Human rights

Human Rights Day: 3 civilians killed weekly under brutal Gloria counterinsurgency, 2 people killed monthly by one Arroyo-backed warlord alone

Independent human rights group KARAPATAN Alliance for People’s Rights released Tuesday, Dec. 8 its 2009 report. The report was made public two days before the International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. In their press release, the group described Arroyo’s counterinsurgency program –Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) – as the “most brutal” in history. Since Arroyo became president in 2001, KARAPATAN has monitored a total of 1,118 victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK). That’s almost three civilians killed every week by suspected elements of the military and police.

Thus, even before the gruesome Ampatuan massacre last Nov. 23, political killings have been already happening on a massive scale. The alleged role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in these killings is widely known. United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, for instance, noted this in his report on the Philippines. But very few of these cases have been solved. High ranking AFP officials directly linked to the killings remain untouched. The most notorious among them – Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. – even became a congressman. Civilian officials said to be behind the OBL also get promoted in the Arroyo bureaucracy. Former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales is now Secretary of National Defense. This created a climate of impunity and reign of terror, and obviously emboldened warlords close to Malacañang like the Ampatuans.

That such reign of terror by state-backed warlords has long been happening is slowly being confirmed today. New witnesses now with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) claim that the Ampatuans have killed at least 200 people in the last 10 years. That’s almost two people killed every month by one warlord alone. We could only imagine the number of helpless civilians killed by warlords all over the country. According to the AFP, there are at least 132 private armed groups linked to politicians nationwide. More than 10,000 men armed with powerful weapons that rival the military’s are enlisted in these groups.

These warlords and private armies are in fact extensions of the AFP and PNP under Mrs. Arroyo’s counterinsurgency plan. They have been armed and legitimized by Malacañang through Executive Order (EO) 546. This EO allowed local officials to convert their private armies into so-called Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs). They are supposed to be “force multipliers” in the fight against insurgents. But the world has seen in Ampatuan, Maguindanao the real picture. These CVOs instead became bringers of death and terrorism in the name of their patron warlord.

But who is the biggest patron warlord? Who gave the Ampatuans the arsenal of more than a thousand pieces of firearms including mortars, sniper rifles, machine guns, and anti-tank equipment? Where did the Ampatuans get the almost half a million rounds of assorted ammo? They even had armored cars and vehicles marked as police cars. Gen. Palparan has a simple explanation for this. The arms and ammo – the ones used to slaughter 57 people, including 31 journalists – were “pasasalamat” from government. Palparan said it is because the Ampatuans have been fighting alongside the military against the Moro rebels. But we also know about that fateful phone conversation in 2004 between ex-COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and Mrs. Arroyo. Maguindanao will surely deliver the votes, Garci assured his anxious caller then.

Many sectors, including some journalist groups, have rightly pinned accountability on the Arroyo regime for the Ampatuan massacre. Justice is not realized even when all the Ampatuans are jailed and their private army dismantled. Justice means making Mrs. Arroyo liable and justice entails ousting her from power.

But we are being made to believe that justice is now swiftly being served, thanks to Proclamation 1959. Placing Maguindanao under martial law however has raised legal and constitutional issues. Various petitions are now filed before the Supreme Court. Congress as of this posting has also begun deliberating whether or not to revoke Proclamation 1959.

For human rights, Proclamation 1959 sends a chilling message. Since 2001, the extrajudicial killings, abduction, torture, etc. have been happening without martial law. With the atrocious human rights record of the regime, the terror sowed by Proclamation 1959 is not unfounded. But it is only in Maguindanao and it is only for 60 days, some may argue. But if Mrs. Arroyo can declare it in Maguindanao for dubious reasons, she can declare it anywhere, indefinitely. She has the motive (to stay in power beyond 2010) and she has the track record. The worsening economic decay and dwindling wealth to plunder make her even more desperate to cling to power.

The intention of political repression, warlordism, and martial law is to silence dissent. The only way to fight back and defend our human rights is to refuse to be silenced.

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2010 elections, Human rights

Martial Law: Today Maguindanao, tomorrow the Philippines?

(Below is the full text of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo’s Proclamation No. 1959 placing the province of Maguindanao under Martial Law.)

Proclamation 1959: Proclaiming a State of Martial Law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the province of Maguindanao except for certain areas.

Whereas, Proclamation No. 1946 was issued on 24 November 2009 declaring a state of emergency in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and the City of Cotabato for the purpose of preventing and suppressing lawless violence in the aforesaid areas.

Whereas, Sec. 18 Art. VII of the Constitution provides that “in case of invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it, the President may, for a period not exceeding 60 days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”

Whereas, Republic Act 6986 provides that “the crime of rebellion or insurrection is committed by rising publicly and taking arms against the government for the purpose of depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.”

Whereas, heavily armed groups in the province of Maguindanao have established positions to resist government troops thereby depriving the Executive of its powers and prerogatives to enforce the laws of the land to maintain public order and safety.

Whereas, the condition of peace and order in the province of Maguindanao has deteriorated to the extent that local judicial system and other government mechanisms in the province are not functioning; thus, endangering public safety.

Whereas, the implementing operational guidelines of the GRP-MILF agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities dated 14 Nov. 1997 provides that the following is considered a prohibited hostile act: “establishment of checkpoints except those necessary for the GRP’s enforcement and maintenance of peace and order and for the defense and security of the MILF in their identified areas as jointly determined by GRP and MILF.”

