Monthly Archives: September 2008


Gabriela Womens Party Representative Liza Maza today renewed calls for the GSIS to fully disclose immediately its foreign investments as the global financial meltdown worsens in the midst of a foiled US bailout.

“The clamor for a full public disclosure of GSIS investments is urgent. The pension of at least 2 million government employees, including public school teachers is at stake,” said Rep. Maza.

“Government employees practically all of whom are GSIS fund owners and legitimate stakeholders all deserve to know what is going on with their money. We have received and continue to receive complaints from several government employees and public school teachers who do not receive their pensions and benefits on time.”

The Gabriela solon added that all GSIS loans for employees of the House of Representatives have been suspended since the second week of September. “All these indicate that there is something wrong with the GSIS.”

According to the Gabriela solon, at least $1B worth of assets for investment have already been released by the GSIS to international fund managers ING Investment Management and Credit Agricole Assset Management late last year.

In November 2007, Rep. Maza, along with fellow Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan and representatives from Bayan Muna and Anakpawis filed House Resolution 333 which seeks to look into the $1B Global Investment Program. “To date, this resolution has not seen action in any committee.”#

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Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza today criticized President Arroyo’s Executive Order 739 as “a dangerous move towards the operationalization of a police and betrays the Arroyo regime’s propensity for totalitarianism.”

According to Maza, EO 739 which reorganizes the National Peace and Order Council places the country, down to the smallest and most isolated barangays under the framework of internal security order (ISO) that poses the risk of further undermining civilian authority. “It portends a human rights catastrophe.”

The National Peace and Order Council has a composition is no different from that of the National Security Council, except that it has, at its helm, DILG secretary Ronaldo Puno. “By virtue of this EO, Puno is virtually at par with the President, with sweeping powers and blanket authority.”

The Gabriela solon also accused President Arroyo of doing a Marcos by raising the communist bogey to implement a creeping Martial Law. “She is laying the groundwork for the perpetuation of her stay in Malacanang.”

Maza also raised concern on the bid to delay the country’s commitment to the Optional Protocol against Torture. “Clearly, this is a regime that does not in any way intend to uphold international human rights doctrines. This delay, along with the EO brings the Philippines nowhere near a resolution to the unresolved extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances and abductions.”#

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Committee Report 1156 Regarding HB 5043
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Largoza Maza
September 17, 2008

Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Colleagues

I rise to sponsor Committee Report 1156 on House Bill No.

The right to health, which embraces sexual and reproductive health, is acknowledged in various human rights documents such as Article 12 of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR )where States Parties recognize “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

It is enshrined in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which protect the right to life, which includes the right to health.

This is provided for in the Philippine Constitution.
The Beijing Platform for Action adopted by governments during the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 recognizes that women’s right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is “vital to their life and well-being and their ability to participate in all areas of public and private life.”

The Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women ( CEDAW) mandates states parties to take “appropriate measure to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

The UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 adopted a rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health and recognized that if women are empowered and informed and the people’s basic needs for sexual and reproductive health are met, population growth will be stabilized, not by coercion and control but by virtue of choice and opportunity

The proposed bill sees and advances the right to reproductive health as inextricably linked to human rights. This is framed on the overall pursuit of human rights including the right to health. The measure recognizes and guarantees that the advancement and protection of women’s human rights shall guide the efforts of the state to address reproductive health care. The recognition of the indivisibility and interdependence of reproductive health rights to human rights including the right to development is an initial step toward highlighting the need for comprehensive and accessible people’s health care system of which reproductive health care forms an integral part.

Thus, this measure is in line with the Gabriela Women’s Party’s advocacy to advance a national quality health care service that is comprehensive, available, accessible, acceptable, and democratic of which reproductive health and rights form an integral part.

The reality of the Filipino people shows that even basic primary health care services are inadequate if not lacking at the local and national levels. Seven out of every 10 Filipinos die without medical attention. Only 30 percent of the population has access to essential medicine. The average hospital bill is three times the average monthly income. Expectedly, when even the state primary health care remains dismal, the reproductive health care especially of women is in a more depressing state as it is given lesser priority
by the government and the family. Thus, many women’s and children’s lives are endangered because of deteriorating health services in the country. Likewise, the lives of thousands of pregnant women and their unborn children are at risk because of the lack of pre-natal, peri-natal and post- natal care for women. According to the latest data (CWR, 2008) 10 mothers die daily of pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes, while the Philippines Midterm Progress Report (PMPR) on the MDGs, states that the maternal mortality rate in 2006 is 162 mothers per 100,000 live births. Infant mortality is still high at 21.45 per 1,000 livebirths. The leading causes of maternal mortality in the Philippines are hemorrhage, eclampsia in pregnancy, puerperal sepsis, retained placenta, obstructed labor, prolonged pregnancy, and anemia. The major factors underlying the medical causes are the lack of political commitment and inadequate financial and technical input, and poor quality of care.

With the increasing privatization of public hospitals and the economy in general, health services for the poor are drastically diminished shifting progressively the burden of health care including reproductive health care solely to women. Consequently, the prohibitive costs of health services bear its heavy toll on poor women.
When the family has limited resources to avail of social services especially, health services, women are the last to avail of medical attention, and when there is little food on the table, there is even lesser food for women. In a social set-up, where women remain in subordinate position and where women’s role is located in general to the reproductive sphere, the burden of child bearing, rearing and taking care of the whole family rests on them. As our economy worsens, social services become even more inadequate, expensive and inaccessible. Hence, this measure is necessary as this will give poor women relief especially at this time of economic hardships where no adequate, accessible, affordable and proper social services could be availed of.

The Gabriela Women’s Party believes that the worsening poverty, dwindling resources of the country and inadequate social services are rooted in the continuous subservience of our economic and political policies to the dictates of foreign and local elite interests. The root causes of our economic crisis must be addressed to be able to create an enabling environment for human development and development of healthy individuals and families. In the meantime we see the urgency to pass this measure as this will give relief
especially to poor women at this time when there is little or no viable economic alternatives available to them. The bill pushes the government to provide relief measures that will address people’s immediate reproductive health needs and problems. It directs the government to uphold the right to education of the people and the right to make decisions for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible parenthood. It seeks to ensure the universal access to information and education about reproductive health.

The right to health including reproductive health must be upheld, promoted and protected by the state. Hence, we call for the immediate passage of this measure.


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Gabriela Womens Party Representative Liza Maza yesterday sought clarification from Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on the Department on Budget and Management’s fund releases amounting to P897M which was awarded to the Department of Agriculture at the height of the deliberation of the impeachment case filed against President Arroyo.

“There may be something fishy going on here. It is highly suspicious that Department of Agriculture received fund allocations which were not part of the budget originally approved by Congress for the department in the GAA,” said Maza

Maza noted the following fund releases in the 2007 Commission on Audit report on the Department of Agriculture:

•    70M released last November 12, 2007 for the Barangay Food Terminal and Bagsakan Center Project.
•    800M released last November 19, 2007 for the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program. This fund release did not entail any request from the DA and was automatically transferred to Regional Field Units.
•    27.5M released last November 19, 2007, for the Operational requirements of the Agno River Integrated Project. This was released despite the absence of any fund requests from the DA.

The P897M is but part of a total of P4.3B questionable fund releases from February to December 2007 uncovered by the COA.

The Gabriela solon recalls that the House of Representatives rejected supplemental impeachment complaints meant to add substance to the sham complaint filed by lawyer Ruel Pulido last November 7, 2007. The Committee on Justice dismissed the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo last November 14, 2007 while the plenary voted to reject the same complaint by affirming the Committee report in the plenary on November 26, 2007. “It can also be recalled that it was during this period that cash gifts were reportedly handed out left and right in Malacanang breakfast meetings and LGU consultations.”

