Archive for July, 2008

On Agrarian Reform issue.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2008 by MASP



Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal and collective privilege.


            Para kanino ang repormang panakahan?


In the provincial jail of Gumaca, Quezon, there is a man in his early fifties who has been languishing in jail for more than three months. As the debates on the CARP extension bill raged on in these chambers, Bienvenido Mahilom shuffled noiselessly in his own steel chambers, waiting for the rest of the world to cast him a second look. He is neither murderer nor rapist – he is a farmer tilling the same plot of land his father and grandfather had tilled, and he was charged with nine counts of Qualified Theft with bail set at P180,000.00. He was, in the simplest words, charged with the theft of coconuts. He is a tenant in a coconut landholding in Bondoc Peninsula, and was charged for performing an act as natural to him as waking up every morning. In Quezon, there have been hundreds of arrests before his, hundreds of fathers and husbands and sons sent to jail in a frenzy of trumped-up charges of theft and estafa and trespassing filed by the landowners. As of December 2007, there have been a total of 295 cases involving 223 farmers pending in court.


In Calatagan, Batangas, a farmer’s eight-year-old daughter makes the long trek home from school everyday bewildered and conflicted. Angel’s mother and father are active farmer-leaders, generating grassroots resistance to the plan of a mining corporation to build a cement factory on their agricultural land. She was a sharp and inquisitive girl, and listened intently as her parents gently explained to her why they were doing what they were doing. In school, however, she discovers that a new subject had been created by school administrators. The name of the new subject is LAND CONVERSION. And in that subject, the teacher, day in and day out. talks about why a cement factory in their barangay would bring in jobs and make their lives better. At the same time, her parents wonder where should would go to school should the cement factory succeed in displacing them.


In Hacienda Batuan, Masbate, Jennifer Pagaspas rocks her 4-month-old child to sleep as she stares despondently into space. Her husband, Junrie, is one of two farmers killed on July 6 of this year. Before their deaths, they were warned by the farm manager not to continue with their petition for leasehold or they would be killed. In the morning of July 6, they were felled by several gunshots and multiple stab wounds. Jennifer will have to raise their 4-month-old child all by herself. The community is paralyzed and frozen with fear. This only means that the share tenancy system, already prohibited by law as being contrary to public policy, will continue in Masbate.


Madame Speaker, as we continue the next round of debates on the extension of the land acquisition and distribution component of our Agrarian Reform program, these are the stories that we need to hear.


Indeed, we celebrate the success stories of farmers and Bugkalot chieftains who had reaped the benefits of the programs and share in their triumph, but we must not forget those for whom the promise of a better life remains elusive. It is for them that the agrarian reform law was envisioned twenty years ago, it is for them that we must buckle down and get back to work to ensure that the gains of agrarian reform would not be lost, the gaps and loopholes be plugged, and meaningful reforms be introduced to truly give flesh and spirit and to the Constitutional mandate to distribute land.


What is clear, Madame Speaker – or rather, what should be clear to all of us lawmakers – is that the reforms we are to incorporate into our new law should be articulations of the hopes and dreams of our farmers in the countryside, and are born of the desire to truly address rural poverty and social injustice. They should reflect experiences on the ground, experiences of ordinary people represented by Mang Bienvenido, Jennifer Pagaspas and Angel Malalauan.


 And therefore, this House must take a strong position against so-called reforms that thwart the very premise of our agrarian reform program and increase the yoke on the back of our peasants.


The proposed inclusion of the farmland-as-collateral provision would wreak havoc on the objective of agrarian reform to ensure equitable distribution and access to land. There is a reason, Madame Speaker, why the present law imposes limits on the transfer or conveyance of lands distributed under CARP. It is to prevent landowners and wealthy corporations from taking advantage of the poverty of the farmers and the lack of support services from the government, and in order to reconsolidate lands back to them. This will clearly revert us back to the situation that prompted agrarian reform in the first place –  large tracks of lands are in the hands of a very few. Mrs. Arroyo said in her State of the Nation Address that “Ownership raises the farmer from his knees. Productivity will keep him on his feet.” If it is true productivity that is desired, it can only be done by granting access to credit via formal lending institutions to the farmers and increasing support services to them, without the necessity of putting up their lands for collateral. The mischief of allowing the mortgage of CLOA lands to any lender – whether bank or individual – is plain for everyone to see. It will revive the old umbilical cord between landowner and tenant, the same cord which the Constitution had sought to cut.


The proposal to spur corporate farming is likewise an anti-farmer reform. Its impact on the farmers would be loss of management control over CLOA lands, if not outright displacement. In many cases, allowing big corporations to enter in agri-business and forge joint ventures with farmers tilling the land is nothing but leaseback on a grand scale. In Agusan del Norte, through sheer machination, farmers were made to sign a leaseback agreement binding them to lease their land to a palm oil corporation at the reprehensible rate of P635.00 per hectare per year, for the next twenty five years.


