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[ 31 Jan 2013 | No Comment ]

Press Release

Reference: Mr. Benjamin Valbuena, Chairperson, ACT, cellpone no. 09162294515
Media Liaison – Zenie Lao, Cellphone No. 09198198903, 09174998608

“The filing of Public Disorder charges against Typhoon Pablo’s’ victims and their supporters which includes ACT Teachers’ Partylist 3rd Nominee Prof.Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa is simply insane, Mr.Benjie Valbuena , President of Alliance of Concerned Teachers said.

To demand action from your government who cannot provide the necessities for survival in times of crisis is not a crime. In the first place, the devastating effects of flooding in Compostela Valley was due to the government’s remiss in curbing exploitation of our natural resources in connivance with big business and their imperialist masters.

Pnoy should remember that in times of disasters, teachers are in the frontlines so to speak as part of the basic machinery in responding to crises. He must instead rebuild communities to include our schools and provide material and financial support to victims of calamities.

“This is a clear act of desperation of Pnoy and his cohorts to cover-up their inability to respond to disaster situations like Pablo and Habagat in recent times. However, what we cannot fathom is why they should criminalize the acts of people who showed compassion by collecting support and providing moral support to the victims of Typhoon Pablo,” Mr.Benjie Valbuena added.#####

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[ 25 Jan 2013 | No Comment ]

Enero 23, 2013
May paglabag ng batas ng Republika sa pagsadsad ng barkong pandigma ng Estados Unidos sa Tubbataha Reef. Ngunit bakit walang ginagawa ang mga awtoridad upang panagutin ang mga kinauukulan?
Ang Palasyo mismo ay nagsabi na titiyakin nito ang pagbabayad ng US ng multa sa pinsalang dinulot ng USS Guardian. Ngunit ni isang imik ay wala tayong narinig hinggil sa pagpapatupad ng ating batas at pagsasampa ng kaso sa mga nagkasala.

Ayon sa Republic Act 10067, ang Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009, ang Tubbataha ay isang protected area. Sa Section 19 nito, ipinagbabawal ang pagpasok ng walang pahintulot sa TRNP.

Section 19. Unauthorized Entry, Enjoyment or Use. – No person or entity shall enter, enjoy or utilize any portion of the TRNP and the resources therein for whatever purpose without prior permission from the TPAMB as herein provided.

The TRNP shall be off-limits to navigation… Except in emergency situations, it shall be unlawful to enter the TRNP without prior permission…

Hindi lang yon, may parusa ang paglabag sa probisyong ito:

Violation of this section shall be subject to imprisonment of not less than six (6) months but not more than one (1) year imprisonment and a fine of One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00), as may be determined by the TPAMB.

(Ang multa sa seksyong ito ay labas pa sa multa para sa anumang pinsala na maidudulot sa Tubbataha Reefs, na siyang paksa ng Section 20 ng batas.)

May paglabag ba ng batas ang USS Guardian? Malinaw pa sa sikat ng araw na mayroon. Ang pagkakasadsad niya ang di maipagkakailang ebidensiya ng walang pahintulot na pagpasok nito sa Tubbataha. Ayon sa mga ulat, sadyang isinantabi ng tauhan ng USS Guardian ang mga babalang ipinaratang sa kanila ng mga lokal na awtoridad sa pamamagitan ng radyo.

Ano naman ang nakasaad sa Visiting Forces Agreement kaugnay sa ganitong sitwasyon?

Sa Article II (Respect for Law), nakasaad na:

It is the duty of United States personnel to respect the laws of the Republic of the Philippines… .

Sa Article V (Criminal Jurisdiction), ito ang naksaad sa Section 1.a:

Philippine authorities shall have jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses committed within the Philippines and punishable under the law of the Philippines.

Sa Article V. Section 2.a, naman nakasaad kung kailan mapasailalim sa eksklusibong kapangyarihan ng ating pamahalaan ng Pilipinas ang mga sundalong Amerikano:

Philippine authorities exercise exclusive jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses, including offenses relating to the security of the Philippines, punishable under the laws of the Philippines, but not under the laws of the United States.

Malinaw naman na ang batas na nilabag ay espesyal na batas lamang ng Pilipinas na walang anumang katumbas sa US kaya dapat lang na nasa exclusive jurisdiction ng Pilipinas ang Commander ng USS Guardian na si Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice at mga tauhan nito.

