Monthly Archives: February 2008

WOMEN SPEAK OUT! Confronting Corruption and Sizing up Scandals in the Arroyo Government

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza along with Senator Jamby Madrigal and former Civil Service Commission Chief Karina David denounced today, what they all acknowledged as “institutionalized corruption” under the Arroyo government.

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The forum co-sponsored by the UP Portia Sorority and the UP Office of the Student Regent with Gabriela Women’s Party discussed how presidential prerogatives in the appointment of government officials corrupted the bureaucracy; the impact of corruption on ordinary Filipino families; and the course of action women must take to pursue significant reforms.

Retired Civil Service Commission chief Karina David revealed that there are over 10,000 appointees in government, 6,000 of whom are directors or undersecretaries, who need to pass 3rd level executive eligibility exams. However, 50% of present government executives are ineligible, all of them, presidential appointees. “This practice of the Arroyo government has destroyed basic institutions.”

Sen. Jamby Madrigal could not agree more, stressing that the Arroyo government has continued to survive by buying loyalty of the people around her. “Patronage politics has been institutionalized.”

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Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza on the other hand underscored the impact of corruption on ordinary Filipinos and how it deprives people of basic services.  “The $130M kickback, for example, is equivalent to 23,111 housing units or 52,000 classrooms.”

“Corruption is deeply ingrained in our political and social structures. Corruption thrives as officials and institutions party to these anomalous projects without a doubt benefit greatly from them.”

Maza, Madrigal and David stressed on the need for accountability.

This, Maza stressed is the reason why more and more women are now taking to the streets. Alliances such as the “BabaLa!” of the Babae Laban sa Katiwalian are calling for the immediate ouster of Mrs. Arroyo.

Indeed it is high time for women to take action, more so that at the core of this country’s corruption, is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a woman.

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OKINAWA RAPE FOREWARNS OF THE PERILS OF US PRESENCE TO WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Women’s partylist group Gabriela today expressed concern over reports on the rape of a Filipina by a US military personnel in Okinawa, Japan, saying this incident would once again prove the perils that US military presence bodes for women and children.

 

 

“The Philippine government should lose no time in cooperating with Japan in assisting the Filipina victim in pursuing justice. We must make sure that the perpetrator of this heinous crime is prosecuted and that justice is served,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza.

 

 

Initial reports say the victim was raped last February 18 in an Okinawa hotel. Japanese and US authorities are still investigating the incident while the victim is being treated for injuries in a medical facility.

 

 

The Gabriela solon pointed out that while this is not the first time that rape is committed by a US military personnel both in Okinawa and the Philippines, agreements with the US still provides no guarantee of giving host countries the benefit of prosecuting and punishing perpetrators on their terms.

 

 

Just last week in Okinawa, a 14-year old girl was raped by a US military personnel in a car. Prior to this, there have been at least 12 cases of rape in Okinawa involving US troops. The Japanese government, like the Philippines, during and after prosecution, has not acquired custody of perpetrators, “Again this demonstrates how lopsided these military agreements are.”

 

 

Meanwhile, Mindanaoan solon, Rep. Luz Ilagan said that this new case should serve as a warning to Filipinas especially in areas in Mindanao where military exercises are currently being held. “Residents, especially women and children should be warned. These troops are dangerous and they insist to be beyond our laws.”

 

 

“That US troops are raping women in countries where there are military exercises and agreements clearly show the drawbacks and social cost of US military presence. There are lessons to be learned and the Philippine government should lose no time in taking concrete measures to review if not terminate the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement. US troops should keep oout of Philippine soil.”#

 

For Reference: REP. LIZA MAZA (09209134540); REP. LUZ ILAGAN (09209213221); Cristina Palabay, Secretary General (09175003879); Jang Monte, Public Info Officer (09156463009)

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GABRIELA SOLONS IN “BABALA” CALL FOR ARROYO’S REMOVAL

Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Liza Maza and Luz Ilagan today reiterated calls for Mrs. Arroyo to step down in the light of damning testimonies and evidence that are surfacing involving Malacanang and the first family in multi-billion scandals.

