Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saying No to JPEPA !

Are there at least 8 Senators who love our country?

While the nation’s focus in on the rice crisis and the escalating food prices, the Senate, according to Senator Pia Cayetano, is poised to approve the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) “despite objections.” Senators seem to be convinced, like MalacaƱang, that the Philippines may be left behind if the JPEPA is not approved. Japanese investments and official development agreement may be withheld from this country if the JPEPA is not approved.

Critics of JPEPA have an online campaign asking the Filipino people to convince their senators to cast their votes for the Filipino people by junking JPEPA. Only eight senators need to vote vs. JPEPA. Will there be at least 8 Senators who will show their love for our people and this land by saying no to JPEPA? For those interested to know more about why the Senators and the Filipino people should not accept the present JPEPA, please see http://www.Petition jpepa/petition. html.

The move of Senator Miriam Santiago to endorse the approval of JPEPA subject to conditionalities show that even the endorser herself has questions about the present JPEPA. If the treaty is not tight and totally acceptable, why approve this? What is the truth behind JPEPA?

Is the JPEPA truly beneficial for our country and our people? We have no objection to an economic partnership agreement with Japan or any country provided the provisions will truly benefit our people and our land.

Objections to the JPEPA have taken the form of the issue of toxic waste, the stringent conditions required for our Filipino nurses and caregivers, and the secrecy that accompanied the signing of the treaty by GMA that denied our people and even the Senate to deliberate on the treaty from the start.

Some less known highlights of the objections about the JPEPA posed by its critics include:

1. The NBN deal would have cost the Filipino people at least $130 million. JPEPA will cost us more: For promised and theoretical Japanese investments, we are giving up our lands, our seas, our livelihood, our laws, our farmers, our fisherfolk, our migrant workers, and our lives. Our patrimony, our sovereignty, our dignity, our people, our land, our next generation of Filipinos as well will be the price to be exchanged for JPEPA.

2. JPEPA grants national treatment to the Japanese. JPEPA allows foreign ownership of Philippine private lands in all sectors except manufacturing and services. If Japanese investors wish to engage in real estate development, agribusiness, and other similar ventures, they can now own private lands in the country. This is a crime against Filipino farmers who continue to suffer and die in the fight to own the very lands that they till. JPEPA also allows corporations with 40% Japanese capital to engage in deep-sea fishing activities together with the Philippine government via joint venture agreements, production-sharing agreements or production-sharing agreements; a crime against Filipino fishermen who barely get government support for their livelihood.

3. In Article 93 of the JPEPA, the Philippines waived its right to require Japanese investors to transfer technology to their Filipino partners. The Philippines also surrendered the right to require Japanese investors to hire a given level of Filipinos. This voluntary surrender of rights has not been done by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The provisions contained in Article 4 and Article 27 of the JPEPA do not exist in similar EPAs with Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The Philippine negotiators also restricted the law-making powers of the Congress by indicating provisions of current laws in our reservations for future measures. Article 27 and its implementing guidelines allows importation of used four wheeled vehicles; a clear violation of Executive Order 156.

4. JPEPA is but the first in a long line of free trade and economic partnership agreements currently being negotiated by the Philippines, and it will set the stage for all future trade and investment agreements. If we cannot strategically defend our interests in this treaty, what kind of future can we promise to the Filipino people?
Will the Senators insist on ratifying JPEPA in its current form despite clear objections and clear threats to our lands, our seas, our people of this generation and the future and our freedom, our lives? Will there be at least eight Senators who will block the current form of the JPEPA for the sake of our people and our land?

By Cheery Ballescas Perspective

The Freeman, April 25, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Decent Work, Decent Life

Sign the Call to action for Decent Work Decent Life

Bill vs discrimination to be pushed anew

Cebu Daily News
Posted date: April 19, 2008

A PARTYLIST representative seeks to revive a bill against discrimination following the traumatic experience of a gay florist who became the brunt of jokes after his surgery to remove a body spray from his rectum was circulated in YouTube and cellular phones.
Partylist Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel of Akbayan said there was a need to schedule the deliberation of House Bill (HB) No. 956 following the Internet videotape scandal gripping the Vicente Sotto Medical Memorial Center (VSMMC).
"I called Hon. Lorenzo Tanada, head of the Committee on Human Rights, to give time to the deliberation of this Anti-Discrimination Act because I am or we in Akbayan were really saddened about what had happened in this Vicente Sotto incident," said Baraquel who was in Cebu to speak in a forum on good governance.
She said she was saddened by what happened to Danilo (not his real name), the 39-year-old florist who underwent a rectal surgery to remove the metal can of Black Suede body spray from his rectum.
The videotape of the surgery was circulated in YouTube and in cellular phones. In the videotape, VSMMC medical staffers were heard making fun at the patient who was unconscious. There were over 10 people inside the operating room, some were videotaping the procedure using their cameras and cellular phones.
Baraquel showed up during the press conference of Basak Pardo barangay captain Dave Tumulak, who was assisting Danilo in his case, to show her support to the patient.
Tumulak said the legislator promised to file a bill on Monday, seeking to conduct a congressional inquiry on the matter.
He said the inquiry, which would be conducted in aid of legislation, would seek to determine how to strengthen the laws protecting the rights of homosexuals so they would be subject to discrimination.
According to Baraquel, she filed HB 956 or Anti-Discrimination Act on July 10, 2007.
But, she said the bill, which seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, remained pending at the House Committee on Human Rights.
Under the bill, it is considered unlawful if a person will be denied access to public service, medical and health services, educational institutions and employment because of his sexual orientation.
It is unlawful to anyone who will force any person to medical and psychological examination without the consent of the person involved and to harass someone because of the person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Violators will face a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P500,000 or imprisonment of from one year to six years or both at the discretion of the court.
In addition, community service in terms of human rights education to the perpetrator and exposure to the plight of the victims can be imposed at the discretion of the court. Kimberly May Villacrucis, UP Masscom Intern