Tangan po ang boses ng mga maliliit na magsasaka sa kanayunan, simple lamang po ang pakiusap at panawagan ng Akbayan. Sa pagpapatuloy ng debate hinggil sa repormang panakahan, isaalang-alang natin bago sa lahat ang kapakanan ng magbubukid. May malaking utang po tayo sa kanila noong Hunyo a-diyes nung hindi natin naipasa ang CARP Extension with Reforms. Bayaran po natin ang ating utang sa pamamagitan ng isang makabukuhang, makataong at maka-magsasakang batas na tutugon din sa pangangailangan ng sambayanan sa seguridad sa pagkain.


Mrs. Arroyo challenged Congress to find a path where justice and progress converge. Yes, we must find that path, but we must also ensure that it is a path where our farmers can hold their heads up high, where each farmer’s child can afford to dream that a better world is still possible, where farmers are empowered to stand on their own without having to carry the yoke of market-oriented reform proposals. It is a path that should lead to genuine and sustainable countryside reform, not only where rural poverty is stemmed but also where democratic space is widened.


There are many who claim to champion agrarian reform, and indeed they claim to fight for CARP extension with reforms. But the question is not whether or not reforms are in order, but whom these reforms should serve. We hear the stories of Mang Bienvenido – a tenant jailed for doing what he does as a tenant, the young girl Angel – living in constant fear of displacement by a cement factory, and being taught in school that this is a good thing, and the young widow Jennifer Pagaspas – whose husband died because he dared to dream he could cultivate his own land, and we have no doubt.


Ang repormang panakahan ay alay natin sa kanila at sa milyong milyong magsasakang naglalagay ng pagkain sa ating hapag.


Lest we forget, Madame Speaker. Lest we lose our way.


Maraming Salamat po.




Our Stance and Stand

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27, 2008 by MASP

Movement for the Advancement of Student Power

National Office: #18 Callejon Conchu Street Project 4 Quezon City

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Mobile number: 09184128622




Statement on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s

8th State of the Nation Address



Students On genuine People’s SONA


            On July 28, Monday afternoon, the country will again see the president in her one of her most prestigious-high-status dress, holding her statements of rhetoric and avowal of accomplishments and plans. The public will again hear her voice in proud and of vows, with all the claps of our honorable politicians in all colors of nationalism and patriotism. The Filipino citizen will again be fooled, will again be tricked, will again be deceived. But this time, with all the stamina of hunger and poverty, with all the past seven SONAs and the all-throughout-crisis-and-dismay, Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP) shouts, “On GMA’s SONA, hear no evil, hear no lies! Fellow youth, citizens of the nation, all in unity, raise our fists, declare the genuine people’s SONA!”


            Hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression, crisis – name it all, count it all – incalculable. Politics remained to be corrupt and dreary. Economy stayed undeveloped and stagnated. The state of the nation is in severe and bastardized condition. And with this context, the Arroyo government has never been responsive and accountable to all the problems and issues raised. Instead, the government keeps on arguing that there is no crisis, the economy is developing, the country is on road to justice. If these are all true, then who is becoming untruthful? Is it the Macapagal-Arroyo regime that has been engaged in enormous scandals of bribery and corruption, or the Filipino people who do feel all the hunger and suffering?


 1Some 48% of respondents disapprove of President Arroyo while 53% either have small confidence or completely distrust her based on the latest Pulse Asia survey released. Furthermore, 2GMA’s net satisfaction rating reaches to the most negative 38 (3rd quarter of 2008 SWS Survey), the lowest of all the presidential popularity rates in history. With these two survey-results being presented, the doubtless reactions to these are beyond question. These are just reaffirmation of the Filipino’s distrust and dismay to the Arroyo government. These are manifestations of how bankrupt the government is. These are reflections of Gloria’s seven-year perpetuation in power and arrogance.


            On education, the quality has been continuously deteriorating. While the parents and students tighten their belt just to afford the unjust increasing price of our deregulated education, the promise of good and high quality education is indeed questionable; the hope of welfare and success is at the edge of a cliff. The government keeps on giving band-aid solutions that will not solve the real problem. Like for example, GMA’s plead to the school administrators to freeze all the tuition and other fee increase. She better call to the policy-makers, education institutions and school administrators to do end the [1]deregulated status of education, to do a concrete policy to make education accessible to all, in mode of legislation to execution. Her government should take an action to some policies that hinder the progress of education like repealing the Automatic Appropriation Act (AAA) for Debt Servicing.