 

In a press conference launching the women’s alliance “BabaLa or Babae Laban sa Katiwalian”, Rep. Maza said, “In the wake of large scale bribery and overpriced contracts―from fertilizers and boulevards to information highways, railroads and cyber education to name a few―the Arroyo leadership has betrayed public trust; abused and plundered public funds. Women in this country have nothing to lose and so much to gain should the one woman in the highest position of power in this country resign.”

 

Reacting to Malacanang’s defense of Mrs. Arroyo’s record in combating corruption, the women’s partylist group insisted, Not once has the first family or Mrs. Arroyo’s allies have been investigated or made accountable for allegations of corruption. In addition to this, Mrs. Arroyo’s governance, questionable as it is with unanswered allegations of electoral fraud has lost all credibility and moral ascendancy to lead a battle against corruption.”

 

Rep. Ilagan for her part said that “Under Mrs. Arroyo’s leadership we have found ourselves in a war zone. We are now a country known for extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances, for wars on terror that continues to displace and terrorize hundreds of thousands of families especially in Mindanao. Mrs. Arroyo has led this country into a human rights crisis that deserves international condemnation”

The Gabriela solons also said that the gall, with which the Arroyo administration condones corruption in the face of demolitions and homelessness, low wages and joblessness, high prices, high taxes amid the dearth of health services and education, compels more and more Filipino women to take action for her immediate ouster or resignation.

 

“Women find no respite or liberation in the so-called economic development Mrs. Arroyo proudly claims to have led this country into. We reiterate anew our call and unite with the nation in demanding that Mrs. Arroyo step down now. Filipino women deserve no less than the truth, public accountability, justice and peace”

For Reference:

REP. LIZA LARGOZA MAZA 0920-9134540; REP. LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221; Cristina Palabay (Secretary General) 0917-5003879; Jang Monte (Public Information Officer) 0915-6463009

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PROTESTS GREET OPENING OF US-RP MILITARY EXERCISES

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Demonstrators calling for US Troops to withdraw from the Philippines protested the start of annual joint  military exercises Monday, with hundreds of American troops heading to southern islands where Al-Qaeda linked militants operate.

Rallies were held in at least four southern cities to demand US troops leave because of alleged involvement in combat operations– prohibited by Phlippine law– and human rights abuses, activists said.

In Cagayan de Oro, police estimated the crowd at 3,000, including priests and nuns who joined lawmakers and Muslim activists, although rally organizers said more than 5,000.joined the protest march.

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo led the protest march early Monday which had the city’s traffic paralyzed for hours.

Disputing the government’s claim that the holding of the Balikatan exercises was based on the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement, Ocampo said that there was no provision in the agreement allowing for successive military exercises.

“Continued or successive joint military exercises violate the Constitution and even the provisions of VFA. And as we see now, these are not even joint exercises but a one-sided conduct of civic actions by American troops,” Ocampo said.

Maza also lambasted the government for allowing American troops to conduct civic action in the country, saying the humanitarian mission was just a cover.

“These humanitarian missions are just an excuse to allow US troops to enter our communities and pursue their real agenda of justifying their war against terrorism,” she said.

Maza warned that the presence of US troops in Mindanao will lead to more human rights abuses, especially against women and children.

Nuns, priests, and students joined farmer’s groups in the protest, bearing anti-US placards and chanting slogans calling President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a terrorist.

In Davao City, around 3,000 protesters belonging to Bayan and the Out US Troops-Mindanao Coalition marched through the streets demanding the immediate pull-out of American soldiers from Mindanao.

Protests were also held in Pikit, North Cotabato, and Davao City.

Click here to sse inquirer.net full report.

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STOP THE US-LED DUPLICITOUS CIVIC ASSISTANCE, STOP US MILITARY OPERATIONS IN MINDANAO! (Privilege Speech delivered by Rep. Luz C. Ilagan)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a matter of personal and collective privilege close to the hearts of both the representatives coming from Mindanao and of the women legislators of this Chamber.

