Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Activists mark EDSA1 anniversary with human chain for truth

Exactly one month after the Mamasapano incident, and on the anniversary of EDSA 1 today, activists from different parts of Luzon are marching on for an interfaith prayer and symbolic human chain to be held at Camp Crame EDSA gate stretching all the way to the EDSA Shrine in Ortigas Avenue.

Protesters gathering at Cubao for the 'human chain'

Southern Tagalog protesters at the Mabuhay Rotunda

Group of young protesters prepare for the march from
Mabuhay Rotunda to EDSA

Hundreds of cops block thousands of protesters at EDSA-Santolan
A group from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan march to Camp Crame to join the human chain

Flashback. The role of Cardinal Vidal in EDSA 1986

Cardinal Vidal in EDSA history 29 years ago

by Bobit S. Avila, Philstar

If the National Transformation Council (NTC) led by his eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal has called for the Aquino regime to step down, it is only classic Cardinal Vidal… after all history has recorded that Cardinal Vidal played a key role in the EDSA Revolt 29 years ago. Indeed, exactly 29 years ago, the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO) held a massive protest rally at the Fuente Osmeña with Presidential guest candidate Corazon C. Aquino, widow of the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and her vice-presidential candidate Salvador “Doy” Laurel explaining to the Cebuanos how Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos cheated in the snap elections.

But suddenly their speeches were cut short because of events unfolding in Manila. I was with the group of Doy Laurel as the UNIDO was the only political party that I ever joined. It was around 5 p.m. when the rally abruptly ended and those of us close to Vice Pres. Laurel learned through the telephone that then Defense Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Vice-Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel V. Ramos apparently decided to hold out in Camp Crame and at 6:30 p.m., they held a presscon to announce that they had resigned from their positions in the Marcos Cabinet.

Allow me to reprint what is written in Wikipedia about the People’s Power Revolution in EDSA.

“Because of reports of alleged fraud, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) through Ricardo Cardinal Vidal issued a statement condemning the elections. The United States Senate also passed a resolution stating the same condemnation. US president Ronald Reagan issued a statement calling the fraud reports as ‘disturbing.’

“Cardinal Vidal, after the result of the snap election, issued a declaration in lieu of the Philippine Church hierarchy stating ‘a government does not of itself freely correct the evil it has inflicted on the people then it is our serious moral obligation as a people to make it do so.’ The declaration also asked ‘every loyal member of the Church, every community of the faithful, to form their judgment about the February 7 polls’ and told all the Filipinos, ‘It is the time to speak up. Now is the time to repair the wrong.         

“The wrong was systematically organized. So must its correction be. But as in the election itself, that depends fully on the people; on what they are willing and ready to do.’ After Cardinal Vidal’s condemnation of the snap election’s fraudulent result, a message was aired over Radio Veritas at around 9 p.m., Cardinal Sin exhorted Filipinos in the capital to aid rebel leaders by going to the section of EDSA between Camp Crame and Aguinaldo and giving emotional support, food and other supplies. For many this seemed an unwise decision since civilians would not stand a chance against a dispersal by government troops. Many people, especially priests and nuns, still trooped to EDSA.”

So is it wrong for the NTC to demand for the Aquino regime to step down? Well for sure, the NTC is not alone. No less than Presidential uncle former Rep. Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, husband of former Governor Margarita “Ting Ting Cojuangco is also asking the President to step down. I got it from former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzalez himself that the NTC was approached by Peping Cojuangco, but was politely refused. Yet during the Cebu NTC Assembly last Oct. 1, Ting Ting Cojuangco was there to show her support even if she was not admitted to the NTC.

Last Sunday we learned that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima warned the NTC, calling it a loose grouping of disgruntled Arroyo allies, whose acts already constitute conspiracy or proposal to commit rebellion against the government. She warned the NTC that she will nor relent in applying the full force of the law against them in order to protect the people and the state from an unconstitutional and illegal power grab.

