Monthly Archives: May 2008

Pagpupugay kay Kinatawan Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran

Binasa ni Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza sa huling pagpaparangal kay

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran sa Mababang Kapulungan

Mayo 28, 2008

Sa plenaryong ito, ating nakasama si Kinatawan Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, isang magiting na kinatawan, tunay na lingkod ng mamamayan, tinig ng mga mangggagawa, magsasaka’t mga maralita, lider ng bayan.

Dito’y hindi lamang minsan nating marinig ang kanyang mga talumpati’t pakikipag-debate sa mga usaping malapit sa puso ng masang anakpawis. Mariin siyang tumindig at nakipaglaban, kadalasa’y suot ang kanyang paboritong pulang barong na muli niyang suot sa araw na ito, para sa usapin ng karagdagang sahod, mga benepisyo at karapatang mag-unyon ng mga manggagawa. Nanindigan siya para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa. Paulit-ulit rin niyang ipinahayag ang pangangailangan para sa paninirahan, kalusugan at edukasyon sa mga maralita.

Si Ka Bel, bilang representante ng partido Anakpawis ang nasa likod ng mahigit 130 resolusyon at panukalang batas na naihapag noong ika-13 Kongreso. Pinakamataas sa kasaysayan.

Naaalala ko nang kami ay unang maupo sa Kongreso bilang kinatawan ng Bayan Muna noong 2001, madalas sabihin ng marami na kami na nanggagaling sa mga kaliwa at militante, kami nila Ka Satur at Ka Bel, ay mga grim and determined. Totoong kami ay mga determined pagdating sa mga prinsipyo’t pagtataguyod sa interes ng mga manggagawa, magsasaka, mga kababaihan, kabataan, muslim at katutubo, pero hindi naman sa lahat ng pagkakataon kami ay grim.

Naaalala ko pa noon hindi lang minsan kami ay ay nagbibiruan at siya’y bumubulong sa akin, pinupuna ang iba’t ibang mga kasuotan ng mga kongresista. Aniya, “Tingnan mo yung isang yun, mukhang mamahalin ang damit, hindi naman marunong magdala.” Minsan rin nama’y tinanong niya sa akin, “Ikaw ba, saan mo ba binili ang damit na yan?” At sasabihin ko naman, “Ka Bel, diyan lang sa ukay-ukay.”

Sa maraming pagkakataon, mula nang siya’y mahalal na kinatawan ng Bayan Muna noong 2001 at ng Anakpawis noong halalang 2004 at 2007, walang pag-aatubili si Ka Bel sa kanyang pagbatikos sa mga patakaran ng kasalukuyang pamahalaan, sa paglalantad ng mga anomalya at nitong huli, ang tangkang panunuhol sa kanya habang ang Kongreso’y abala sa reklamong impeachment laban kay Pangulong Arroyo.

Marahil hindi na rin kailangang sabihin pa at alam naman nating lahat na ang mahigit isang taon niyang pagkakapiit sa Heart Center, ang mga gawa-gawang kaso ng rebelyon at maging ang mga kaso ng pagpaslang at pagdukot sa mga lider at kasapi ng kanyang kinakatawang partido, ang partido Anakpawis, ay hindi naging dahilan para si Ka Bel ay tumahimik, panghinaan ng loob o matakot.

At bakit nga naman, gayong si Ka Bel—ang kanyang pagkatao’t paninindigan ay pinanday ng kahirapan, pinanday ng pakikibaka laban sa karahasan ng panunupil sa kilusang paggawa at sa panggigipit ng batas militar.

Na tayo’y lisanin ni Ka Bel sa pamamaraang di umano’y taliwas sa kanyang kagustuhan—ang mabuwal sa gitna ng laban at protesta—ay hindi kailanman magiging dahilan para sa panghihinayang. Kalakhan ng 75 taon ng kanyang buhay ay inilaan sa puspusang paglilingkod at pagsasabuhay ng kanyang mga prinspyo’t paninindigan.

Sa paggawaan man o sa lansangan, sa loob at labas ng kongreso, sa loob at labas ng bansa, itingi ni Ka Bel, isinigaw at ipinaglaban ni Ka Bel ang mithiin ng uring manggagawa at anakpawis, para sa pambansang kalayaan, tunay na demokrasya, pangmatagalang kapayapaan, hustisya at kaginhawaan para sa anakpawis.

Maging ang Inter Parliamentary Union ay kinilala ang kontribusyon ni Ka Bel. Anila sa sulat na ipinadala sa Kongresong ito:

Mr. Beltran was a member of parliament who was fully aware of the important task he had as a representative of the people, in particular, the vulnerable and poor in the society who had elected him. He embraced his task with his characteristic energy and courage. With his passing the parliament of the Philippines has lost an outstanding and exemplary member.

