Archive for November, 2008

ON MAGNA CARTA FOR THE STUDENTS (Students Rights’ and Welfare Bill)

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21, 2008 by MASP

Manifesto of UNITY

for the

Magna Carta of Students

 

WE, the unified Students´ Rights and Welfare Coalition, comprised of different student councils and organizations in the Philippines, remaining sure and steadfast in its pursuit for a law that will guarantee the political and civil liberties of the Filipino students, which goes beyond the discourse of faith, philosophy, race, political affiliation or sexual orientation with the premise rooted from the concept that education should not contain any form of prejudice towards any form of expression join hands altogether to advocate and to call for support on the Congress´ immediate endorsement and ratification of the Student’s Rights and Welfare Bill under the title Magna Carta of Students.

 

With the lack of a national policy to uphold and defend the rights and interests of the students, numerous oppressive and repressive school policies have been paved way that has continuously marginalized our students in the whole process of social equality. From deregulated fee increases to media censorship to lack of an independent Student Government and as far as to campus militarization, no course of action currently exists that can satisfactorily guard our students from possible exploitations.

WE believe that the students’ lack of representation in policy-making bodies in private universities and in most state colleges and universities defeat the whole essence of democracy. Students are the biggest stakeholders in the whole education system and should therefore be given decent chances to state their views and opinions on matters that will directly affect them.

 

Given the verity that this is the longest running advocacy of the student movement ever since time in commemoration, we firmly accept as true that now is the moment to pass a black and white document, an act that shall be a concrete step to attend to the perennial problems in the education sector and shall widen democratic spaces in academic institutions, for it to develop into more than a mere tuition place and a reproduction hub of labor force.

 

In line with this, WE strongly assert the full manifestation of the Magna Carta of Students, in consistence with the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, content-wise, in ensuring the indispensable, fundamental rights of students as Filipino citizens which includes the right

1) To admission, non-discrimination and quality education;

2) To organize and establish their own student councils and/or organizations;

3) to participate in policy-making processes;

4) to free expression and information;

5) to exercise their academic freedom;

6) to due process in disciplinary proceedings;

 

7) To privacy; and other rights such as their right against unreasonable searches and seizures and;

8) Their right to be secured within school premises.

 

WE zealously declare that Education must be not discriminatory of sex, gender or physical appearances nor of faith and spiritual beliefs, and neither a respecter of social status and position as well as ideologies. Further, it is ought to encourage open and critical judgment which should help in molding and crafting new ideas and means that could later contribute to genuine national development.

 

this is our proposal, our bill!

 

endorse and ratify the Magna Carta of Students now!

 

 

Signed in the 21st of November, in the year of our lord two thousand and eight,

Student’s rights and welfare (STRAW) coalition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                          

 

ENOUGH! END NEOLIBERAL CAPITALISM! CHANGE THE SYSTEM NOW!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2008 by MASP

Enough!

End Neoliberal Capitalism!

Change the System Now!

 

The time has come.

 

Leaders of the G20 will be meeting today to discuss, in the light of the global financial crisis that threatens to disrupt the global economic system itself and cause massive recession, resolutions to re-regulate the capitalist economies of nation-states. Taking their lessons from the wake of the United States‘ housing bubble collapse and financial meltdown, they sought to discuss the appropriate mechanisms for multilateral and domestic intervention of governments to stem the contagion of recession throughout the world. Once again, they are faced with the fact that the market, by itself, cannot serve as a reliable medium of production and exchanged, and that the state, as mandated and participated by the people, must flex its visible arm to discipline free market’s invisible hand.

 

Clearly, we have been vindicated.

 

Since the inception of the neoliberal paradigm to resolve the 1970s capital stagnation, social movements around the world already warned that the policies of financial and trade liberalization and giving free hand to the market through deregulation and privatization will only result not only in massive inequality and misery to the poorest, but will also facilitate further disconnection of economic activities to the consumption needs and the production activities of the people. This has happened, and we are now seeing the juxtaposition of the immense wealth creation with the ever-growing social inequality amid the widening gap of the artificial, financial economy from the real economy of production.

 

Now that the bubble of financial investments on housing has burst, we already know that the primary impulse of capital actors would be to retrench and protect whatever it has. Unfortunately, the way the world economies had been restructured by neoliberalism is that when these capital actors refuse to invest in enterprises, employment would decrease and that would translate to greater public misery. The livelihood, survival, and dignity of the working people is dependent on the whim and the “risk calculation” of capital holders.

 

The neoliberal capitalist system is thus, by its very nature, a poverty-creating system. A system that facilitates the transfer of wealth from the poor and the middle class to the rich via policies such as regressive taxation, maximum economic liberty, and retreating of the government from social and essential services, which is purportedly transferring capital to those who are proven to have optimally used it, is a system that only widens the gap between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately for the rich, it is primarily the poor which consumes the products the enterprises they owned produces – and with the deterioration of the poor’s capacity to consume, overcapacity and overproduction is an inevitability.

