Thursday, June 4, 2015

Navotas urban poor protest impending demolition of homes, off-city relocation

Navotas urban poor under threat of demolition staged a noise barrage along Road 10 this morning as they demand President Benigno Aquno III to immediately halt the implementation of North Bay Reclamation Project, a priority project of the Aquino administration under its Public-Private Partnership program, and the eviction of thousands of urban poor from their communities near the Navotas fish port. 

They also demonstrated against the destruction of their livelihood,as they claimed that off-city relocation being offered by the National Housing Authority (NHA) is a death blow to their families.

Tomorrow, homes of at least 200 families who have accepted the voluntary relocation offer from the government will be cleared by the authorities. Meanwhile, on Monday, a massive forcible demolition of homes of at least 900 families within the 27-m along Road 10 is to be implemented.

Before the presidential election of 2010, Benigno Aquino III signed a covenant with the urban poor promising to help informal settlers. But Elgar Cornista, President of Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Navoteno Federation, expressed anger over Aquino’s failed promises.

“So far, with only one year left in the presidency, he has not done anything for us,” Cornista said. “We call on President Aquino to release an executive order in favor of our demand of on-site housing for the urban poor. The demolition in our communities and the off-city relocation has to end.”

“We are affected by the road-widening project of the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways). Our livelihood comes from the fish port, at walking distance from our houses. This is why we are demanding that our houses not be demolished,” Cornista said.

Initially, government officials said that they would only widen the road to 13.5 meters, but their plans have changed considerably. Now they are widening the road to 27 meters. The road is part of the North Bay Reclamation Project, urban poor groups say.

“Right now, the NHA and the local government is forcing residents to leave their homes. They go house-to-house, and offer a relocation site in Pandi, Bulacan. But there is no livelihood there. In fact, those who have already agreed to be relocated came back, and just erected shanties again here near the fishport. In the relocation site there is no livelihood, no water, no electricity,” Cornista added.

According to Kadamay, under the Aquino administration, at least 70,000 families have had their homes demolished to give way to different PPP projects. Among them are the communities in Navotas City near the fish port.

Estrelieta Bagasbas, national vice chair of Kadamay, said that Aquino has not addressed the root of the “squatting problem” in the country. He said that the government should implement a significant wage increase so the urban poor can avail themselves of decent shelters.

“The implementation of a P16,000 national minimum wage for both the public and private sectors will allow the poor to avail themselves with basic social services, which the government should have provided its citizenry with in the first place,” Bagasbas stressed.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kadamay's Statement on Indonesian Government's decision to recall the execution of Mary Jane Veloso

We rejoice on the decision of the Indonesian government to recall the execution of Filipina migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso, as we assert her innocence from drug-related crime and the fact that she is a victim of human trafficking, the failure of the Aquino government to address the chronic unemployment in the Philippines, and five years of criminal neglect by the Aquino government to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in distress. We demand justice for Mary Jane and for other compatriots who are facing death sentences abroad.

The decision of the Indonesian government is a victory of the collective effort of the Filipino people who clamor for justice for Mary Jane, from the ranks of the peasants in the countryside to the workers and urban poor. Especial recognition has to be done to Filipino migrants from every corner of the globe who trooped to Indonesian Consulates abroad. They pray, light candles and hold street protests diligently in the last weeks and days before her planned execution. Their collective effort has not gone in vain.

While the Aquino administration has surrendered in rescuing Mary Jane too early of the day, the Filipino people have remained vigilant outside the Indonesian Embassy in Manila and in their own homes until the final hours up to when her execution was recalled past midnight of April 28. Malacanang has even noted that Mary Jane's execution won’t even make a dent in the diplomatic relation between Manila and Jakarta. Such intolerable statements certainly clarifies the Aquino government's lack of sincerity in saving her life, echoing its measly efforts in the last five years.