Today marks the opening salvo of the RP-US “Balanced Piston” Balikatan exercises in Mindanao. At least 600 American troops have arrived in Midsayap and Tacurong towns in Cotabato and Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. The US embassy said the Balikatan will run up to March 3 and will focus on the training of Filipino troops to provide relief and assistance together, in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety. They claim that the US soldiers are set to conduct a series of humanitarian missions comprising of free medical, dental and veterinary care or medical and civic action programs, otherwise known as MEDCAPS.

Mr. Speaker, the Gabriela Women’s Party is questioning the real motive behind these so-called humanitarian missions. We see this as a ploy to conceal the very intrusive US military’s combat and intelligence operations in our country. At the same time, through these missions, the U.S. in collaboration with the Philippine government is able to pave a gilded path for a grudging acceptance towards American corporations that have cornered highly profitable contracts over Mindanao’s resources. The oil-rich shores of the second biggest island in the country are being drooled over by multi-national giants planning profitable partnerships with the Philippine government. And we all know that our government has a poor track record in honest to goodness deals that can benefit our people.

The danger with these humanitarian missions, Mr. Speaker, is that they attempt to spread a mantle over the human rights abuses by the US soldiers in our country. The experiences of our people in Mindanao speak clearly of the real motive of the Balikatan exercises and the peril that it poses on our people.

Last February 4, US troops joined a military raid by the Philippine Navy Special Warfare group over a suspected Abu Sayyaf lair at a fishing village in Brgy. Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu. In that mission, seven civilians, including two children and two teenagers and an off-duty soldier were killed. Our colleagues in this august body have delivered privilege speeches and passed resolutions to conduct an independent probe on the February 4 massacre.

The Out Now Coalition, a broad network of NGOs and people’s organizations has also listed the following atrocities committed by the US forces in the last five years.

  • On July 25, 2002, the house of the Isnijal family in Brgy. Kanas, Tuburan was raided by a team of US and Philippines soldiers around midnight. US Sgt. Reggie Lane shot a sleeping Buyong-Buyong Isnijal, 27 years old , in the leg. Isnijal’s wife, Juraida was also hurt in the ensuing scuffle with the raiding team. Philippine authorities arrested and detained Isnijal for allegedly being a member of the Abu Sayyaf
  • In 2003, while American troops were training their Filipino counterparts in target shooting inside the base in Malagutay, Zamboanga City, Arsid Baharun was hit by a stray bullet from the exercises. To avoid being charged as Abu Sayyaf, Baharun chose to accept an amicable settlement from the US troops.
  • On July 31, 2004, an elderly Moro woman in Manarapan, North Cotabato died of a heart attack upon seeing a helicopter carrying US soldiers, thinking it was a military aircraft.
  • In September 2006, a mother suffered from shrapnel wounds coming from a bomb detonated during joint exercises in Brgy. Tagbak, Indanan, Sulu. Buh Bizma was hit on her back while doing the laundry in her house.
  • In September 2007, five US servicemen in Gen. Santos City caused alarm when they displayed their firearms in a restaurant.
  • In December 2007, US soldiers meddled in the operation of a hospital in Panama, Sulu. They ordered hospital personnel to close the facility every night and to refuse patients coming afterwards. A certain Master Sergeant Ronburg from the US military forces based in Camp Teodulo Bautista in Jolo, allegedly ordered on November 30, 2007, the closure of the district hospital in Panamao Sulu during night time and prevented medical personnel from treating patients after sundown. Dr. Silak Lakkian, chief of the Panamao District Hospital said that a team of US soldiers barged in and told the chief nurse to close it not later than 6pm and threatened to shoot anybody seen in the hospital premises after that time.

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, these MEDCAPS conducted by U.S. servicemen undermine the capacity of local civilian authorities and highlight the inability of local agencies to carry out the same tasks, because the latter are hampered by limited resources. It highlights the sad reality that while Mindanao contributes so much to the coffers of the national treasury, it receives little in return.

