.
Karapatan holds the Aquino government accountable for its gross violations on the rights, lives and livelihood of the Filipino people, especially the poor majority. This was also the main message of the protest action yesterday, International Human Rights Day.

“Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan has claimed 152 lives of peasants, indigenous peoples, urban poor and other marginalized sectors. In the first week of December 2013 alone, Karapatan has documented four cases of extrajudicial killing, including the killing of typhoon victim-survivor and tribal leader Pedro Tinga by elements of the 71st Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army. Clearly, BS Aquino and his minions in the military and police are the primary perpetrators of the violation against the people’s right to life,” Palabay said.

She also said that Aquino’s formal appointment of Gen. Panfilo Lacson as “rehabilitation czar” on International Human Rights Day “only proves his policy of promoting notorious human rights violators in his government.”

Karapatan has criticized the appointment and promotion of Lacson and other military generals such as Gen. Eduardo Ano who were involved in killings and abductions of political activists.

“No amount of human rights rhetoric coming from Malacanang can cover up for Aquino’s accountability to the Filipino people,” Palabay concluded. ###




Press Release
December 6, 2013
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Lacson-Bonafos combination in Visayas means more human rights violations—Karapatan

"The promotion of Gen. John Bonafos as commander of the Central Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which conducts military operations in the Visayas, and the recent appointment of former police general Panfilo Lacson as rehabilitation czar in Yolanda-stricken provinces is BS Aquino's move, not to rebuild the lives and homes of the victims, but to fully implement his counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan," said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

"While Lacson's hands are tainted with the disappearances and torture of activists during the martial law years and Estrada administration, the new leadership of the Central Command is also accountable to human rights violations cases," Palabay said. "This is BS Aquino's 'rehabilitation'—to terrorize people,” Palabay continued.

Gen. John Bonafos was assigned in Bohol and Ormoc City to implement the Oplan Bayanihan under the 802nd Infantry Brigade-Philippine Army in 2011-2012. In 2012, he was promoted to Brigadier General and commander of Special Operations Command based at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. He was also commander of the General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo. He was the Deputy Brigade Commander of the 302nd Brigade and the Battalion Commander of the 15th IB under the 3rd Infantry Division based in Bohol.

Karapatan documented several cases of human rights violations committed under Bonafos' command. In Kananga, Leyte, the 19th Infantry Battallion, a unit under the 802nd IB, was responsible for the massacre of botanist Leonard Co and his two companions Julius Borromeo and Sofronio Cortez. In Ormoc City, the same unit was reported to be responsible for a series of illegal arrests and detention, harassment of villagers, and the use of chapels, schools and day care centers as military barracks, endangering the lives of civilians. In January 2011, at Brgy. Sto. Nino Paranas Samar, the 87th Infantry Battalion, also a unit under the 802nd IB, forced barangay officials and village to serve as guides for their military operations. The same unit was also responsible for the torture and illegal arrest and detention of three residents of Brgy. Guimbanga, Calbiga, Samar.

"We see that the Aquino government conveniently uses the “rehabilitation” when it means counterinsurgency operations, and to justify its entry and presence in the communities," Palabay cited.

"We call on the people in the Yolanda-devastated areas to be vigilant and to remain steadfast in their effort to rebuild their lives and communities and to resist Oplan Bayanihan in the guise of 'rehabilitation program,' Palabay ended. ###


Video: Burning  BSAquino, The Wrecking King Effigy


10 December 2013
Reference: Glen Malabanan
KARAPATAN-ST, Secretary General

On the 65th Internat’l Human Rights Day:
Aquino’s policies ‘wrecking Filipino lives, dignity’

TIMES STREET, QUEZON CITY – Armed with torches and placards led by Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, militant groups comprising various sectors dismantled police barricades and stormed in front of the gates of the Aquino residence. They denounced the worsening situation of human rights in the region.

Marking the 65th year of the International Human Rights Day, the groups demanded justice for all victims of state atrocities under the strategic program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) known as “Oplan Bayanihan”.

The groups also brought with them an effigy of Noynoy Aquino dubbed as the “Wrecking King” – a parody of the song “Wrecking Ball” popularized by Miley Cyrus. The Guni-Guri Collective, a Quezon-province based artists’ group claimed that Aquino “came in like a wrecking ball” to the peoples of Southern Tagalog – destroying the basic human rights enshrined in the U.N. Declaration. Karapatan-ST likened Aquino’s policies - from public-private partnership, land-use conversion, contractualization, mining, abandonment of social services coupled with the pork barrel system– as a “curse, deluge and butcher of our right to life”.

The protest action is part of a weeklong commemoration culminating through the national protest in Mendiola. In the previous days, Karapatan-ST launched the “Caravan Para sa Kalikasan, Karapatan at Katarungan” which extended relief and rehabilitation program to the victims of Yolanda in Mindoro Island, and spread awareness of human rights issues in the provinces of CALABARZON.

Glen Malabanan, secretary general of Karapatan-ST, expressed disgust with the rising cases of human rights abuse in the region, with 21 extrajudicial killings, 4 enforced disappearances, and 59 political prisoners. “We cannot allow the Aquino government to continue trampling on our dignity, further disregarding the hard-earned rights that our forefathers fought for,” Malabanan said. A decade ago, suspected military agents killed Glen’s father, Romy Malabanan, a coordinator of Bayan Muna in Laguna. She expressed the need for collective action to remind the people to fight for genuine justice.