To call for justice for Mary Jane, we thus call for accountability from the government through resignation of the President Aquino, if not his immediate ouster, along with the officials of Philippine Embassy in Jakarta and the Department of Foreign Affairs. They are primarily responsible for letting Mary Jane suffer five years inside an Indonesian prison, and for letting her in the brink of death

We vehemently denounce how the Aquino administration has corrupted through its Disbursement Acceleration Program the OFW funds supposedly to be used in providing legal services for the OFWs in distress. Mary Jane was sentenced to death 6 months after he was arrested for the Aquino government failed to provide her with necessary legal assistance despite the annual P100-million legal fund allotted for the said service. Adding to its criminal neglect and disservice to thousands of OFWs who are in jail, 78 of them are facing death sentences including Mary Jane, the gross corruption of public funds under the Aquino administration is one of our basis of calling for Aquino’s ouster.

We also denounce how the Aquino-Cojuangco clan has in decades deprived the tillers of Hacienda Luisita access to the land which was robbed from them. Mary Jane’s father used to be a tiller in Hacienda Luisita, a possible beneficiary had the hacienda been distributed to its tillers years back. Had it happened, the life of Veloso family could have been better off and that Mary Jane would not have chosen a dangerous life as a migrant worker. But late President Corazon Aquino and his son have done everything to preserve the hacienda to themselves by maneuvering the country’s land reform program, up to the point of killing the farm workers to quash their picketline. We demand for the immediate distribution of Hacienda Luisita, as well as other haciendas and farmlands to the poor peasant families in the countryside who in years have become a source of labor exports.

In the same light, we hold the Aquino administration responsible for maintaining the massive unemployment in the country. Being a single mother with two kids to raise, the only option for Mary Jane to scure a greener pasture for her family is to work abroad. Under the Aquino administration, some 12-13 million Filipinos are considered unemployed, equivalent to 30% of the entire labor force.

Meanwhile, the wage of the workers under the Aquino regime has been pressed to the lowest level possible by implementing a regional minimum wage system where workers especially in the regions are earning too low for their family. Guided by neoliberal economic policies,  Aquino and his local cohorts have promoted Labor Export Policy and prevented the implementation of a national minimum wage for the workers, as well as a national industrialization program that could have created millions of decent local jobs.

We vow to mobilize thousand of urban poor on Labor Day this May 1 to denounce the chronic unemployment and landlessness in the country which force millions of Filipinos to work abroad.

In the coming days, we vow to do all the necessary efforts to free and ensure justice for Mary Jane and for the thousands of others OFWs in jail and on death rows abroad.

The task would be easier if Aquino would be ousted from Malacanang with a People’s Council to replace him in his post. This council will make Aquino accountable and will end all the anti-poor policies of the Aquino administration. The collective effort of the Filipino people can certainly oust a regime as it has stopped the execution of Mary Jane.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Grupong Kadamay, nanawagan sa mga maralita na magsindi ng kandila para kay Mary Jane Veloso

Nanawagan ang grupong Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) na magsindi ng kandila ang bawat maralitang lungsod sa buong bansa ngayong gabi upang ipakita ang suporta ng sektor kay Mary Jane Veloso.

Sa nakatakdang pagtatapos Bandung Conference sa Indonesia ngayong araw ng Biyernes, inaasahang isagawa na ng gubyerno ng Indonesia ang pagpatay sa kay Veloso sa pamamagitan ng firing squad.

Ayon kay Carlito Badion, national secretary-general ng Kadamay, nagpahayag na ng pakikiisa sa kanilang isasagawang koordinadong protesta ang iba't ibang grupo ng maralita sa Metro Manila.

Magtutuluy-tuloy pa umano sa mga darating ang mga protesta sa mga komunidad ng maralitang lungsod upang ipanawagan ang pagligtas sa buhay ni mary Jane, ani Badion.

Dagdag ni Badion, si Veloso at ang marami pang OFW na nakahanay sa death row at nakapiit sa labas ng bansa ay biktima ng malawak na kawalang trabaho at kahirapan sa bansa na pumalo sa pinakamataas na tantos sa ilalim ng rehimeng Aquino.

Liban sa kapabayaan ng gubyerno na tiyakin ang maagap at sapat na tulong-legal para kay Veloso, dapat umanong managot si Aquino sa pagsusulong nito ng Labor Export Policy na nagtataboy sa milyun-milyong Pilipinong walang trabaho palabas ng bansa.

