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[ 15 Sep 2017 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE
15 September 2017

 

Over the past few days, Pres. Duterte has been hinting that he may declare nationwide martial law if the protest actions planned by various groups on September 21 become violent.

Similar statements were echoed by Defense Secretary Lorenzana in a press conference today.

On one level, the pronouncements are intended to counter the growing opposition to Pres. Duterte’s increasingly tyrannical rule, cow citizens outraged by the rising death toll due to tokhang and martial law in Mindanao, and dissuade them from participating in rallies.

Beyond that, Pres. Duterte’s recent pronouncements are clearly laying the rhetorical groundwork for the declaration of nationwide martial law. He is insidiously conditioning the public to accept that “massive protests” and “fighting in the streets” are sufficient justification for declaring martial law, conveniently ignoring that the Constitution allows for martial law only in cases of invasion or rebellion.

Massive protests critical of government or government policies, such as the Million People March against Pork Barrel during the previous administration, are not new. Without exception, they have taken place peacefully. The planned protests next week are calling for an end to extrajudicial killings. By no stretch of the imagination can they be construed as acts of rebellion. Even in the highly unlikely event that there would be “fighting in the streets,” such would fall under what the Constitution calls “lawless violence,” not rebellion, and would not warrant martial law.

For the President to claim that such would justify martial law would lower the bar to ridiculous new lows and undermine the Constitutional safeguard against the abuse of the martial law power by a would-be dictator.

However, Pres. Duterte’s pronouncements pertaining to security matters tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies We warn against any. provocateurs, including state agents, who would initiate acts of violence that could be used as a pretext for declaring martial law.

Let us raise our voices against extrajudicial killings and rising tyranny on September 21. Let us do so with utmost vigilance. #

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[ 14 Sep 2017 | No Comment ]

 

September 14, 2017

Today, we, seven party list representatives of the Makabayan Bloc, declare our separation from the Majority Coalition in the House of Representatives to intensify our opposition to the Duterte administration that has now fully unraveled as a fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people regime.

At the opening of the 17th Congress last year, we joined the Majority consistent with our stand to support the promise of change of Pres. Duterte. Back then, we were encouraged by his reformist and populist actions and pronouncements on a range of issues, including: resuming the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), releasing political prisoners, ending neocolonial ties with the US and pursuing an independent foreign policy, addressing the roots of the Moro rebellion, ending labor contractualization, increasing government support to farmers, putting a stop to destructive mining practices, reducing income taxes of rank and file employees, and increasing social pensions, and prioritizing basic social services over infrastructure.

His unprecedented decision to appoint leftists and activists to crucial cabinet posts – Judy Taguiwalo at the DSWD, Gina Lopez at the DENR, Liza Maza at the NAPC, and Rafael Mariano at the DAR – provided openings for pursuing such reforms.

Nevertheless, our decision to join the Majority was premised on the condition that we would oppose and challenge, as we have done, the Administration on issues where we fundamentally disagreed with Pres. Duterte – his neoliberal economic policies, his disdain for human rights especially in his war on drugs, anti-crime and counterinsurgency campaigns, his rehabilitation of the former dictator Marcos, and his propensity for strongman rule.

Thus, from the very start, we consistently opposed the Administration’s anti-people bills and policies to the point that we were stripped of our committee chairmanships due to our stand against the death penalty bill. Despite one disappointment after another, we persisted in the Majority in the hope that some socioeconomic and political reforms could be achieved, if not through Congress, then through the GRP-NDFP peace talks.

The peace negotiations with the NDFP have been practically terminated due to Duterte’s insistence of a bilateral ceasefire agreement prior to any talks. With Marawi being bombed to the ground and its resulting humanitarian crisis, the Moro peace process is spiraling downward. Under these circumstances, martial law threatens to turn Mindanao into an even more violent land of strife and lost promises.

Pres. Duterte has turned back on his promise to “separate” from the US, even as he has allowed China to continue occupying the West Philippine Sea. His “independent foreign policy” has turned out to be a farce. He is now as dependent as ever on the US for national security and has practically abandoned our valid and internationally-recognized claims of sovereignty and territory in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for China’s promises of aid and investments.

Pres. Duterte’s little concessions to farmers, workers, and the urban poor have been reduced to populist posturing in the face of his overwhelmingly neoliberal economic policies that favor the oligarchs and foreign powers he claims to disdain.

Worst of all, his “war on drugs” has turned into a campaign of mass murder of the poor, for which he shows no signs of turning back.

As representatives of the poor and marginalized sectors in Congress and as nationalist and progressive legislators, it would be a violation of our duties and principles to remain with a Majority that enables and defends the fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people policies of the Duterte regime.

Since its formation, Makabayan has consistently fought for the people’s interests as the progressive bloc in Congress. In the 17th Congress, we consistently opposed the Duterte administration’s pro-business and pro-war budget; its efforts to rehabilitate the Marcoses; the reimposition of the death penalty; its use of extrajudicial killings against poor, suspected criminals and rebels; defunding of the Commission on Human Rights; its anti-poor tax reform package; its modified public-private partnership scheme; the national ID system; the privatization of health services; redefinition of public utilities to allow foreign ownership; and other anti-people policies and measures.