Now, therefore I, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution and by law, do hereby proclaim as follows:

Sec. 1: There is hereby declared a state of martial law in the province of Maguindanao except for the identified areas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as referred to in the implementing operational guidelines of the GRP-MILF agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities.

Sec. 2: The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall likewise be suspended in the aforesaid area for the duration of the state of martial law.

Done in the City of Manila this 4th day of December in the Year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Nine.

(Originally Signed)

Gloria M. Arroyo

By the President:

(Originally Signed)

Eduardo Ermita

Executive Secretary

Watch the press conference called by Exec. Sec. Eduardo Ermita on Proclamation 1959

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2010 elections, Charter change

Arroyo running: “Gloria Forever” scheme now in the open

Photo from Reuters

Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today confirmed what the public knew all along, that she is not giving up power next year and will seek a congressional seat in Pampanga’s second district. Their game plan is to use Congress only as a route toward clinching the position of Prime Minister in a parliamentary form of government that shall be created through Charter change (Cha-cha).

If this sinister scheme will push through as planned, it will indeed be “Gloria Forever” as repeatedly warned in the past by critics and political observers. This move by Arroyo and her political operators is a travesty of democracy in the highest order. Nothing in existing laws of course prevents Mrs. Arroyo from running as congresswoman. But for many people including even legal experts, the issue is no longer simply about what the law allows but what decency and delicadeza dictate – which today Mrs. Arroyo has again made clear are virtues beyond her comprehension.

Mrs. Arroyo will not give up power and will do everything she can, at all costs, to use government in order to avoid accountability for the very long list of crimes she has committed against the Filipino people since 2001. Her administration has earned the notoriety as the most vicious, most brutal regime in terms of repressing the people’s basic human rights and has done this even without formally declaring Martial Law like Ferdinand Marcos. Almost 1,110 people have already been killed by her terrorist regime aside from almost 200 people who have been abducted by suspected military, paramilitary and police elements and remain missing to this day.

This climate of impunity emboldened her allied warlord clans like the Ampatuans to massacre people as they please, knowing that they can get away with it because their patron is the biggest warlord at the helm of Malacañang.

Her regime challenges the Marcos dictatorship not only in terms of human rights violations but also in terms of massive corruption. The Philippines has consistently ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world. Mrs. Arroyo’s personal declared wealth has jumped by 164% since becoming president in 2001 (from P66.75 million to P177.18 million) and certainly this is just the very small tip of a very large iceberg. By the way, the number of poor families during the same period increased by 2.3 million or an additional 11.5 million poor people as Arroyo, her family, her cronies and allies enrich themselves.

That Mrs. Arroyo declared her intention to run at a time when the public is deeply outraged by the Ampatuan massacre and her lack of swift action against a favored warlord is only but a fitting move for a regime so absolutely detested, so totally isolated from the people.

Sige lang at gatungan pa ninyo ang galit ng taumbayan. May araw din kayo.

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Human rights

Ampatuan massacre: we mourn, we rage

Today (Nov. 26), said Mrs. Arroyo, is a national day of mourning for at least 57 people – including women, human rights lawyers, and members of media – brutally massacred in a town called Ampatuan in Maguindanao province.

Indeed, we should mourn. Not only for those killed in the mass slaughter of unarmed civilians that is unprecedented in the world’s recent history, at a time when democracy supposedly reigns, in a country that prides itself as a beacon of democracy.

We should mourn the death of the rule of law and justice, the demise of decency and accountability in government that Malacañang has repeatedly and blatantly massacred with impunity.

We should mourn the decay of our society where the police and military could not touch mass murdering warlords because their Commander-in-Chief has political debts to pay, including electoral victories clinched through fraud and terrorism waged by mass murdering warlords.

We should indeed mourn when the police and military, without fear of retribution, kill, massacre, torture, abduct activists, lawyers, teachers, farmers, workers, priests, bishops, local government officials, government employees, women, children, students, human rights defenders, environmentalists, and anyone that the presidential mafia tags as its enemy.

We should indeed mourn when the butchers who carry out these killings are promoted as generals and become makers of laws in a country where the law only applies to those without power, to the poor and oppressed, to those not in the mafia’s good graces.

We mourn, and we rage.

We rage.

We rage against the impunity, the human rights atrocities, the cover-up, the fraud, the political patronage, the corruption, the injustice.

We rage until we get justice for those killed by the Arroyo regime, and the Palparans, and the Ampatuans.

We rage.

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Climate change, Economy, Poverty

Notes on the economic and social impact of Ondoy and Pepeng

Ondoy victims in Pila, Laguna receive relief goods from volunteers of the Bayan's Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (BALSA)

Ondoy victims in Pila, Laguna receive relief goods from volunteers of Bayan's Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan or BALSA (photo from Bulatlat.com)

The twin devastation brought by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng hit the Philippines at a time when the country is still reeling from the impact of the global financial and economic crisis. According to the latest (as of Oct 16) consolidated report of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), the total cost of damage from the two typhoons reached P21.29 billion. The cost of damage to agriculture accounted for 64.8% of the total, and infrastructure, 35.1%. About 7.43 million were affected in the country’s 12 regions, including Metro Manila. (See Table 1)

Initial estimates from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), meanwhile, claimed that the macroeconomic impact of the two typhoons is about 0.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP). This could be mitigated, according to NEDA, by remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who would tend to send home more money because of emergencies and “will make up for the billions lost in devastating floods”.

