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[ 14 Sep 2017 | Comments Off on Makabayan Bloc bolts the House Majority ]

 

September 14, 2017

Today, we, seven party list representatives of the Makabayan Bloc, declare our separation from the Majority Coalition in the House of Representatives to intensify our opposition to the Duterte administration that has now fully unraveled as a fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people regime.

At the opening of the 17th Congress last year, we joined the Majority consistent with our stand to support the promise of change of Pres. Duterte. Back then, we were encouraged by his reformist and populist actions and pronouncements on a range of issues, including: resuming the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), releasing political prisoners, ending neocolonial ties with the US and pursuing an independent foreign policy, addressing the roots of the Moro rebellion, ending labor contractualization, increasing government support to farmers, putting a stop to destructive mining practices, reducing income taxes of rank and file employees, and increasing social pensions, and prioritizing basic social services over infrastructure.

His unprecedented decision to appoint leftists and activists to crucial cabinet posts – Judy Taguiwalo at the DSWD, Gina Lopez at the DENR, Liza Maza at the NAPC, and Rafael Mariano at the DAR – provided openings for pursuing such reforms.

Nevertheless, our decision to join the Majority was premised on the condition that we would oppose and challenge, as we have done, the Administration on issues where we fundamentally disagreed with Pres. Duterte – his neoliberal economic policies, his disdain for human rights especially in his war on drugs, anti-crime and counterinsurgency campaigns, his rehabilitation of the former dictator Marcos, and his propensity for strongman rule.

Thus, from the very start, we consistently opposed the Administration’s anti-people bills and policies to the point that we were stripped of our committee chairmanships due to our stand against the death penalty bill. Despite one disappointment after another, we persisted in the Majority in the hope that some socioeconomic and political reforms could be achieved, if not through Congress, then through the GRP-NDFP peace talks.

The peace negotiations with the NDFP have been practically terminated due to Duterte’s insistence of a bilateral ceasefire agreement prior to any talks. With Marawi being bombed to the ground and its resulting humanitarian crisis, the Moro peace process is spiraling downward. Under these circumstances, martial law threatens to turn Mindanao into an even more violent land of strife and lost promises.

Pres. Duterte has turned back on his promise to “separate” from the US, even as he has allowed China to continue occupying the West Philippine Sea. His “independent foreign policy” has turned out to be a farce. He is now as dependent as ever on the US for national security and has practically abandoned our valid and internationally-recognized claims of sovereignty and territory in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for China’s promises of aid and investments.

Pres. Duterte’s little concessions to farmers, workers, and the urban poor have been reduced to populist posturing in the face of his overwhelmingly neoliberal economic policies that favor the oligarchs and foreign powers he claims to disdain.

Worst of all, his “war on drugs” has turned into a campaign of mass murder of the poor, for which he shows no signs of turning back.

As representatives of the poor and marginalized sectors in Congress and as nationalist and progressive legislators, it would be a violation of our duties and principles to remain with a Majority that enables and defends the fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people policies of the Duterte regime.

Since its formation, Makabayan has consistently fought for the people’s interests as the progressive bloc in Congress. In the 17th Congress, we consistently opposed the Duterte administration’s pro-business and pro-war budget; its efforts to rehabilitate the Marcoses; the reimposition of the death penalty; its use of extrajudicial killings against poor, suspected criminals and rebels; defunding of the Commission on Human Rights; its anti-poor tax reform package; its modified public-private partnership scheme; the national ID system; the privatization of health services; redefinition of public utilities to allow foreign ownership; and other anti-people policies and measures.

Now that Pres. Duterte and his allies are embarking on efforts to undermine the very institutions that serve as a check on his Executive powers, now that he is pushing for an insidious revision of the Constitution, now that he has revived his threat to declare martial law nationwide and impose a revolutionary government, we resolve to intensify efforts to defeat the emergence of a new dictatorship.

As an independent bloc in Congress, we will continue to pursue meaningful reforms and oppose measures that harm our nation and people. We shall build alliances based on issues that truly matter to our people and their demand for change. We shall fight the fascist US-Duterte regime and hold it accountable for its gross violations of human rights and the further oppression and impoverishment of our people.

 

Rep. Antonio Tinio
ACT Teachers
Rep. France Castro

ACT Teachers

 

Rep. Emmi de Jesus
Gabriela Women’s Party

 

Rep. Arlene Brosas

Gabriela Women’s Party

 

Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate

Bayan Muna

 

Rep. Ariel Casilao
Anakpawis

 

Rep. Sarah Elago

Kabataan

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[ 29 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio on Pres. Duterte’s remarks regarding the possible return of wealth by the Marcos family: ]

PRESS RELEASE
29 August 2017

 

The President’s remarks were vague and should be further clarified. Are there ongoing negotiations between Malacañang and the Marcos family for the return of plundered wealth? Does it involve all the plundered wealth or is the amount negotiable? Is the President suggesting that the Marcoses will not be held criminally liable? There should be transparency regarding these and similar concerns.###

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[ 17 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Solons condemn rejection of Taguiwalo ]

PRESS RELEASE
16 August 2017

 

ACT Teachers Representatives France Castro and Antonio Tinio slammed the Commission on Appointment’s rejection of the appointment of Department of Social and Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

 

“This rejection of Secretary Taguiwalo’s appointment is also a rejection of the reforms she instituted in order to end political patronage in the management of public funds. It is a rejection of the kind of DSWD that genuinely served the poor and marginalized,” said the solons.

