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[ 30 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro saw no genuine change in the first year of Duterte as President as more anti-poor policies are introduced and the nationalist and progressive people’s demands still have not been met.

“We have yet to see the realization of the people’s demands for just peace, salary increase, the end of contractualization, independent foreign policy, and genuine land reform, while neoliberal economic policies, the pork barrel system, the reintroduced death penalty, the impending new taxes and expanded VAT in the anti-poor TRAIN, and other policies are implemented by the Duterte administration,” Tinio said. “State fascism is also on the rise with the so-called Oplan Kapayapaan, aerial bombardments of civilian communities, the declaration of Martial law in Mindanao, and the killings of thousands of Filipinos in the drug war.”

The solons noted that President Duterte’s actions are the opposite of his earlier pronouncements against the military agreements with the US such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and appointed 59 ex-military men to key positions in government, causing the militarization of what should be a civilian bureaucracy.

“The President appointed progressives in his cabinet, but Secretaries Judy Taguiwalo of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Raphael Mariano of the Department of Agrarian Reform have yet to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. This is in contrast to the swift confirmation of many pro-US militarists, neoliberals, and other bureaucrat-capitalists,” Castro said.

“We urge President Duterte to act on his promises for just peace and continue the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) especially now that both panels have already started talking about the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).” Castro added.

“We call on the Filipino people to continue to fight for their rights as we reap the victories of our campaigns for free tuition in state universities and colleges, the free distribution of idle houses of the National Housing Authority to the urban poor led by KADAMAY, and the increase in the Social Security System pension to our collective actions for genuine change,” Tinio ended.

The solons joined the people’s march today from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola demanding for genuine change, decent salaries, job security, the lifting of Martial law in Mindanao, an end to the use of aerial bombings, the defense human rights, and the continuation of the peace talks with the NDFP. ###

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[ 2 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on DBM Secretary Diokno’s recommendation to veto chalk allowance hike ]

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on DBM Secretary Diokno’s recommendation to veto chalk allowance hike

We’re dismayed that at this early stage, DBM Secretary Diokno is already talking about vetoing the increase in the so-called chalk allowance as prjovided in a bill recently passed in the Senate. The counterpart measure in the House hasn’t even been discussed yet.

His justification that many public schools now use whiteboards belies an utter ignorance of the situation on the ground. Aside from its patent inaccuracy, the annual “chalk allowance’ is used by teachers to pay, not just for chalk, but for other teaching supplies required in the classroom everyday, and which government does not provide them.

Despite the fact that we have been able to successfully raise the chalk allowance from a measly P700 per year in 2011 to P2, 500 currently through yearly interventions in the budget hearings, it’s still not enough, and public school teachers continue to pay for teaching supplies out of pocket. Hence, the necessity of enacting the hike. Our own proposal in the House is ready for swift passage.

This proposal will cost the government P1.5 billion at best. It’s unfortunate that Sec. Diokno has chosen to direct his niggardly penny-pinching at teachers.###

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[ 22 Mar 2017 | Comments Off on Solons deplore eviction notice, warn against use of force on occupiers ]

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.
“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 | Comments Off on Solons condemn militarization in Nasugbu, Batangas ]

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.###