Table 1. Estimated extent of impact of Ondoy and Pepeng, data cited as of Oct 16, 2009
Indicators Ondoy Pepeng Total
Affected no. of people (in million) 4.32 3.11 7.43
Total no. of casualties, of which: 781 654 1,435
   No. of dead 354 419 773
   No. of injured 390 184 574
   No. of missing 37 51 88
Cost of damage (in P billion), of which: 10.85 10.44 21.29
   Infrastructure 4.08 3.40 7.48
   Agriculture 6.77 7.03 13.8
   Private property n.d.c. 0.003 0.003
Total no. houses damaged, of which: 101,278 33,883 135,161
   Totally 25,259 4,040 29,299
   Partially 76,019 34,843 110,862
Regions affected, of which: III, IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, IX, X, ARMM, CAR, NCR I, II, III, IV-A, V, VI, CAR, NCR n.a.
   No. of barangays 1,902 4,585 n.a.
   No. of municipalities 155 361 n.a.
   No. of cities 30 35 n.a.
   No. of provinces 25 27 n.a.
Notes: n.d.c. – no data cited; n.a. – not applicable
Compiled using data from the NDCC Situation Report No. 31 dated Oct 16, 2009

Because of the need for additional spending for post-Ondoy and Pepeng rehabilitation and reconstruction, on top of the need to pump-prime the economy amid the global financial and economic crisis, the 2009 budget deficit could reach as much as P307.9 billion, according to the Department of Finance (DOF). There is no official figure yet on the actual amount needed for rehabilitation and reconstruction but Congress has already approved a P12-billion supplemental budget for the immediate needs of the typhoon victims.

In addition, a total of P32 billion spread over 10 years is needed to relocate more than half a million illegal settlers, including those occupying waterways in Metro Manila. Mrs. Arroyo has ordered the immediate relocation of families near waterways following the massive flooding caused by Ondoy.

Meanwhile, the Arroyo administration has also successfully raised $1 billion from the global bonds market which it said would be used for its reconstruction efforts in regions affected by Ondoy and Pepeng.

While government tends to downplay the effects of the recent typhoons on the economy, with NEDA pointing out that reconstruction will spur domestic growth, the costs are actually much higher considering the still unquantified short- and medium-term effects of losses in jobs and livelihood due to Ondoy and Pepeng, although independent think tank IBON Foundation, in an estimate, said that Ondoy alone would push at least 276,000 families in NCR, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon into “long-term poverty”.

Note also that official unemployment before the storms ravaged the country was pegged at 7.6% nationwide (National Statistics Office’s July 2009 Labor Force Survey), with the top three highest regional unemployment posted by the NCR (12.1%); Calabarzon (11.1%); and Central Luzon (9.9%) – the regions most affected by the typhoons. These regions account for 79.9% of the total number of permanently displaced workers due to economic reasons from Jan 2008 to Jun 2009 as well as 69.3% of the total number of families affected by Ondoy and Pepeng. (See Table 2

Table 2. Unemployment rate, no. of permanently displaced workers due to economic reasons, and population affected by Ondoy and Pepeng by region
Region Unemployment rate (in %, Jul 2009) No. of permanently displaced workers due to economic reasons (full-year 2008 & 1st half 2009) No. of affected families by Ondoy & Pepeng (as of Oct 16, 2009)
NCR 12.1 40,427 176,776
IV- A – Calabarzon 11.1 22,241 509,221
III – Central Luzon 9.9 9,902 382,788
I – Ilocos Region 6.7 328 234,479
Cordillera Administrative Region 4.6 1,182 54,507
VI – Western Visayas 7.4 1,360 316
X – Northern Mindanao 5.7 982 0
V – Bicol Region 5.4 347 70,389
XII – Socksargen 5.1 226 603
IV-B – Mimaropa 4.3 635 7,296
IX – Zamboanga Peninsula 4.1 295 191
ARMM 3.4   350
II – Cagayan Valley 2.8 308 105,529
National total (including other regions not affected by Ondoy & Pepeng) 7.6 90,788 1,542,445
Compiled using data from the NSO on unemployment, BLES on displaced workers, and NDCC on affected families by Ondoy & Pepeng
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Climate change

Beyond Ondoy and climate change, blame goes to Arroyo and Teodoro

Residents wade in floodwaters caused by Typhoon Ondoy in Cainta Rizal east of Manila September 27, 2009 (photo from Reuters)

Residents wade in floodwaters caused by Typhoon Ondoy in Cainta Rizal east of Manila September 27, 2009 (photo from Reuters)

First published by Bulatlat.com

“A President must be on the job 24/7, ready for any contingency, any crisis, anywhere, anytime… As a country in the path of typhoons …we must be as prepared as the latest technology permits to anticipate natural calamities when that is possible; to extend immediate and effective relief when it is not….The mapping of flood- and landslide-prone areas is almost complete. Early warning, forecasting and monitoring systems have been improved…”

These were the confident words of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo in her State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 27 as she vowed that her government will continue to invest in environment even as, according to her, the country is “safer from environmental degradation”.

But on that fateful weekend of September 26-27, all these talk about disaster preparedness – and sadly along with it more than 280 lives and more than ₱5 billion in properties (and counting) – were deluged by tropical storm “Ondoy”, which brought the heaviest rains and flooding in the country since 1967.