Isang karangalan para sa mababang kapulungan ang magkaroon ng isang kinatawang katulad ni Kinatawan Crispin Beltran. Isang karangalan ang makilala, makasama at makatrabaho ang isang katulad mo, Kasamang Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran.

Sampu ng aking kasamahan sa partido ng kababaihan, ang Gabriela Women’s Party, sa iyong paglisan, ang aming sambit, “Tuloy ang Laban!”

For Reference: Rep. Liza Maza 0920-9134540, Jang Monte (Public Information Officer) 0917-4049119

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GMA’S TUITION HIKE MORATORIUM IS JUST A SPIN –GABRIELA

Representatives of the women’s partylist group Gabriela today criticized as a mere public relations bid, Malacanang’s announcement for a moratorium in tuition increases. “It was conveniently late. This conspicuous timing betrays the announcement for a tuition hike moratorium for what it really is—a spin.”

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza explained most private universities and colleges have already hiked their fees as early as February and March of this year and that many colleges have already finished with their enrollment.

“Education Act of 1982 requires that consultations with parents and stakeholders be conducted during the first quarter of the year. This is usually done sometime in February. By March and April most colleges and universities have already announced the new tuition and school fee schemes. What’s the use of announcing a moratorium towards the end of May?” said Maza.

According to the Gabriela solons, the announcement was an attempt to cover-up the Commission on Higher Education’s failure to monitor and regulate tuition and miscellaneous fee increases. They noted that an 82.73% increase in the average tuition in private colleges and universities have been posted at the CHED from 2000 to 2007.

“CHED has admitted that at least 300 higher education institutions have already posted increases in tuition and miscellaneous fees for this coming school year. Last year, CHED approved tuition hike proposals of at least 370 colleges and universities,” said Ilagan.

Ilagan, who is herself, a teacher also said that there is also a need to scrutinize the increases that have been imposed in the past years as these may not have been allotted properly to teachers’ salaries and facility upgrades.

Reps. Ilagan and Maza have filed last year, HR 377, calling for an investigation on the CHED’s failure to regulate tuition and other school fee increases at the same time calling for a tuition increase moratorium pending the investigation. The resolution remains pending in the Committee on Higher Education. #

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ON THE PASSING AWAY OF REP. CRISPIN “Ka Bel” BELTRAN

Crispin \"Ka Bel\" Beltran

Gabriela Women’s Party mourns the passing away of veteran labor leader and militant partylist Representative Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran.

In his death, we have lost a most formidable ally of workers, peasants and the urban poor.

He has lived a worthy life in defense of the rights of workers and the toiling masses as president of the Kilusang Mayo Uno and eventually as a representative of Bayan Muna in the 12th Congress and of Anakpawis Partylist in the 13th and 14th Congress. Ka Bel is behind the proposed P125 across the board legislated wage increase and the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill.

He has faced battles as political detainee during the Marcos administration and later on under the Arroyo regime after President Arroyo declared a crackdown on her most vocal critics and issued Proclamation 1017.

We grieve with Ka Bel’s family and the masses that he has courageously and wholeheartedly served. We shall carry on his dreams of leaving his grandchildren and the Filipino masses a more humane and just society.

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GABRIELA, PROGRESSIVE SOLONS FILE BILL TO REMOVE VAT ON ELECTRICITY

Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Liza Maza and Luz Ilagan today joined partylist solons from Bayan Muna in filing a bill to remove the 12% Value Added Tax (VAT) on electricity in a bid to immediately reduce electricity rates.

“This measure is a much needed relief for consumers amid skyrocketing food and oil prices. Initial studies show that if this is approved, electricity rates can be reduced by as much as P1.50/kWh,” said Rep. Maza

Studies conducted by the People Opposed to Warrantless Electricity Rates (POWER) also reveal that VAT is applied on almost all items of every consumer’s electricity bill including systems losses, lifeline rate subsidies and local franchise taxes.

Amid accusations of diverting the issue of excessive power rates and defending the Lopezes against the Arroyo government’s supposed bid to lower electricity rates by taking-over the public utility, Maza threw back the challenge at the administration to classify as urgent the proposed measure to remove the VAT on electricity rates.

“Is President Arroyo genuinely interested in upholding consumers’ interests and bringing down electricity rates or are they merely using the issue in order to wrest control of the public utility from the Lopezes in a display of vendetta against its critics? We challenge the Arroyo administration to immediately classify as urgent the bill to remove VAT on electricity rates.”

Gabriela Women’s Party likewise renewed calls for Meralco to reduce electricity rates and cease from passing on excessive systems loss charges to consumers.