            3This is not to mention the more chronic, strategic mal-governance the people, especially the youth, faced under her illegitimate regime. Under her term, the Philippine national government debt rose to record heights, her administration itself keeping its record of having to borrow and pay debts more than the post-EDSA administrations combined. Under her term, the youth suffered the most, with the education spending per GNP dropping from an already meager 3.8% during the Estrada administration to a record-low of 2.2% in 2006, a far-cry to the UNESCO standard of 6%.


We have had enough of this administration’s deceitful ways and false promises of education reforms. While the number of out-of-school youth is growing in millions every year 4(from 14.6 million OSY in year 2004 to 17 million OSY in year 2008), while the exodus of students transferring from private schools to public schools is at an astonishing increase, while the necessary things and equipments like chairs, books, classrooms, etc., are at fixated shortage, not even a glance has been provided from the Arroyo government. Instead, the government thrusts the school administration in making education more commercialized and privatized. While the education is at worst, the negligence of Arroyo government is at worst too.


Furthermore, we are in outrage over unending and unjust price hikes. Oil prices have risen 18 times this year, and more daily increases are set to burden the people. This government refuses to impose and implement regulative policies to pad the blows of soaring oil prices. Prices of food, electricity and other basic commodities similarly continue to be padded up by economic policies such as the Value Added Tax (VAT) and other arduous taxes.



Moreover, while the country is suffering under rice price crisis, the agriculture sector is being ignored by this regime. The call for the extension and reform of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is being disregarded by the majority of the policy-makers even as GMA never bothered to do something about the peasant sector’s outcries. If GMA is really serious in solving this crisis, then why not give the demands of the sector, the land, rights and justice? Why keep on saying that there is nothing to blame about this dumbfounding rice price hike instead of doing concrete action to feed the people, which is in the long run. 5For a sector that accounts for close to 19 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and employs 35 percent of the labor force, agriculture has not received the attention and support that it richly deserves. Data from the General Appropriations Act show that the Department of Agriculture only got an average of 2 percent of the annual budget over the past six years.

5The most that the department got to fulfill its mandate to make sure that Filipinos have enough to eat and that the sector continues to help drive economic growth was 2.4 percent of the budget in 2002, before dipping to 1.6 percent in 2005 and 2007. This year is no different, with Congress allotting P24.7 billion for the agriculture sector, equivalent to a mere 2 percent of the total budget this year of P1.227 trillion. Now the country is literally paying the consequence of neglect.

On urban poor issue, aside of suffering severe hunger and poverty, they are also being deprived of their rights on safety housing. Demolitions were at left and right within the communities while safety relocation of the families is being set aside by the government.

            The Filipino citizens have been robbed and deprived of the basic services that are in need in order to survive. The Filipino citizens have been denied of dignified life. Where is the promise of poverty alleviation and democracy?

The above-mentioned issues are just some of the worst problems the people are suffering under Arroyo regime. There is more than that. The country is facing aggravating political and societal problems.  Arroyo is not the only reason why the nation remained at dismal state, but then, Arroyo is one of those main reasons. And Arroyo, the state’s highest official, is part of that political and societal problem.

            We had heard all her litanies in her SONAs for the past seven years, and on her eight SONA, for sure, litanies of superficial achievements and elusive promises will again be heard. The youth sector has had enough of all those lies. We’ve had enough of all her pretensions and foolishness. Therefore, hearing another SONA of lies will just waste our time. The real state of the nation will be addressed by the people and not by an illegitimate liar president. To the so called ‘President of strong nation’, your SONA is yours; it will not be relevant at all.

            As long as GMA stays in power, as long as neo-liberal policies continue to exacerbate, as long as this system of elite democracy persist to aggravate, as long as we won’t realize in unity the real alternative, the state of the nation will always be the same.

            The power is in us. We are the alternative.

Let us hear no evil, hear no lies. Fellow youth, citizens of the nation, all in unity, raise our fists, declare the genuine people’s SONA! End the crisis! Oust GMA! #

[1] The Daily Tribune; Pulse: 48% reject, 53% distrust Gloria; July 28, 2008 2; How Arroyo can reverse her unpopularity by Ramon Tulfo 3 Youth Against Debt Unity Statement; Youth (SONA) State of the Nation Address; July 21, 2008 4 5 Why RP, home to IRRI… by Tina Dumlao of Philippine Daily Inquirer

A Call on the Filipino Youth: Disconnect from Arroyo’s Lies

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21, 2008 by MASP

Youth Against Debt’s Unity Statement

Youth (SONA) State of Nation Address

University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD), National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), Audio Visual Room

July 21, 2008, 10-12 P.M.