Ayon sa press release ng US Navy, “faulty navigational charts” daw ang isang maaaring dahilan ng pagkabahura ng kanilang barko. Kung totoo man ito, hindi nabubura ang paglabag sa ating batas at pangangailangang panagutin ang mga mandaragat ng US Navy. ‘Ika nga, sa presinto na sila magpaliwanag.

Ngunit ano ang nangyayari ngayon? Ayon sa mga ulat, inilikas na sa kanilang naghihingalong barko ang mga mandaragat ng USS Guardian– ngunit nananatili pa rin sila sa custody ng US. Wala pang anumang hakbang na ginagawa ang mga awtoridad ng ating gubyerno upang arestuhin at sampahan ng kaso ang mga ito.

Labas pa sa pinsalang dulot ng USS Guardian sa di-matuturingang yamang dagat ng Tubbataha; labas pa sa pundamental na usapin ng kawastuhan ng patuloy na presensiya ng mga pwersang military ng US sa teritoryo ng Pilipinas; kinakaharap ngayon ng administrasyong Aquino, sa insidenteng ito sa Tubbataha, ang hamon ng pagpapanagot sa mga tauhan ng US Navy na malinaw na lumabag sa ating batas.The US Navy is not above our laws. Hindi maaring magbulag-bulagan ang ating mga awtoridad at hayaang makalabas ng bansa ang mga nagkasala. Kailangang ipakita ng Malacañang sa bawat mamamayang Pilipino at sa buong mundo na mayroon tayong gubyernong nagpapatupad ng batas nang pantay at walang pasubali. Huwag nating hayaang mapinsala hindi lamang ang ating pinakaiingatang likas na yaman ngunit maging ang soberanya at dangal ng baying Pilipino.

Pahintulutan ninyo akong magwakas sa isang hamon kay Pangulong Aquino: bilang pangunahing tagapagpatupad ng mga batas ng ating Republika, arestuhin na at sampahan ng kaso ang kapitan at 79 tauhan ng USS Guardian! #

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[ 21 Jan 2013 | No Comment ]

The Makabayan bloc in Congress today announced their withdrawal of authorship from the Freedom of Information substitute bill, pending the deletion or amendment of “Malacañang-sponsored provisions” that restrict, rathers than facilitates, public access to information.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, a principal author of the bill, explained in a press conference that while the bloc supports the public clamor for the passage of an FOI bill, “we feel that the substitute bill, because of the weight of the restrictions, does not anymore reflect our vision of a genuine Freedom of Information Bill.”

He said they would push for amendments in plenary and will duly co-author the measure again if and when the exceptions are deleted or substantially amended. “What we need is a genuine FOI bill, not a watered-down version,” he said.

Casiño specifically pointed out the provision that institutionalizes the President’s “executive privilege” allowing him to withold certain records of minutes and advice given to him as privileged “by reason of the sensitivity of the subject matter.”

“Masyadong maluwag iyong ‘sensitivity of the subject matter.’ The parameters are unclear. Arbitrary ang dating. Parang ‘personal taste’ lang ng Chief Executive,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, ACT Teacher Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio complained that exempting any information pertaining to national security, including law enforcement is too broad. “That covers all activities involving the police,” he said, adding that under present jurisprudence, information pertaining to law enforcement is not covered by restrictions to information.”

“Further, discretion and power to deem documents confidential is given to a large number of people. Under the substitute bill, the determination if whether a document will be exempted from the FOI Act shall be the responsibility of ‘the head of office of the government agency in custody or control of the information, or any responsible central or field officers duly designated by him,'” Tinio said

Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano also questioned the inclusion of drafts of orders, resolutions, decisions and memoranda among the exempted documents when these are crucial in public consultations, especially the formulation of implementing rules and regulations. The three-term congressman cited situations where stakeholders may be prohibited from exercising their right of information because of the said exception.

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luz Ilagan said, “With the FOI bill, it should be easier for us to get pertinent information from the government. However, this version will only negate the process.”

“We have to be vigilant. If we retain the exceptions, we are negating the basis of the proposed measure,” Ilagan cautioned.

Her fellow Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus also said, “Ilalaban natin ito sa period of amendments.” She said they will push for a progressive version of the bill, similar to that of their original filed bill.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino dubbed the substitute bill “Freedom of Exemption.” “The amendments had distorted the bill. Nagmutate na sya. Hindi na Freedom of Information. Naging Freedom of Exemption na sya. Hindi po FOE bill ang pinirmahan ko. FOE ibig sabihin ‘foe,’ contrary to the FOI bill na tinutulak ng tao,” he said.