Dana Marcellana, 17, also a family member of a slain activist, joined the protest and performed in a cultural group a “Christmas Carol” that demanded justice for her mother. Eden Marcellana, former secretary general of Karapatan-ST together with peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy of KASAMA-TK was killed in Mindoro last April 2003. “Gloria Arroyo who was responsible for killing my mother is still in power. Jovito Palparan is in hiding. I do not want more sons and daughters to lose their parents because of state violence that is why I am here, uniting with human rights advocates,” Dana said.

Malabanan feared that the new cases they have filed to the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice might gather dust without any resolution to those directly responsible – especially since Aquino is the commander-in-chief of the AFP.

One of their highlighted cases is the enforced disappearance of Benjamin Villeno, a union leader of Honda workers and Bayan Muna regional coordinator. Villeno who was last seen August 27 this year, is believed to be abducted by military agents – his last text message to his co-workers indicated that he was being followed by suspicious men. #



Pahayag sa midya
Disyembre 10, 2013
Sanggunian: Joseph Canlas, tagapangulo ng AMGL 0918-233-505

Paghagis ng granada, pamamaril sa magsasaka ng Hacienda Dolores, kinundena

Sa paggunita ng International Human Rights Day, ngayong Disyembre 10, 2013, mariing kinukundena ng Alyansansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), Aguman Dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (AMC) at Aniban ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan sa Hacienda Dolores (Aniban) ang magkakasunod na harasment, paghagis at pamamaril sa mga lider at miyembro ng Aniban. Kinakaharap ng mga magsasaka ng Hacienda Dolores ang pangangamkam ng lupa at pagpapalayas ng LHI- Leonardo Lachenal Leonio Holdings, Inc (LHI) at FL Property Management Corporation (FL PMC) para bigyang daan ang konstruksyon ng 1,000 ektaryang proyektong ng Ayala Land, Inc. katulad ng “Nuvali” sa Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

“Ngayong araw, bandang 7:30 ng umaga, pinagbabaril si Modesto Posadas, isang magsasaka at miyembro ng Aniban, ng dalawang kalalakihan lulan ng motosiklo sa SCTEX interchange papasok sa kanilang barangay pagkatapos ihatid ang anak sa eskwelahan. Si Posadas ay tinamaan sa braso at kasalukuyang nagpapagaling sa ospital sa bayan ng Porac,” ayon kay Joseph Canlas, Tagapangulo, AMGL.

“Dagdag pa nito, noong Disyembre 6, 2013, biktima si Jessel Orgas, isang magsasaka at miyembro ng Aniban, ng pagsabog nang maghagis ng granada di kilalang kalalakihan sa kanyang bahay sa Purok 5, sa nabanggit na barangay. Bago pa ito, noong Nobyembre 29, may tangkang pagsunog sa kanyang bahay nang panain ito ng palasong may apoy na nagresulta sa pagkasunog ng kanyang dingding,” ani Canlas.


“Ang kaso nina Posadas at Orgas ay dumadagdag lamang sa kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao na ginagawa ng mga security guards at goons ng LHI, FL PMC at Ayala Land. Dagdag pa dito, ang mga elemento ng PNP at sundalo na nagpagamit din para protektahan ang interes ng mga korporasyon. Ayon sa mga magsasaka, ilang beses nang nakita sa asyenda ang mga sundalo at pulis nitong nakaraang buwan,” dagdag ni Canlas.

Sa naganap na national fact-finding and solidarity mission (nffsm) noong Oktubre 30 hanggang 31, 2013 na dinaluhan ng mga estudyante, taong simbahan, People’s organization at iba pa, maraming kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao ang nilabag ng mga security guards at goons ng mga korporasyon. Ilan sa mga ito: may 26 kaso ng destruction and divestment of properties at apektado nito ang 21 magsasaka at 5 kababaihang magsasaka; 1 kaso ng illegal mass arrest at detention na biktima nito ang 12 magsasaka noong Nobyembre 4, 2011; 1 kaso ng illegal arrest and detention noong Hulyo 28, 2013; 2 magkakahiwalay na kaso ng harassment, threat and intimidation at sapilitang pagpapairma ng waiver sa isang magsasaka na kusang aalis sa kanyang sakahan; at pagrerekluta sa mga taga-baryo at mga katutubong Ayta para maging goons at security guards. Ayon sa AMGL, kinukunsinte ng lokal na pamahalaan ng Porac, kapulisan at militar ang mga abusong ito ng mga tauhan ng LHI at FL PMC.

“Sa kabila ng pasismo at panlilinlang, naninindigan ang mga magsasaka at residente sa Hacienda Dolores para igiit ang kanilang karapatan sa lupa. Ang paglaban nila ang magtutulak sa mga korporasyon na gumawa ng iba’t ibang hakbang para kamtin ang layunin nitong agawin ang lupa at palayasin ang mga magsasaka at residente ng Hacienda Dolores. Gayundin, kinukundena ng magsasaka ang rehimeng US-Aquino na naging pabaya sa kalagayan ng magsasaka at naging numero unong tagabenta ng malalawak na lupain sa bansa para sa interes ng lokal at dayuhang mamumuhunan sa ilalim ng kanyang programang Public Private Partnership (PPP)”, pagtatapos ni Canlas. #






Press Release
9 December 2013

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of SELDA and Karapatan, 09175616800
Jigs Clamor, national coordinator, 09175965859

Political prisoners’ fast on its second week, score Leviste's parole — SELDA

“As former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste walks out of prison, 449 political prisoners, who were wrongfully accused of criminal offenses because of their political beliefs, will have to spend Christmas again in jail. Some 28 of them are elderly like Leviste. They, too, deserve to be out of prison. After all, they are not criminals,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of SELDA and Karapatan.