Now that Pres. Duterte and his allies are embarking on efforts to undermine the very institutions that serve as a check on his Executive powers, now that he is pushing for an insidious revision of the Constitution, now that he has revived his threat to declare martial law nationwide and impose a revolutionary government, we resolve to intensify efforts to defeat the emergence of a new dictatorship.

As an independent bloc in Congress, we will continue to pursue meaningful reforms and oppose measures that harm our nation and people. We shall build alliances based on issues that truly matter to our people and their demand for change. We shall fight the fascist US-Duterte regime and hold it accountable for its gross violations of human rights and the further oppression and impoverishment of our people.

 

Rep. Antonio Tinio
ACT Teachers
Rep. France Castro

ACT Teachers

 

Rep. Emmi de Jesus
Gabriela Women’s Party

 

Rep. Arlene Brosas

Gabriela Women’s Party

 

Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate

Bayan Muna

 

Rep. Ariel Casilao
Anakpawis

 

Rep. Sarah Elago

Kabataan

photo_2017-09-14_15-07-32

 

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[ 15 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Solon scores cuts, lump sum in DOH 2018 budget ]
PRESS RELEASE
15 August 2017
Vital programs of the Department of Health in 2018 will suffer fund cuts of up to 99.55%, in the face of the continuing practice of lump sum budgeting, said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio at the hearing for the DOH budget on Monday.
Tinio noted that aside from the reduction of 28.45% in the maintenance and other operating expenses for the 66 regional and special hospitals nationwide, the proposed budget contains drastic cuts in the MOOE of several vital programs.  These include Epidemiology and disease surveillance (from P14.2 billion in 2017 to P63.7 million in 2018, down by 99.55%); Environmental and occupational health (from P74.9 million to P3.7 million, 95.01%); Non-communicable diseases prevention and control (from P2.2 billion to P381.7 million, 82.81%); Elimination of diseases as public health threat such as malaria, schistosomiasis, leprosy and filiariasis (from P894.7 million to P372.5 million, 58.37%); and Prevention and control of other infectious diseases including HIV-AIDS, dengue, food, and water-borne diseases (from P1.97 billion to P1.69 billion, 13.9%).
Health secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said that this is a result of an instruction of the Department of Budget and Management to centralize funds for the “soft component” of these programs (such as training and seminars) into the “Public Health Management Program.”
“This centralization of funds previously broken down in specific programs into a single lump sum is a reversal of efforts towards itemized budgeting since the pork barrel system became an issue in the past administration,” said Tinio.  “This is also a complete turnaround of the stand of DBM Secretary Ben Diokno—He was a vocal critic against lump sums in the previous administrations but now that he is in the helm of the DBM, he resorts to the same practice.”
“We in Congress and the public in general are not shown the specifics of this lump sum so we also can’t see later on if these funds are spent for whatever they are intended.  This lack of transparency is exactly why we are against lump sum budgeting,” said the solon, noting that lump sums are more vulnerable to being declared as savings and then realigned.
Tinio demanded for the itemization of the Public Health Management Program as well as increases in the programs whose funds were slashed.  “We cannot agree to these cuts considering that the need for these programs is greater now.  A bird flu outbreak has just been confirmed in Pampanga, and there are reports of substantial increases in malaria morbidity and mortality, mortality from non-communicable diseases, and newly-diagnosed HIV cases,” he said, citing government sources including the Philippine Development Plan.
Meanwhile, Tinio noted that the DOH’s low target for “Access to establishments/health products compliant to regulatory policies” (70%) will have serious impact on consumer protection and the health and safety of Filipinos using food and health products including medicines found in the market.
Finally, he scored government in giving the Food and Drug Administration zero MOOE and leaving it to run its operations on income such as licensing, registration, and other related regulatory fees.  “We cannot allow the FDA, which is tasked to monitor the flow of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and household hazardous waste in the country, to remain dependent on companies they are supposed to regulate.  This represents a conflict of interest on the part of the FDA to the detriment of the public.”  ###

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[ 4 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on the signing into law of the free higher education bill by Pres. Duterte: ]

We hail the signing into law by President Duterte of the Universal Access to Quality Education Act. This is a historic victory in our fight for the people’s right to education.

We commend and thank President Duterte for siding with the people on this issue and repudiating the advice of his elitist economic manager, who made it clear that they wanted a presidential veto. This is concrete proof that change can only come by rejecting the neoliberal dogma of DBM Sec. Diokno and his ilk in favor of policies that prioritize people’s rights above over the free market.

Malacañang and Congress must now work together to ensure that the free tertiary education law is sufficiently funded. Since the House deliberation on the 2018 national budget is still in its preliminary stage, we call on the Executive, through the DBM, to submit a revised budget that provides for the initial implementation of the new law.

We urge the people to remain vigilant and continue to mobilize to ensure that the gains made possible through this law will be realized and preserved. Surely, the neoliberal spoilers in the Cabinet will take every opportunity to roll back what we have gained today. Tuloy ang laban para sa libre, makabayan, siyentipiko, at pangmasang edukasyon!