Casiño emphasized that, “With so many exemptions it might even be used by government authorities to withhold information that should be accessible to the public. Congress has bended back too far on the FOI bill. The Committee on Public Information has delayed its deliberations and even watered down the bill just to accommodate President Aquino’s concerns,” he added.# # #

 

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[ 16 Jan 2013 | No Comment ]

ACT- Region VI President, Gualberto "bing" Dajao

NEWS RELEASE

January 16, 2013

Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio 0920-9220817

 


ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio denounced a government crackdown on leaders and activists of progressive party-list groups in the weeks leading to the opening of the campaign period for the May 2013 elections.

 

“The Philippine National Police and the military have clearly stepped up their harassment of leaders, activists and supporters of progressive party-lists in the weeks leading up to the election campaign period. They are being arrested and detained on the basis of trumped-up criminal charges,” said Tinio.

 

Rep. Antonio Tinio with ACT- Region VI President Gualberto "bing" Dajao.

Tinio was referring to the party-lists of the left-wing Makabayan Coalition, which include incumbents in the House of Representative such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, ACT Teachers, and Kabataan, as well as Migrante, Akap-Bata, PISTON, Katribu, Courage, Kalikasan and Aking Bikolnon.

 

The solon cited the arrest and detention of ACT Teachers Party-List organizer Rene Boy Abiva in Tuguegarao last December 28. “Abiva is an employee of the Department of Social Welfare and Development who has been arrested for murder for his alleged involvement in a New People’s Army ambush of 12 soldiers in Tinoc, Ifugao in April 2012. The charge is totally fabricated, since Abiva was working for the DSWD’s conditional cash transfer program in Cagayan province at the time. Nevertheless, he remains in jail up to this time.”

 

Tinio further cited the arrest last January 4 of Virgilio Corpuz, the Cagayan regional coordinator of PISTON, a newly-accredited progressive party-list, as well as the arrest of two organizers of Courage, Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano on December 3 and that of Bayan Negros secretary-general Anecita Rojo in Bago City, Negros Occidental last December 7. “At least 29 leaders, activists and supporters of progressive party-lists have been arrested in December and January.”

 

Tinio also denounced the military’s harassment of Alliance of Concerned Teachers Region 6 leader Gualberto Dajao. Dajao is a Head Teacher 3 at the BATA National High School in Bacolod City, president of the ACT Region 6 Union, president of the Bacolod City Public School Teachers’ Federation, and a National Council member of ACT. Mr. Dajao has been implicated by a military asset, along with 51 others, in an NPA ambush that led to the killing of an Army lieutenant in March 2010 in Cadiz City. The allegation is contained in an affidavit submitted to the City Prosecutor of Cadiz by a rebel returnee named Freddie Sanchez, a.k.a. “Warboy.”

 

“The allegation is totally absurd,” said Tinio. “Mr. Dajao, being a full-time teacher in one of the biggest high schools in Bacolod City, has biometrically-verified daily time records as well as numerous eye-witnesses that will account for his whereabouts during the date of the alleged encounter. Nevertheless, the threat of arrest is now hanging over the head of Mr. Dajao.”

 

“Such patently false accusations expose the fabricated nature of the charges that are being filed by the police and military and abetted by compliant prosecutors against progressive activists in order to intimidate and harass them and curtail their activities. This is a gross abuse of the legal system and violation of the rights of the victims and their families.”

 

“The fact that similar arrests are taking place throughout the country in the run-up to the elections indicates that this is a nationally directed policy. In fact, it is an integral part of the Aquino administration’s National Internal Security Plan known as Oplan Bayanihan,” added Tinio. “The fact that the new AFP Chief of Staff is known as the ‘architect of Oplan Bayanihan’ does not bode well in this regard. It could mean further vilification, harassment, false arrests, and human rights violations against progressives,” said Tinio, referring to newly-appointed AFP Chief of Staff Major General Emmanuel Bautista.

 

 

“It’s clear that the Aquino administration is mobilizing its security forces to crack down on progressive partylists, who are its most outspoken critics, in order to prevent them from making further gains in the electoral arena. Yet, past experience shows that despite state-backed vilification and even violent repression, our progressive party-lists continue to garner popular support and a widening electoral base,” concluded Tinio. #