What’s wrong with Sec. de Lima and why is she resorting to name-calling? Before she opens her mouth, she should look at herself first before she points fingers at groups who are fed up with the incompetence of her boss. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tales of the Bangsamoro and BBL

There is a photo posted by former DILG Sec. Raffy Alunan on fb which is very revealing. It shows MILF's representative Murad refusing to face the Philippine flag while the Philippine national anthem was being played. The others in the photo, including President Aquino, had turned to face the Philippine flag.

Body language is very important. One photo can say it all.

When I asked one MILF sympathizer whether he had seen this photo, he answered yes. "Why did Murad not face the Philippine flag?" I asked. He replied, "We have our own flag."

That photo was not only disrespectful. It was a clear indication the MILF considers its Bangsamoro state as not being part of the Philippines.

The MILF is playing with the Aquino government until it gets its BBL and the billions of pesos promised under it. The sad part is the president and his peace adviser Deles are too stupid to see they are being taken for a ride. The sad part is some in Congress are equally stupid they merely follow a stupid president. They will all be liable for treason when the Republic is dismembered.  - Jose Alejandrino

Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro was signed at Malacañang in March 27, 2014 as witnessed by leaders and members of MILF and the Philippine government, as well as by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose country served as the third-party negotiator in the peace talks.

Now let's take a look at Rafael Alunan III's article:

Take a good look. Do you think for one moment that this fellow will follow the law and the constitution, even if he says so? It looks like he's displaying for all to see that he's not a Filipino in his heart and mind. And these two on the right believe the MILF's kitman and taqqiya.

And now we hear they're aspiring for a Nobel Peace Prize. They must really be out of their blooming minds to dream of such a reward when the road is littered with the debris of their flawed premises, lack of inclusion and lack of transparency tantamount to gross mishandling of the peace process!

The failure of the peace process they designed and executed lies squarely on their doorsteps. And the BBL that they cannot sell to the Filipino people is as good as dead on the water.

Peace talks with sincere partners, and third party peace brokers that are not conflicted like Malaysia, is essential for the long-term growth and development not just of the Philippines but of the entire southern region of ASEAN.

As for this nonsense called BBL, which will only benefit Malaysia and the global jihadist movement, the smart thing to do is to respect and reinforce local and regional autonomy with quality choices of leaders, policies and programs to benefit all Filipinos, with no one left behind.

Improving our quality of politics requires a "whole-of-nation" approach. It is everyone's responsibility to build and nurture it daily to transform ourselves into a nation worthy of our children and the respect of both friend and foe.

Anyone who does not believe in freedom, democracy, local and regional autonomy under one flag, one heart and one soul, can move to Malaysia or anywhere else where Al Qaeda, ISIS and like-minded jihadists roam murderously in the name of the global caliphate they lust for and wish to install in oceans of blood.

In such a case where we are confronted with a life or death situation as individuals, communities or as a nation, we will fight to the last drop of THEIR blood. Are we clear?

                                             * * *

...and Flashback to September 2014 with ISIS flag in Marawi mosque.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Intriguing tweet from Bishop Pabillo of CBCP

Yesterday's tweet from Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Chair, Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP):

"Call to military chiefs and government officials. Your loyalty is to the Filipino people and not to the president. Defend the people not Pnoy."

Congress moves to declare 8 provinces mining-free zones - and Marinduque is not one of them!

Remember how the people of Marinduque from 2005-2007 cried out for the removal of Marinduque from the national government's priority mining sites inspite of the Marcopper disaster, the Philippines' largest such disaster? Remember how Malacanang heeded that call? The 2007 GMA story follows. 

There has been loose talk in Marinduque in recent months, however, that "no one could prevent Marcopper mining from operating again" and preparations for that eventuality are purportedly underway. Many money-conscious barangay and municipal officials in a few Marinduque towns are looking forward to a promised "windfall" in exchange for their support to reopen the mine.