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Arroyo dared to revoke EO on Hanjin

Arroyo dared to revoke EO on Hanjin
By Maila Ager INQUIRER.netFirst Posted 18:33:00 04/09/2008

MANILA, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was challenged on Wednesday by a militant lawmaker to revoke her executive order that gave power subsidies to a Korean company now under fire for its construction of two condominium buildings in Subic in the province of Zambales.

Arroyo signed Executive Order 701 in January 22 this year directing the National Transmission Commission (Transco) to give the controversial Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines a discount on transmission and generation charges for 10 years.

"If its claim that it is not giving special treatment to Hanjin is true, then we dare the government to remove the power subsidies given to the company," Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros said in a statement.

For the first six years, Hontiveros said, Hanjin would be given discounted generation and transmission rates of $0.0491, and this would increase to $0.0600 for the remaining four years.

"This is a hefty discount considering the power needs of an industrial firm and compared to the P5 per kilowatt hour rate imposed on Filipino consumers to cover NPC's [National Power Commission's] charge and Transco's transmission charge," she said.

Besides, Hontiveros said these power subsidies would not only be for Hanjin's shipyard in Subic but it would also cover another shipyard, which is yet to be constructed in Mindanao.

"The cost of these subsidies would eventually be imposed on Filipino consumers in the form of power rate hikes, which are oftentimes rationalized by increasing generation and transmission costs," Hontiveros said.

"The extent of concessions given to Hanjin at the expense of labor standards, environmental protection, and revenues lost due to power subsidies," she said, also showed a "government that bends backwards for foreigners but gives its own citizen's second-class treatment."

Hontiveros then urged the President to revoke the executive, saying it is not only unfair but is also costly on the part of the government.

"It's not a question of how many millions of dollars the company is investing in the country. The principle of parity and the rule of law should be applied," she said.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Olympic Torch protest London

The Burma Campaign UK and the Burmese community will be highlighting China’s continued support for Burma’s brutal regime by holding a peaceful protest as the Olympic Torch comes to London on Sunday, April 6, 2008.

Why China?
China arms the regime, supplying weapons, bullets and military vehicles to the brutal army.China finances the regime , by signing deals in the oil, gas, hydro-electric and mining sectors china provides the regime with an economic lifeline.

China protects the regime by blocking UN Security Council action on Burma.

By providing economic, political and logistical support China is helping to keep the brutal generals in power in Burma.

Source: The Burma Campaign UK

Thursday, April 3, 2008

All About Rice

· It is the staple food of about 3 Billion people around the world

· 250 Million farmers depend on rice cultivation

· 90% of the world's rice is produced and consumed in Asia

· It has political, economic, and social significance especially in the Southeast Asian region

· The MOST IMPORTANT CROP in the SEA producing 150 Million tons of paddy annually

· Its production is associated with irrigation, use of modern varieties, and inputs of fertilizer nutrients. Thus, expansion in any of these inputs rationalizes the increase in rice production

· Philippines has the 3rd largest irrigated rice area, next to Indonesia and Vietnam

· Thailand and Vietnam remain to be the region's major rice exporters while Indonesia and the Philippines remain to be major rice importer in the region

· The Philippines is 9th in terms of rice consumption in the world next to China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and Japan

· World's top rice- exporting countries are Thailand (1), Vietnam (2), USA (3), China (4), Burma (10) and Taiwan (14)

· World's top rice- importing countries are Indonesia (1), Philippines (8), and Malaysia (9)


· Poor production techniques

· Lack of irrigation

· High dependence on weather conditions

· Massive land conversion

· Small farmers are highly indebted to private money lenders and loan sharks who usually charge high interest rates because of the high costs of inputs such as fertilizers and seeds

· Urbanization

· Rice trade is controlled by private capitalists with whom farmers have debts

· Illegal rice trading practices

· Liberalization of the rice industry due to GATT- WTO- Agreements on Agriculture