Saturday, April 30, 2011

The ‘good news’ workers want to hear

The ‘good news’ workers want to hear*

Anjo C. Alimario, Researcher
April 30, 2011

Today is President Aquino’s first May 1 as president, a day when thousands of workers from various labor organizations and unions all over the country traditionally converge, carrying their sentiments to the government to prioritize their rights and welfare.

But even with the changing of the guard from the nine-year rule of the Arroyo administration, Filipino workers say they see not much difference with the current labor situation in the country. In fact, they say it’s much worse with the skyrocketing of the prices of basic goods.

As more than 30,000 workers meet in Metro Manila and with more than 100,000 others in the provinces staging their own mobilizations, based on the estimates of Anakpawis Partylist, they are one in saying that President Aquino should review his economic policies to include the workers’ interests.

“If he is really serious in hearing out our concerns, he needs to prioritize on his labor agenda the much-needed wage hike,” Joel Maglunsod, Anakpawis executive vice president, said in Filipino in a recent interview with the BusinessMirror.

In the headquarters of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Intramuros, Manila, members of Anakpawis will deliver a large envelope containing the “good news” of what the people want to hear from the President—a P125 legislated wage increase, the repeal of the oil-deregulation law and value-added tax on oil, control of oil prices and commodities, adequate work and the repeal of contractualization.

According to the explanatory note of the pending House Bill 375, or P125 Daily Across-the-Board Wage Increase Act, under Republic Act 6727, or the Wage Rationalization Act of 1989, the task of studying fixing and raising of wages was given to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB).

The minimum wage differs from one region to another, and further differentiated according to locality, industry and employment size—standards set arbitrarily by the wage boards, it added.

“P-Noy will pass the issue on wage hike to the regional wage boards, but in the 22-year existence of the wage boards, it does not meet the workers’ needs—just providing meager wage increases. The P26 given is the highest in history,” Maglunsod emphasized.

What remains clear, as argued by the authors of the bill, is that minimum wages have remained grossly inadequate to support decent living standards after more than a decade of wage rationalization. “This highlights the failure of the government to provide economic relief for workers toward securing a living wage as mandated by the Constitution,” the paper read.

A symbol of workers’ demand

It was in the 13th Congress when the Committee on Labor and Employment, headed by Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Roseller Barinaga, was able to finalize House Bill (HB) 345 and registered the bill for plenary debate. The bill reached third and final readings.

On December 22, 2006, it was approved by the House through a majority vote and by rights the bill was passed.

But the bill could only reach that stage for it was recalled due to “blatant manipulation and disregard of the House rules.” It has taken more than seven years for the P125 legislated wage-increase bill to reach the level that it did in the 13th Congress.

In the following Congress, the bill was refiled as HB 1722. Despite the strong nationwide clamor for economic relief and constant lobbying of workers, the measure did not go any further after a single hearing in 2008.

The P125 legislated wake-hike demand has been recognized as a symbol of the Filipino workers’ united demand for economic relief. “Now, almost 11 years after, this fight for the granting of a legislated increase remains valid more than ever,” the statement read.

After the May 2010 elections, the RTWPB, under the DOLE, announced the granting of a P22 daily wage increase for workers in the National Capital Region (NCR). This hike increased the wage from P382 to P404 in the NCR, which is the last wage increase granted by former President Arroyo.

As of July 2010, the P404 minimum wage in the NCR has a shortfall of P553 against the estimated P957 family living wage. Moreover, the purchasing power of peso has been constantly eroded due to inflation.

The current family wage estimate is likely already twice the daily minimum wage and a P125 wage increase will not even make up for inflation that has eroded real incomes over the last three years, as stated in the paper.

“The fact is the additional P125 is not enough. With the estimate in the cost of living here in Metro Manila at P957 per day, you add P125 to P404 minimum wage, P529 is not even enough,” Maglunsod said.

The note emphasized that business owners’ age-old alibi that wage hikes would result in layoffs, cost-cutting measures and ultimate shutdown of companies was proved to be nothing more than “a blackmail excuse” to deprive workers of a much-needed wage increase.

Inflation argument

The argument that a wage increase will be inflationary is also disproved by the fact that labor costs comprise no more than 11 percent of the production costs on the average in all industries.

