GABRIELA SOLON DECRIES ILLEGAL ARREST OF LUMAD VOLUNTEER EDUCATOR, CONTINUED ATTACKS ON SCHOOLS


As the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights begins its two-day hearing on several resolutions filed addressing human rights violations in Mindanao, Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luzvminda Ilagan decried the recent arrest of a Lumad educator and his brother and the continuing harassment in Lumad communities and schools.

Ilagan deplored the recent attack led by AFP-supported paramilitary groups Magahat and Bagani in Purok 16, Sitio Nalindog, Brgy. Bolhoon Surigao del Sur last August 9 which led to the evacuation of some 45 families and the closure of the Nalindog Tribal Community School operated by the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur and the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development.

The paramilitary 12 men carrying M16 rifles, wearing military uniform and carrying military backpacks, forced people, including children, out of their homes.  The residents were ordered to gather at the purok’s waiting shed, where they were interrogated, harassed and threatened. Para-teacher Regine Tejero and 5 months pregnant Angel Vocales were accused of being members of the NPA. They also threatened to burn down the school and volunteer teachers.

The recent attack in Surigao del sur comes less than a week after the illegal arrest of another volunteer teacher in Goingoog City, Misamis Oriental.

“We join calls for the immediate release of Daniel and Ejun Lampusay, wrongfully accused of being members of the New People’s Army and arrested without warrant by elements of the 58th Infantry Battallion. Their illegal arrest demonstrates once more the impunity with which Aquino’s AFP violates the rights of peasants and Lumads,” said Ilagan.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines reports that on August 3, 2015, Daniel and Ejun were arrested in Sitio Kibungkol, Barangay Hindangan, Gingoog City. They were detained for some time at the Day Care Center of the Barangay Hall where the military was stationed and later transferred to the Medina Police Station, and finally to the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail. Daniel was a former volunteer teacher of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) literacy and numeracy program. He and his brother are Higaonon residents of Sitio Minalwang in Barangay Bal-ason, Gingoog City.

“Dahil walang napapanagot sa mga ginagawang krimen at pandarahas sa mga Lumad, nagpapatuloy ito at tumitindi pa nga. Aquino’s AFP will continue to violate rights, harass Lumad students and their educators and make barracks out of Lumad schools and barangay structures for as long as this government refuses to make the AFP accountable for its crimes,” said Ilagan.

The Gabriela solon accused the Aquino government of tolerating and even sanctioning the human rights violations in order to facilitate the operation of large scale mining corporations and logging concessions in Lumad ancestral lands.

Ilagan attends the two-day committee hearing with fellow Makabayan Reps. Karlos Zarate, Antonio Tinio and Fernando Hicap. The Mindanaoan solon said the Committee on Human Rights may recommend the strengthening of laws or the filing of new legislation to address the increasing cases of human rights violations. The committee may also recommend the filing of cases so that perpetrators may be made accountable.

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

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TATLONG BUWAN, WALA PA RING KATARUNGAN!


Ngayong araw, tatlong buwan na matapos ang sunog sa pabrika ng Kentex. Wala pa ring katarungan para sa mahigit 72 manggagawa na namatay at para sa mga survivor. Ang masama pa, tila inilatag na ng gobyernong Aquino ang mga hakbangin para pagkaitan ng lubos na katarungan ang mga manggagawa ng Kentex.

Tinutukoy namin ang pagtanggi ng gobyerno na kasuhan ang matataas na opisyales ng Department of Labor and Employment at Bureau of Fire Protection sa nangyari. Malinaw namang pinayagan ng DOLE na mag-operate ang Kentex sa pagbibigay rito ng “Certificate of Compliance” sa kaligtasan at karapatan ng mga manggagawa noong Setyembre 2014. Malinaw namang hindi man binigyan ng BFP ang Kentex ng Fire Safety Inspection Certificate, hindi naman nito ipinasara ang kumpanya.

Malinaw na pinoprotektahan ni Pang. Noynoy Aquino ang kanyang mga alyadong sina Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz, Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas, at BFP Director Ariel Barayuga.

Kaya ngayong araw, nagprotesta kami sa tanggapan ng DOLE para kondenahin ito sa pananagutan nito sa pagkamatay ng napakaraming manggagawa. Dapat ay mag-resign na si Baldoz at dapat siyang panagutin sa kanyang krimen. Panawagan namin sa Ombudsman na pabilisin ang pagharap sa kasong isinampa namin laban sa matataas na opisyales ng DOLE at BFP.