Umabot na sa 6,092 ang bilang ng mga OFW na lumalabas ng bansa kada araw, mula sa 4,500 kada araw noong unang maupo si Aquino sa pwesto.

Ayon pa sa Kadamay, dapat tiyakin ng pamahalaan na mailigtas si Veloso sapagkat ang kanyang pagbitay ay maaring magsindi ng galit sa malawak na hanay ng maralita sa bansa, kabilang na ang 13 milyong Pilipinong walang trabaho sa bansa.

"Hindi malayong ang posibleng pagbitay kay Mary Jane ay maghuhudyat ng tuluyang pagbagsak ni Aquino at ng kanyang administrasyon," banta Badion.

Nanawagan din ang grupo na mapanagot liban kay Aquino ang mga opisyales ng Department of Foreign Affair at ang Embahada ng Pilipinas sa Indonesia na nagpabaya umano sa kanilang tungkulin kaugnay sa pagtiyak sa kaligtasan ni Veloso. ###

Filipino urban poor, kin tie white ribbons as they calls on Aquino gov't to save Pinay OFW's life on death row

A day before the possible execution of Mary Jane Veloso, urban poor residents of Sitio San Roque, Brgy. Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City tied white ribbons inside their community as they hope to save her life from Indonesian death row. Mary Jane's brother, Christopher Veloso (in blue shirt in attached photo), also joined the protest.

A gathering of residents this afternoon in Sitio San Roque also appealed on the Indonesian government to commute the death sentence on Mary Jane Veloso, a 30-year-old single mother who was sentenced to die this year in Indonesia by firing squad on drug-related charges, together with several foreign prisoners. She was arrested at the Yogyakarta Airport five years ago. Veloso claimed she was tricked into bringing a suitcase loaded with 2.6 kilograms of heroin.

Meanwhile, urban poor group Kadamay called on the Aquino administration should clean up its mess with regards to its neglect of providing legal and other assistance for Veloso, and do all the efforts to save the life of Veloso.

Estrelieta 'Ka Inday' Bagasbas, local leader of Sitio San Roque and national vice chairperson of urban poor group Kadamay, said that the execution of Mary Jane in the coming days, if it pushed through, may trigger a public discontent that could spell a final death blow to the Aquino administration, that has been hounded by the Mamasapano and Pork Barrel scandals.

Indonesia said it is scheduled to proceed with the executions when the Asian-African summit or Bandung Conference in Indonesia concludes tomorrow, April 24. President Widodo earlier said countries with nationals facing death sentence in Indonesia should respect Indonesian laws.

In today's activity, Kadamay also announced its plan to hold a coordinated candle lighting protests at 6 p.m. tomorrow in different urban poor communities in Metro Manila, as they await for Indonesia's announcement of its plan to execute Veloso.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Legal fund para sa OFW gaya ni Mary Jane, hinol-DAP ni Aquino!--KADAMAY

Hindi umano malayong nadamay sa mga pondong kinulimbat ng administrasyong Aquino ang pondo ng Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) na nakalaan dapat sa pagkuha ng mga abugado at pagbibigay ng serbsyo sa mga Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) na nahaharap sa iba't ibang kaso sa ibayong dagat gaya ni Mary Jane Veloso.

Ayon sa Kadamay, simula ng ipatupad ng admnistrasyong Aquino noong 2011 ang iligal na Disbursement Acceleration Program o DAP hanggang 2013, hindi bababa sa P6 bilong piso ang pondo ng DFA ang hindi nagastos at ikinategoryang savings ng gubyerno. Ang pondong ito umano ang iligal na sinamsam ni Aquino para ilaan sa iba't ibang programa nito at hindi malayong sa korapsyon lamang napunta." 

Kada-taon, P100 milyong halaga Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) ang dapat inilaan ng DFA para bigyang serbisyo ang mga OFW na nangangailangan ng mga legal na serbisyo. Ngunit sa kaso ni Mary Jane, walang abugadong naibigay ang Embahada ng Pilipinas sa Indonesia at ang DFA sa panahon ng kanyang paglilitis. Ngayong 2015 na lamang umano nakakuha ng abugado ang gubyerno kung kailan malapit ng bitayin si Veloso.