Political prisoners, including the 13 peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, are now on their second week of fasting/hunger strike, “precisely to call attention to the demand to immediately release all political prisoners. These people shouldn’t be in jail in the first place, but that’s what we get under an oppressive system—those who uphold the rights and interests of the poor majority of our people are jailed,” she said.

In September, Alison Alcantara, 55 died of fatal arrhythmia, sepsis and health-care associated pneumonia. The BS Aquino government ignored repeated pleas for his release on humanitarian grounds and was only taken to the Philippine General Hospital after he fell into coma a few days before he died. “There are at least 48 others who are similarly suffering from various ailments without proper medication,” added Hilao-Enriquez.

“These ailing and elderly political prisoners need to be released from prison, where conditions are poor, and may likely prove fatal to their already delicate health,” said political prisoner and NDF consultant Ramon Patriarca. Patriarca is detained at the AFP Central Command Headquarters at Camp Lapulapu, Cebu City.

Other detainees cited by Patriarca were: Intong Amirol, 70, who also died this year following a stroke and other medical complications; Mariano Umbrero and Crisanto Fat who died in 2011 of cancer and heart attack, respectively, while in prison.

“The overwhelming show of people’s goodwill and humanitarianism in the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda should prod the BS Aquino government to extend compassion to ailing and elderly political prisoners who continue to suffer systemic and systematic injustice,” he said.

Patriarca also criticized the government’s misuse and plunder of public funds which he said “makes the immediate release of ailing and elderly political prisoners necessary as widespread corruption effectively prevented, among others, resources and reforms for the justice system and prison network.”

The political prisoners’ fast/hunger strike will continue up to Dec. 10, to mark the International Human Rights Day. A multi-sectoral protest rally is set in the morning of December 10 at Mendiola where BS Aquino’s effigy named P-Noy the Destroyer will be burned. ###




On the 65th International Human Rights Day

We mark the 65th International Human Rights Day by taking Noynoy Aquino to task for the burgeoning human-rights violations after more than three years of his presidency.

We mark the 65th IHRD faced with increasing fuel prices, increasing power rates, plans to increase fares in the MRT and LRT train systems, and the privatization of public hospitals which will surely cause hospitalization costs to rise. Landlessness is becoming worse, unemployment is growing, and workers are suffering from low wages, contractual employment, and trade-union rights violations. The poor are being evicted from their communities in favor of big capitalist business. These are violations of workers’ and the people’s fundamental economic rights being presided over by Aquino.

When Filipinos fight for their economic rights, the Aquino regime resorts to fascist repression even as it exerts all efforts to deceive the public. Oplan Bayanihan is a fascist scheme equipped with a more pronounced propaganda component. Militarization in the countryside persists, and has included the use of drones and air strikes. Extra-judicial killings continue and are increasingly done in the blatant style of the previous regime’s. Activists continue to be targets of trumped-up charges and illegal arrests, and political detainees are kept behind bars even as the worst criminals are set free or left untouched.

Today, we reiterate the following calls:

Surface Southern Tagalog labor leader Ben Villeno and all desaperacidos!
Immediately release Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, brothers in public sector unionism, Virgilio Corpuz, an organizer of public transportation workers, and Rene Boy Abiva, an organizer of teachers and educators!
Junk trumped-up charges against labor leaders Hermie Marasigan of Southern Tagalog and Ian Evidente of Negros! Junk trumped-up charges against all activists!
Release labor leader and organizer Reynante Gamara and all political detainees!
Imprison Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan for his fascist crimes!

We also take this occasion to condemn Aquino for praising the Department of Labor and Employment, in the latter’s 80th anniversary celebration, for allegedly having prevented the launching of workers’ strikes. He is in effect cheering the repressive measures being employed by the DOLE against workers who are protesting meager wages, contractual employment and violations of trade-union rights. Chief among these measures is the power of the Labor Secretary to assume jurisdiction over labor disputes, which served as the license for the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004, and which workers want junked.

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




By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines

Presentation at the Media Forum on Oplan Bayanihan and the Prospects of Peace and Environmental Justice, sponsored by the Apo Sandawa Lumadnung Panaghiusa sa Cotabato (ASLPC) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas- Probinsya sa Kutabato (KMP-PK), December 9, 2013, Kidapawan City, North Cotabato

Dear Compatriots and Friends,

Thank you for inviting me to be your speaker in this Media Forum on Oplan Bayanihan and the Prospects of Peace and Environmental Justice. I am mindful of your concern about the peace and order and environmental situation in Mindanao and I appreciate your desire to understand the root causes of the problems.

It is a privilege for me to share information and views with the forum participants who come from leading media institutions, youth and student organizations, civil society groups, academe, and church people in various affiliations. I am confident that our forum can shed more light on the issues and that we shall be better able to take them up in our efforts at public education and mobilization.

A. Oplan Bayanihan

1. Nature and Purpose of the Oplan. Like Oplan Bantay Laya, Oplan Bayanihan is a national military plan designed by the US and based on the US Counterinsurgency Guide for the vain purpose of destroying or reducing the New People’s Army to inconsequentiality. But supposedly unlike Oplan Bantay Laya, which had become notorious for gross and systematic violations of human rights, Oplan Bayanihan is designed to be more emphatic on psywar and intelligence work, without lessening combat operations but making them more effective through psywar and intelligence work.

The basic premise of the US Counterinsurgency Guide and Oplan Bayanihan is that a regime can defeat a revolutionary movement by being credited for good governance, being clean on the straight path, and efficiently delivering services to the people. Even if untrue, claims of economic success are important in psywar and far more important than undertaking peace negotiations, which are considered dispensable and which may be undertaken only for the purpose of psywar.