According to IBON Foundation, the net income of the top 1,000 corporations in the country soared from P116.4 billion in 2001 to P756 billion in 2009.

In a study by the Ecumenical Institute for Labor and Education Research (EILER) in the manufacturing sector, the share of the workers from the net incomes of companies decreases yearly, while company owners bloat their profits.

Based on the DOLE data in 2007, there are 1.8 million unionized workers that account for 5 percent of the total work force of 36 million. Of this number, only 242,000 workers are covered by existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Workers covered by CBA represent only 0.7 percent of the total employed work force, 1.4 percent of wage and salary workers and 12.4 percent of total union members.

Anakpawis data show that as of last year, only 1.7 million out of 19.5 million wage and salary workers are organized under unions. This is less than half of the 3.85 million unionized workers in 2001, and the figures continue to deplete.

During the first months of President Aquino’s term, the last waves of meager wage increases by the Arroyo administration through the wage boards were implemented: P22 in the NCR, P15 in Region VI, P18 in Region VII, P13 and P12 cost of living allowance (Cola) integration in Region X, P21 in Region XI, P10 and P10 Cola integration in Region XIII, and P12 in the ARMM.

“Aquino is about to start his first round of convening the wage boards next month. It took Aquino almost a year, despite severe price hikes, to finally do something on wage hike. But Anakpawis Partylist is wary that his first move on wages will only kill the hopes for a substantial wage hike, since it will again be coursed through the wage boards, and not through legislation, which what Anakpawis Partylist’s House Bill 375 is all about,” the group said in its brief.

Since the creation of regional wage boards under the term of his mother in 1989, no more than a P26 increase was granted in a year. The average yearly increase granted for the past 22 years in the NCR is only P10.75.

According to the EILER study, wages are eroding so fast under the Aquino administration, that the real wage value eroded by negative 7 in only the first six months of Mr. Aquino.

In 2001 the real value of minimum wage, using year 2000 as base prices, is P237. In June 2010 real wage meagerly increased to P242. In February 2011, or after just eight months under the new administration, real value of minimum wage declined to P235.

‘Worst in history’

The unemployment rate for 2010, according to IBON, stands at 11.6 percent —“the worst in history,” the group noted.

While the number of unemployed increases, the more people become desperate and vulnerable to repressive working conditions. The group added that the Aquino administration still uses the distorted categorization of employment started by Arroyo in April 2005, where people who do not look for work anymore are excluded from the labor force, thereby shrinking artificially the unemployment rate.

“So the government always reports lesser unemployment rate,” the group added.

With 35 million Filipinos employed reported by the government, the figure already includes 4.22 million “unpaid family workers” and 12.16 million “own account workers.”

“The announcement from DOLE on Labor Day is the purported distribution of jobs in large job fairs. But the distribution of temporary jobs and irregular in nature does not solve poverty, and if mass layoffs and contractualization will always be permitted,” Maglunsod said.

On the issue of workers’ rights, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights 2010 data reveal that there are many forms of civil and political rights violations observed under the present administration that include killing, frustrated/attempted killing, physical assault, grave threat and coercion, among others.

There were 68 documented cases with 1,361 victims, of which 103 were women. And six were killed under the current administration, where three labor leaders were murdered this year. The latest was Santos Manrique, Federation of Mineworkers Association president, on April 12 in Compostela Valley.

“If the good news coming from the present administration in essence would not involve lifting the livelihood of the people, then people can only expect bad news from the Aquino administration,” Maglunsod declared.

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Labor groups push for wage hike, end to contractualization

Labor groups push for wage hike, end to contractualization*

Saturday, April 30, 2011

MANILA — Various groups confirmed plans to seek from the government improved conditions for workers nationwide while Malacañang is set to announce a package of non-wage benefits for workers as part of Sunday’s Labor Day celebration.

“We’ll push for increased wages and an end to contractualization in the workplace,” National Labor Union president Dave Diwa said during the Kapihan sa QC forum at Annabel’s Restaurant in Quezon City on Saturday.

Workers will also call for Malacañang’s action on other labor-related concerns of national importance like power cost and taxes, he added.

President Benigno Aquino III is set to have a breakfast dialogue with leaders of major labor groups on Sunday.

According to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, 90 labor leaders from 17 groups have confirmed attendance to the dialogue.