No excuse

As expected, Malacañang quickly warded off criticisms for its obvious lack of prompt and organized response to Ondoy. In an attempt to explain the unprecedented devastation caused by Ondoy, Anthony Golez, one of the presidential spokespersons, noted that “When you try to scientifically observe the data … we will find this year and last year as very strange years, and we can only presuppose that this is due to climate change”.

Indeed, there is no disputing the fact that Ondoy in less than half a day brought rains in Metro Manila and nearby provinces a volume that was even higher than the usual rain that falls on the metropolis for the entire month of September.

But while there is no debate about climate change, which explains the abnormal typhoon patterns and intensity in recent years, accountability still falls on the Arroyo administration in particular on Mrs. Arroyo herself as President and climate change czar and her 2010 presidential bet Defense Secretary and National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) Chairperson Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

More than two years ago, Mrs. Arroyo created the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change (PTFCC) as government recognized that “being an archipelagic country and located in the typhoon belt” the country “is highly vulnerable to the adverse effects resulting from climate changes and has been experiencing unusual number of high-intensity typhoons that have wrought devastations and anguish to our people”. In December 2008, Mrs. Arroyo appointed herself as the head of this task force so she can have a “hands-on approach in crafting and implementing initiatives for environmental security”.

Among the PTFCC’s tasks is to design concrete risk reduction and mitigation measures and adaptation resources, especially to address short-term vulnerabilities, on sectors and areas where climate change will have the greatest impact. This entails among others preparedness to respond to devastation or impact of extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change such as Ondoy’s.

 At a loss

 What happened last weekend? As early as Thursday evening (September 24), the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) had already issued flood warnings and even raised storm signals by Friday (September 25). By that time, the NDCC could have already coordinated with concerned local government units (LGUs) and readied an evacuation and rescue plan. The forced release of water from the Angat and other dams during the height of rainfall last Saturday (September 26) – which aggravated the flooding – could have been properly timed with evacuation efforts, and would surely have saved many lives in affected areas.

But none of these were evident during Ondoy’s onslaught. Until Saturday noon, during the height of the heavy rains and when flooding began, the NDCC seemed to be at a loss on what to do. Numerous pleas for rescue from affected residents through the broadcast media mostly went unheeded and many were able to escape death by themselves or with the help of neighbors.

The NDCC’s excuse was that they only had 13 rubber boats at that time. Government, however, could not claim lack of funds. In 2007 alone, the Philippines received official development assistance (ODA) commitments from foreign donors worth $8.9 million to fund disaster prevention and preparedness aside from $32.28 million from 2005 to 2007 for climate change-related initiatives. These amounts are on top of what government allocates for its calamity fund. What happened to these funds?

Warnings came much earlier

Actually, the warnings came much, much earlier than Pagasa’s flood bulletin last September 24, if only government listened and responded enough. Extreme weather events and climate anomalies have already been observed in the country in the past couple of decades. The 2007 report of the United Nation’s (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for instance, noted that the number of typhoons entering the Philippine area of responsibility has increased by 4.2 during the period 1990 to 2003. Increases in annual rainfall and in the number of rainy days have also been noted as well as the increasing sea level in the country’s major coastal cities, with Manila exhibiting the highest increase.

The Philippines, in fact, is among the first countries to recognize the threats of the climate crisis. As early as May 1991, the late Pres. Corazon Aquino already issued Presidential Order No. 220 that created the Inter-Agency Committee on Climate Change (IACCC) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The country is also among the original signatories to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in 1994 and among the first to ratify its Kyoto Protocol in 2003.

It is important to note, however, that these landmark agreements which direct global response to climate change are hampered by fundamental issues. For instance, not only are the targets outrageously low, rich countries – which account for bulk of historical greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the eight richest countries comprising about 65% – can also achieve them even without actually reducing their emissions. In fact, the implementing rules of the Kyoto Protocol, as largely defined by First World countries and corporate lobby groups, could even result in a net increase in GHG emissions in the long run. Critics point out that the introduction and use of market-based mechanisms namely, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Emissions Trading, and Joint Implementation have systematically weakened and distorted the Kyoto Protocol “from the inside”. Meanwhile, under the current Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP 2004-2010), the Arroyo administration has pursued environmental management and addressing the threats and impact of climate change mainly in the context of energy independence and investment promotion.

In terms of response to the impact of climate change, it has been noted in a 2005 World Bank report that “the Philippine institutional arrangements and disaster management systems tend to rely on a response or reactive approach, in contrast to a more effective proactive approach, in which disasters are avoided, by appropriate land-use planning, construction and other pre-event measures which avoid the creation of disaster-prone conditions”.  The report went on to say that “local level systems are response-driven –there is no obvious effort to initiate proactive hazard management/risk reduction coordination”.

Disastrous response

While there are crucial issues that the international community and the Philippines must address in terms of mitigation and adaptation approaches in relation to climate change, Ondoy’s devastation and its aftermath have also exposed some very alarming and more basic issues. Among them is that while the country’s handling of extremely changing weather conditions is being described as reactive, it appears that even in terms of effective disaster response the country is not also well-prepared.

This is so evident not only in the disastrous rescue efforts of the NDCC but also in the current relief drive of government. The scene of flood victims scrambling for limited relief goods, overcrowded evacuation centers lacking basic hygiene necessities, displaced families forced to spend the night on sidewalks and some in a slaughterhouse amid reports of a depleted national calamity fund, etc all paint a picture of chaos, of a government stumped and perplexed in the face of a tropical storm that experts say was not even super typhoon.