2. The Key Role for Aquino. As campaign financiers in 2010, the biggest foreign and domestic businessmen chose Aquino to become the president and play the key role in Oplan Bayanihan. He enjoyed a honeymoon of more than three years with the bourgeois mass media, which touted him as the paragon of a clean, honest and efficient government and as the miracle maker of an economy growing fast and bubbling with hot money from abroad.

In coordination with the military, the key civilian agencies of Aquino in combining psywar and intelligence work against the revolutionary movement are the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary, and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Chairman. They are in charge of deploying the dole outs under the Conditional Cash Transfer and the PAMANA funds in a futile attempt to undermine the mass base of the revolutionary forces and get intelligence at the community level about revolutionary fighters, mass activists and their families for the purpose of enticing them with payments, similar to those under the Amnesty and Rehabilitation Program under Cory Aquino and Ramos.

3. Unravelling of the Aquino Regime. The false image of Aquino and his regime as clean, honest and efficient has unravelled. It began when the Napoles pork barrel scam related to the Priority Development Assistance Fund became exposed, uncovering Aquino as the pork barrel king who disburses for his personal gain and political advantage public funds in the Disbursement Acceleration Program and so many other lump-sum appropriations under his sole discretion.

Causing the Aquino regime to further unravel has been the disappearance of calamity funds and the failure of the regime to make pre-disaster preparations and to provide prompt and adequate rescue and relief assistance to the millions of victims of super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). The OPAPP, DSWD and NAPC have become notorious for bureaucratic corruption rather than for promoting peace, aiding people in distress, and fighting poverty.

B. Prospects for Peace

1. Sabotage of the Peace Process. At the very first formal meeting of the GPH and NDFP negotiating panels in Oslo in February 2011, the GPH attacked The Hague Joint Declaration as a document of perpetual division. The NDFP pointed out that said declaration had been the framework agreement making possible more than 10 major agreements, including the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The GPH proceeded in 2012 to declare the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as inoperative.

It has refused to release the political prisoners protected by the JASIG and the hundreds of political prisoners imprisoned by the Arroyo regime in violation of CARHRIHL. Absolutely ruthless and devoid of any human empathy, it has proceeded to imprison indefinitely more political prisoners. The NDFP cannot trust a regime that does not know how to respect agreements. When offered the possibility of truce and alliance or cooperation on the basis of a general declaration of common intent, the regime demanded surrender under the guise of “unilateral simultaneous indefinite ceasefires”, without reference to the agenda stipulated in The Hague Joint Declaration.

2. NDFP Commitment to Peace Process. The NDFP remains committed to the peace negotiations in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and further agreements, despite the bad experience of negotiating with the Estrada, Arroyo, and Aquino regimes. The most important reason of the NDFP for persevering in the peace negotiations is to seek the solution of the basic social, economic, and political problems that victimize the people in their millions.

There is no significant indication whatsoever that the Aquino regime is interested in resuming the formal talks in the peace negotiations with the NDFP. Therefore, what the people need to do is to hasten the removal of the Aquino ruling clique from power and demand the commitment of the next president to resume the formal peace talks.

3. Crisis Requires the Peace Process. For the sake of the Filipino people, the peace negotiations must be resumed, especially in the face of the protracted and worsening crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system. The people are already suffering a high rate of unemployment, soaring prices of basic goods and services, decreasing and deteriorating social services, widespread poverty and misery. The illusion of economic growth bloated by hot money will soon burst and the people will suffer far more than they do now.

The successful advance of the peace negotiations is not an impossibility. The peace process is a matter of building on what has been achieved. It has already succeeded in producing a substantive agreement, the CARHRIHL, within the framework of The Hague Joint Declaration. It is possible to have a comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms, with land reform and national industrialization as the key provisions. It is also possible to have a comprehensive agreement on political and constitutional reforms, with national independence and people’s democracy as the key provisions. On the basis of these substantive agreements, then it is possible to agree comprehensively on the end of hostilities and disposition of forces. The people must be aroused, organized and mobilized to demand the resumption of peace negotiations.

C. Prospects of Environment Justice

1. Environmental Crisis in Mindanao. Nationwide, we see the wanton plunder of the natural resources and the destruction of the environment. The Philippines now has the second-lowest forest cover in the whole of Southeast Asia. The deforestation had been going on since the Spanish era in Luzon and Visayas, but in the past century has been principally caused by the operations of logging, agribusiness, and mining companies especially in Mindanao.

As of 2003 (the latest year for which official forestry data are available), the total remaining forest cover nationwide has gone down to just below 21 per cent. It is even worse in Mindanao where forest cover is only 15.2 per cent. The resultant loss of forest cover has left rural and urban communities alike more vulnerable to typhoons, constant soil erosion, landslides, heavy silting of rivers and lakes, biodiversity loss and diminished wildlife, and urban overheating.

The use of open pit mining and large amounts of chemicals to accelerate extraction of minerals, including magnetite or black sand mining along the coasts, have aggravated soil erosion and the poisoning of the streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters at the expense of the peasants and fishermen. The expansion of plantations for the production of bio-ethanol and such products for export like fruit, rubber and palm oil have involved excessive use of chemicals and grave imbalances in land use to the detriment of the environment and staple food production.

2. Responsibility for the Crisis. The foreign multinational firms and their big comprador and high bureaucrat allies are mainly responsible for the destruction of the environment in the Philippines. The Aquino regime is reprehensible for emboldening illegal logging, unrestricted mining and the rapid expansion of plantations. It has consistently upheld the pro-foreign Mining Act of 1995, and has encouraged the influx of big foreign mining firms in Mindanao side by side with the militarization of mining areas. The regime made a show of declaring a so-called total log ban in natural forests. But in reality it has made numerous exemptions and even tolerates outright illegal logging by the AFP-CAFGU and local government units such as in the PICOP and Forest Research Institute areas.

