Mr. Speaker, I voted “NO” to House Bill 3423 because this Representation will not be a party to this travesty of checks and balances that took place this evening. Yet again, this Congress has debased itself by giving blanket authority to the President to spend P14.6 billion on a rehabilitation plan sight unseen. This Congress has not seen even one paragraph of this rehabilitation plan, Mr. Speaker. And yet, by voting to approve this supplemental budget bill, this institution has given all authority to the President, Mr. Speaker.
Ang tungkulin ng Kongreso ay bantayan ang Ehekutibo, lalung-lalo na sa paggugol sa pondo ng taumbayan.
Anong klaseng pagbababantay ito? Mayroon bang miyembro rito na makapagsasabi kung tatanungin kayo ng inyong constituents pagbalik ninyo sa inyong mga distrito, “Ano ba ang laman, ano ba ang hitsura ng rehabilitation plan para sa kalamidad na inaprubahan ninyo?” May masasagot ba kayo? Ang masasagot lang niyo dito: “Bahala na ang Presidente.” Kung tatanungin sa inyo ng inyong constituents, magkano ba sa P14.6 billion ang ilalaan para sa lugar ninyo na natamaan ng kalamidad? Masasagot ba ninyo? Ang sagot niyo lang: “Bahala na ang Presidente!”
Anong klaseng Kongreso ito? Nasaan ang so-called “power of the purse” kung bahala na lang pala ang Presidente? Ang sagot po—sinuko ng Kongresong ito ang kanyang kapangyarihan na magbantay sa Presidente. Kaya malinaw po—presidential pork ang P14.6 billion supplemental budget na ito. Katulad ng nabanggit ng ibang kasamahan ko, kahit na nga yung napaka-limitadong kondisyon sa paglalaan ng P14.6 billion, yung phrase “consider the recommendation of the NDRRMC” na nasa orihinal na bill, pinatanggal pa ngayong gabi at inaprubahan pa ng Kongresong ito.
Kaya purong-purong Presidente na lamang ang magpapasya—hindi na kailangang sundin ang tinatakda ng batas na proseso na pangungunahan ng NDRRMC mula sa baba, mula sa mga LGU pataas, magmumula ang mga rekomendasyon, pinatanggal pa iyan, Mr. Speaker.
Sa aking interpellation, ni-raise ko rin ang isyu ng constitutionality. Sinabi natin na labag sa batas ang proseso na sinunod. Ang tinatakda ng batas sa supplemental budget, Presidente ang dapat maghapag ng detalyadong proposal sa Kongreso at dito ibabatay ang supplemental bill na ating pag-uusapan at ipapasa. Inamin mismo ng Sponsor [Davao City Representative and Appropriations Committee Chair Isidro Ungab], walang proposal na binigay ang Presidente. Ang kongresong ito lamang ang gumawa ng sarili niyang supplemental budget. Labag na po iyan.
Sinabi rin natin, malinaw rin na paglabag: augmentation ng existing calamity fund. Again, another Constitutional provision na nilabag, Mr. Speaker. Dagdag na kahihiyan ng Kongresong ito, we are irresponsible enough to pass a supplemental measure that is so obviously constitutionally infirm, Mr. Speaker.
Panghuli, bakit po natin nire-raise ang mga issues na ito? Dahil nagmumula po ito sa ating kagustuhan na matiyak na ang bawat sentimo ng pondo ng taumbayan ay tunay na makararating sa mga nangangailangan nating kababayan. Ngunit, sa pag-apruba natin ng lump sum, lahat sa Calamity Fund, hindi na natin magagawa ang tungkuling iyan. Ano ba itong Calamity Fund? Kung nagkaroon ng special audit sa PDAF at nakita ang maraming mga anomalya, makatitiyak ako na kung magkaroon ng special audit sa Calamity Fund sa mga nakaraang taon hanggang sa kasalukuyan, saksakan ng dami ng mga iregularidad at korapsyon ang makikita din natin dito, Mr. Speaker.
Sa mga kadahilanang ito, Mr. Speaker, bumoto ako ng “NO.” Maraming salamat.
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Not even a supertyphoon can stop her from teaching.
When Ma’am Maria Luz Buclatan reached out, after surviving Yolanda, through the survivors page of online news network Rappler, her only wish was to return to her students at Commonwealth Elementary School, QC. The disaster left her with neither opportunity nor means to get back by C-130 or commercial plane.
ACT Teachers national and local staff quickly got in touch with the maestra, and arranged for her to be able to leave Tacloban as soon as her brother’s condition enables them to travel. He was hospitalized due to an accident after the typhoon.
Maestra Maria Luz, 59, is a Teacher III with 23 years of teaching in her belt. Also a Girl Scout District Coordinator, she was in Dulag on family matters when Typhoon Yolanda struck the provinces of Leyte and Samar.
Our deepest thanks to Rappler. (Here’s how you can help bridge the gap between someone searching for their family in the affected areas or a survivor trying to reach out.)
BALSA ACT also continues its relief efforts, both at the National Headquarters of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in Vasra, Q.C., and at our Teachers’ Building at Tacloban, which now functions as center of relief efforts for Eastern Visayas by ACT and local progressive organizations. Regional coordinator, Dr. Efleda Bautista, herself a Yolanda survivor, oversees operations there.