Making the Palace an evacuation center for a handful of “fortunate” flood victims who enjoy relatively better food and more “convenient” temporary shelter to generate favorable publicity for Gloria and Gibo will not do the trick. The Arroyo administration, in particular Mrs. Arroyo and Teodoro as the top officials dealing with climate change and disaster response, must be held accountable for the hundreds of deaths and unspeakable suffering that the victims of Ondoy currently endure. They could not blame Ondoy or climate change – these are realities that the country must now face – but the question is are we dealing with them effectively and responsibly?

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Economy, Poverty

Le Cirque tab could have fed 9,480 families in one night

Image from mypost.com

Image from nypost.com

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde described the P960,000-dinner of the Arroyo entourage at the posh Le Cirque restaurant in New York as “simple”, even “forgettable”.

But consider these figures:

In Metro Manila, the estimated cost of food as of June 2009 is P9,114 per month for an entire family.

Thus, with P960,000, around 105 families in Metro Manila could have enjoyed a fairly decent three square meals a day for one month.

Spent for one day, it could have fed 3,160 families.

Spent for one dinner (as Arroyo and company did at Le Cirque), it could have fed 9,480 families.

An ordinary family has five members, so just go figure how many mouths that “simple, forgettable” dinner could have satisfied.

According to the June 2009 survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), there are about 7.2 million Filipino families nationwide that are “food-poor”. That’s around 36 million poor people.

The same survey also reported that 6.1 million families (or around 31 million Filipinos) are on the borderline of food poverty.

Does Remonde still remember John Paul Mahinay?

Mahinay was the 11-month old baby from a poor family in General Santos City who died of severe malnutrition and hunger-related disease on September 19, 2005.

And the Le Cirque dinner was simple and forgettable?

To say that the Le Cirque dinner was lavish is a gross understatement. For millions of Filipinos who go to bed hungry every night, it was revolting, scandalous, immoral.

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Cronyism & patronage

Ang pagmasaker ni Carlo J. Caparas at ng Malacañang sa gawad National Artist

Basahin ang artikulong ito para sa mga sirkunstansya ng kontrobersya.

Carlo J. Caparas with her patron, Mrs. Gloria Arroyo (photo from the pep.ph)

Carlo J. Caparas with his patron, Mrs. Gloria Arroyo (photo from the pep.ph)

Hindi naman daw sa pagbubuhat ng sariling bangko, pero ani Carlo J. Caparas, “napag-uusapan” lamang ngayon ang gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining (National Artist) dahil sa kanya. “I just want to point out the truth. The past winners are not well known. Di nila mapalutang ang award na ito,” ayon kay Caparas.

Kinalimutan niyang ang tinaguriang Hari ng kanyang daigdig ng sining – ang namayapang si Fernando Poe Jr. – ay isang National Artist. Pinag-usapan din ito noong 2006 pero kabaligtaran ng kontrobersya ngayon. Bilang protesta sa pandaraya ni Gng. Gloria Arroyo sa halalang 2004 laban kay FPJ, hindi personal na tinanggap ng pamilyang Poe ang parangal sa Malacañang. Ngayon, hindi makapaghintay si Caparas na tanggapin ang parangal mula sa kanyang padron sa Palasyo sa kabila ng mga batikos ng “dagdag-bawas”.

Sa kanyang pagkalango sa parangal, naibulalas ni Caparas na marahil “people are making a big fuss about this… because it’s the first time for a National Artist to have such a long title”. Itinanghal ni Gng. Arroyo si Caparas bilang National Artist for Film and Visual Arts.

Mahabang titulo nga, katulad ng titulo ng kanyang mga pelikulang tungkol sa krimen: “The Untold Story – Vizconde Massacre – God Have Mercy on Us”; “The Marita Gonzaga Rape-Slay: In God We Trust”; “Kuratong Baleleng (Wilson Sorronda: Leader Kuratong Baleleng Solid Group)”; at iba pa.

Hindi kaya ang kanyang titulo bilang National Artist for Film and Visual Arts ay tungkol din sa krimen laban sa sining?

Nabulag sa kanyang kapalaluan si Caparas at pumalyang makita ang isyu kung bakit tinutuligsa ang pagkakapili sa kanya, gayundin kay Cecile Guidote Alvarez, bilang mga National Artists. Ani Caparas, hindi katulad ng ibang tinataguriang National Artists, nakapagbigay sya ng trabaho sa daan-daang Pilipino sa pamamagitan ng kanyang mga gawa sa telebisyon, pelikula, at komiks. Sikat din daw ang kanyang mga obra, katulad ng Maggie dela Riva Story na pinanood diumano ng 40% ng populasyon ng Metro Manila nang ipalabas ito noong 1994. Samantalang ang kanyang mga kritiko ay hindi man lamang kilala ng masa.

Kung ganito ang pamantayan upang maging National Artist, dapat bang maging pambansang alagad ng sining si John Loyd Cruz o si Sarah Geronimo bilang mga bida sa pelikulang “You Changed My Life”? Kung tumpak ang mga tala, ito diumano ang highest grossing Filipino film of all-time matapos tumabo sa takilya ng P230.44 milyon. Dapat din bang parangalan bilang pambansang alagad ng sining si Mother Lily Monteverde na hindi lamang daan-daan kundi libu-libo ang nabigyan ng trabaho lalo na noong panahon ng kanyang mga pelikulang “pito-pito” sa ilalim ng Regal Films at sa gitna ng rumaragasang krisis pampinansya sa Asya noong huling bahagi ng 1990s?