With the Balikatan exercises, women and children- Mindanao’s poorest and most disenfranchised populace – will again be targets of the sugar-coated military campaign in our country. Tormented by decades of displacement, forced to live in extremely difficult circumstances in times of evacuation, made to leave behind their homes, their farms and their meager possession of farm animals, we can not allow the people of Mindanao to keep on starting all over again. We can not allow our women to be subjected to indignities, to be sexually violated, when the soldiers go on rest and recreation. What happened to Nicole, a 22 year old woman from Zamboanga, who was gang-raped by U.S. service men in Clark, Pampanga speaks clearly of the sexual violence that could be inflicted on Filipinas by U.S. soldiers. It is a clear illustration of how our sovereignty and justice system can be trampled upon by the U.S. through the Visiting Forces Agreement to save their soldiers and their interest in the country.

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is high time that we are enlightened on the real score as to how the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement and the Visiting Forces Agreement are being implemented. The fact that since 2002, around 17 to 24 Balikatan exercises had been held yearly, what have we accomplished so far?

These military exercises have only succeeded in making us remember the painful massacres in Bud Daho, the massive displacement of settlers and indigenous peoples, the unjust accusations against Muslim people and the silent cries of our women and children.

These military exercises and our recent experiences have only succeeded in illustrating the wanton intervention of US troops in affairs in our cities and municipalities, even specifically in our hospitals, and in the lives of the Mindanaoans and the Filipino people.

The US-RP VFA and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, which legitimize US military presence and exercises, are all in violation of provisions in the Constitution barring military base operations, criminal accountability of American soldiers to Philippine Courts, nuclear weapons and accountability for damages to the environment caused by toxic wastes. Both agreements circumvent the termination of the US-RP Military Bases Agreement in 1991, as the whole country is virtually maintained as a military base of the US. It is precisely because of our recent experiences that now see the undermining of our Constitution, our patrimony and sovereignty.

Over the last five years, the House inquiries on this matter have not succeeded in protecting our sovereignty and seeking justice for the victims of the atrocities of both American and Filipino soldiers. Mr. Speaker, it is high time we take action. Let us hear the pleas of our people for justice.

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, the Committee on Mindanao Affairs has moved for the immediate suspension of the US-RP Balikatan Military Exercises until these injustices are addressed and until the conclusion of the stalled GRP-MILF peace negotiations. This representation has recently filed a resolution calling for the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement in the light of the Panamao incident and other atrocities of U.S. soldiers in Mindanao. Let us move for the abrogation of the lopsided military agreements – the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement. Let us move to ban the entry of US troops in this country in a bid to uphold its sovereignty, to reclaim our land and our dignity that has, for years, been trampled on over and over again.

Good afternoon. #

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UNCONSTITUTIONAL VFA, ANOTHER GLARING BASIS FOR ARROYO OUSTER – ILAGAN

“The US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement, the threats that it continues to present against our sovereignty and the Filipino people should give us every reason to abrogate this agreement. That these military exercises continue despite its obvious violation of the Philippine Constitution, with the sanction of the Arroyo government, gives us all the more reason to further the calls for her immediate resignation.”

 

This was the statement issued today by GABRIELA Women’s Partylist Representative Luz Ilagan as the US-RP Balikatan Military exercises kicks-off today in various areas in North Cotabato, areas of Northern Mindanao, Sulu and Basilan. The Balikatan brings at least 6,000 more US troops to the island of Mindanao for military exercises and socio-civic projects.

 

“Fore several years now, since US troops have begun to inhabit Mindanao, they have left a trail of human rights violations that remain unresolved. We join the people of Mindanao in calling for an end to the Balikatan 2008 and the Visiting Forces Agreement,” said Ilagan.

 

The Gabriela solon cited the shooting of Buyong-buyong Isnijal in 2002, the closing of the Panamao district Hospital in 2007 and the reported participation of US troops in the massacres of civilians in Maimbung, Sulu two weeks ago. Aside from these, there have been reports of US troops arrogantly brandishing their high powered fire arms in public and their participation in intelligence operations.

 

“The US-RP VFA has transformed not just Mindanao but the entire country into a US military base, allows the permanent presence and operation of US troops in the guise of civic projects and military exercises,” said Ilagan.

