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

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[ 23 Feb 2017 | Comments Off on Solons condemn railroading of death penalty bill ]
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PRESS RELEASE
23 February 2017
References:  ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio and Rep. France Castro
ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro slammed the premature closing of the debates on the death penalty bill during yesterday’s plenary session.
“It is alarming that the House leadership chose to cut short the deliberations knowing that many solons lined up to express their legal and moral bases against death penalty,” said Tinio who was supposed to be next interpellator for House Bill 4727 just before the Majority Floor Leader moved to terminate the period of interpellation.
“This is a blatant disrespect to the long list of legislators who lined up to register their constituents’ views on the matter,” Tinio remarked. “It is definitely unacceptable to railroad the passage of the death penalty bill because for burning issues such as this, congressional deliberations are not just for its members alone—they are also for the people. Due to the utmost seriousness of the proposal and the public nature of our sessions, Congress owes it to the Filipino people to conscientiously discuss the issue at hand.”
“This railroading reveals that they are willing to bend their own rules just to stifle the important debate. We were about to demonstrate why the proposal violates not just international law but our very own Constitution, and why it is anti-poor, historically a tool of state repression, prone to abuse and definitely not an effective deterrent to criminality. It was disappointing for me, as a neophyte legislator, to witness democracy as the first in line on this administration’s death row,” Castro stressed.
The solons believe that the reimposition of death penalty violates the Second Optional Protocol to the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights which the Philippines ratified in 2007, binding the government not to execute anyone within its jurisdiction and to take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty. Passage of a death penalty law also violates Article II, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution which mandates the state to adopt “the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land.”
“Ultimately, railroading of this measure by the House leadership only adds to the long list of our reasons why we will vote No,” Tinio ended. ###

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[ 23 Feb 2017 | Comments Off on Solons laud SSS pension hike approval ]
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PRESS RELEASE
23 February 2017
References:  ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio and Rep. France Castro
ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro commended the approval of the additional P1,000 monthly pension hike for the Social Security System (SSS) pensioners an accumulated P2000 collectible for the months of January and February.
“We credit this victory to the steadfast campaign of pensioners, workers, the Filipino people and former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares,” Tinio said.
“We urge the SSS to immediately release the P2,000 collectible for January and February.  Our pensioners have long been fighting for this pension hike so let us not make them wait any longer for their much deserved benefits.  We also call on the SSS and the Duterte administration to no longer push for any increase in premium contributions as this will only reduce further the take home pay of more than 30 million SSS members,” Castro added. ###