Sapat bang tinangkilik ng masa ang isang pelikula upang maging tunay na pambansang alagad ng sining ang lumikha nito? Hindi ba’t ang sining ay dapat nagmumula at nagsisilbi sa masa, katulad ng mga pelikula ni Lino Brocka o ng mga malikhaing sulatin nina Amado V. Hernandez at Bienvenido Lumbera?

Habang abala si Caparas sa pagtatanggol sa maanomalya niyang pagkakahirang bilang National Artist at pagdidirehe ng bagong pelikula ni Manny Pacquiao, isang “necrological service for the National Artist award” ang pinangunahan ngayong araw (Agosto 7) ng komunidad ng mga alagad ng sining at manggagawang pang-kultura na may malalim na pagpapahalaga sa sining at katarungan.

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Labor & employment, SONA 2009

Post-SONA notes: Gloria’s statistically incoherent 8 M jobs

Mrs. Arroyo delivering her SONA 2009 speech (Reuters photo)

Mrs. Arroyo delivering her SONA 2009 speech (Reuters photo)

She promised one million new jobs a year but critics are one in saying that the jobs crisis is at its worst under her administration.

To silence her critics and justify her regime, did Mrs. Gloria Arroyo ask government statisticians to give her, at all cost, “one million jobs a year” that she can cite in her State of the Nation Address (SONA)?

On her ninth and ostensibly final SONA last July 27, Mrs. Arroyo declared:

“Lumikha tayo ng walong milyong trabaho, an average of a million per year, much, much more than at any other time”.

Throughout the much anticipated SONA speech, it was the only reference that Mrs. Arroyo made to her job generation efforts. But it was a major statement which concretely summed up the supposed gains of the Arroyo administration in creating jobs since 2001.

I immediately wondered where Mrs. Arroyo’s speech writers got the figure of 8 million jobs. Official employment records released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) do not add up to 8 million additional jobs since 2001. Thus, I tried to find the explanation in the Technical Report that usually accompanies the SONA of Mrs. Arroyo but as of this writing, such report has not been made public yet.

Further research revealed an interesting discovery. On the website of the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES), an announcement on “Methodology in computing employment creation under President Arroyo administration: 2001-2009 (April)” is posted.

The BLES also posted a link on a resolution of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), Resolution No. 9 “approving and adopting the official methodology for generating annual labor and employment estimates”.

The announcement and the NSCB resolution on the BLES website, which were posted after the SONA, are attempts to “statistically” explain the 8 million jobs Mrs. Arroyo cited. But instead of providing satisfactory answers, they exposed the brazen lie behind the SONA claim on jobs created by the Arroyo administration.

NSCB Resolution No. 9 was supposedly approved on July 6, or three weeks before the SONA. It stated that in generating annual labor and employment estimates, the average estimates of the four rounds of Labor Force Survey (LFS) shall be used. The NSO conducts the LFS every January, April, July, and October.

Using this official methodology, the BLES computed employment creation under the Arroyo administration and arrived at the figure of 8.095 million jobs. (See Table)She promised one million new jobs a year but critics are one in saying that the jobs crisis is at its worst under her administration.
To silence her critics and justify her regime, did Mrs. Gloria Arroyo ask government statisticians to give her, at all cost, “one million jobs a year” that she can cite in her State of the Nation Address (SONA)?
On her ninth and ostensibly final SONA last July 27, Mrs. Arroyo declared:
“Lumikha tayo ng walong milyong trabaho, an average of a million per year, much, much more than at any other time”.
Throughout the much anticipated SONA speech, it was the only reference that Mrs. Arroyo made to her job generation efforts. But it was a major statement which concretely summed up the supposed gains of the Arroyo administration in creating jobs since 2001.
I immediately wondered where Mrs. Arroyo’s speech writers got the figure of 8 million jobs. Official employment records released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) do not add up to 8 million additional jobs since 2001. Thus, I tried to find the explanation in the Technical Report that usually accompanies the SONA of Mrs. Arroyo but as of this writing, such report has not been made public yet.
Further research revealed an interesting discovery. On the website of the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES), an announcement on “Methodology in computing employment creation under President Arroyo administration: 2001-2009 (April)” is posted.
The BLES also posted a link on a resolution of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), Resolution No. 9 “approving and adopting the official methodology for generating annual labor and employment estimates”.
The announcement and the NSCB resolution on the BLES website, which were posted after the SONA, are attempts to “statistically” explain the 8 million jobs Mrs. Arroyo cited. But instead of providing satisfactory answers, they exposed the brazen lie behind the SONA claim on jobs created by the Arroyo administration.
NSCB Resolution No. 9 was supposedly approved on July 6, or three weeks before the SONA. It stated that in generating annual labor and employment estimates, the average estimates of the four rounds of Labor Force Survey (LFS) shall be used. The NSO conducts the LFS every January, April, July, and October.
Using this official methodology, the BLES computed employment creation under the Arroyo administration and arrived at the figure of 8.095 million jobs. (See Table)

But here’s the rub.

BLES defined employment creation as the annual increments in number of employed workers. Mrs. Arroyo said in her SONA speech that the jobs created reached 8 million or one million per year. Thus, it means the annual increments from 2001 to 2008.