Some of these groups include the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Alliance of Filipino Workers, Alliance of Progressive Labor, National Confederation of Labor, National Union of Bank Employees, and the Philippine Association of Migrant Workers and Advocates.

Left-wing group Kilusang Mayo Uno was not invited to the dialogue.

“Dati inanyahan namin yan pero ang kanilang preference ay hindi makilahok. May separate sila na programa at yan naman ay nirerespeto natin dahil ito ay kanilang araw (We used to invite them, but their preference is not to attend. They have a separate program and we respect that because it’s their day),”Baldoz explained.

Early this month, Malacañang announced there will be “good news” on Labor Day to help workers cope with the rising prices of oil and basic commodities.

However, this did not refer to wage increase.

“We all eagerly await the news from the President tomorrow (Sunday) so it will be a big day for all of us tomorrow,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Saturday over government-run dzRB radio.

Valte refused to give additional details on the Labor Day gift of the government, avoiding preempting the President’s announcement.

Anakpawis Executive Vice President Joel Maglunsod said Malacañang must certify as urgent bills proposing wage hikes in both public and private sectors.

Such action is already due as the country’s last legislated wage hike was in 1989 when government approved a P30 across-the-board increase, he noted.

“Government says a wage hike will be inflationary and will create a myriad of negative repercussions but we say it’s time for this since prices are rising,” he said at the forum.

He maintains a wage hike is viable at this time.

Citing results of National Statistics Office’s 2008 survey, he said companies with over 20 employees each collectively realized then profits of about P895.2 billion.


Implementing a P125 across-the-board wage hike means such companies will spend only P135.6 billion for workers’ salaries.

Companies concerned will still net a profit of P759.6 billion even if workers’ salaries are deducted from total revenues, he noted.

“The problem is employers don’t want to increase their workers’ salaries as they don’t want their profit margins diminished,” he said.

In its statement for Labor Day, Workers Action for Reforms (WAR) reported the prevailing minimum daily wage for an eight-hour work in various regions nationwide, except National Capital Region (NCR) and Calabarzon “is below or slightly above the poverty threshold.”


Government’s estimated Philippine poverty threshold in 2009 was P7,953 for a family of five, WAR noted.

WAR further said prevailing minimum wages outside NCR and Calabarzon range from P187 to P316, making life difficult for people concerned.

Diwa pointed out government must eradicate labor contractualization because this practice undermines the potential of workers--mostly college graduates in their early to mid-20s and raring to work—aside from failing to bring forth security of tenure in the workplace.

“They’re hired for five months, then fired,” he said.

Maglunsod also said contractualization, oil deregulation and trade liberalization are among factors preventing small and medium enterprises from truly becoming competitive.

Jobs fair

Meanwhile, the labor secretary also invited jobseekers to attend the Labor Day Job and Livelihood Fair with at least 190,000 job vacancies from 2,000 employers.

The main Labor Day Job and Livelihood Fair will be held in the Lagoon Area of the Rizal Park between Maria Orosa St. and Roxas Blvd.

The regional jobs and livelihood fair will be at the SM Baguio and Baguio Convention Center in the Cordillera Administrative Region; SM Rosales, Pangasinan in Ilocos Region; Francisco L. Dy Coliseum, Cauayan, Isabela in Cagayan Valley; SM San Fernando, Pampanga and SM Baliwag, Bulacan in Central Luzon; SM Sta. Rosa, Laguna and SM Rosario, Cavite in Calabarzon; Divine World College, Calapan City in Mimaropa; SM Naga City in Bicol Region; SM Iloilo and SM Bacolod in Western Visayas; and SM Cebu City, Cebu International Convention Center, Abellana Sports Complex City, Cebu City and Macias Sports Complex, Dumaguete City in Central Visayas.

Other venues are as follows: Tacloban City Convention Center in Western Visayas; Western Mindanao State University Gymnasium, Zamboanga City, and Gaisano Capital, Pagadian City in Zamboanga Peninsula; SM Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao; and, SM Davao, Gaisano Mall Davao in Davao Region; KCC Mall in General Santos, Plaza Pavilion in Kidapawan City and the South Seas Mall, at Don R, Alfonso St., Cotabato City in Central Mindanao; and Dole regional office in Caraga. (Kathrina Alvarez/PNA/Sunnex)

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Militants to burn PNoy-on-Porsche effigy on May 1

Militants to burn PNoy-on-Porsche effigy on May 1*

By Pia Gutierrez
Posted at 04/30/2011

MANILA, Philippines - Less than 100 militant members of labor groups will be holding a vigil tonight (April 30) at the Quezon City Welcome Rotonda as preparation for Labor Day tomorrow.