 

“The US-RP VFA and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement which legitimizes US military presence and these military exercises, are all in violation of provisions in the Constitution protecting our national sovereignty, barring nuclear weapons and military base operations, accountability for damages to the environment and the criminal accountability of American soldiers to Philippine courts. We call for the immediate suspension of the ongoing Balikatan as we demand the abrogation of all military treatises with the United States.”#

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KAHILINGAN NG MARALITA: PABAHAY SERBISYO AT TRABAHO, HINDI DEMOLISYON (Privilege Speech Delivered by Rep. Liza Maza)

Ginoong Speaker,

Habang dinidinig sa Senado ang anomalya sa ZTE-NBN broadband deal, at hinahanap ng sambayanang Pilipino ang katotohanan sa diumano’y bilyun-bilyong komisyon ng mga opisyal ng pamahalaan sa deal na ito, kabi-kabilang demolisyon ang nararanasan ng ating mga kababayan sa mga maralitang komunidad sa Metro Manila upang bigyang daan ang mga proyektong kalsada ng pamahalaan.

Sang-ayon sa Medium Term Philippine Development Plan ng pamahalaang Arroyo, upang makamit daw ang pag-unlad, kinakailangan na magkaroon ng episyenteng imprastraktura para ang mga tao, produkto at kalakalan ay mabilis at episyenteng dumaloy sa loob at labas ng bansa.

Itinalaga ng planong ito ang pag-uugnay ng MRT at LRT commuter loop. Sa pamamagitan ng mga pamahalaang lokal at ng Metro Manila Development Authority, nagsasagawa sa kasalukuyan sa Metro Manila ng pitong (7) mayor na proyektong kalsada: ang Radial-10, McArthur Highway, Commonwealth Avenue, Marcos Highway, Epifanio delos Santos (EDSA) at C-5. Ayon kay MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando ito rin ay parte ng kanyang programang Metro Guwapo – na naglalayong pagandahin at pabilisin ang daloy ng mga sasakyan at produkto, paunlarin at gawing ligtas ang Metro Manila. Gagawin ito sa pamamagitan ng pag-aalis ng mga sagabal tulad ng mga bulok na pook, mabahong kanal, at mga basura sa paningin.

Sa kasalukuyan, ang mga kalsadang proyektong ito ay nasa iba’t ibang antas ng pagdedebelop.

Sinisimulan na rin ang C-5 link na isang 22-kilometrong kalsada na may anim hanggang walong lanes. Magmumula ito sa Katipunan U.P. hanggang Letre, Malabon at siyang magdudugtong sa NorthExpressway (NLEX) at South Expressway (SLEX) hanggang Alabang viaduct. Pag-uugnayin din nito ang industrial districts ng Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas at industrial zones ng Novaliches at Balintawak. Sa C-5 Kalayaan isang malaking elevated U-Turn din raw ang itatayo.

Ginoong Speaker, kamakailan nakipagpulong sa akin ang ilan sa mga komunidad na naapektuhan at maapektuhan pa ng proyektong kalsadang ito, at kanilang isiniwalat ang kanilang matinding galit at protesta. Narito sila ngayon sa gallery .

Ang tanong nila, ‘Kung pag-unlad ang ibig sabihin ng mga kalsadang ito, bakit salot ang dala nito sa mga mahihirap ? ‘

Salot ang dulot ng pitong kalsadang proyektong ito. Bawat daanan ng pagpapalapad ng kalsada at pagdedebelop ng mga sidewalks, libo-libong pamilya ang nawawalan ng tahanan at kabuhayan. Libu-libong bata ang natitigil sa pag-aaral. Libu-libong babae ang daranas ng higit pang kahirapan. Para silang mga basurang winawalis at itinataboy. Ito ba ang kaunlarang sinasabi ng pamahalaan ?

Humigit kumulang na 40,000 pamilya o 200,000 maralita sa 10 barangay ng Quezon City na kinabibilangan ng Pansol, Old Balara, Culiat, Tandang Sora, Pasong Tamo, Holy Spirit, Sauyo, Bagbag, at Talipapa ng Quezon City at Barangay Ugong ng Valenzuela City ang madidisloka at nanganganib na magpalaboy-laboy sa mga lansangan.