Applying the NSCB Resolution No. 9 and the BLES-defined employment creation on the period 2001 to 2008, the jobs “created” is only 6.64 million. But Mrs. Arroyo needed 8 million. The solution – add the increment in the number of employed for 2009.

For consistency, the BLES should have computed the average estimates for the January and April LFS (the July and October rounds are not yet available) but this will only produce 535,000 jobs and the number needed is at least 1.36 million. To address this, the BLES instead compared the difference between the April 2009 LFS and the April 2008 LFS and found its needed figure – 1.46 million.

So, they arrived at a statistically incoherent 8 million jobs – the sum of the annual increments in the average employment results of four LFS rounds per year from 2001 to 2008 plus the increase in the number of employed between the April LFS rounds in 2008 and 2009.

Actually, BLES further statistically distorted the meaning of job creation by simply adding up the increments in the number of employed workers per year. It did not factor in the increase in the number of unemployed which should have been subtracted from the increase in the number of employed to arrive at “net job creation”. Using this methodology, we will arrive at a smaller job creation figure of around 5.92 million from 2001 to 2008.

This is how they gave Mrs. Arroyo her 8 million jobs created, or one million jobs per year.

These issues are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of government’s systematic efforts to hide job scarcity through flawed methodologies and distorted labor and employment definitions. For instance, we did not discuss yet the kind of jobs supposedly generated since 2001 – are they productive, gainful, secure, etc.?

Government agencies are expected to generate credible and reliable data and statistics to help guide in policy making and development planning. That they are being used to conjure illusions of prosperity only shows the extent of desperation of the Arroyo administration to justify its illegitimate and prolonged rule.

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Labor & employment, SONA 2009

SONA 2009 notes: almost 4 M jobless a year (and it’s also understated)

In her first SONA (2001), Mrs. Arroyo declared that her economic philosophy is that “the way to fight poverty is to create jobs, not destroy them”. She even made a concrete promise to create one million new jobs in agriculture and fisheries in one year alone.
In her 2002 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo said that her working agenda will focus on creating and improving job opportunities. And she meant not simply jobs but “jobs paying decent wages”.
In her 2003 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo recognized that for the practical purposes of most people, “government exists to provide jobs”.
After making big promises on job creation and preservation, by 2004, Mrs. Arroyo was asking for “patience” from the people. In her SONA that year, she said: “We must wait in patience for the reforms to work… konti pang sakripisyo (a little more sacrifice)… because world competition is keen and we want the jobs not only to come but to stay”.
In her 2005 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo was immodest about her job generation program. Remember that a month before her SONA, the “Hello Garci” scandal broke out, triggering massive protests and calls for her ouster or resignation. Her speech thus had to be extra highfalutin about her supposed achievements. She bragged, among others, of an economy that “surprised many at home and abroad” while “generating 4 million jobs in the last four years”.
In 2006, Mrs. Arroyo acclaimed two of her most important job “creation” initiatives – business process outsourcing (BPO) and labor export. She said that with the proliferation of call centers in the country, “we not only found jobs but kept families intact”. But she was also quick to recognize that “we are a great people” because “we compete and win in every imaginable job throughout the world”.
She repeated her promotion of BPO jobs under her government in 2007, citing in her SONA speech that “the business services sector has become the fastest growing in the economy”. She said she expects the sector to become as important as labor export and that by 2010, the sector could produce $12 billion or the same amount of OFW remittances.
Her last SONA in 2008 saw Mrs. Arroyo addressing the country “at a crucial moment in world history”. The worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression started to unfold and she blamed this for undermining her supposed gains in managing the Philippine economy, including its creation of “a million new jobs”. She said to address the global challenge, the country must go on “building and buttressing bridges to allies around the world to bring in “investments to create jobs”, among others.
How can we sum up Mrs. Arroyo’s achievements in terms of job creation and preservation in the last eight years?
First, we may compare the job situation under her watch with that of her own targets or commitments.
Under the Arroyo administration, the country has been experiencing its worst jobs crisis, which has been further aggravated by the wave of massive displacements due to the impact of the global financial and economic crisis. Unemployment rate since 2001 has remained at more than 11% per year with about 4 million workers jobless every year. Annual unemployment rate under the Aquino to Estrada administrations was between 9 to 10% while the number of unemployed was between 2 to 3 million a year.
Consequently, Mrs. Arroyo has also been the most aggressive in exporting Filipino workers since the domestic job creation under her pro-globalization policies have been greatly undermined. Every year, OFW deployment under the Aquino to Estrada administrations was between 361,000 to 693,000 but under Arroyo, the figure ballooned to more than 1 million a year.
In fact, Mrs. Arroyo is the only Philippine president to categorically declare labor export as an official job creation policy of government. Administrations since Marcos have considered (at least on paper) labor export as “temporary” or “secondary” option for Filipino workers.
Second, we may compare her achievements with that of her own targets or commitments.
In her 2004 SONA, she outlined her so-called 10-point agenda. Number one on this list is the “The creation of six million jobs in six years via more opportunities given to entrepreneurs, tripling of the amount of loans for lending to small and medium enterprises and the development of one to two million hectares of land for agricultural business”. This means one million new jobs every year.
In 2004, the average number of employed workers was 31.6 million. This means that by this year, the total number of employed workers should be at least 37.6 million. Based on the official Labor Force Surveys in January and April 2009 of the National Statistics Office (NSO), the average number of employed workers this year is only 34.63 million. From 2004 to 2009, the annual average of additional jobs is only 690,000, not one million as promised by Mrs. Arroyo. And we’re only talking about official figures or “employment” as defined by government’s ridiculous standard (i.e. anyone who has worked for an hour, paid or unpaid, for the past week before the NSO conducted its survey is considered employed, etc.)
In her supposedly farewell SONA on July 27, what will she say about jobs now that the direct impact of the global crunch is starting to impact on domestic jobs as well as on OFWs?
Abangan.
4 million jobless a year

4 million jobless a year

In her first SONA (2001), Mrs. Arroyo declared that her economic philosophy is that “the way to fight poverty is to create jobs, not destroy them”. She even made a concrete promise to create one million new jobs in agriculture and fisheries in one year alone.