As militant solons filed the bill, members of partylist groups Gabriela Women’s Party, Bayan Muna and Anakpawis, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and POWER held picket outside the House of Representatives demanding urgent action on the measure.#

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DISMISSAL OF OKINAWA RAPE CHARGES DENOUNCED

Women’s Partylist group Gabriela today said the outright dismissal of rape charges against the US serviceman accused of raping a Filipina in Okinawa is a grave injustice. “We feel that our kabaro has been
victimized twice over in the name of foreign relations.”

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Largoza Maza said “it is apparent that both the Japanese and Philippine governments have succumbed to pressure from the United States. That the statement of the accused
failed to agree with that of the victim is not a sufficient enough reason to have the charges dropped.”

Japanese prosecutors cited dropped the charges last Friday, with Deputy Chief Prosecutor Takafumi Sato being quoted saying, “The man does not accept the accusation. Just because the two parties disagree
on their argument, a rape charge does not stand on its own under the Japanese law.”

Maza also scored the lack of transparency in the handling of the case. “Filipino migrant and women’s organizations in Japan as well as in the Philippines who were ready to lend any form of support to the victim
were never updated on the case by Philippine officials. We were never updated as to whether these officers were there to ensure justice or to ensure her silence.”

The alleged rape occured last February 18, 2008 at a hotel in Okinawa, barely a week after a 14-year old Okinawan girl was also raped by another US serviceman. The Filipina was hospitalized for several days
after the incident and was then placed under the custody of Philippine embassy officials.

Gabriela Reps. Maza and Luz Ilagan are coauthors of House Resolution 51, a resolution initiated by Rep. Cynthia Villar and adopted by the House last March 2008, which expressed the support of Congress for the
Filipina rape victim.

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GABRIELA SOLON CONDEMNS KILLING OF PEASANT LEADER IN DAVAO

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan denounced today the killing of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Southern Mindanao Region (KMP-SMR) spokesperson, and Bayan -SMR vice chairperson Celso Pojas.

Pojas was killed on May 15,2007 at around 6:00 am, right outside the gate of the Farmers Association of Davao City, of which Pojas was secretary general.

“This recent incident belies all claims of the Arroyo administration that human rights violations and extrajudicial killings have been put to a stop. Clearly, the attacks against militants and activists continue, claiming Celso Pojas as its latest victim.”

Prior to his death, Pojas had been receiving numerous death threats. He had been actively campaigning for the immediate pull out of military troops in Compostela valley Province and stood in behalf for peasant and lumad victims of militarization in Baganga and Cateel in Davao Oriental. The day he died, Pojas had been planning to visit the lumad families camped in the Compostela gym, following their evacuation due to militarization in their communities.

“We strongly condemn the killing of Celso Pojas and we demand justice for Celso and for all victims of extra judicial killings under the Arroyo regime. Activists and human rights defenders will always be targets under a government that refuses to recognize and address legitimate calls for land and social justice.”#

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GABRIELA, GSIS FUND OWNERS DENOUNCE MALACANANG-GARCIA BID FOR MERALCO TAKEOVER

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza today joined government employees in denouncing the use of GSIS assets in the Malacanang-led bid to takeover Meralco.

“Malacanang should stop pitting government employees’ funds for this apparent financial crackdown on business and media institutions that refuse to toe her line,” said Maza.

Maza fears transferring the Meralco management from the Lopezes to the Malacanang-Garcia conspiracy is like putting electricity consumers from the frying pan to the fire.

According to the Gabriela solon, GSIS President Winston Garcia is the last person who can speak for the interests of government employees, having repeatedly gambled government employees’ money into various
speculative investments without consultation, while ignoring appeals for efficiency and transparency in the delivery of services. “Instead of utilizing GSIS funds in this crackdown, it should instead be maximized for the increase of dividends, the delivery of retirement and pension benefits for government employees.”

Last year, Gabriela Women’s Party filed a House Resolution 333 last year to look into the GSIS “global fund management program” allowing foreign investments firms and private international fund managers to handle GSIS members’ funds.

The Gabriela solon further said, “The Garcia-led GSIS has been plagued with complaints of non-remittance of benefits and pensions; of a top-heavy, over-compensated management and; of entering into unwise
investments to the detriment of government employees. With this track record, can we trust them with the management of a public utility?”

Maza said the public’s demands for lower electricity rates can easily be achieved by the suspension of the Value Added Tax and the repeal of the EPIRA. “Malacanang’ s adamant refusal to rid basic services and
utilities of the VAT betrays its real intent in attacking Meralco. Malacanang is not out to reduce power rates, it is out to claim more power by attacking its critics.” #

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Filed under Corruption, Govt Employees, News Release, Political Repression, Utilities