 

The American solution to this conundrum is the solution which precipitated the current crisis: credit. Unable to consume with their deteriorating wages, the people resorted to credit in order to claim their “American dream”, a good house in a clean suburb as a prerequisite to a good life. But the neoliberal system cannot escape its prerequisite for survival, which is the capacity of the people to pay its debts. With the growing unemployment and decreasing wages due to liberalist trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), this prerequisite was gradually wiped out, forcing the people to renege on their credits such as those meant to pay for their mortgages. Unfortunately for the American capitalists and banking institutions, they already speculated and inflated the value of these mortgages – so much so that this massive mortgage reneging translated to collapse and bankruptcy.

 

This is the quagmire G20 will be trying to solve today. A start of a series of summits and meetings, they are to come out with concrete policy prescriptions and directions to reverse the global downturn.

 

It is frightening however, that as they are trying to resolve the problems caused by neoliberalism, they are resorting back to neoliberalism itself – a completion of the project towards global market fundamentalism. For the food crisis, for example, the solution for problems caused by trade liberalization such as decreasing production leading to increasing prices had been the further lowering of tariffs. For the financial crisis, the solution to revive the financial market is for governments to bailout the troubled banks and investment houses, facilitating a further transfer of public money to private capital actors.

 

Thus, it is incumbent to us in the social movements to prevent the neoliberal resurgence. We had enough of neoliberal capitalism, and never again should the whole world be governed by such a bankrupt and damaging ideology. We must call on our governments to reject any solution that puts prime on the market rather than on people, on capital rather than on labour, and on stability rather than transformation. Beyond mere re-regulation of the system, we should have a re-regulation on the direction of system change, and a re-regulation implemented by the state and powered by people’s grassroots’ participation and deliberation.

 

Now, more than ever, is the time to re-echo our calls. The credibility of the neoliberal capitalist system is in tatters; now is the time to strike.

 

G20 is putting a pause on neoliberalism. It’s time we put a dot on it.

–united statement from the recently done “Emergency Conference on Global Crisis and Alternative” for the November 15 G20 World Summit Meeting–

CARP in the Simplest of Terms, CARP for the Deepest of Reasons

Posted in Uncategorized on November 11, 2008 by MASP

Monday, 10 November 2008 06:40

Speech delivered by AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros on CARP.

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

As we resume session today, two points could not be clearer: one is that we only have 17 session days to go, and two, we need to pass the CARP extension with reforms law before December 31, 2008. The clock is ticking, and we must proceed cognizant of our vision and sure-footed in our step. 

The time for waffling and fence-sitting is past. The time has come to buckle down to work and deliver our deliverables to the Filipino people: one of which is an agrarian reform law that will ensure continuing funding for land acquisition and distribution after 2008 and incorporate crucial reforms to implement the law consistent with its spirit.  

It is time to talk about CARP without the fat, without the frills.  

I have four points. 

First. CARP is a duty, not an option. 

The call for a CARP extension law is not only founded on a moral imperative, but also stands on clear and solid legal ground.  

Nothing less than the Philippine Constitution in Section 4, Article VIII, mandates that “The State shall, by law, undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farm workers, who are landless, to own directly or indirectly the land they till .” The same section adds that, “the State shall encourage and undertake the just distribution of all agricultural lands, subject to such priorities and reasonable retention limits as the Congress may provide xxx.” 

During the plenary debates in June, we heard so many suggestions, bordering on the absurd, to the effect that agrarian reform is an option and a prerogative of the legislature. They have said: “Agrarian reform is to be encouraged, but is not mandated.” We have also heard: “Support services must be focused on, and land acquisition and distribution may be deferred.”  

No, Mr. Speaker.  

The Constitution, by its express wording, commands the State to undertake – not only to encourage, but to encourage AND undertake – the just distribution of all agricultural lands. By clear implication, until all agricultural lands have been distributed, the work does not stop. The work cannot stop. We do not rest and say, this is ok for now. We will see what happens in the future. We will stand proud before our country and say that we are elected government officials, we shall follow the Constitution and give the people what is due them, let other interests be damned. 

As long as there is one landless farmer who meets the requirements to be a beneficiary but does not own the land he tills, we are committed to ensuring that there will be funding for the acquisition of land from his landowner and its subsequent redistribution to him.  

Second. CARP has worked more times than it has failed. 

Yes, we can talk about the bureaucratic inefficiencies of the Department of Agrarian Reform – AKBAYAN has always championed the cause of transparent and effective governance. Yes, we can talk about how poverty and iniquity in the countryside still continue to persist – our AKBAYAN farmers have similar experiences.  Yes, we can talk about the many gaps and loopholes in the existing law that impede the implementation of the program – AKBAYAN may have a tale or two or more to tell on that regard. 

But the truth of the matter is this: 

In the past twenty years, even with the major pockmarks that is Hacienda Luisita, Negros, Batangas, Masbate, Bondoc Peninsula, etc, 4.5 million farmers have full control of 7.2 million hectares of agricultural land by virtue of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. As of 2007, 1,959 agrarian reform communities and special agrarian reform communities have been set up. True, this covers only 32% of agrarian reform beneficiaries, but it is a system that is by and large working and can be made expanded even further with effective implementation and political will.  