“The COA has noted that there was no way for them to validate the actual applications of the fund allocations due to the absence of detailed activities and reports on the project outputs. The DA needs to clarify these fund allocations and report in detail on the regions and provinces where they have been allocated and who actually benefited from these projects. We need to know whether these funds have indeed been used for its supposed purpose.” #

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Gabriela Women’s Party Online

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Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza today pushed for nationwide, transparent, public hearings on Charter Change, arguing that the conduct of simultaneous district-level consultations being proposed by the allies of the administration is prone to political manipulation.

“We want nothing less than the conduct of truthful, thorough, transparent public consultations on the issue of charter change.”

“More importantly, Malacanang’s agenda needs to be revealed in the conduct of these consultations. President Arroyo’s Charter Change wish list should be disclosed, from the proposed changes on provisions on term extensions to the changes in foreign ownership, military bases and foreign military presence among several others.”

The House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendments is set to tackle today the conduct of public hearings and consultations on the proposed changes in the Constitution.

Amendments being proposed in Congress by allies of President Arroyo include allowing foreign corporations and associations to acquire 100% ownership of lands. Speaker Prospero Nograles has filed House Resolution 737. “This proposal which smacks of a sell-out of our patrimony should also be subject to a public consultation.”

“We have to allow people to make informed choices. There has to be a widespread information dissemination campaign on the consequences of Charter Change, the provisions that will be open to alteration, as well as the proposed changes to these provisions.”

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“It can be seen as no other way. The dissolution of the peace panel is tantamount to a declaration of an all-out war against the Bangsamoro people. The Arroyo government’s obstinacy, all the while ignoring the legitimate demands of the Bangsamoro does not bring the conflict anywhere near resolution.”

Thus said Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza today as Malacanang dissolved the peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The partylist lawmaker also said this move by Malacanang does not bode well for the hundreds of thousands of Mindanaoans internal refugees, mostly women and children who have fled their homes and livelihood because of the conflict.

“The AFP’s increased deployment of troops and the arming of civilians, President Arroyo’s DDR approach of disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation to the resolution of conflict and finally this dissolution of the peace panel, all speak clearly of the Arroyo government’s militarist solution to the ongoing conflict in Mindnanao.”

“We renew our calls for the immediate resumption of the peace process, for productive negotiations addressing the demands of the Bangsamoro people for recognition and ancestral domain as well and the calls to address poverty in Mindanao.”

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Sponsorship Speech on HB1722: An Act Legislating 125 Wage Hike

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza-Maza

03 September 2008

I am glad that finally, the committee scheduled the deliberation of this very important bill, House Bill No. 1722 or An Act Providing for a P125.00 across the board legislated wage increase for all workers in the private sector. I am saddened, however, that the late Cong. Crispin Beltran, didn’t have the opportunity of sponsoring this bill that has been part of his life and struggle as labor leader.

Almost a decade ago, in 1999, workers went to the streets to call for a P125 across the board wage increase. Then, they brought their call to 11th Congress for proper legislation. Former Congressmen Sergio Antonio Apostol and Oscar Rodriguez sponsored the bills providing for P125 wage increase in behalf of the workers. However, the house leadership failed to calendar the bills.

In the 12th Congress, Bayan Muna Representatives- veteran labor leader Ka Crispin Beltran, this Representation and Cong. Satur Ocampo filed HB 2605. Representatives Rolex Suplico, Buboy Syjuco, Constatino Jaraula and Carlos Padilla followed suit by filing HB No. 2623. In the Senate, Sen. Flavier filed a counterpart bill. The workers found hope when the bill was passed in the committee level. But then again, the bill slept as an item in the Business of the Day and wasn’t passed in the plenary.