Pagkawala ng pang-araw araw na kabuhayan ang idudulot nito sa mga mamamayan. Mawawalan ng hanap-buhay ang mga nagpapatakbo ng maliliit na tindahan, kainan, paupahang kwarto. Liliit ang kita ng humigit kumulang na 40,000 mga jeepney at tricycle drayber at operator sa mga nasabing lugar dulot ng pagkawala ng libo-libong pasahero. Mawawala rin ang matagal na binabayarang buwanang amortisasyon sa negosyong pabahay-palupa sa ilalim ng iskemang Community Mortgage Plan sapagkat mawawalang bisa ang mga pamayanang dadaanan ng proyekto. Higit sa lahat dadami ang mga estudyanteng drop-out dulot sa pagkakalayo ng mga mag-aaral sa kanilang mga paaralan dahil sa dislokasyon.

Sa kasalukuyan, hinihikayat ng gobyerno ang mamamayan na boluntaryong gibain ang kanilang mga bahay at magsilikas sa mga ‘relocation site’ kapalit ng danyos. Ayon sa Aklas C-5, alyansa ng mga mamamayang maapektuhan ng C5, hindi boluntaryong paggiba ang nagaganap ngayon sa kanila kundi walang abisong pagsugod ng MMDA. Kasama ang mga pulis at militar, pwersahang ginigiba ng MMDA ang mga bahay at establisimiyento.

Sa kabilang banda, wala namang matinong relokasyon ang pamahalaan. Ang karanasan ng mga maralitang tagalungsod ang magpapatunay sa kawalan ng mahusay at makataong relokasyon.


Ayon sa Center for Housing Rights and Eviction (COHRE) na nakabase sa Geneva, Switzerland, ang lugar na pinagdalhan sa mga nademolis na 25,000 pamilya o 145,000 mamamayan sa Northrail at Southrail Tracks ay 40 kilometro ang layo sa Metro Manila. Lubhang di makatao ang sitwasyon sa mga lugar ng relokasyon dahil sa kakulangan ng mga batayang serbisyo tulad ng tubig na maiinom, elektrisidad, at pasilidad sa sanitasyon. Ang iba sa kanila ay kinailangang tumira sa mga tents sa loob ng maraming buwan.

Ayon pa rin sa COHRE, sa Southville relocation site sa Cabuyao kung saan itinapon ang mahigit sa 9,000 pamilya, ang halos lahat ng tahanan dito ay di kumpleto ang pagkakayari- walang bubong at sahig. Mas doble ang insidente ng gutom sa lugar ng relokasyon kaysa noong namumuhay pa ang mga maralita sa gilid ng riles.

Sa mga dati namang relocation site, wala ring katiyakan ang paninirahan tulad ng nagaganap ngayon sa National Government Center na kinapapalooban ng limang barangay : Holy Spirit, Commonwealth, Payatas A, Payatas B at Batasan Hills. Dito kinakailangang mag-aplay ang mga benepisyaryo ng pabahay sa National Government Housing Project ayon sa RA 9207, o Government Center and Land Utilization Act of 2003, at kung hindi, sila ay papalayasin sa lugar. Subalit pinapaaplay sila bilang nangungupahan lang at hindi bilang may-ari ng lupa at bahay. Napaka-imposible rin na mapasakamay ng maralita ang titulo ng lupa sapagkat ang mga titulo ay mananatili sa NGC kahit na may notice of award.

Sa ngayon tulad ng mga nakatira sa komunidad ng Ricarte, Palaris at Dagohoy o RIPADA sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP), nahaharap na naman ang NGC sa nakaambang demolisyong dulot ng C-5, matapos nilang pagsumikapang paunlarin ang kanilang lugar. Sila ang taga-ayos, gobyerno ang taga-giba.

Walang pinag-iba ang sitwasyon ng mga taga-NGC sa Katuparan Housing Project sa Vitas, Tondo na dati ay lugar ng Smokey Mountain. Ang mga gusaling-bahay na tinayo ay pinamahagi sa mga nademolis pero kailangan nilang magbayad ng renta na hindi naman kayang bayaran ng maralita. Kung hindi makabayad, sila ay mapapaalis sa lugar. Sa ngayon, nakaamba ang eviction sa mga di makabayad ng renta.