Anakpawis Representative Joel Maglunsod said this is a way to encourage more support for the proposed 125 across-the-board wage increase a day before Labor Day.

Earlier, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) slammed President Aquino's Labor Day "gift" of non-wage benefits from Pag-IBIG, PhilHealth, Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Samuel Malunes, vice chair for federation affairs of KMU, said that this felt more like a slap in the face, saying the Aquino administration's refusal to grant a significant wage hike needed to cope with skyrocketing prices is cause for outrage.

"Ang kailangan namin dagdag na sweldo pambuhay sa pamilya namin," Malunes said.

The KMU has prepared a huge effigy of President Aquino sitting atop a Porsche car. Malunes said this will be publicly burned at a protest rally tomorrow to symbolize the public's disgust at Aquino's insensitivity to the plight of laborers.

Aquino bought himself a second-hand Porsche amidst his own calls for austerity. The incident caused his popularity ratings to drop.

Thousands are expected to join tomorrow's protests, with groups convening as early as 8 a.m. at Trabajo, Blumentritt, Paco and Moriones.

The groups will then march towards the Liwasang Bonifacio by noon before proceeding to Mendiola for a short program.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

New robots for Japan nuclear plant

New robots for Japan nuclear plant*


Tokyo - The operator of Japan's damaged nuclear station has said it would deploy two kinds of remote-controlled robots to help stabilise the plant while reducing workers' exposure to radiation, news reports said on Friday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co, which runs the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, said they would introduce the new robots in early May.

Two Talon model robots developed by Britain's QinetiQ Group Plc, and one Quince model, developed jointly by the Chiba Institute of Technology and Tohoku University, were to be deployed.

The plant was damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and has been leaking radioactive material ever since. High levels of radiation in reactor building have prevented workers from restoring key cooling functions.

The Talons, provided by the US Department of Energy, are equipped with gamma-radiation-detecting cameras as well as GPS (Global Positioning System) technology, the Nikkei business daily said. The Talon is currently deployed in Afghanistan.

The operator will be use them to measure radiation levels within and around reactor facilities and produce contamination maps of their interiors.

The Quince is designed to handle rough terrain, and will operate the truck-mounted pump spraying water into the spent-fuel storage pools, the daily said.

The new robots will join two US-made robots which have been deployed since mid April to monitor radiation levels, temperatures, humidity and oxygen density in the buildings.


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Japan plant worker exposed to radiation

Japan plant worker exposed to radiation*


Tokyo - A female employee at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in north-eastern Japan is reported to have been overexposed to radiation while authorities have detected high levels of radiation in fish and spinach produced near the plant, a news report said on Thursday.

The radiation exposure of the woman measured at the end of March was 17.55 millisieverts, exceeding the legal limit of 5 millisieverts over any three-month period for women, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said.

Closer examination has showed that the woman who refuelled fire trucks suffered 13.6 millisieverts of internal radiation exposure.

She was working in an on-site building contaminated by high-level radioactive materials following a hydrogen blast on March 12. The worker, who was not wearing a protective mask, may have inhaled some of the airborne radioactive material, NHK said.

Tepco has apologised for its lack of precautions against internal radiation exposure, NHK said. Two more female employees may also have been exposed to radiation in excess of the limit.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesperson for the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told a news conference that the situation was "extremely deplorable".

Fish, spinach contaminated

Nishiyama urged Tepco to find out the cause and draft prevention measures.

On Tuesday, 2 600 to 3 200 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive caesium was found in two samples of sand lance caught off Iwaki city, south of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. That is five to six times above the legal limit, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Local government officials on Sunday also detected 960 becquerels of caesium per kilogram in spinach harvested in Otama village in Fukushima prefecture.

The Fukushima nuclear plant was severely damaged by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami and has been leaking radioactive material ever since.

The government has set the safety standard for leafy vegetables at 500 becquerels per kilogram. Shipments of several kinds of vegetables and fish from near the plant have been already banned, NHK said.