In her 2002 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo said that her working agenda will focus on creating and improving job opportunities. And she meant not simply jobs but “jobs paying decent wages”.

In her 2003 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo recognized that for the practical purposes of most people, “government exists to provide jobs”.

After making big promises on job creation and preservation, by 2004, Mrs. Arroyo was asking for “patience” from the people. In her SONA that year, she said: “We must wait in patience for the reforms to work… konti pang sakripisyo (a little more sacrifice)… because world competition is keen and we want the jobs not only to come but to stay”.

In her 2005 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo was immodest about her job generation program. Remember that a month before her SONA, the “Hello Garci” scandal broke out, triggering massive protests and calls for her ouster or resignation. Her speech thus had to be extra highfalutin about her supposed achievements. She bragged, among others, of an economy that “surprised many at home and abroad” while “generating 4 million jobs in the last four years”.

In 2006, Mrs. Arroyo acclaimed two of her most important job “creation” initiatives – business process outsourcing (BPO) and labor export. She said that with the proliferation of call centers in the country, “we not only found jobs but kept families intact”. But she was also quick to recognize that “we are a great people” because “we compete and win in every imaginable job throughout the world”.

She repeated her promotion of BPO jobs under her government in 2007, citing in her SONA speech that “the business services sector has become the fastest growing in the economy”. She said she expects the sector to become as important as labor export and that by 2010, the sector could produce $12 billion or the same amount of OFW remittances.

Her last SONA in 2008 saw Mrs. Arroyo addressing the country “at a crucial moment in world history”. The worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression started to unfold and she blamed this for undermining her supposed gains in managing the Philippine economy, including its creation of “a million new jobs”. She said to address the global challenge, the country must go on “building and buttressing bridges to allies around the world to bring in “investments to create jobs”, among others.

How can we sum up Mrs. Arroyo’s achievements in terms of job creation and preservation in the last eight years?

First, we may compare the job situation under her watch with that of her own targets or commitments.

Under the Arroyo administration, the country has been experiencing its worst jobs crisis, which has been further aggravated by the wave of massive displacements due to the impact of the global financial and economic crisis. Unemployment rate since 2001 has remained at more than 11% per year with about 4 million workers jobless every year. Annual unemployment rate under the Aquino to Estrada administrations was between 9 to 10% while the number of unemployed was between 2 to 3 million a year.

Consequently, Mrs. Arroyo has also been the most aggressive in exporting Filipino workers since the domestic job creation under her pro-globalization policies have been greatly undermined. Every year, OFW deployment under the Aquino to Estrada administrations was between 361,000 to 693,000 but under Arroyo, the figure ballooned to more than 1 million a year.

In fact, Mrs. Arroyo is the only Philippine president to categorically declare labor export as an official job creation policy of government. Administrations since Marcos have considered (at least on paper) labor export as “temporary” or “secondary” option for Filipino workers.

Employment indicators under the Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, and Arroyo administrations

Administration

No. of jobless workers per year (in million)

No. of deployed OFWs per year (in million)

Aquino (1987-1991)

2.3

0.36

Ramos (1992-1997)

2.6

0.46

Estrada (1998-2000)

3.2

0.69

Arroyo (2001-2008)

3.8

1.01

Compiled and processed using NSO and POEA data

Second, we may compare her achievements with that of her own targets or commitments.

In her 2004 SONA, she outlined her so-called 10-point agenda. Number one on this list is the “The creation of six million jobs in six years via more opportunities given to entrepreneurs, tripling of the amount of loans for lending to small and medium enterprises and the development of one to two million hectares of land for agricultural business”. This means one million new jobs every year.

In 2004, the average number of employed workers was 31.6 million. This means that by this year, the total number of employed workers should be at least 37.6 million. Based on the official Labor Force Surveys in January and April 2009 of the National Statistics Office (NSO), the average number of employed workers this year is only 34.63 million. From 2004 to 2009, the annual average of additional jobs is only 690,000, not one million as promised by Mrs. Arroyo. And we’re only talking about official figures or “employment” as defined by government’s ridiculous standard (i.e. anyone who has worked for an hour, paid or unpaid, for the past week before the NSO conducted its survey is considered employed, etc.)

Employed workers from 2001 to 2009 (in million)

Year

Jan

Apr

Jul

Oct

2003

30.12

30.42

29.86

31.52

2004

31.52

31.52

31.62

31.73

2005

31.63

32.22

32.52

32.88

2006

32.38

33.02

33.26

33.18

2007

33.55

33.71

33.33

33.67

2008

33.69

33.54

34.60

34.53

2009

34.26

34.99

Compiled using NSO data

In her supposedly farewell SONA on July 27, what will she say about jobs now that the direct impact of the global crunch is now being felt by domestic jobs as well as by OFWs?

Abangan.

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