The imperialist powers headed by the US are responsible, both historically and in current volumes, for the carbon emissions that are causing global warming. Natural disasters caused both by extreme weather events such as cyclones, and slow-onset hazards such as coastal flooding, have become more frequent and destructive because of the global warming.

Third world countries like the Philippines, which did not produce the bulk of greenhouse gases, are more vulnerable not only because they are directly in the path of tropical cyclone belts and overheated ocean currents but also because underdevelopment hinders their capacity to cope with disasters. The super typhoon Yolanda was definitely maximized by the warming of the Pacific Ocean.

As shown by the measly outcomes of the recent COP-19 climate talks in Warsaw, the imperialist powers stubbornly resist the Third World demand for them to compensate the victims of the natural disasters generated by global warming. They impose on the world the use of fossil fuel and retain the privilege of emitting carbon dioxide. For these reasons, it is but right for the oppressed peoples of the world to view the issue of climate change and its disastrous impacts as one of environmental injustice imposed by imperialism instead of being just a natural phenomenon that all countries face in equal measure.

It is true that the people, especially the most impoverished sections of the workers and peasants, are desperate enough to eke out a living in the margins at the expense of ecological balance and safe and healthy living conditions. But it is the height of callousness for the Aquino regime to put the blame on them for environmental problems and for living in disaster-prone areas, and even forcibly demolish and relocate their communities on that alibi. The broad masses of the people are the victims, not the culprits, of environmental injustice aggravated by human rights violations.

3. Attainment of Environmental Justice. For so long as the Philippines remains semicolonial and semifeudal, the imperialist powers and the reactionary puppets will continue to subject the Filipino people to environmental injustice. The way for the people to attain environmental justice is to struggle for national independence, democracy, social justice, development and international solidarity with the people of the world. But even now, we should be conscious of the need to stop the ruin of the environment and the wanton outflow of our precious nonrenewable resources, especially mineral ores, and do whatever is possible in this regard.

By gaining national and social liberation, a truly empowered Filipino people can prevent the plunder of natural resources and destruction of the environment. We can ban the imperialist and big comprador-landlord firms from taking away the natural resources as fast as they can while leaving the country more underdeveloped and the masses more impoverished than ever before. It becomes possible to protect and manage our natural resources and use them wisely by processing them for national industrialization and to support agricultural and all-sided rural development on the basis of agrarian reform.

With national industrialization and agrarian reform generating local production and employment many more times greater than what the imperialist and comprador-landlord firms can offer, it also becomes feasible for our people to adopt more ecologically wise methods of production, implement environmental protection, avoid geohazards, and cope with disasters more effectively through mass mobilization.

There is a direct link between the struggle for peace and the struggle for environmental justice. In fact, we have always said that the only basis for a genuine and lasting peace is on the basis of justice brought about by substantial social, economic, and political reforms. Fighting for environmental justice means struggling for such comprehensive reforms, towards a just and lasting peace. ###







26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 924-8756 E-mail: Website:
10 December 2013

Exact justice from the impunity towards environmental activists and criminal negligence in disasters by the Aquino government!

Super Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name Haiyan), among the strongest extreme weather events we have ever witnessed in history, has to date caused around 6,000 deaths and displaced almost 4 million residents and affected more than 12 million people across 44 provinces in the Philippines.

Its powerful winds and storm surges caused damages to agriculture and infrastructure of at least worth P35.05 billion. It is a portent of what climate change can look like over the coming decades. These hazards are not new and should have cautioned authorities to anticipate the growing strength and frequency of these disasters.

In the face of the worsening climate crisis, and despite the passage of disaster and climate laws, the present government under Pres. Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III responded with criminal negligence in the wake of Yolanda as it did in previous disasters it has faced before it. Moreover, the Aquino government resorted to increasing human rights violations (HRVs) in addressing critics of the government’s reactive, inept and corruption-ridden disaster management regime.

Yolanda: a case of worsened risks, inept responses

BS Aquino’s preparations and response to Yolanda was a comprehensive failure that cost lives and livelihoods, exhibited in its locally inappropriate early warning systems and a dearth of disaster and climate-resilient infrastructure and facilities. The promise of sufficient prepositioned relief and aid is belied by recent news that remote communities still haven’t been reached by government aid after 3 weeks, with hunger growing apparent in the post-Yolanda aftermath. Aquino’s government ignored scientific and historical data and engaged in political finger-pointing to deflect blame away from its own failures.

Amidst the inept crisis management, BS Aquino took the opportunity of justifying the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and his other corruption-prone presidential pork barrel funds as contingency ‘disaster pork’ that is indispensable in addressing disasters. Never mind that the same unaccountable, discretionary and lump sum funds have been used time and again by the government to plunder from state coffers instead of having the funds allocated to address actual disaster damages and needs.

In BS Aquino’s three years of presidency, destructive projects that threaten our natural defences to disasters such as mangroves and forests, such as reclamation and large-scale mining projects, have persisted and even expanded. Aquino continues to promote dirty coal energy, the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases that cause global warming, with 9 coal-fired power plants producing 4,278 megawatts (Mw) currently operating and 18 more approved that will add 5,452 Mw more. Environmental destruction and pollution, along with exclusionary socio-economic policies, has greatly increased the vulnerabilities of grassroots communities to disasters.

Pablo: persisting problems and rights violations

The survivors of 2012’s Typhoon ‘Pablo’ (Bopha) have lingering housing woes almost a year after Pablo’s flash floods destroyed their homes. Pablo survivors have organized themselves into the Barug Katawhan, a climate justice mass movement that led an organized confiscation of material aid suspected to be hoarded in government warehouses early this 2013, after 84 days of receiving no aid from the government.