Kung tutuusin, ayon sa KADAMAY, isang organisasyon ng mga maralitang tagalunsod, sa ilalim ng gobyernong Arroyo, dumanas ng higit na malawakang demolisyon ang mga maralita. Sa proyektong North Phase at Northrail Southrail Linkage ng Philippine National Railways Modernization and Rehabilitation Project pa lamang, mahigit sa 80,000 pamilya sa Central Luzon, National Capital Region at Southern Tagalog ang nademolis. Ang buong probinsiya ng Bulacan ay halos mawalis nang mademolis ang 14,603 pamilya.

Samantala ang buong komunidad na may humigit kumulang 2,843 pamilya naman na nakatira sa gilid ng mga riles ng tren sa Makati ay nawalis din ng pamahalaang Arroyo sa pamamagitan ng Housing and Urban Development and Coordinating Council (HUDCC) sa ilalim ni Bise Presidente Noli De Castro.

Kamakailan din lang, nagpunta rin sa akin ang mga taga-Floodway, Taguig at kanilang inirereklamo ang nakaambang demolisyon sa kanilang mga bahay dahil tatayuan daw ang kanilang lugar ng mga medium rise buildings para sa pabahay. Lubhang mahal ang pabahay na itatayo kung kaya wala ring kasiguraduhan mapapasakanila ito. Pumunta rin sa aking ang mga taga Tala Leprosarium at pinoprotesta ang nakaambang demolisyon sa kanila dahil sa gagawing pribatisasyon ng Tala Leprosarium.

Ginoong Speaker, ayon sa COHRE, ang Pilipinas ay pangatlo sa buong mundo na nagsasagawa ng malawakang demolisyon at di nagsasagawa ng makataong relokasyon. Kung kaya’t noong ika-5 ng Disyembre, 2006, ginawaran ang Pilipinas kasama ang Nigeria at Greece ng 2006 Housing Rights Violator Award !

Ang masakit Ginoong Speaker, nawalan na sila ng mga tahanan, nagkautang pa sila, habang ang ilang nangungurakot ay nakikinabang sa labis labis na presyo ng paggawa ng mga kalsada.

Tingnan natin ang proyektong C-5 North Expressway link na sinisimulan na. Ang proyekto ay nagkakahalaga ng P12.766 bilyon at pinopondohan ng utang mula sa mga dayuhang bangko at multilateral na ahensya sa pautang at equity mula sa lokal at dayuhang namumuhunan. Ang utang ay mula sa mga dayuhang bangko tulad ng Asian Development Bank ng Japan, International Finance Corporation-World Bank, Export Finance and Insurance Corporation of Australia, at Export Credit of France.

Isa itong proyekto na magkasosyo ang gobyernong Arroyo, Philippine Lopez Group of Companies na siyang may-ari ng Benpress Holdings at First Philippine Infrastructure Development, kasama ang Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC) at ang Egis Projects SA ng France.

Ayon sa Aklas C-5, di umano, labis-labis ang halaga ng proyektong ito. Sa sukatang pamantayang itinakda ng Department of Public Works and Highways, P19 milyong hanggang P21 milyon ang halaga ng paggawa ng bawat kilometrong daan (per kilometro, per lane basis) na gawa sa graba. Sobra sobra kung gayon ang badyet na P12.766 bilyon para sa paggawa ng 22 kilometrong may 8 lanes na kalsadang C-5. Kung totoo ito, merong overprice na nagkakahalaga ng P51.53 milyon hanggang P53.53 milyon bawat kilometro.

Malinaw kung gayon na hindi lamang demolisyon ang dadanasin ng ating mga maralitang komunidad, magbabayad pa sila sa pamamagitan ng buwis ng mga inutang ng pamahalaan. Nademolis na ang kanilang mga bahay, nagkautang pa sila.