 

“Sec. Judy’s rejection is a tremendous loss for the people for whom she stood as DSWD chief,” Castro lamented. “In the short year of her service, the DSWD championed the poor, women, children, and the Lumad and other indigenous peoples. Sec. Judy called for the resumption of the peace talks towards a negotiated peace settlement that will address the roots of the armed conflict–poverty, landlessness, inaccessibility to services, and inequitable distribution of wealth and resources. Ano na lang mangyayari sa mga adbokasiya at repormang nasimulan ni Ma’am Judy ngayong pinutol ang pamumuno niya sa DSWD?”

 

“The CA’s refusal to let Sec. Judy remain in her post proves that those instituting reforms in government will not be tolerated by trapos who want public funds distributed in their name, by neoliberals and militarists in the cabinet who are against her advocacies for the poor and stand against martial law and fascism,” said Tinio.

 

One of the first acts of Taguiwalo as DSWD Secretary is the issuance of Memorandum Circular 9 which enforces the SC ruling on unconstitutionality of the Priority Development Assistance Fund by declaring that referrals from government officials are not integral to the implementation of DSWD’s Protective Services Program. This circular ensures that DSWD’s funds reach the poor and are not used for patronage.

 

Another is her support for the SSS pension hike, which she actively campaigned for inside the cabinet along with fellow progressives Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza.

 

Taguiwalo also pushed for the regularization of the thousands of personnel in DSWD who have long been under repeatedly renewed short-term contracts. Last week at the budget deliberations, she also called on Congress to reconsider the billion-peso Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino doleout as well as to increase the DSWD capital outlay for the construction and repair of centers and homes for senior citizens, orphanages, and other social welfare institutions. ###

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[ 15 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on Solon scores cuts, lump sum in DOH 2018 budget ]
PRESS RELEASE
15 August 2017
Vital programs of the Department of Health in 2018 will suffer fund cuts of up to 99.55%, in the face of the continuing practice of lump sum budgeting, said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio at the hearing for the DOH budget on Monday.
Tinio noted that aside from the reduction of 28.45% in the maintenance and other operating expenses for the 66 regional and special hospitals nationwide, the proposed budget contains drastic cuts in the MOOE of several vital programs.  These include Epidemiology and disease surveillance (from P14.2 billion in 2017 to P63.7 million in 2018, down by 99.55%); Environmental and occupational health (from P74.9 million to P3.7 million, 95.01%); Non-communicable diseases prevention and control (from P2.2 billion to P381.7 million, 82.81%); Elimination of diseases as public health threat such as malaria, schistosomiasis, leprosy and filiariasis (from P894.7 million to P372.5 million, 58.37%); and Prevention and control of other infectious diseases including HIV-AIDS, dengue, food, and water-borne diseases (from P1.97 billion to P1.69 billion, 13.9%).
Health secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said that this is a result of an instruction of the Department of Budget and Management to centralize funds for the “soft component” of these programs (such as training and seminars) into the “Public Health Management Program.”
“This centralization of funds previously broken down in specific programs into a single lump sum is a reversal of efforts towards itemized budgeting since the pork barrel system became an issue in the past administration,” said Tinio.  “This is also a complete turnaround of the stand of DBM Secretary Ben Diokno—He was a vocal critic against lump sums in the previous administrations but now that he is in the helm of the DBM, he resorts to the same practice.”
“We in Congress and the public in general are not shown the specifics of this lump sum so we also can’t see later on if these funds are spent for whatever they are intended.  This lack of transparency is exactly why we are against lump sum budgeting,” said the solon, noting that lump sums are more vulnerable to being declared as savings and then realigned.
Tinio demanded for the itemization of the Public Health Management Program as well as increases in the programs whose funds were slashed.  “We cannot agree to these cuts considering that the need for these programs is greater now.  A bird flu outbreak has just been confirmed in Pampanga, and there are reports of substantial increases in malaria morbidity and mortality, mortality from non-communicable diseases, and newly-diagnosed HIV cases,” he said, citing government sources including the Philippine Development Plan.
Meanwhile, Tinio noted that the DOH’s low target for “Access to establishments/health products compliant to regulatory policies” (70%) will have serious impact on consumer protection and the health and safety of Filipinos using food and health products including medicines found in the market.
Finally, he scored government in giving the Food and Drug Administration zero MOOE and leaving it to run its operations on income such as licensing, registration, and other related regulatory fees.  “We cannot allow the FDA, which is tasked to monitor the flow of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and household hazardous waste in the country, to remain dependent on companies they are supposed to regulate.  This represents a conflict of interest on the part of the FDA to the detriment of the public.”  ###