Since then, two of their members, councilwoman Cristina Morales Jose and farmer Pedro Tinga, have become victims of extrajudicial killings in March 4 and December 6, respectively. Tinga was killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Eastern Mindanao Command, who claimed he was a member of the armed revolutionary group New People’s Army (NPA).

Kim Gargar, a people’s scientist and climate justice advocate who was immersed in field research in the forests of Cateel town in Davao Oriental in support of reforestation efforts in the Pablo-affected areas, was caught in a crossfire between AFP and NPA troops and was wrongfully arrested and detained in October this year accused as a member of the NPA. Since then, the AFP has changed one fabricated story about Kim after another, and has filed charges of frustrated murder, gun ban violation and possession of illegal explosives against him.

The repression of Pablo responders appears to be consistently systematic, as earlier in April 2013, Gargar was part of the 70-member fact-finding mission looking into the murder of Cristina Morales Jose and other anomalies revolving around the Pablo aftermath that was harassed by the military. To the AFP, it seems being a dedicated advocate of claiming climate justice and addressing climate impacts for Pablo survivors is a crime.

Enough of endangering environmental defenders!

The plight of climate change advocates and refugees is but a facet of the human rights situation that environmental defenders face in the Philippines. Since 2001, a total of 73 politically-motivated killings, at least 23 cases of harassment suits, 3 cases of enforced disappearances, 7 cases of frustrated murder and 29 cases of illegal detention involving environmental advocates have been recorded by the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED).

Is this the plight that Yolanda victims, critics and responders can expect? The appointment as Yolanda rehabilitation czar of Senator Panfilo Lacson, a notorious human rights violator who has immediately pronounced his emphasis on private interests as his rehabilitation framework, is telling enough.

Three years of persisting disaster, climate and human rights crises under BS Aquino are enough, and the Aquino administration is largely responsible and must be held accountable. The people have done its part in directly addressing impacts of disasters, raising awareness on human rights issues, and recommending and promoting alternatives and solutions. Thus we reiterate our demands to the Aquino administration:

• Immediately release and rescind all trumped-up charges against Kim Gargar and all other political prisoners;

• Justice for Cristina Morales Jose, Pedro Tinga and all victims of politically-motivated killings and other HRVs – including holding accountable the perpetrators of HRVs, and the dismantling of paramilitary and investment defence forces often involved in HRVs towards environmentalists, among others;

• Justice for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, Typhoon Pablo and all other ‘climate refugees’ under the disastrous regime of Aquino – including sustained relief, livelihood recovery and just compensation for damages, and genuine rehabilitation that will not adversely affect their livelihoods;

• Scrap the Mining Act of 1995, National Reclamation Plan, coal expansion under the Philippine Energy Plan and Electric Power Industry Reform Act, and all other environmentally destructive and pollutive policies and programs, and audit the Climate Change Act and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act;

• Abolish all ‘disaster pork’ funds for its role in promoting a reactive and selective relief delivery and disaster recovery, and re-channel it towards social services, disaster risk reduction and climate-proofing;

• Enact and implement a comprehensive and proactive disaster risk management plan that follows goals of community-based disaster risk reduction and management, climate change adaptation and climate justice.


Reference: Mr. Leon Dulce, Campaign Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, Spokesperson of Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders – 0917 562 6824



Disasters and the dire state of economic, socio-cultural rights in the Philippines

IBON Features | 10 December 2013 | The country’s weak capacity to adapt to the impact of disasters is a result of years of state neglect and its adherence to economic policies that ensure profit above people’s welfare.

IBON Features—This year’s commemoration of International Human Rights Day finds the Philippines challenged with the devastation wrought by supertyphoon Yolanda in the Visayas one month ago. While the nation continues to grapple withrelief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, the country constantly reels from the man-made plague of backwardness and underdevelopment, the very same symptoms of the present bleak state of economic, social and cultural rights.

The country’s weak capacity to adapt to the impact of disasters is a result of years of state neglect and its adherence to economic policies that ensure profit above people’s welfare. Like disasters, these policies have devastating effects on the country: persistent poverty and inequality, record unemployment, and declining productive sectors, among others. This situation lies behind the repeated violations of the people’s economic, social and cultural rights.

Right to self-determination. Neoliberal policies that government continues to implement have hindered Filipino producers from growing and flourishing. The share of manufacturing in gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen from 27.6% in 1980 to 22% in 2012; agriculture's share in GDP in turn has fallen from 23.5% to 11 percent over the same period. This shrinking of productive sectors deprives millions of Filipinos the opportunity for decent work, livelihood and means of subsistence. The wealth of the country’s richest 1% is equivalent to the combined income of the poorest 30%, showing severe inequity that reflects the control of the economy by a few. Neoliberal policies have also eroded government revenues (15.3% of GDP in 2001 to 14.5% in 2012) and the capacity of the state to meet the people’s social and economic needs. In 2012, total interest and principal payments on public debt (Php729.8 billion) were more than double combined education, health and housing spending (Php357.6 billion).

Right to work. The combined estimated number of unemployed and underemployed in 2013 was 11.9 million with some 549,000 job losses among farmers, fisherfolk and workers and around 16,000 job losses among professionals. The lack of job opportunities is also reflected in how around 21% of the unemployed have college degrees, 6% have post-secondary qualifications and 34% have high school degrees already. The government still actively promotes a labor export policy instead of generating jobs at home, and daily overseas Filipino worker deployment reached 4,924 in 2012.

