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[ 22 Mar 2017 | No Comment ]
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ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro condemned the eviction notice of the National Housing Authority (NHA) against informal settler families (ISFs) who occupied idle government housing units in Pandi and other areas in Bulacan.
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“We strongly support the fight of the Kadamay occupants for their right to shelter,” said Tinio.  “They are only some of the 5 million ISFs nationwide who are victims of the dismal state of poverty, joblessness and homelessness in our country.  These factors, coupled with government’s failed privatization-led housing program and demolitions of urban poor communities to favor development projects of foreign and local businesses, forced our urban poor to assert their rights by occupying idle housing units.”

“The eviction notice is a narrowly legalistic solution to the underlying problems highlighted by the Occupy Bulacan campaign,” added Castro.  “We urge the NHA and the Duterte administration to recognize the right to housing of the Kadamay occupants, begin the process of awarding to them the units instead of evicting them.  This way, government can assure them decent housing and at the same time, ensure that the public funds spent building the units are not wasted.”

Citing data from the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), Castro said that 1,279 cases of demolitions from January 2012 to December 2016 displaced around 250,000 families and 1.2 million individuals.

The solons added that government should also immediately distribute publicly built but idle housing units in other sites nationwide to beneficiaries, especially the urban poor, as a measure to reduce the housing backlog in the country.

Concerned agencies should also provide services like water, sanitation and electricity to idle units, including those in Bulacan.  Lastly, the solons warned not to resort to any violent actions against the occupants, whether to evict or harass them, and called for the immediate pull-out of units of the Philippine National Police from the areas. ###

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[ 14 Mar 2017 | No Comment ]

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro condemned the continuing harassment and forcible reconcentration of the Armed Forces in the Philippines (AFP) of 200 residents in four sitios in Nasugbu, Batangas.

 
According to reports, troops herded farmers off their lands and communities to Balagbag Elementary School last March 8. A clash occured between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the 730th Combat Group of the Philippine Air Force, the 59th Infantry Battalion and the 202nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army after two days. The residents were then told to go back to their homes, but the military troops remained in the school.

 
“We demand the AFP to stop their military operations in communities and endangering civilians. Military units should be accountable for inhuman tactics like the reconcentration of entire communities and encampment of civilian buildings like schools,” Castro said. “These inhuman tactics are violations of international humanitarian laws that cut off the livelihood of the residents and treat civilians as combatants. These harassments in communities must stop at once, along with the all-out war and the illegal arrests and other rights violations against farmers and activists perpetrated under the so-called Oplan Kapayapaan.”

 
“We call on the military and the Duterte administration to comply with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),” Tinio said. “There have been too many killings by the state against the poor. The killings and threats against farmers and human rights activists are blatant disrespect for human rights,” Tinio ended.###

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[ 7 Mar 2017 | No Comment ]
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A militant solon urged the quick passage of the lowered income taxes without the VAT expansion and new excise taxes on fuel, saying that efficiency in collection and administration, not new taxes, are necessary to recover foregone revenues.

“Our people have long been charged with excessive income taxes due to government’s failure to reform the income tax system, so it is only a matter of justice that we approve the proposal as soon as possible,” said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio during the House Ways and Means Committee at its hearing on tax reform bills Monday. “But we have to scrap the three regressive taxes it is proposed with.”

Part of the tax package proposal of the Department of Finance (DOF) are new excise taxes on petroleum products, value-added tax (VAT) coverage on certain goods and services currently exempt, and excise taxes on automobiles, allegedly to recover the P130 billion that will be foregone from lower income taxes.

“The DOF plans to collect more than P230 billion from expanded VAT and the excise taxes on oil and vehicles,” explained Tinio. “This means that recovering lost revenues is not the sole aim of government—it also aims to collect an even greater amount. Our concern now: it is the people who will pay for these extra billions on top of the P130 billion sought to be recovered.”

Tinio said that since the proposed new excise taxes and expanded VAT are regressive and indirect taxes, it is ultimately minimum wage earners and the poor who will shoulder the additional burden.

The solon urged the DOF and tax collection agencies to instead plug leakages and arrest official corruption by carrying out agency-level reforms. “We have always maintained that instead of imposing new taxes which will burden the people, government should fix its collection problems first.”

Tinio said that collection of additional revenues through increased collection efficiency is possible. According to the DOF, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and other tax agencies were able to collect more than P300 billion in just a few years, cutting by half their uncollected revenues.

“This proves that government can realize revenue in the billions without burdening the people with more taxes,” said Tinio. “New excise taxes and broader VAT on products and services used by the people are not necessary and should therefore be junked.” ###

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[ 6 Mar 2017 | No Comment ]
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ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro together with different sectors opposing death penalty mobilized today in front of the House of Representatives (HOR) to condemn the possible approval on third reading of the death penalty bill.
House Bill 4727 which imposes death penalty was approved in second reading last Wednesday.
“Again, the railroading happened in a snap when the pro-death penalty majority succeeded to cut the period of amendments, depriving the other house members including us, the Makabayan bloc, of our rights to register our strong opposition,” Tinio said.
“The ratification of The Second Optional Protocol binds the Philippines and we cannot reimpose death penalty even if with compelling reason, which the proponents failed to prove anyway,” Castro justified.
“We have long reiterated that the death penalty bill is blatantly anti-poor and not a deterrent to crimes. The reimposition of death penalty without institutional reforms is alarming considering the current state of our law enforcement and judicial system. The current spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) shows that ninety-nine percent of the victims of drug-related cases come from the ranks of the poor. The poor will suffer as victims of corruption and repression as long as there are no reforms to address such matter,” Tinio stressed.
“Moreover, this anti-people bill will start a creeping death penalty into our entire penal system. For now, it may only be drugs. Later, death will be sought for other crimes,” Tinio added.
“We would like to appeal to our fellow legislators to heed the people’s clamor against death penalty, which will only intensify if they force its passage. We are calling on the people to show their opposition to the death penalty by trooping to the HOR’s plenary sessions this week and joining the protest actions to call for the junking of the death penalty bill,” Castro ended. ###