Ginoong Speaker, dapat nating imbestigahan ang halaga ng proyektong kalsadang C-5 na ito kung ito nga ba ay may overpricing. Kagaya din kaya ito ng NBN ZTE deal ? Tulad din kaya ito ng maanomalyang Northrail na naging paksa ng imbestigasyon ng Senado noong 2005 at ng ibinunyag ni Eng. Lozada na diumano’y anomalya rin sa Southrail na nagkakahalaga ng P70 milyon ?

Higit sa lahat dapat nating imbestigahan kung ano ang kahihinatnan ng ating mga maralitang kababayang dadaanan ng mga higanteng kalsadang ito.

Ito ba ang sinasabing kaunlaran ? Hindi ito kaunlaran ng mahihirap! Kaunlaran ito ng iilang magpapasasa sa kita ng konstruskyon ng mga kalsadang ito. Kaunlaran ito ng mga dayuhang imbestor na gustong akitin ng gobyernong Arroyo. Kaunlaran ito para sa mga dayuhang nagpapautang na matagal nang sumisipsip sa pondo ng bayan.

Ginoong Speaker, ang nangyayaring malawakang demolisyon ay isang paglabag sa karapatang pantao, paglabag sa ating Konstitusyon. Ayon sa ating Saligang Batas, Sekyon 9, Artikulo XIII, dapat magsagawa ang Estado ng patuloy na programang reporma sa lupang kalunsuran at sa pabahay na makapagbigay ng abot-kaya at disenteng pabahay at mga batayang serbisyo sa mga mamamayang kapus-palad at walang tirahan sa mga sentrong urban at mga resettlement areas. Dapat ding itaguyod nito ang sapat na mga pagkakataon sa hanapbuhay sa mga nasabing mamamayan. Dapat igalang ng Estado ang mga karapatan ng mga may-ari ng maliliit na ari-arian sa implementasyon ng programang nasabi.

Ayon naman sa Sekyon 10 ng Saligang Batas, ang mga taga-lunsod at taga-nayong nainirahan ay hindi dapat paalisin ni gibain ang kanilang mga tirahan maliban kung naaayon sa batas at paraang makatarungan at makatao. Walang paglilipat ng mga taga-lungsod o taga-nayon na naninirahan ang isasagawa nang walang sapat na konsultasyon sa kanila at sa mga pamayanang paglilipatan sa kanila.

Pero. nagaganap ang malawakang demolisyon nang walang masinop at demokratikong konsultasyon sa mga maralita. Kung isinasaalang-alang ng pamahalaan ang kapakanan ng maralita, dapat sana ay may libre o abot-kayang pabahay para sa mamamayan na may kaukulang serbisyo at oportunidad.

Kailangan tayong gumawa ng hakbang upang mahinto ang mga demolisyong ito! Imbestigahan natin ang di pagtupad ng pamahalaan sa kanyang responsibilidad sa mga maralitang tagalungsod.

Sa madalian, kumilos tayo upang mapigil ang napipintong demolisyon ng mga tahanang tatamaan ng C-5 North Express Road project at ang proyektong pagpapaunlad daw ng National Government Center. Ganun din, tignan natin ang kalagayan ng mga maralita sa floodgates sa Taguig at sa Tala Leprosarium. Naghain na ang partido ng Gabriela ng mga resolusyon para imbestigahan ang mga kasong ito at inaasahan ng kinatawang ito na didinggin ito sa lalong madaling panahon. Kailangan ding imbestigahan ang paratang na overpricing sa proyektong C5 at busisiin ang kontratang pinasok ng gobyerno sa mga dayuhang nagpapautang.

Muli nating balikan ang mga proyektong Northrail at Southrail at imbestigahan ang alegasyon ng korupsyon sa mga proyektong ito dahil kung totoo ang paratang na 20% ang kalakarang komisyon na napupunta sa bulsa ng iilan, sa Northrail, Southrail at C5 pa lamang ay nangangahulugan na ng 54,791 na low-cost housing units na dapat sana ay napunta sa mga mahihirap.

Pabahay, serbisyo at trabaho ang sigaw ng maralita, hindi marahas na demolisyon. Maraming salamat at magandang hapon.

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