A Call on the Filipino Youth: Disconnect from Arroyo’s Lies

We have been betrayed.

There is no longer any hope that the Arroyo administration, as manifested by its eight years of tumultuous reign, is genuinely concerned of the plight of the Filipino people, much less of the Filipino youth which are mostly dependent on their struggling parents. The recent sudden 3-peso surge for diesel and 1-peso surge for premium gasoline is no longer a sign of the obvious – it is but another damning evidence of the crisis that has befallen us all, no thanks to Arroyo’s policy to continue with the E-VAT and oil deregulation. This is on top of the record-high 11.4% inflation rate and soaring food and rice prices.

This is also on top of continuing public rage on the allegations of corruption which, while temporarily edged out of the limelight by the far more urgent and compelling economic crisis, remains a seething concern that never goes away. The NBN-ZTE and CEP scandals, the NorthRail-SouthRail deals, and Fertilizer and Swine Scams, the virtual sale of the Spratly’s Islands in exchange for illegitimate debts, and her other Machiavellian dealings – these issues are far from dead. Rather, on top of the Hello Garci scandal, these new items are included in the public accounting of the malevolent designs she had wrecked upon the nation.

This is not to mention the more chronic, strategic mal-governance the people, especially the youth, faced under her illegitimate regime. Under her term, the Philippine national government debt rose to record heights, her administration itself keeping its record of having to borrow and pay debts more than the post-EDSA administrations combined. Under her term, the youth suffered the most, with the education spending per GNP dropping from an already meager 3.8% during the Estrada administration to a record-low of 2.2% in 2006, a far-cry to the UNESCO standard of 6%.

This unprecedented level of suffering and disgust is ironically contrasted with the official government propaganda – that of a shining rule of law and a forthcoming prosperity promised by a robust economy. It is as if Arroyo is hoping for a mass-desensitization, waiting for the feelings of despair and resignation to sink in the hearts of the people, debilitating them with the desperate acceptance of poverty, so much so that they will accept whatever lies she will feed them next.

Fortunately, the people disappointed her. The crisis after crisis under her leadership managed to gradually build the tides of people’s rage, consciousness, and hope. And this is more than evidenced by thousands of furious youth swarming the streets and challenging the minions of her State.

At this point in time, youth radicalization is no longer a question. It is already a nagging imperative that imposes its enraged face on a nation that slowly realizes that their plight will get better if they will begin to act.

Clearly, for Arroyo, the time of reckoning has come.

This SONA, the 8th in Arroyo’s illegitimate term, is yet to uncover another series of comforting deception and promises. She may yet to promise an economic program that will supposedly, magically cure our economic and political maladies. Yet we ask: should we confine ourselves with her promises? Should we still trust her after what she’d done? Should we opt to uphold the status quo which is the ultimate manifestation of our democratic deficit and economic quagmire?

We have grown tired of Mrs. Arroyo’s annual litany of deceit. We have given Arroyo her due – but she never delivered. We asked asked for the truth – and we got more lies. We trusted due process – and we have been betrayed. We hoped for prosperity – but the nation is yet to sink deeper into the abyss of poverty.

Thus, this SONA, we call on the youth to refuse to see and hear the “evil” that will once again hound the halls of Congress, and the television and radios of the millions watching and hearing in their households that day.

Let us switch off our TVs and radios on July 28. Instead of falling prey to her vicious machinations once more, let us boycott her SONA and join the people as they march on in Batasan to protest the evil that clutches on our government.

Let us free ourselves from the lies the Arroyo regime.


Posted in Uncategorized on July 4, 2008 by MASP

22 years have passed yet the dream to create a just society for all Filipinos lives on in the hearts of young
progressives. Movement for the Advancement of Student Power kept its ground when all other youth organizations mocked the capacity and even challenged the existence of Student Power. MASP was formed and is sustained because of this principle. No matter how difficult the times may be, MASP will persist to exist for as long as there are still those who believe in its relevance. That is, for as long as students exist, MASP will continue to be relevant.

22 years have passed, and the problems that we, as political activists, had to face seemed insurmountable. But not even the threat of losing a battle can get us
down. There is dignity in retreating temporarily to replenish our strength and to prepare for the next difficult encounter. Yes, we know that the fight will continue to be difficult. There will be times when we, ourselves, will doubt our ability to go on. But our organization is our inspiration. The dream will live on for the battle is not yet lost.

Ang aking taos sa pusong pagbati sa lahat ng kasama sa Movement for the Advancement of Student Power!

This is a quite late greeting but nonetheless it’s still worth saying.
Belated Happy Anniversary to MASP! =)

–kinopya mula sa pagbati ni bianca sa friendster group ng masp. hindi nya pa alam. =)–