We have 4.5 million farmers whose lives are better off because of CARP. These 4.5 million farmers stand beside the millions more who still remain landless and echo the call of their brothers and sisters in the countryside for the speedy distribution of agricultural lands.  

1.3 million hectares is the remaining balance for distribution. AKBAYAN firmly believes that with the correct reform-oriented CARP law and proper implementation, these landholdings may finally be distributed.  

Third. There is a saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it IS broke but can be fixed, then we should fix it.  

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, we recognize the many gaps and loopholes of the existing law. These gaps and loopholes have translated into tragic stories oft-repeated and well-documented. We are not blind to cases of CLOA cancellation infesting  Isabela, livestock exemptions impeding land acquisition in Masbate, non-installation prevalent in Negros, conversions most pronounced in Batangas, corporate farming in Mindanao, criminalization rampant in Bondoc Peninsula, non-redistributive schemes like SDO and leaseback all over the country.  

That is precisely why our position has always been consistent – extend funding for land acquisition and distribution but introduce meaningful reforms that address historical injustices to the farmers.  

AKBAYAN stands strongly in support of the reforms in Consolidated House Bill 4077. There is much to be gained for our farmers if these reforms are adopted in the final version. For example, the provision declaring the indefeasibility of CLOAs and emancipation patents after the lapse of one year will arrest the alarming trend of CLOA and EP cancellations and strengthen the titles of the farmers over their land. We will continue to push during plenary other meaningful amendments such as tighter regulations on land conversion and the prohibition on non-redistributive stock distribution options.  

The point is simple. We do not throw the baby out with the bath water. 

We take a good hard look at what we have and see what holes need to be plugged, what gaps need to be filled. We make improvements and institute changes. We do not give up. Not when much has already been gained. Not when we can still look forward to so many more gains.  

Fourth. CARP is not a farmers’ issue alone. 

When last I took the stand to speak on the issue of CARP extension with reforms, I brought with me three stories from three lives – Benido Mahilom, the farmer from Bondoc Peninsula then languishing in jail for harvesting coconuts; Glen Malaluan, the boy from Calatagan whose family’s agricultural land is facing threat from a mining corporation; Jennifer Pagaspas, the young widow whose husband was killed because he dared lead the petition for leasehold.  

But these are not the only lives that agrarian reform impacts on. In the alleys of Sampaloc, Manila, Leonila Giray wonders how to keep up with the spiraling cost of imported rice, and how she can feed her family of six children. She falls in line under the heat of the sun for NFA rice and because it is never enough, supplements it with an unhealthy medley of MSG-laden noodles. Replicate this situation thousands of times over in urban poor communities all over the country and the picture becomes starkly clear. 

We are a nation going hungry, Mr. Speaker. We are a nation feeling the pinch of food insecurity and poverty, but whose agricultural lands are being slowly but surely being eaten away by rampant and unabated conversion, whose granaries are being turned into eco-tourism and industrial complexes.  

The call for agrarian reform is not a call for the farmers alone, but a call on behalf of the entire nation. It is not the clamor merely of peasants living off land, but of millions of Filipinos dying for food.  

Even Pope Benedict the XVI calls for real and meaningful land reform. The time is now. 

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas. Mabuhay ang magsasakang Pilipino. Mabuhay ang Kongresong maglilingkod ng tapat at magsusulong ng repormang agraryo. 

Maramang salamat po.

RP 5th in world hunger survey

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2008 by MASP

Philippine Daily Inquirer

November 05, 2008

MANILA, Philippines�The Philippines ranks No. 5 in the world when it comes to citizens who have had “little or no food at all” in the past year, a global survey on hunger said.

Gallup International asked over 58,000 people from 55 countries this question: “Have there been times in the last 12 months when you and/or your family have not had enough to eat?”

Gallup, a Zurich-based international group, conducted the interviews between June and September for its World Food Survey.

Four in 10 Filipinos or 40 percent said they “often or sometimes” lacked food in the past year, according to Gallup International-Voice of the People 2008.

Topping the list of hungry nations was Cameroon (55 percent), followed by Pakistan (53 percent), Nigeria (48 percent) and Peru (42 percent).

Following the Philippines, and completing the top ten, were Bolivia and Guatemala (tied at 35 percent), Ghana (32 percent) Mexico and Russia (tied at 23 percent).

Worldwide, around two in ten people or 19 percent said they lacked food “often or sometimes” in the past year. Moreover, 13 percent said there were rare occasions when they had no food to eat.

On the other hand, 66 percent said the problem never affected them.

“It is shocking to see that still so many people don’t have enough to eat even in the most developed regions,” Gallup International secretary general Meril James said in a statement.

Not surprisingly, hunger was prevalent among those with low incomes (25 percent), less educational attainment (29 percent) and no employment (27 percent).

Regionally, Africa remains the most affected by hunger, with almost half the population declaring they did not have enough food to eat “often or sometimes” in the past year, with only three in ten Africans saying they did not lack food in the past year. Lawrence de Guzman, Inquirer Research

©2008 www.inquirer.net all rights re