Friday, November 30, 2007

Bonifacio Day Rally

Protesters in Cebu joined the Bonifacio Day Rally calling for job security and the "rejection of a morally bankrupt Arroyo government."

World Aids Day

This year, World AIDS Day—that takes place on December 1— will focus on leadership, the theme set by the World AIDS Campaign under the five-year slogan “Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise”.

The 2007 AIDS epidemic update reports on the latest developments in the global AIDS epidemic. The 2007 edition provides the most recent estimates of the AIDS epidemic and explores new findings and trends in the epidemic’s evolution.


World AIDS Day: Latest figures

Agence France-Presse
PARIS --Following are the latest figures on the global AIDS epidemicahead of World AIDS Day on Saturday.They were released on November 20 by the specialized United Nations Agency, UNAIDS.


Worldwide: 33.2 million (in a range from 30.6 to 36.1 million)

Adults (15-49 years old): approx. 30.8 million

Adult women: approx. 15.4 million (half the total)

Children (Under 15 years old): 2.5 million


Worldwide: 2.5 million (range of 1.8-4.1 million)

Adults: 2.1 million

Children: 420,000


Worldwide: 2.1 million (range of 1.9-2.4 million)

Adults: 1.7 million

Children: 330,000

(Note: UNAIDS reduced by nearly seven million its estimate for thetotal of individuals living with HIV or AIDS compared with 2006, dueto a revision of its statistics. Last year's estimate was 39.5million.)

AKBAYAN condemns detention of journalists and civil society leaders, warns govt against launching another crackdown

AKBAYAN Party condemned the arrest and rounding up of journalists and civil society leaders and warned the government today against using the Manila Pen stand-off to launch another crackdown against opposition, saying that it should instead face the issues that led to the stand-off squarely.

"The people will not tolerate another attack on democratic rights. The government is already insinuating that the stand-off is a conspiracy between civil society groups and the Magdalo soldiers, even making this insane accusation that the annual November 30 workers' rallies is part of the stand-off," Deputy minority leader and AKBAYAN Rep. Hontiveros said.

Rep. Hontiveros also condemned the arrest of Bishop Labayen and Fr. Robert Reyes. "The warrant of arrest for the Magdalo soldiers was issued for contempt of court. There was no legal basis to arrest and handcuff Bishop Labayen and Fr. Robert Reyes," Rep. Hontiveros said.

For her part, AKBAYAN Chair Emeritus Etta Rosales said that the detention of journalists and confiscation of their equipments is isolating further an already politically discredited and a morally bankrupt administration. "We have to thank the soldiers and policemen who are detaining journalists and civil society leaders for showing the bankruptcy of the administration. This is bringing together various forces and sectors, making them realize that it depends upon them to change the status quo."

"We will also push for a congressional inquiry on the violation of the rights of journalists who were simply in Manila Peninsula to do their jobs. It is unlawful for the AFP and PNP to detain these journalists and to confiscate the tapes and other properties of the media persons in the area," Rep. Hontiveros added.

Rosales said that the conduct of the assault demonstrated anew the propensity of the GMA administration to resort to draconian measures to stifle dissent.

"GMA mangled our constitution and our laws to evade accountability and accused the Magdalo soldiers of violating the rule of law. Yet the stand-off was a product of the administration violating the rule of law – it resorted to pay-offs to escape allegations of fraud and corruption and it condoned extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to stifle opposition," Rosales said.

She warned the administration from using the stand-off to launch a crackdown against anti-GMA forces.

"She should instead come clean and allow efforts to hold her accountable for allegations of fraud and corruption. Declaring another state of emergency or martial rule would not be tolerated by the people. This has gone too far," Rosales added.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NUJP: Journalists not enemies of the state

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the Philippine National Police who treated journalists covering the standoff at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati as “enemies of the state”.“We protest in strongest terms the PNP's move to forcibly bring some journalists to the National Capital Region Police Office in Bicutan and condemn the confiscation of video footage of the day-long stand-off at the Manila Peninsula Hotel,” the group said in a statement. The NUJP likewise denounced the “overkill that led to the tying of the hands of members of ABS-CBN's technical team and reporters” in what looked like a virtual arrest. The group does not accept the explanation of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and police officials that the action was done to prevent the escape of Magdalo troops.The group said police officials could easily verify the identities of the technical team with their news team superiors. He added that there was no reason why police officials would be ignorant of the identities of ABS-CBN News correspondents Pinky Webb and Ces Drilon and members of the network's technical team. The group urged authorities to follow legal procedures and reminded them that “invitations to questioning should be differentiated from coercion; journalists have the option to accept the invitation and, certainly, should be accorded the basic right to counsel”. "We concede authorities' right to demand a halt to coverage that could jeopardize the lives of state security forces but believe any move for redress should pass through normal channels, involving management of television stations and not lowly ground staff," the group said. “It is regrettable that a day that would have given the government a clear-cut political victory would be marred by knee-jerk reactions of the authorities. This government claims it is protecting democracy. It should realize that media is a prime component of the democracy it purports to serve,” it added.

Foreign debts at historic high P1.7T under Gloria

The country's foreign debts reached a record P1.7 trillion duringthe term of President Arroyo, according to Walden Bello, the newly electedpresident of the anti-debt group Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).The Arroyo government should take its cue from Argentina indealing with foreign creditors to cut its debt payment and improve theeconomy, Bello said."We have paid our debts many times over,yet owing to the tyranny of global finance, we will never be able to leavethe treadmill of debt repayment if we stick to unfair rules that mainlyserve the interests of creditors," Bello said.As of August2007, the national government's foreign debt stood at P1.7 trillion($1=P46.85). This represents 44 percent of the total P3.87-trillionnational government debt.He lamented that for the Arroyogovernment, debt servicing must proceed according to the terms of thecreditors because, "in their view, that is the only way to continue toaccess international capital markets.""But this is thebankrupt logic that has led to debt being piled on debt. We have notreally escaped the infernal logic of contracting new debt to pay off olddebt. Meantime, our total debt mounts dangerously and brings us closer tothe edge of bankruptcy," Bello warned.Bello explained that therelationship between debtors and creditors has been altered by severalevents during the last few years, and this has implications for thePhilippines.He cited the determination of former ArgentineanPresident Nestor Kirchner who showed the world that his government cantake on a country's creditors and come out on top."As a resultof Kirchner's successful campaign to drastically reduce debt repayments,Argentina has been growing at 10 percent of GDP for each of the last fouryears, the result partly of the fact that money that would otherwise leavethe country for debt servicing has been channeled into investment in thedomestic economy," he said.The former executive director ofFocus on the Global South also explained how the International MonetaryFund (IMF), which used to be the enforcer of the creditors, has become aseverely weakened institution today as a result of the bad policies itimposed on Asian countries during the 1997 financial crisis and onArgentina in 2002."Some of its biggest borrowers have walkedaway from it, and since the fund's budget stemmed in great part fromrepayments from these borrowers, the IMF is today facing both a crisis ofcredibility and a budgetary crisis. It is in real trouble," stressedBello, also the former chairman of the board of Greenpeace SoutheastAsia.Unfortunately, Bello said these developments have notregistered with the Philippine government."(The government's)policies toward its creditors continue to be the old policy of being a'model debtor' that was initiated by (former) President Corazon Aquino inthe 1980s. The conditions for a successful break with the old and thecrafting of a new bold policy of unilaterally writing down the Philippinedebt are better today than they have ever been," he said.