Right to just and favorable work conditions. Wage standards are commonly violated and 21.6% of firms inspected were found to be violating minimum wage laws in 2012. Minimum wages are insufficient to maintain a minimum level of decent living. The current mandated daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR) of Php456 as of March 2013 is Php578 short of the Php1,034 (US$22.70) daily living wage for an average family size of six. Many workers are in irregular and vulnerable work arrangements, with one in four workers in non-agricultural establishments with 20 or more workers having non-regular status and 37.3% wage and salary workers not covered by written contracts. Meanwhile, the rural poor suffer backward agricultural systems and feudal relations with 52% of all farms in the country covering 51% of total farm area remain under tenancy, lease and other forms of tenurial arrangement. Some 2.4 million farms out of a total 4.8 million still rely on hand tools, plows and carabaos, while only 30% of total farm area is irrigated.

Right to unionize. Though guaranteed under law, workers continue to experience severe labor repression when they try to uphold their rights. From June 2010 to July 2013, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights recorded 392 trade union-related human rights violations counting 30,578 victims. There is also an accumulation of firm level evidence of increasing contractualization and agency-hiring which hinder the right to unionize. Attacks on unions have caused further decline in union membership from 11.7% of wage in salary workers in 2005 to 9.9% by June 2012, with collective bargaining agreements covering only 10.3% of workers in June 2012.

Right to social security. Millions of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable are effectively beyond public social insurance or safety nets. Despite the rising number of jobless workers, there are no unemployment benefits. On the other hand, amid the Social Security System’s (SSS) hundreds of billions in assets and investments, huge income, not to mention millions in perks and bonuses received by its management, the Aquino administration approved a 0.6% increase in members’ contributions to the SSS this year, adding burden to workers already suffering from low wages.

Right of families to protection/ assistance. Due to the overseas worker phenomenon, an estimated number of children aged 0-14 years left behind by OFW parents have ranged from two million to 5.5 million. Poverty also drives many children to leave school for work: in April 2013, some 2.4 million children aged 5-17 were working to augment family income or fend for themselves, with 75% employed in psychologically and physically hazardous conditions. There were 2.2 street children in 2006. The largest number of poor population among basic sectors are children (14.4 million) and women (12.8 million).

Right to adequate standard of living. Around 70% of the population, or some 66 million Filipinos, are living off less than Php104 per person per day. By whatever count these are the most number of poor Filipinos in history. Some 65 million or 70% of Filipinos lived of Php104 or much less per day in 2009, with the poorest half of the population having very low per capita incomes of Php22-Php67 per day. According to the 2008 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), of the poorest 30% of families, 28.7% do not have access to safe drinking water, 36.2% have no electricity and 24% do not have access to sanitary toilets.

Right to food. The country’s most vulnerable sectors suffer increasing hunger. IBON’s October 2013 survey revealed 58.5% of respondents having difficulty in buying food. About 53% of Filipino households are incapable of feeding their children with an adequate and nutritional diet. Women and children are the worst affected by the lack of access to adequate and nutritious food supplies, while the prevalence of malnourishment is worsening. The share of underweight children 0-5 years old stood at 20.2% in 2011; 66.9% of households had per capita energy of less than 100% adequacy.

Right to housing. According to the 2008 APIS, 42% of the poorest 30% of families don’t own a strong housing unit and 35% do not own their house and lot. The number of families in urban poor communities also increased by more than 60% in urban centers nationwide between 2000 and 2009. The National Housing Authority (NHA) reported in July 2011 that there are half a million informal settler families in Metro Manila. Housing and community development was allotted just 0.4% of the national budget for 2012, one of the lowest public spending on housing in Asia.

Right to health. Government spending on health has been decreasing from 0.58% in GDP in 1997 to 0.50% in 2012, while real spending per capita per day on health was Php1.50 in 2012. The increasing privatization of health institutions to the profit of the country’s richest are narrowing people’s access to health even further. Already, health care is a great burden on the poor as the average cost of treatment in public health facilities is equivalent to 3.8 days worth of the daily minimum wage and of confinement an entire month; treatment cost in private health facilities is even higher. Mortality rates for the poorest 20% (infant-40/1,000 live births; child-19/1,000 live births; under-5-59/1,000 live births) are also many times that of those at the 20% highest income levels (infant-15; child-2; under-5-17). Maternal mortality has drastically worsened to 221 per 100,000 live births in 2011.

Right to education. Poverty denies millions of Filipino children the right to a decent education with high non-tuition expenses. The 2010 APIS reported the incidence of out-of-school youth (OSY) at a high 15.5% equivalent to 6.0 million Filipinos. The OSY rate is highest for the poorest 10% of households at 17.8 percent. Though the Constitution mandates that education receive the highest budgetary priority from government, debt service is the biggest item in the national budget. In the 2012 national budget, allocation for 112 state universities and colleges was cut by Php147 million, with top 51 SUCs receiving a cut of Php574 million. Backlogs in education by the end of 2012 remained considerable: 110,874 teachers, 34,673classrooms and 1,275,944 seats.

Violations to economic, social and cultural rights are man-made woes that extend beyond and aggravate the hazards of natural calamities. Poverty, inequality and poor standard of living are the direct results of neoliberal policies that give priority to the foreign and corporate profits over the welfare of the majority. By replacing these with economy-wide policies that improve the basic rights to work, health, education, and adequate standard of living, then the dire state of economic, social and cultural rights—like the effect of disasters in the country—can be mitigated. IBON Features


Growing number of poor affirms need for radical economic reforms--IBON

IBON News | 9 December 2013 | Official poverty incidence is not improving and the number of poor has been growing amid increasingly rapid economic growth.