Workers at the plant were to start in June to decontaminate radioactive water, which has prevented workers from accessing the site to restore key cooling functions, the government said.

Water to be recycled

Tepco said 87 500 tons of contaminated water was found in the basements of the turbine buildings of reactors 1 to 4 and in trenches nearby.

In addition, about 500 tons of contaminated water per day is leaking from the reactors due to efforts to cool them by injecting water.

Toshiba Corporation and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd, a joint venture between Hitachi Ltd and US partner General Electric Company, is to install a water recycling system in May, Jiji Press said.

The system is to process 1 200 tons of water per day, treating about 200 000 tons by the end of the year.

At first, oil will be eliminated from radioactive water, then radioactive caesium will be removed using zeolite adsorbents, a sort of chemical sponge, Jiji reported.

A system developed by French firm Areva SA will get rid of other radioactive substances.

As a result, the concentration of caesium and iodine is expected to be reduced to one-10 000th of its current concentration.

Radioactive substances eliminated from the water will be stored at the plant for the time being.


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Exxon Mobil profit nears $11 billion, beats target

Exxon Mobil profit nears $11 billion, beats target*

April 28, 2011

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM) said Thursday its first-quarter profit rose to $10.65 billion, or $2.14 a share, from $6.3 billion, or $1.33 a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $114 billion, from $90.3 billion. Wall Street analysts expected Exxon Mobil to earn $2.04 a share on revenue of $112.6 billion, according to a survey by FactSet Research. "Exxon Mobil's earnings reflect continued leadership in operational performance during a period of strong commodity prices," the company said.

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Exxon, Shell Post Huge 1Q Profits on High Oil Prices

Exxon, Shell Post Huge 1Q Profits on High Oil Prices*


The world’s two largest oil companies Thursday reported multi-billion-dollar first-quarter profits, up from a year ago, on higher crude oil prices.

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s net income was $10.56 billion, or $2.14 per share, up from $6.3 billion, or $1.33.

It was the world’s largest oil company’s biggest profit since its record $14.83 billion in the third quarter of 2008. Revenue rose 26% to $114 billion.

Royal Dutch Shell earned $8.78 billion, up from $5.48 billion a year ago. Revenue rose 28% to $110 billion.

Shell credited the gains to higher oil prices, gains on asset sales and improvements in its refining operations, Bloomberg reported.

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Libyan doctor claims Nato air strike 'killed 12 rebels'

Libyan doctor claims Nato air strike 'killed 12 rebels'*

Associated Press
Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Nato airstrike has killed 12 rebels in the besieged city of Misrata in the latest friendly fire incident in Libya's chaotic battlefield, a doctor in the city said Thursday.

The airstrike was on Wednesday, the second day of intense fighting around Misrata's Mediterranean port — the city's only lifeline to the outside world. A steady stream of boats have been bringing in humanitarian aid through the port and ferrying out hundreds of wounded civilians and foreign migrant workers who were trapped when the fighting broke out two months ago.

Dr. Hassan Malitan said he believed the attack was a mistake but insisted it was caused by Nato aircraft. He said the attack came moments after he and another doctor visited a site where rebels were holed up in a building about three miles (five kilometers) east of the port.

Malitan said he was surprised to see rebels so far east, and said they assured him that they had been in contact with Nato forces about their location.

"We drove about 200 meters (yards) and we heard a huge explosion that shook the earth," Malitan said. He said he looked back and saw smoke rising from where they had just sat with the men. As he and the other doctor began slowly driving back toward the building, a second missile crashed into it, Malitan said.

"We started crying and screaming out their names," he said. "It was clear that the missiles came from the sky and we heard the airplane," he said.

There was no immediate comment from Nato.

But airstrikes on Tuesday and Wednesday had been targeting forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi to halt an advance on the port. Gadhafi's forces pummeled different parts of Misrata throughout the day Tuesday with a near-constant barrage of heavy shelling and rocket fire. By Wednesday, residents said the bombardment had eased some, though fighting went on.

Misrata is the only city in government-controlled western Libya where rebels have been able to hold out against a two-month siege by some of Gadhafi's best trained forces.

Aid agencies and human rights groups have sounded alarm bells about a growing humanitarian crisis inside the city and Nato has publicly acknowledged it needs to do more to protect civilians in Misrata.