Surprise of surprises! After Marinduque was removed from the government's priority sites for mining projects as mentioned, there's now a move in the House of Representatives sponsored by the concerned Representatives (with a Senate hearing held on Feb. 17), to declare 8 provinces as mining-free zones - and Marinduque is not one of them!
(Old article): Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista said Marinduque has been removed by Malacañang from the government’s list of 24 priority sites for mining projects. 
Evangelista said he personally requested President Arroyo to remove Marinduque from the list of mining explorations offered to potential investors since December 2004. 
Evangelista said the government will no longer allow mining exploration in the province for the next 50 years. Marinduque is Region 4’s smallest province. 
“Marinduque was still in that list in spite of the Marcopper disaster that happened 10 years ago… we were surprised why they’re mining again when the province has yet to recover. So we said enough," Evangelista said. 
“She (President Arroyo) asked me if I have a special concern so I told her about our campaign for Marinduque’s delisting as a mining priority. She said okay and asked her assistant to call Secretary (Angelo) Reyes," the Marinduque bishop said. - Palace removes Marinduque from mining list, Feb. 4. 2007.
One of the glaring issues about Marcopper. "Attitude of the mining companies in taking responsibility immediately after the mining spill and the remediation efforts taken afterwards".

Mining sector opposes 8 'mining-free' zones

Pia Ranada, Rappler
(UPDATED) The Chamber of Mines says proposals to declare mining-free zones could limit the country's potential for economic growth
Pia RanadaPublished 5:46 PM, Feb 17, 2015
Updated 12:03 PM, Feb 18, 2015
MINERAL DEPOSITS. This is a file photo of an iron ore mine
MINERAL DEPOSITS. This is a file photo of an iron ore mine
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Representatives from the mining sector expressed their reservations about the plan to declare 8 provinces as mining-free zones during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, February 17.
The hearing looked into 8 bills filed separately by 8 congressmen to declare their provinces and one district as off-limits to mining.
These areas are:
  • Cagayan de Oro City
  • Catanduanes
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Eastern Samar
  • Nueva Ecija
  • Biliran
  • Davao City
  • 2nd District of Sorsogon
Banning mining from these areas will "set a bad precedent" for the Philippine government, said Chamber of Mines of the Philippines vice president for policy Ronald Recidoro during the hearing.
"Mineral resources are limited, finite and do not occur everywhere. They are concentrated in only a few blessed provinces. This deprives the national government of the chance to develop a national industrialization plan," he added.
Around 65% of the Philippines cannot be mined under current laws and executive orders despite the vast potential of the country as a source of minerals.
The Fraser Institute of Canada, a public policy research organization for Canada, puts the Philippines among the top 10 countries most attractive for mineral development based on mineral potential alone.
But the country is also among the least attractive locations "because of policy and bureaucratic obstructions and the lack of government support for mineral development," reads a statement from the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines.
Currently, Executive Order No 79 puts a moratorium on all new mining contracts until a new revenue-sharing agreement between mining companies, national government and local government is finalized. In 2013, mining contributed only 0.7% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the National Economic and Development Authority.
'Not a penny'
But the congressmen who filed the bills defended their proposed laws saying mining has led to nothing but catastrophe for the provinces they represent.
"Mining is destructive to the environment of our province. We prioritize agriculture over mining," said Representative Carlos Padilla of the lone district of Nueva Vizcaya. There are two companies mining for gold and copper in Nueva Vizcaya: Canadian-owned Oceana Gold and British-owned FCF Minerals Corporation.
They are both covered by the Financial Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) which allows companies 100% owned by foreigners to extract minerals in the Philippines. The province, said Padilla, "does not get a penny" from Oceana Gold. The mining company did not get the consent of the provincial council and do not pay realty tax, he added.
They used to pay excise tax and business license tax but no longer do so. Meanwhile, it's the local government that bears the responsibility of tending to supposed human rights abuses, people displaced by the bulldozing of houses and the environmental degradation due to the mining activities, said Padilla.
Oceana Gold chairman Jose Leviste Jr denied any human rights abuses and said they provide housing for those displaced by the company's activities. He said they no longer pay excise tax because the Board of Investments has exempted them from doing so.
As for the payment of business license tax, he said the company received a letter from nearby Quirino province claiming it is their province who should be given the tax, not Nueva Vizcaya because the mining area falls under their jurisdiction.
"Quirino complicated things. There's a lawsuit now and we're trying to work things out," he told the body.
But Padilla said there are other reasons to declare his province mining-free. Nueva Vizcaya houses an important watershed that supplies water for major dams like the Magat and Ambuklao dams. These dams irrigate thousands of hectares of farmland in Luzon.
Some 15 tribes are threatened with displacement by mining because their ancestral domains sit on top of the mineral deposits. On top of that, the province's steep solves and increasing rainfall make it susceptible to landslides.
Benefits of mining
In Catanduanes, a company has been given permits from the Department of Energy to mine for coal, said Representative Cesar Sarmiento who authored a bill to declare the province off-limits to mining.
Australian company Altura Mining was given a coal operating contract covering 7,000 hectares. Sarmiento's bill aims to protect Catanduanes' forests, the largest remaining forest cover in Bicol, from the effects of mining.
In the past, Catanduanes citizens backed by the church were able to boot out Australian mining firm Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc from mining its coal deposits. There is also a provincial ordinance declaring the province a mining-free zone.
But Julian Payne, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said mining could pose benefits to local communities. He said mining generated 252,000 direct jobs and around 1 million indirect jobs in 2012.
But Primo Morillo of social development network Philippine Miserior Partnership said whatever benefits mining provides is only temporary.
"They say the resources are finite so when they are gone, they will leave. Whatever development will happen is temporary but the effect of mining is permanent," said Morillo, whose group has worked with several communities affected by mining.
He suspects that the growing trend of mining-free zone declarations is because lawmakers and LGU leaders have seen the effect of mining in their areas of jurisdiction. Cagayan de Oro City blames mining for the flooding during Typhoon Sendong while Davao City learned from the experience of Davao Oriental, where there is gold-mining, during Typhoon Pablo.
Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Environment Committee, decided to suspend the hearing until more data on the benefits of mining could be presented.
"I want to see poverty incidence before and after mining. I want to see environmental impact assessments. I am not anti-development but I believe that mining companies should be responsible." –