The virtually unchanged poverty incidence and growing number of poor despite rapid economic growth and multi-billion peso conditional cash transfers (CCT) affirm the need for a radical change in socioeconomic policies. Poverty will remain if the revised Philippine Development Plan (PDP) that the government will release before the end of the year remains more of the same profit-driven, pro-foreign investor and pro-elite policies that have worked against the majority of Filipinos for decades.

Official poverty incidence is not improving and the number of poor has been growing amid increasingly rapid economic growth. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) 2012 full-year poverty report shows statistically unchanged family poverty incidence of 19.7% and population poverty incidence of 25.2% in 2012 from family poverty incidence of around 20% and population poverty incidence of around 25% in 2003. The number of poor families has correspondingly grown by about 922,000 from 2003 to 4.2 million in 2012 and the number of poor Filipinos has increased by about 3.9 million to reach 23.7 million.

Using an extremely low poverty line of just some Php52 per day for a person's need for food, clothing, shelter, health, education and other basic needs, the recent poverty figures still underestimate the number of poor.

Growth also did not reduce poverty because job generation has been weakened by liberalization policies that have caused domestic agriculture and manufacturing to fall to their smallest share of the economy since at least the 1950s. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by an average of 5.2% in 2003-2012 compared to the 3.6% average over the period 1993-2002 and the 2.3% average in 1983-1992. The real unemployment rate however has stayed in the 10.5-11.1% range in the period 2006-2012 which is consistent with the basically unchanged official poverty incidence of between 25.2-26.6% over the same period. The unemployment rate seeks to correct for the change in methodology in 2005 for comparability with previous years.

The statistically unchanged poverty between 2006 and 2012 despite some Php 76.1 billion spent on CCTs also confirms that the multi-billion program is not reducing poverty. The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) increased from being a Php50 million program with 4,600 CCT beneficiaries in 2006 to a Php39.5 billion program with 3.0 million beneficiaries in 2012.

The CCTs are a short-term emergency relief measure at best and it is wrong to consider this a “cornerstone [in] the fight against poverty” as the government has declared.

The poverty situation will not change if the economy is not creating enough jobs for its citizens. Among the most important policy shifts needed is towards developing genuinely Filipino manufacturing and agriculture with increasing local value-added by Filipino producers rather than enclave production by foreign investors.

This cannot happen with the failed globalization policies implemented over the last three decades. Growth is vital to create jobs and for development but the kind of growth matters – and chronically foreign investment-driven growth will only result in more of the same joblessness and underdevelopment.###


Chronic poverty and unemployment most widespread violation of economic rights

IBON News | 10 December 2013 | The Philippine government is accountable for failing to meet its obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the social and economic rights of Filipinos.

The last three years of the Aquino administration have seen the continuation of the same failed globalization economic policies of the last decades that have resulted in unresolved poverty and high unemployment. The Philippine government is accountable for failing to meet its obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the social and economic rights of Filipinos.

The government reports a wide range of laws, programs and other measures for the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Taken individually and cumulatively these give the impression of substantial efforts to promote human rights. The final results however remain--wide and deep poverty and chronic joblessness for tens of millions of Filipinos, with only the hollow assurance by the administration that things will eventually get better.

Poverty incidence has remained virtually unchanged since at least 1997 -- at around 25-26% of the population using the most recent poverty methodology or around 38-39% using the older poverty methodology. This corresponds to around 24-35 million poor Filipinos in 2012. These use relatively low poverty lines and can be taken as the depth of poverty. As it is, around 70% of the population, or some 66 million Filipinos, are living off less than P104 per person per day. By whatever count, these are the most number of poor Filipinos in history.

The unemployment rate meanwhile has averaged 11% and the underemployment rate 20% over the period 1997-2012. This corresponds to 4.4 million unemployed Filipinos and 7.5 million underemployed in 2012, or 11.9 million Filipinos either jobless or looking for more work. The unemployment estimate seeks to correct for the government's change in definition in 2005. This is the most number of jobless Filipinos in history.

These are the direct result of economic policies by consecutive administrations that prioritize foreign and corporate profits of a few while excluding tens of millions of poor Filipinos from the growth process. Taking just the last decade for instance, the net income of the country's Top 1000 corporations grew five-fold from Php175.5 billion in 2003 to Php 868.1 billion in 2011 amid high and rising poverty and unemployment. The cumulative net worth of the 40 richest Filipinos meanwhile grew three-fold from US$16.0 billion in 2006 to US$47.4 billion in 2012.

The poverty and income, geographic and gender inequities in the country are the inevitable outcomes of government economic policies. Among the most damaging are the poor implementation of agrarian reform especially on big private landholdings, the burden of repayment on farmers, and the lack of support to them to make the land productive and prevent reconcentration. Liberalized foreign trade and investment policies have also prevented the building of genuinely Filipino industries to create jobs and raise incomes for the majority of the population. Millions of Filipinos also suffer high prices of privatized education, health and housing.###




BAYAN National Secretary General, Renato Reyes Jr. and artist/former political prisoner, Ericson Acosta performed 'Kulungan Blues' during the International Human Rights Day program in Mendiola (December 10). 'Kulungan Blues' is composed and performed by NDFP consultants/political prisoners, Renante Gamara, Ed Serrano and Ed Sarmiento who are currently detained at the PNP Custodial Center, Camp Crame.

Jessa Villeno, daughter of missing labor leader Benjamen “Ben” Villeno demanded to Aquino government to surface his father who was believed to be abducted last August 27 in Cavite after reporting that military intelligence were tailing him. “My father is a decent man and a good father to us. He is neither a thief nor a criminal. It seems that it is a state policy nowadays to punish those who fight for their basic right to life and uplift their conditions,” she said.