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[ 15 Dec 2016 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE
15 December 2016
Reference:  ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (0920-922-0817) and Rep. France Castro (0920-969-8457)

ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro lauded the willingness of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to sign a bilateral ceasefire deal.

Over the weekend, Luis Jalandoni of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines expressed the willingness of the NDFP to sign with the GRP a bilateral ceasefire effective upon the release of political prisoners within 48 hours after the signing, as declared by President Duterte.

“Forcing a ceasefire deal before concrete commitments are fulfilled amounts to capitulation by the NDFP,” the solons said, pointing out that solid commitments such as releasing political prisoners prove the willingness to honor existing and future agreements.  “Our fellow Filipinos take up arms against the government not because they want to, but because there are long-standing issues such as widespread poverty and inequality in the country which government refuses to address.”

“This bilateral ceasefire deal between the NDFP and the GRP will hasten the talks for a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). Reforms under CASER will tackle proposals that will address poverty, hunger, jobless growth, labor export, rural deprivation, homelessness, wealth disparity, and environmental deterioration,” Tinio said. “The resolution of these issues is what we in the education sector have also been struggling for.”

“In line with our fight for free education, health, and other social services as well as salary increases and benefits for teachers and other government employees and lower income taxes, we teachers urge the parties to propose and bind themselves to a pro-people CASER,” Castro said.

“The openness of both parties to sign a bilateral ceasefire shows the public the sincerity of both parties in the peace talks. We expect the GRP to fulfill its promise to release political prisoners within 48 hours from signing the ceasefire and to genuinely stop military operations like the Oplan Bayanihan,” Tinio added.

The solons have earlier called for the immediate release of more than 400 political prisoners, including Lumad teachers Amelia Pond and Dominciano Muya of Davao, volunteer teacher Rhea Pareja of Quezon, and Rene Boy Abiva, an organizer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)-Cagayan Valley chapter.

The third round of the peace talks will be held in January in Europe in the next year. ###

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[ 14 Dec 2016 | No Comment ]
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PRESS STATEMENT
14 December 2016
References: ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio (09209220817) and Rep. France Castro (09209698457)
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ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio and Rep. France Castro laud the inclusion in the 2017 budget of their proposed amendment to increase the cash allowance for public school teachers for teaching supplies, popularly known as the “chalk allowance.”
According to the Conference Committee Report on House Bill 3408 (FY 2017 General Appropriations Bill), the DepEd budget is given an additional P892 million “to provide funds for site development of public schools and additional P1,000 cash allowance to all teachers,” among other items.  The budget amendment will increase the chalk allowance to P2,500 from P1,500 beginning 2017.
The solons filed their proposed amendment to increase the chalk allowance in October 11 with the House Committee on Appropriations.  The bicameral budget panel hiked the increase to P2,500.
The solons have long been campaigning to increase the chalk allowance, which is granted to classroom teachers for the purchase of chalks, erasers, forms, and other classroom supplies and materials.  Due to the party-list’s annual proposed amendment to the national budget, the allowance increased to P1,000 from P700 in 2012, and then to P1,500 in 2015.
“This is a welcome increase, as it will ease the pain of all classroom teachers who pay for their teaching supplies and materials out of their own pockets,” said Castro, a former classroom teacher.  “This is only just since, because of the dismally insufficient funds for maintenance and other operating expenses in our public schools, the teachers themselves spend for supplies and materials which they use in their classrooms.”
Tinio also urged for the immediate passage of their House Bill 474, filed in June 30, which seeks to increase the chalk allowance to P5,000 per classroom teacher per school year.
“Our teachers demand a significant increase to P5,000 of chalk allowance, or P24.75 per school day,” said Tinio, using the rate of the chalk allowance for 202 school days in the current school year.  “We urge Congress to immediately launch deliberations on this bill, and approve it to give significant economic relief to our teachers who are left to augment inadequate government funds for our schools using their own money.” ###

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[ 8 Dec 2016 | No Comment ]
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PRESS RELEASE
07 December 2016
Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio (0920-922-0817) and Rep. France Castro (0920-969-8457)
 
ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro scored the naming of Lieutenant General Eduardo Año as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), saying that President Duterte should take a second look at Año’s long record of human rights violations and reconsider the appointment.
“The Army under Año’s command was responsible for various human rights violations, including the Paquibato massacre in June 2014 which killed three indigenous peoples (IPs) and the pouring in of battalions in Mindanao which caused widespread displacement of IPs,” said Tinio.  “When he signed Año’s appointment papers, the President might as well have signed the death warrant for the search for justice and accountability for these human rights violations.”
Año is also linked to the enforced disappearance of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos who was taken by armed men under his command, among them then-Army Lt. Harry Baliaga.
“Año’s appointment implies that human rights violators and those who allow them are rewarded with higher ranks rather than jail time.  His appointment is a huge mockery to human rights, which is unfortunate since we would be celebrating the International Human Rights Day in a few days,” said Castro.  “Appointing Año as AFP chief is to pardon grave human rights violations.  It is a slap on the face of victims their families and supporters whose outcries for justice remain unanswered.”
“We urge President Duterte to reconsider this appointment and to reassess his recent decisions involving the military and their implications.  The government should uphold, protect and defend the fundamental human rights of Filipinos, especially the marginalized and oppressed,” the solons ended. ###

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[ 7 Dec 2016 | No Comment ]
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PRESS RELEASE
07 December 2016
Reference:  ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817) and Rep. France Castro (09209698457)
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ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro express solidarity with the Lakbayanis from the Visayas who travelled to Manila to demand an end to hunger, homelessness, and militarization in their land. The “Tindog Visayas: Lakbayan Laban sa Kagutuman at Militarisasyon” is held to urge the Duterte government to prioritize and address the widespread hunger, lack of livelihood, failed resettlement, and lack of sufficient and prompt assistance for disaster victims in housing and agriculture.
“The people of Visayas continue to experience hunger with little to no help from the government. They are now here in Manila to voice out their needs and rights so that government will listen to them,” Castro said.
“We urge the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to redirect government thrusts on disaster resettlement and reconstruction because three years after Yolanda and the major disasters which followed it, we see heightening poverty, reduced yield of farmers, uprooting of entire communities away from their sources of livelihood, to name a few,” said Tinio.
Tinio and Castro said that the Lakbayanis shared first-hand accounts of hunger and joblessness in the regions, largely due to slow reconstruction of industries particularly agriculture.  “Peasant farmers who feed the nation are unable to put food on their own tables and their children are unable to go to school.  Especially in hardest-hit Eastern Visayas, there are still no decent jobs to be found and entire fields have gone bare due to the successive disasters and pests,” said Castro.
People Surge, the group of disaster survivors leading the Lakbayan, estimates that copra production was cut by 75% to 90%, thereby reducing farmers’ income to 50% up to 90%.  Cocolisap, bunchy top, and other pests struck the remaining coconut trees, abaca, and even root crops.
Tinio also cautioned Duterte to consider the homes and livelihood of the people in implementing resettlement programs.  “Government should ensure that resettlement enables the people to live in resilient sites and strong structures and not take them far away from where they get their food and livelihood,” he said.  “It should not unleash the police and DPWH and local officials upon the people to force them to demolish their own homes and prohibit residential structures along coastlines, only to favor corporate infrastructure.”
The solons also revealed that since typhoon Yolanda, promised aid has yet to fully reach intended beneficiaries.  Among these are the aid for housing repair and reconstruction from the President’s Social Fund (PSF) and the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) for government employees, including thousands of public school teachers and employees, and indigents, respectively.  The PSF is managed by the Presidential Management Staff, an office under the Office of the President, while the ESA is disbursed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The Lakbayanis including those from remote areas also allege that assistance and subsidies for seedlings, fertilizer, and farm machinery and services are either delayed by bureaucratic procedure, pocketed, or given to them for a price.
“We demand immediate and complete release of the housing repair and agriculture assistance as well as investigations by the relevant agencies into the delay and denial of aid and subsidies,” Castro ended.  “As these are matters of life and death, this criminal neglect should not happen again.”
The delegates of Tindog Visayas are in Metro Manila until December 10 to hold consecutive protests at and dialogues with various government offices.  The Polytechnic University of the Philippines are housing them.  ###