Monday, February 16, 2015

Strong message from Archbishop Soc Villegas, CBCP head: "Speak the truth!"

Socrates Buenaventura Villegas is the curent Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, Pangasinan and is the head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)

The President and his advisers must give a full and satisfactory accounting of their actions in respect to this tragic loss. The targets of the SAF operations were characterized as "high value targets". If the police went after them, it can only be because they were ordered to do so. Policemen do not order themselves, not even members of the Special Action Force. Indeed, that is what corroborated statements now clearly establish: The decision was made on the highest levels to go after these "high value targets". The only thing that was awaited was "the window of opportunity", a judgment that is made by people on the ground.
Questions call for unequivocal and truthful answers. Lives were needlessly lost because in many ways the operation was covert. Why, for one, were the highest-ranking official of the Philippine National Police and his civilian superior, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, left out of the loop of information, consultation and command? It seems that a suspended police officer played more than a merely advisory role. Why should he have been giving orders? And if he was in fact issuing orders and commands, should it not be clear that his authority to do so, precisely because he was laboring under a legitimate order of suspension, emanated from higher levels?
The concealment of truth or the foisting of deliberate falsehood even to shield one's superiors from embarrassment or to spare them indictment is always a moral wrong, especially in the context of legal processes and under oath. When one swears to tell the truth and invokes the help of God, one is morally obligated to speak the truth. We therefore urge all witnesses and all those in possession of information material to the resolution of facts in issue to speak the truth at all times.