"Anim na buwan matapos siyang mahuli sa Indonesia, kaagad nahatulan ng kamatayan si Mary Jane. Wala ni anumang abugado tumulong sa kanyang depensa at hindi pa isang lisensyadong translator ang tumulong sa kanyang magpaliwanag," ani Carlito Badion, Kadamay national secretary-general.

Simula ng maluklok si Aquino noong 2010, binawasan pa nito ang legal fund para sa mga OFW, at sa taong 2011, aabot sa P52 milyon ang legal fund hindi nagamit ng DFA, panahon kung kailan umpisang ipinatupad ni Aquino ang DAP. Nakatipid umano ang DFA sa pagtatakda ng ‘ceiling’ o limit sa halaga na maaring ilaan ng ahensya sa bawat OFW na nangangailangan ng tulong.

“Kaparehas ng sinapit ni Mary Jane ang dinaranas ng aabot sa 7,000 OFW na kasalukuyang nakapiit sa Middle East—walang sapat at angkop na legal na serbisyong nakukuha mula sa gubyerno. Hindi kataka-takang sa ilalim ng administrasyong Aquino, 7 OFW ang nabitay dahil sa pagpapabaya at korapsyon ng administrasyong Aquino," ani Badion.

Ngunit dagdag ng lider, a umanong kasalanan ni Aquino sa mamamayang Pilipino sa loob at labas ng bansa ay ang pagpapanatili nito sa malawak na kawalang trabaho at mababang sahod alinsunod sa dikta ng mga dayuhang patakaran sa ekonomiya.

Sa taong 2014, mahigit 6,000 Pilipino ang lumalabas ng bansa kada-araw upang maghanap ng ikabubuhay para sa kanilang pamilya.

"Kung mananatili pa si Aquino ng isang taon bilang pangulo ng bansa, hindi lang si Mary Jane ang inaasahang magbuwis ng buhay dahil sa pagpapabaya, pagpapahirap at pagpapakatuta ni Aquino sa mga dayuhang patakaran," ani Badion.

Ngayong hapon ay naglunsad ang Kadamay ng mga koordinadong protesta sa mga komunidad ng marlaita sa Kamaynilaan upang ipanawagan ang pagpapawalang-sala kay Mary Jane, at sa iba pang OFW na nakapiit at nakahanay sa deathrow sa ibayong dagat. Panawagan din ng grupo ang agarang pagre-resign ni Aquino sa kanyang tungkulin.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Public trust, possible if Aquino quits his post--urban poor group

An urban poor alliance said President BS Aquino can regain pubic trust only if he renders a resignation from his office. This as Aquino addressed the public early this morning calling for public trust to lead the nation on his Easter Sunday message.

The Filipinos are forgiving but they are not forgetful," said Gloria Arellano, national chairperson of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirhap (Kadamay) stressing that Aquino's resignation is a necessary step that Malacang has to take for the sake of delicadeza and accountability for his mistakes.

She also claimed that without the public trust, Aquino could not lead the country morally as his administration is battling against the most turbulent political crisis during his term.
Recently, Aquino's public trust plunged in the aftermath of Mamasapano fiasco and the presidents inconsistent remarks about the incident. The plunge is stiffer than what his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, suffered during her term as president.

Kadamay has been calling Aquino's ouster from office even two years from his office after Malacanang announced to the public its plan to 'blast' informal settlers from their colonies along Metro Manila waterways, and amid waves of violent eviction of urban poor from their communities to give way to his Public-Private Partnership projects.

"Nothing can salvage Aquino's popularity as long his programs at the grassroots level remain unpopular. The Filipino urban poor cannot bear another year of an impoverished condition and violent cases of eviction under the US-Aquino regime," said Arellano.

Kadamay in the coming days leading to Labor Day is planning to stage coordinated community protests, with a synchronized 'Protestang Bayan" in Metro Manila in the mid of April.

The group also has been calling for the establishment of a People's Council to assumed the leadership once Aquino relinquished his post.