Taliwas sa gustong palabasin ng mga kapitalista ng Kentex, tuloy ang pagkilos at panawagan namin para sa katarungan. Hinihiling namin sa aming mga manggagawa at mamamayang Pilipino na tuluy-tuloy ang pagsuporta sa aming laban para sa katarungan.

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Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

3RD MONTH OF KENTEX FIRE MARKED WITH DOLE PROTEST


Marking the third month of the Kentex factory fire, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, together with the families of the victims and the survivors of the tragedy, picketed the Labor Department in Intramuros, Manila this morning.

The group said Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz and other top officials of the agency should resign and be held responsible for the death of more than 72 workers in the fire because they certified the slipper factory’s “compliance” with occupational health and safety standards and labor standards on September 2014.

KMU also condemned the Justice Department which, last July, recommended the filing of charges against the capitalists of Kentex and the local government of Valenzuela City but did not recommend the filing of charges against Baldoz and top officials of the Department of Labor and Employment.

“Three months after the Kentex factory fire, the building blocks of injustice have already been laid. The Aquino government is doing everything to insulate from blame the government agency most responsible for the death of more than 72 workers,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader said the Aquino government, in refusing to hold the Labor Department accountable for the death of Kentex workers, is upholding flawed government policies on workplace safety and is defending close allies of the president.

“The Aquino government does not want to change its pro-capitalist policies on workplace safety. It does not want to hold Baldoz, a close ally of the president, responsible. These are there reasons why it refuses to recognize the Labor Department’s accountability for the death of many workers,” Ustarez added.

KMU has been calling for the junking of DOLE Order No. 131-13 or the “Rules on Labor Laws Compliance System” which it says masks the government’s collusion with capitalists through a so-called “tripartite” mechanism of workplace safety inspection.

“Upholding workplace safety should be embraced by the national government as its task. It should stop passing the burden on to local government units, lest there be differences in upholding workplace safety standards,” Ustarez stated.

KMU also reiterated its support for a substitute bill that was approved by the House of Representatives Committee on Labor and Employment last August 5 and seeks to legislate mandatory inspection of all businesses in the country and heavy penalties for capitalists who violate workplace safety standards.

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Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

P3.7-M FARM IMPLEMENTS DISTRIBUTED IN ILOCOS NORTE


Efforts to improve farmers’ agricultural production got a big boost as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) turned over 21 farm machineries worth P3.7 million to farmers’ cooperatives in Ilocos Norte.

The farm machines consisting of 13 hand tractors, six rice threshers and two rice reapers were turned over to 20 cooperatives where around 3,000 are agrarian reform beneficiary members.

“These mechanized farm implements will greatly increase farmers’ yield. And if their yield is bigger, their household income will be bigger too,” said Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Vic Ines.

Ines explained that the farm implements were given as “equipment grant” which will be operated by farm cooperatives as a business asset where user fees will be collected and will be utilized for the operation and maintenance of the farm equipment.

The project is being implemented under DAR’s Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS), which aims to transform ARBs into viable entrepreneurs by providing them support services to increase their income and farming capabilities.

“Under ARCCESS, we will also teach farmers agri-business technologies to help them establish farm enterprises and gain access to credit and better markets,” said Ines.

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

DA STRENGTHENS TRANSPARENCY THROUGH GEOTAGGING OF PROJECTS


The Department of Agriculture (DA) will now use Applied Geotagging (AGT) in all projects to strengthen transparency and good governance, following the standards developed and utilized by the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP)—another DA-implemented foreign project.

In a memorandum, released on July 28, 2015, Secretary Proceso J. Alcala enjoined all DA officials and project implementers to use the AGT in carrying out every DA program and project.

Alcala said that AGT is a vital tool in the validation and monitoring of proposed and implemented projects of the government. He stressed that it also an effective mechanism to promote transparency within the government.

“The utilization of the tool is a critical input in the development of the Field Operations Service’s Management Information System that manages data and provides efficient, reliable and real-time information for all programs and projects under the DA,” he continued.

To further secure the use of AGT and prevent possible modification or alteration of geotagged photos, the PRDP has developed a unified AGT Android Mobile Application, which will also be used by all DA programs and projects.