In the 13th Congress, the P125 wage increase bill was once again refiled by the progressive partylist bloc. Then Chairman of the Committee on Labor and Employment Cong. Roseller Barinaga also filed a similar bill. The two measures were consolidated into House Bill 345. The consolidated bill was overwhelmingly supported and co-authored by more than 50 of our colleagues. This time, after several mobilizations and lobbying undertaken by the workers outside and inside Congress, it passed the 3rd reading in the plenary. However, after employers and big business groups appealed to President Arroyo and to Congress to recall the passage of this bill, and with the connivance of the executive’s economic advisers, the bill wasn’t immediately transmitted to the Senate. Such act violated the Rules of the House. Months after, it was recalled without basis.

This time, this representation together with other sponsors and millions of workers nationwide hope that this Congress will be more supportive to the workers’ cause. This bill has been long overdue, but with current plight of the working people in the country, this bill is a very timely response if passed immediately.

The wage boards provided a meager increase in the last series of wage orders. For the information of this body, the highest increase in the basic pay approved by the wage boards is P20 and is currently implemented in some parts of Southern Luzon, and here in the NCR after the P5 COLA was integrated to the basic pay last week. However, it is unfortunate that until now, not a single centavo was increased in the basic pay of workers in five (5) regions, namely Region 1, Region 5, Region 6, Region 8 and CAR. Some regional wage boards even treated workers like pre-school kids by giving them COLA amounting to as low as P3!

Meanwhile, even with tax relief, the minimum wage of workers is not sufficient to cope with the impact of skyrocketing prices of basic commodities. The price of rice alone rose by 43% in June and reached 50% increase in July 2008; the price of canned goods, noodles and other food products that serve as the poor’s staple food increased significantly and are not expected to lower down even after the end of the year. The price of LPG increased by around P59 to 72 in a span of 2 months from May to July of this year. As a result, the consumers need to pay 18.6% more this year for a basket of goods that they used to buy last year.

At present, minimum wage earners in the National Capital Region receive a meager P382.00, an amount which is P522.00 below the family living wage for a family of six currently pegged at P904.00. The workers outside NCR suffer from even lower wages.

With the cost of living rising alongside with the prices of basic commodities and services, will this Congress allow the workers to live a starvation-level quality of life? I hope this Congress will be humane enough to the working people of this country.

I am looking forward for the passage of this bill at the soonest possible time. Likewise, I urge my colleagues to support House Resolution No. 552 filed by this representation, urging the President to certify as urgent the P125.00 wage increase bill.

Thank you very much!

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“Hindi na nahiya. Bago pa man matalakay sa budget at bago pa man ipagtulakan ang 100% dagdag sahod sa mga opisyal ng gubyerno, higit na karapatdapat mabigyan ng dagadg sahod ang mga karaniwang manggagawa. More than President Arroyo and more than any other government official who has enjoyed the privileges of public office, it is the deprived almost destitute private sector worker that deserves a pay hike.”

Thus said Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza today pushed anew for the approval of HB 1722 and HB 1962 providing for P125 across the board wage hike for workers and P3,000 salary hike for government employees respectively. The House of Representatives Committee on Labor is set to tackle tomorrow, HB 1722.

Meanwhile, Malacanang’s proposal which is integrated in the 2009 national budget, increases government officials’ salaries by 100% but provides increases for rank and file government employees by only 50% to be given in increments for four years.

“It would be scandalous to increase the President’s salary from P60,000 to P120,000 monthly when 25.4 million Filipinos barely survive on less than Php 60.00 per day.”

The latest report from the Asian Development Bank has pegged the poverty line at $1.35 or roughly Php60.00. The new poverty indicator now puts 29.5% of the population living below the poverty line under the administration of President Arroyo.

“This simply means that more than the policy of dole-outs meant to give this administration its “Barbie points” we need to implement measures that will immediately relieve the poor of the economic downturn, such as a legislated wage hike,” said Maza.

“The unacceptable gap that exists between daily cost of living and the actual nominal wage needs to be addressed. While the family living wage or the daily cost of living for a family of six is now at Php 894.00, wages have remained at Php 382.00 in the National Capital Region. It is worse for those in ARMM whose wages are pegged at a meager Php 200.00 per day.” #

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