BALSA ACT, with the networks of Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (BALSA), Tulong Kabataan, Citizens Disaster Response Center, and other organizations, has released directly to the ravaged towns of Samar, Leyte, Cebu, and other areas around 1,000 food packs as well as mission, including medical teams, to aid in the relief effort. ###
15 November 2013
Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio (09209220817)
Nine years after the Luisita massacre
PNoy still denies justice, land to tillers while overpaying kin
Aanhin pa ang lupaing hacienda kung pinatay ko na ang magsasaka?—With nine years after the Hacienda Luisita massacre, it appears that President Benigno Aquino, whose family owns the 6,435-hectare plantation, holds on to this variation of a Filipino saying.
ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio noted that the Cojuangco-Aquino clan continues to deny justice from the martyrs of the Hacienda Luisita massacre even as it denies the land’s distribution to its tillers, its rightful owners, refusing them their source of income and even their lives.
Tinio said the farmers cannot exercise actual and effective ownership, citing reports of heavy presence of armed guards and military under the clan’s control, who gave eviction letters to hundreds of beneficiaries, and continue to cordon off areas long worked on by farmers, harass them, prevent them from planting rice and vegetables, and even occupy several huts.
This belies the recent proud announcement of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that it has completed the hacienda’s distribution in all 10 barangays covering the estate.
Tinio also cited the killing of Dennis dela Cruz, a member of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), who was found dead from blows to the head inside the group’s farm hut last November 3. Days prior to the murder, he was repeatedly threatened by TADECO guards to leave the hut.
“Wala pa ring hustisya para sa mga martir ng Luisita,” said Tinio. “Magsasampung taon na matapos patayin sila at dahasin ang kanilang mga pamilya at kasama ay di pa rin ginagawad ang lupang matagal nang dapat ay sa kanila.”
“Sa bawat araw na itinatanggi ang lupa sa mga manggagawang-bukid ay nagpapatuloy ang pagpatay ng angkan ng presidente sa mga tunay na may-ari ng asyenda.”
Tinio added that his administration further benefitted his clan when his DAR overpaid Hacienda Luisita Incorporated P167.47 million as interest, representing the value of matured Land Bank bonds from 1989 to 1999.
Tinio filed House Resolution 466 to probe the overpayment, saying it has no legal basis since compensation has no bond component if landowner is paid fully in cash, and is grossly disadvantageous to taxpayers.
Said the Resolution, “the overpayment by DAR further aggravates the injustice against the farmers who have been deprived of ownership of Hacienda Luisita lands for decades. They have been impoverished, exploited and oppressed while the Cojuangcos enjoyed the economic benefits accruing from their unlawful retention of ownership and control of Hacienda Luisita.”
The overpayment is another proof that public funds continue to enrich private entities under Aquino’s administration, said Tinio. “Ang pagbibigay niya sa kanyang angkan ng P167.47 milyon mula sa pera ng mamamayan ay walang pinagkaiba sa paghugot niya ng bilyones mula sa pondo ng serbisyo-publiko para sa kanyang DAP, o sa P10 bilyong PDAF scam ni Napoles at mga kakutsaba nito.”
Along with the free and immediate distribution of the hacienda, justice for Luisita’s martyrs demands that Aquino order a refund of the overpayment, Tinio added.
“Ang panawagan ng mamamayan ukol sa pork ay ang pagbabalik sa pampublikong kaban ng mga perang kinulimbat para sa pampribadong interes at panagutin ang mga nagpakasasa sa pera ng bayan. Hindi ligtas ang pangulo sa panawagang ito, lalo na sa usapin ng hasyenda ng kanyang pamilya.”
“Kung niya tutuparin ang mga panawagang ito karapat-dapat din sa kanya ang taguring ‘presidente ng mga asendero’ bukod sa ‘pork barrel king’.”
On November 16, 2004, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan, through the Tarlac police and military, riddled with bullets a picket protesting its retrenchment of 327 farm workers, including union officers, killing seven and injuring 121 others, 32 from gunshot wounds. ###
6 November 2013
Reference: ACT TEACHERS Rep. Antonio Tinio (09209220817)
The fundamental issues at stake in these new revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and others regarding US spying activities from its embassy in Manila are the protection of the rights of Filipino citizens and the assertion of national sovereignty.
Even if one accepts that an imperial power such as the United States conducts surveillance on its putative allies as par for the course, questions still need to be answered.
What is our government doing to ensure that the right to privacy of communication and correspondence of citizens is being protected? Is the US Embassy violating existing laws such as the Anti-Wiretapping Act and the E-Commerce Law, particularly the prohibitions on hacking and unauthorized access to data? If yes, what is our government going to do about it?
Neither should the implications on national sovereignty be belittled or ignored. It is disingenuous to claim that the Philippines and its government is an “open book” when a Freedom of Information Bill cannot even be enacted into law. Intelligence-gathering by the US on the official as well as personal communications of our top government officials, will obviously compromise national interest, rendering the government even more vulnerable to intervention, manipulation, or destabilization.
The lack of a strenuous response by officials of the Aquino administration, as well as its allies in Congress, is in stark contrast to the flurry of diplomatic protests by governments reacting to the new revelations of US spying activities worldwide. In recent days, the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia, for instance, have summoned US ambassadors to explain the allegations of spying.
Our government should do no less. Malacañang should summon the US Ambassador to explain and Congress should investigate. If the House National Defense and Security Committee is unwilling to do it, then it falls on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to do its part in upholding the rights and interests of Filipino citizens.
This takes on added urgency given that the newly designated US Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, has a deep background in intelligence, having been Assistant Secretary of the US State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Furthermore, in 2008, as US Ambassador to Bolivia, Goldberg was expelled by the Bolivian government for his alleged involvement in destabilization activities. #