"This people's council, with representation from sectors who will play a major role in Aquino's ouster, will immediately terminate every anti-poor program of the Aquino administration including the demolition of homes, privatization of pubic hospitals and contractualization of workers. It will also immediately address the widespread unemployment in the country and increase the minimum wage of workers," Arellano added.

Reference: Gloria Arellano, Kadamay natonal chair, 09213927457

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Groups stage Lenten protests on Holy Monday to call for Aquino's resignation

Calling for the immediate resignation of President BS Aquino, different urban poor and peasant groups staged a Lenten protest depicting a modern version of Jesus Christ's procession to the Calvary this Holy Monday in Manila. 

Part of the Lenten protests are coordinated community actions in different cities in Metro Manila, such as in Parola Compound, in Binondo, City of Manila; Tenement and Tanyag in Tagug City; Barangay Escopa in Quezon City and Southville 3 and Alabang Market in Muntinlupa City.

Meanwhile, a big centralized protest was staged in Plaza Miranda where hundreds of protesters coming from groups such as Kadamay, Pamalakaya, Ugnayan ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas and Anakpawis Partylist held a Senakulo-themed cultural protest.

With the theme "Wakasan ang Kalbaryo ng Masang Anakpawis! Noynoy, Magresign Ka Na!", protesters tackled the issues that confront the Filipino poor through street plays and a procession to the foot Chino Roces near the Malacanang Palace. Leading the procession are protesters carrying big crosses, with President Aquino portrayed as Pontius Pilate assisted by several centurions.

Carlito Badion, Kadamay national secretary-general, said the poor can no longer bare the subservience of the Aquino administration to the dictates of foreign economic policies that have literally condemned the poor to death. “We can no longer bare another year of subservience to foreign control, and another year of misery. Thus, we call on him to resign immediately from his office,” he added.

Public-Private Partnership

Kadamay also cited that programs primarily endorsed by the Aquino administration such as the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) have bee proven to be detrimental to the welfare and lives of the poor.

“Hundreds if not thousands of poor Filipinos have been denied access to cheap, if not free, medical services as the Aquino regime implements the privatization of public hospitals nationwide under its PPP program,” added Badion.

Meanwhile, Kadamay also claimed that the plight of tens of thousands of urban poor families has stiffly declined after a massive relocation effort was launched by Aquino government since 2010 to give way to development projects that evict residents from their communities.

Since he assumed his post in 2011 until September 2014, Aquino through the National Housing Authority has invested in building 49,640 housing units for evicted residents. 93.3% of these units, or 46,322, are found in far-flung areas outside Metro Manila which the poor has condemned as ‘hell’ for its distance to sources of employment opportunities and lack of basic social services.

According to Kadamay-Metro Manila, at least 70,00 families or 350,000 urban poor were evicted from their homes as part of the implementation of different PPP projects in the national capital region.

“From the violence during demolition of homes to the hellish situation in the off-city relocation sites, Aquino has unraveled himself as a quintessentially anti-poor president, and with full bias against the poor has only foreign interests and the interests of the ruling local elites,” said Badion.

Aquino's carnal sins to the poor

But above all these anti-poor programs, Kadamay claimed that Aquino’s most carnal sin to the poor is keeping the wages of the workers in the most depressed level that is possible while he failed in years to resolve the widespread unemployment in the country amid rising cost of basic services and commodities.

“Aquino as the Pontius Pilate for the urban poor has subjected us to deeper poverty. He is proudly talking about the the economic development which his administration allegedly achieved but he has done nothing to improve the lives of poor Filipinos. He is very good in absolving himself of his sins against the poor,” added the leader.

As the the Aquino regime is in the mid of the worst political crisis ever, Kadamay, in the coming days right after holy week, their group is planning to stage coordinated and sustained community protests nationwide to call calling for the resignation if not ouster of President Aquino. The group is supporting a people’s transitional council who will replace Aquino once he abandoned his post. Among the priority agenda of the said council is the immediate termination of existing anti-poor programs of the Aquino administration.

Big anti-Aquino protests have been staged recently in the nation's capital in the aftermath of a botched police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, that aims to assassinate a high-profile rebel that tops the United States’ terrorists’ list in the South East Asian region. ###