The revolutionary system, which bagged the top place on the Science of Delivery Awardees in the Global Procurement for Complex Situation Challenge last year, has been recognized by the World Bank recently as a critical tool in promoting transparency of government-implemented projects.

AGT was first developed and applied by DA’s Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) in 2011, and has helped increase transparency in project implementation, especially in remote and conflict-stricken areas in the region. As such, MRDP has been a success.

Currently, some DA programs have started using the tool such as the Irrigated Rice Production Enhancement Project (IRPEP), Rice Program, and Farm-to-Market Road Development Program (FMRDP).

A team from the PRDP has also trained other national agencies that are keen on applying the tool in implementing their own projects. These include the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Public Works and Highways, and National Irrigation Administration, among others.

Last year, the PRDP also trained members of various civil society organizations in hope of involving them in monitoring sub-projects implemented in their locality.

Geotagging is an ICT application that associates digital resource such as photos and videos with geographic and location information with high degree precision.

It is a Google Earth-based tool, facilitating easy and accurate locations of infrastructure, livelihood and agri-fishery facilities on a map enabling virtual monitoring and supervision of sub-project implementation. (Catherine Nanta, DA-PRDP)

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

TONDO URBAN POOR BUG NHA FOR TENEMENT REPAIRS


Holding tough to their right to live and work in the neighborhoods where they eked out their entire lives, urban poor residents of the Katuparan Housing Project trooped this morning to the headquarters of the National Housing Authority.

Accompanied by the Gabriela Women’s Party as their advocate, they pressed the public settlements agency to fast track its promise to carry out the long delayed tests to declare their row houses still fit for quake proofing before the feared quake render their 12 buildings unsafe. The residents fear plans by the

City of Manila to condemn the medium rise structures for which they are paying regular amortizations to the NHA.

“Kinakatigan ko ang kahilingan ng Katuparan residents sa NHA na madaliin na ang pangakong testing para pinal na madeklarang walang bisa ang deklarasyong condemned na mula sa City Building Inspector.

Leaders of the Gabriela chapter in Tondo who are leading the resident’ struggle for housing rights said that the NHA must also repair the buildings as part of its mandate to provide socialized housing for the poor and help strengthen their position against the City of Manila’s plans to evict them.

De Jesus said how NHA resolves the demands of the longtime residents of Tondo to keep them in the city is a test case of Aquino’s touted inclusive growth programs that supposedly channels the resources of the State accumulated after a few years of nominal GDP surpluses that economists say did not filter down for the benefit of the forgotten poor.

Newly installed NHA General Manager Atty Sinforoso Pagunsan acknowledged the plight of the Katuparan residents and assured the worried residents that the planned technical inspections will be started in October once the Department of Public Works and Highways makes available the needed machinery to begin the testing procedures.

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy

180 FARMERS UNDERGO TRAINING ON ORGANIC CROP PRODUCTION THROUGH FARMER’S FIELD SCHOOLS


At least 180 agrarian reform beneficiaries from Camarines Sur are currently enhancing their technical know-how on organic crop production through Farmers’ Field School (FFS).

OIC- Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Maria Gracia R. Sales said that the field schools are being carried out in selected agrarian reform areas that include Amoguis, Lagonoy; Danlog, San Jose; Buracan, Sagñay; Tinangis, Pili; and May-Ogob and San Antonio in the municipality of Ocampo.

The program is part of the continuing agricultural extension support to Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) project of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture- Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) and local government units (LGUs).

Sales said the program is intended to promote organic farming, improve food security and rural income, and reduce poverty which are still prevalent in said areas and around the province.

Sales added that farmers are taking a 16-week training program to study proven agricultural practices, by which they can increase their yield and production and protect their crops and  training on producing organic fertilizers and pesticides which they can apply on their own farms.

“We want to make every farmer’s farms and backyards to be as productive as possible and turn their farms into business,”  Sales said.

Sales said the DAR has allocated more than P400,000 for the three-month training on organic vegetable, rice and corn production.

The farmers received planting materials from DAR and attended series of classes from planting to harvesting which is facilitated by competent agricultural technicians from DA.

It is one way of helping the province attain food sustainability and agricultural productivity, “that’s why the DAR has decided to train and encourage our farmers to go into organic farming. We assure them that the DAR will be there to help improve their quality of life. (GCBuensalida)

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy