Monthly Archives: April 2008

GABRIELA BATS FOR 120 DAYS MATERNITY LEAVE FOR WOMEN WORKERS

Gabriela Women’s Party filed today a bill extending the allowed maternity leave from the current period of 60 days for normal deliveries and 78 days for caesarean section deliveries to as much as 120 days, as recommended by the International Labor Organization Convention 183 on Maternity Protection.

Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, along with representatives from the Alliance of Concernted Teachers, Education International Philippines, the National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers, Teachers’ Organization of the Philippine Public Sector and the Trade Federation-FFW, led the filing of the bill, stressing the urgency for legislation towards the protection of mothers and infants.

“Our country lags behind our neighbors in terms of granting maternity benefits and protection to women workers. This measure will help address the maternal and infant mortality rates in our country and ensure the health of both mother and child,” explained Rep. Ilagan.

Ilagan cited studies from the Health alliance for Democracy stating that ten mothers die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth. Infant Mortality was recorded at 25 per 1,000 live births in 2005, while maternal mortality was 162 per 100,000 live births in 2006. The Philippines ranks 84th out of 179 countries with available data on infant mortality rate.

The Gabriela solon further said that the Philippines, along with Malaysia, ranks lowest in South East Asia in providing for maternity health care, in terms of the length of period of maternity leave benefits. Vietnam allows 120-180 days while Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos allows as much as 90 days.

“Extending the period for maternity leave will not only give mothers the opportunity to fully recover, it will also give them the chance to breastfeed infants during the first four months.” The WHO recommends a 4-month period for exclusive breastfeeding.

Main authors of the measure, Gabriela Reps. Ilagan and Liza Maza, hope that the bill will be given due attention and approval in the light of granting relief and benefits to women workers amid high prices and the worsening economic and food crisis.

Historically, the 1952 Women and Children Labor Law granted twelve (12) weeks (or 84 days) maternity leave for pregnant women, four weeks prior to delivery and eight weeks after delivery. In 1974, Presidential Decree (P.D.) 442, or the Labor Code of the Philippines , reduced the period of maternity leave from 12 weeks to six (6) weeks (or 42 days), two weeks before delivery and four weeks after delivery. This was again increased by Republic Act (R.A). 7322, to sixty (60) calendar days for a normal delivery and seventy-eight calendar days in the case of Caesarian operation.

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Filed under Labor, News Release, Women

REP. LUZ ILAGAN ON THE ISSUANCE OF ARREST WARRANTS VS BATASAN BLAST SUSPECTS

“While judicial processes must be respected, we in Gabriela Women’s Party remain doubtful of the investigation conducted by the Philippine National Police which is the basis of the warrants issued today.”

“Though this has long been ignored, our demand for an independent probe on the November 13 Batasan blast stays. Until then, justice for the victims of the Batasan blast remains elusive”

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan was among those injured in the November 13, 2007 Batasan blast. She suffered shrapnel wounds on her right leg. Her driver, Marcial Taldo died on the spot.

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Filed under Batasan Blast, News Release

JUDGE POSTPONES HEARING ON FABRICATED MURDER CASE VS MILITANT SOLONS; MAZA CONFIDENT OF CASE DISMISSAL FOR LACK OF MERIT

The hearing today on the motion for the judicial determination of probable cause filed by Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza, Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna) and Rep. Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis) has been reset to May 12 by Judge Evelyn Turla of Branch 40, Palayan City Nueva Ecija RTC. This after the prosecution declared that the CIDG is requesting 5 days or until April 30 to comment on the motion.

The defense was meanwhile ordered to submit jurisprudence that the 10-day period given the judge to determineprobable cause for the issuance of a warrant is not mandatory.

Rep. Maza who made her apperance at the court along with the co-accused, maintained the murder and kidnapping charges filed against them are part of a grand Malacanang scheme to remove progressive partylists from Congress.

“The charges are fabricated and the evidence, preposterous. We remain confident that a fair and just assessment, based solely on the merits of the case filed against us would result to a dismissal of the case,” said Rep. Maza.

Maza explained that In their motion, the defense cited several inconsistencies in the charges against them. “They accuse us, for example of collaborating for the purported murder of Jimmy Peralta who was in fact killed in a road accident. A spot report released the day after his accident, reveals that Peralta in fact hit a certain Marlon Banicod with his motorcycle, causing Peralta to fall down and consequently ran over by a vehicle in the opposite direction. The statements against us are preposterous. ”

The same charges were used in May 2007 in an attempt to disqualify Gabriela Women’s Party, Bayan Muna and Anakpawis from participating in
the partylist elections. The disqualification case was dismissed for lack of merit.

“This is plain and simple political persecution. A clear indication of the Arroyo government’s determination to eliminate the political opposition despite being closely watched by the international community. This continuing political persecution is a clear indication of the government’s desperation as it carries on with its corrupt practices and bankrupt economic policies while failing to appease growing public unrest with propaganda.” #

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Filed under Human Rights, News Release, Persecution, Political

GABRIELA MAINTAINS FAILED CARP SHOULD NOT BE EXTENDED

“There is no point in extending a bogus land reform program that has served to strengthen the hold of big landowners, agro-corporations and multinationals over vast tracts of land.”

Thus explained Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza, in voting “NO” to the proposed extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program which was approved at the committee level yesterday.

“We would gladly support a land reform program that will genuinely pave the way for land distribution, irrigation and support for farm implements to poor peasants. However, the measure that Malacanang and Congress are dead-set on approving will give new life to the CARP that has kept at least seven out of ten peasants landless,” explained Maza.

According to the Gabriela solon, even records from the Department of Agrarian Reform would substantiate the failure of the 20-year old CARP and the need for a genuine agrarian reform law.

Based on DAR records, foreclosed properties due to non-payment of amortization totaled around 100,000 hectares, implying that the economic conditions of farmer-beneficiarie s did not improve significantly to enable them to sustain payment. “Most farmer beneficiaries become victims of bigay-bawi schemes,” said Maza.

Maza further said that from 1988 to 2004 alone, around 800,000 hectares of agricultural lands have been converted to other uses enabling landowners and corporations to circumvent the law.

The Gabriela solon also notes that amendments being introduced in the bill to extend the CARP implementation does not in any way change the provisions that has kept the peasants landless. “The bill does not in its essence contain any program for reform.”

Gabriela solons Maza and Luz Ilagan are instead pushing for HB3059 or
the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill along with Rep. Crispin Beltran (Anakpawis) and Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna).

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Filed under Agrarian Reform, Agriculture, News Release, Peasant

NO TO PULL-OUT OF CHEAP NFA RICE, PRICE CONTROL NOW

Members of Gabriela Women’s Partylist today stormed the office of the National Food Authority(NFA) to denounce the pull-out of NFA rice priced at P18.25 from most of the 108 public markets in the National Capital Region. The P25 high variety rice from the United States was said to replace the cheaper NFA rice in the markets.

GWP protest at the NFA makes the front page

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the women’s party, said this move will aggravate the situation of the largely impoverished consumers, who cannot afford the P25/kilo rice.

“What the government needs to institute is a price control mechanism that will keep the prices of NFA rice at lower levels,” she said.
Palabay cited the Price Act of 1992 giving authorizing the President and the Department of Trade and Industry to impose price freeze and controls in times of calamities.

Fe Ramirez, a housewife from Brgy. Batasan Hills and member of the group, said mothers find it difficult to make ends meet, especially after the P18.25 NFA rice was replaced by the P25/kilo rice in the markets.

“Ito na nga lang ang bigas na kahit paano’y kaya naming bilhin, tatanggalin pa sa mga pamilihang pinupunta namin,” Ramirez commented. She said NFA rice stationed for sale at barangay centers are accessible only to those who are favored by barangay officials.

“Mas konti rin ang suplay ng bigas sa mga barangay kesa sa mga palengke. Karamihan din sa amin ay dagdag na gumagastos pa ng pamasahe sa pagpunta sa mga center,” she added.

Palabay also criticized Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap’s statement favoring the elimination of price rice subsidy, saying this will push market prices of NFA rice higher.

“Clearly, Yap and Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are abetting the crisis by employing measures which are either detrimental to the poor or by churning up public relations gimmicks to salvage her already torn and tattered record,” she concluded. ##

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Filed under Agriculture, News Release, Poverty, Women

ARROYO CHALLENGED ON PRO-POOR MEASURES: TAX REPEAL, NOT TAX EXEMPTIONS

The militant women’s partylist group Gabriela today criticized as a mere spin, President Arroyo‘s supposed bid to have pro-poor measures passed including a measure implementing tax exemption for minimum wage earners.

“This is but an attempt to appease growing restiveness as prices of oil, rice and basic commodities continue to rise. The truth is, a great majority of the population will not at all benefit from this measure,” said Rep. Maza.

According to Maza, statistics from the Department of Labor and Employment would reveal that only 7.9M of the country’s workers receive wages equivalent to the minimum wage or even lower. This is not even half of the country’s total labor force which is estimated at 37M.

“This token relief is almost insulting. Majority of the impoverished population do not even have jobs, much less wages to speak of. Most women in urban poor communities for example have resorted to various odd jobs like doing the laundry, vending food, or doing home service manicures,” said Maza.

The Gabriela solon instead pushed for HB3433 repealing the Reform Value Added Tax law which will benefit not just a few workers but the entire population. Repealing the RVAT is expected to cut prices of commodities by as much as 12%. Gasoline and diesel prices will be reduced by over P5.00.

“We challenge Congress to tackle and immediately approve the repeal of the RVAT and other genuine pro-poor measures.” #

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Filed under News Release, VAT

CARP EXTENSION TO FURTHER RICE, FOOD CRISIS

As Congress sets to deliberate anew on proposals to extend the comprehensive agrarian reform program, representatives of the militant partylist group Gabriela today said extending the failed CARP will inevitably lead to a rice crisis of larger proportions and to further food insecurity in the coming years.

“A closer look at trends in agricultural production and agrarian reform indicates that CARP allowed corporations and elite families to maintain and even expand land ownership, through the conversion of
agricultural lands dedicated to rice production to industrial and residential use, or the conversion of rice and corn crops to so-called cash crops,” said Rep. Maza.

Rep. Maza said the National Statistics Office revealed farmlands fell from 9.9M hectares to 9.7M hectares from 1991 to 2002. Palay farmlands on the other hand fell 4M hectares in 2005, from 4.13M in 2004.

Rep. Luz Ilagan who hails from Mindanao said CARP’s implementation largely benefitted big corporations in Mindanao like DOLE, Global Fruit, Blooming Petals and Upland Banana Corporation who have transformed South Cotabato from a rice producing province into one now sprawling with pineapples, bananas, asparagus and papaya all for export.

“To think that Mindanao used to be able to produce enough rice not just for the island but for the provinces in the Visayas as well. Now we cannot even meet our own demands for rice,” laments Ilagan.

Maza and Ilagan said they are set to oppose proposals to extend CARP when the House of Representatives Committee on Agrarian Reform meets tomorrow.

“We are pushing for HB3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, to allow landless peasants access to land, irrigation and support for farm implements, as well as fair market pricing of their produce. We need to learn our lessons. Extending the failed CARP will spell disaster.” #

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Filed under Agriculture, Mindanao, News Release, Peasant