Saturday, August 22, 2009

Local officials divided on gamblers’ 2010 bid

CAGAYAN de Oro City (Ben Balce /Aug 22) - LOCAL officials offer differing positions on the application of Alyansa ng mga Sabungero as a party-list group.

Mayor Constantino Ja-raula said he could not hide his frustration over the large number of groups seeking seats in the House of Representatives using the party-list system.

‘‘Wala ko’y objection niana. Ang sa ako wala natuman ang batas sa party-list system law,’’ Jaraula said, adding that despite having dubious or scant credentials, Comelec still continuously approves party-list applications.

‘‘Some organizations were apparently just out to abuse the party-list law,’’ said Jaraula adding: ‘‘Hasta na ang mga mangunguot mag-apply na niana.’’

Jaraula said the party-list law is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution to give important yet voiceless sectors a say in policy-making.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has a different view.

Rodriguez said the group and its members could be considered marginalized because ‘‘they live a hand-to-mouth existence, earnings.”

‘‘If the group met all the requirements of the Comelec, why can’t they join as party-list,’’ said Rodriguez, adding that is part in a democratic country.

‘‘I’m in favor... especially if they help the employees and kristos,” said Rodriguez.

A former House member, however, expressed her disapproval.

“It is a bastardization of the law on party list if we allow the Samahan ng Sabungero in Congress,’’ said former party-list representative Loretta Ann Rosales of Akbayan said in an interview.

Rosales said to allow the group would open the floodgates to other groups that are not marginalized to ask for accredition.

She said, “We will then have the jueteng lords, casino players, mga babaero to ask to be accredited also.”

Rosales said there is no need for these groups to be accredited since some of them are in the Palace or Congress already.

“This is sacred,’’ she added, ‘‘itong gusto sa mga sabungero is a kalokohan.’’

For his part, city elections officer Stalin Baguio belittled the Alyansa ng Sabungero.

‘‘A group of cockfighters want to enter party list? But for me they are not [considered] marginalized,’’ said Baguio.

‘‘This group of sabongeros nga gusto magpa-party list, kinahanglan nga i-verify muna kini kung nag-exist ba o dili, naghatag ba kini ng kaayohan sa miyembro? Kung ma-meet nila ang tanan nga requirements, maka-apil sila,’’ said Baguio.

‘‘They just formed a group pero lahi ang katuyoan. For me, they (Sabungeros) are not considered a marginalized sector. Mga sugarol man na. How about the pork barrel para sa unsa ang ilang katuyoan ug unsaon nila na?’’ asked Baguio. (with a report from SUSAN PALMES)


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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Group calls to cancel all coal contracts

CAGAYAN de Oro City (Cagayan Journal / Aug. 20) - The aggressive issuance of coal operating contracts which will open thousands of hectares of lands to coal extraction that will feed coal fired power plants exposes further the bankruptcy of the government in dealing with climate change.

“Coal, being primarily used in power generation, has been the number one source of carbon dioxide and other green house gasses emissions that cause global warming and climate change” said Erwin B. Quinones, Campaigns Paralegal of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils).

As of January 31, 2007 alone, DoE issued 39 coal operating contracts including that of Monte Oro Resources Energy Inc. in Catanduanes and 45 small scale coal mining permits as of April 17, 2007. By 2009, under Philippine Energy Contracting Round, DoE is offering 30 areas for coal mining covering 125 blocks or about 125,000 hectares.

“We commend the people of Catanduanes, led by the Catholic Church, in vehemently opposing the plan to extract coal in their province” Quinones said, referring to the moves to oppose 6.2B coal mine project linked to businessman Enrique Razon Jr. in the province of Catanduanes.

“We will likewise continue to support the various grassroots effort all over the country to stop coal mine companies in extracting coal, more so that it will primarily be used to fuel power generation plants that pollute our atmosphere” Quinones added.

In Southernmost Mindanao, the Department of Energy (DoE) entered into three (3) coal operating contracts (COC) covering 17,000 hectares of land in the tri-boundary of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat Provinces.

Particularly located at Brgy. Ned, Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, local folks organized themselves into Hublag Kontra Mina (HUKOM-Movement Against Mining), campaigned against coal mining and called for the cancellation of coal operating contracts issued to the MG Mining and Energy Corporation (MGMEC) whose rights and privileges under the contract was transferred to Sultan Energy Philippines Corporation (SEPC), Daguma Agro-Minerals Incorporated (DAMI) and Bonanza Energy Resources Incorporated (BERI).

Quinones added that portions of the contract areas rest in a protected zone called “Watershed Forest Reservation of Allah Valley River System as declared under Proclamation No. 2455 issued on September 12, 1985, and Kabulnan Watershed Forest Reserve under Proclamation No. 214 issued on February 08, 2000 which serves as the headwater of many rivers in the Provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Sarangani.”

The area is also part of the Surallah-Baningo Resettlement Project established by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform in 1969 and is being cultivated by farmer settlers since then.

“All Coal Operating Contracts (COSs) should be cancelled now and no more area should be offered for coal extraction from now on” Quinones demands. (Press Release)


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Monday, August 17, 2009

Roxas presses more teeth in OFW protection

(CAGAYAN Journal - Aug 17) - Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas today called for stronger government protection for the estimated 10 million Filipinos working abroad, especially against abuse by their employers or host countries.

At the same time, Roxas vowed to press for reforms in government policy involving the deployment of skilled and non-skilled workers to other countries as he noted the growing number of Filipinos overseas and the rising number of OFW-related incidents.

“Naniniwala akong ang pinakamahalaga nating maibibigay sa mga OFW natin ay seguridad. Kailangang bigyan natin ang mga OFW ng sapat na suporta at proteksyon para hindi sila abusuhin kapag nasa abroad na sila (I believe that the best thing we can give to our OFW is security for them. We need to give them all the support and protection so they will be spared abuse when they are abroad),” he said.

The Visayan senator said the government must also reduce the financial burden of Filipino overseas workers by removing the 0.15% Documentary Stamps Tax (DST) on money remittances to the country. It is a “significant financial burden to (OFWs) considering that the country is already experiencing unprecedented highs in food and oil prices,” he said.

At the same time, Roxas pushed for the professionalization of the Foreign Service system, which he said would ensure that only the most talented and most qualified are recruited by the government to ensure that our OFWs will get quality assistance from personnel and officers of the Department of

Foreign Affairs here and abroad.

He also pressed Malacanang to release the P50 million for the OFW Social Reintegration program that President Arroyo has yet to release to the Department of Labor and Employment. The program provides “balikbayan” OFWs with sufficient knowledge of how to use their savings as well as investment opportunities and other forms of reintegration assistance.

Roxas said the government must ensure that OFWs have access to communication wherever they are to so they can easily call Philippine offices in their areas in cases of employer problems and that free legal services for those facing legal problems are readily available.

He also said pre-departure orientation and preparation seminars should likewise be given to departing OFWs to brief them of their rights and on what they should and could do should they encounter difficulties in their jobs.

But all these reforms, he stressed, could only take place once an activist government – one that cares for and listen to its people – takes over from the current administration, which has consistently shown insensitivity to the plight of its workers abroad.


Office of Senator Mar Roxas

Suite 512 GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Pasay City

Please refer to:

Ms. Jenny Bugarin

Tel. 832-82-80 /+63920-950-6140

Office of Senator MAR Roxas
Senate of the Philippines
Telephone: 832-82-80 / 833-68-53
Email: / /


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