But the coalition has also talked about the difficulties of targeting Gadhafi's forces around the city, saying they are mixing in with civilians to make it more difficult to identify them.

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Army prison where WikiLeaks suspect being held opened for media tour of conditions

Army prison where WikiLeaks suspect
being held opened for media tour of conditions*

By John Milburn,
The Associated Press
28, April 2011

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Army officials are opening the doors to the military prison in Kansas where they are holding an Army private suspected of illegally passing U.S. government secrets to the WikiLeaks website.

Pfc. Bradley Manning was moved last week from the Marine brig in Quantico, Va., to the Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth amid criticism over his treatment and confinement.

Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins said the media tour of the military's medium-security prison at Fort Leavenworth would show the conditions under which the Army holds Manning as he undergoes further evaluation.

"Clearly, Pfc. Manning is an unusual circumstance," Collins said.

He said Manning would soon be completing the pretrial evaluation that all inmates go through when they arrive at a prison.

Manning is suspected of having obtained the classified documents while serving as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq. He is awaiting a determination by the Army on whether he's mentally competent to stand trial. He faces nearly two dozen charges, including aiding the enemy, a crime that can bring the death penalty of death or life in prison.

The Fort Leavenworth prison, which opened late last year, was built near the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, the military's maximum-security prison for inmates sentenced to at least five years confinement, including those sentenced to death.

About 150 inmates are at the medium-security prison, Collins said, including others awaiting military trial. The prison is the northern edge of the fort, which is also home to the Army's Command and General Staff College.

Manning was transferred to Fort Leavenworth amid international criticism about the 23-year-old's treatment during his detention in the Washington area. At Quantico, Manning was held in maximum security in a single-occupancy cell and was allowed to wear only a suicide-proof smock to bed each night.

Pentagon officials denied Manning was being treated improperly and said he was moved to a more suitable location for longer periods.

Kevin Zeese, organizer of the Bradley Manning Support Network, said it was clear that pressure from Manning's supporters and international observers was having an effect on President Barrack Obama's administration.

"This tour is an effort to relieve the pressure, but we will not let up until Manning is treated properly," Zeese said.

Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, confidential State Department cables and a classified military video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

Zeese said Manning's actions were that of a "whistleblower" not traitor to his country.

"He is not charged with giving documents to Iran or any other enemy, or selling them to the highest bidder," Zeese said. "He is accused of leaking the documents to the media so the American people would know what our government is doing."


US: Libya death toll could be as high as 30,000

US: Libya death toll could be as high as 30,000*

By BRADLEY KLAPPER, Associated Press
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The death toll in Libya after more than two months of violence could reach as high as 30,000, an Obama administration official said Wednesday.

Gene Cretz, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, said it is very hard to gauge how many people have died in strongman Moammar Gadhafi's crackdown on protesters and the subsequent fighting between rebels and pro-government forces.

But he said that U.S. officials have seen figures ranging from 10,000 to 30,000.

"I don't think we're probably going to get an accurate number until we really get more hands-on experience on the ground," Cretz told reporters at the State Department in Washington. "We just have no sense of the scale of this thing until it's over."

Cretz said the U.S. keeps getting reports of "bodies that have been uncovered on the beach" as it maintains communication with contacts it established when it operated an embassy in Libya.

He also described Libya's Transitional National Council in Benghazi as a "political body that is worth our support," suggesting that the United States could provide further assistance to individuals seeking to set up an alternative system governance to Gadhafi's 42-year dictatorship.

However, Cretz stopped short of saying the administration would recognize the council as Libya's legitimate government as NATO allies France and Italy have done.

He spoke a day after the administration eased its sanctions on Libya, allowing opposition forces to sell the oil it controls and use the income to buy weapons and other supplies, while the White House ordered the expenditure of up to $25 million in surplus, nonlethal goods and commodities to support and protect the rebels.

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In one stroke, a new Obama national security team

In one stroke, a new Obama national security team*

President names Panetta as next defense secretary, Petraeus as CIA chief

Associated Press


WASHINGTON — The reshuffled national security team President Barack Obama introduced on Thursday will be charged with fighting not only the overseas war in Afghanistan but also budget battles at home over Pentagon spending that has ballooned into a fat target for politicans exercised by the national deficit.

As his re-election campaign approached, Obama turned to a cast of familiar and respected officials for the most sweeping reworking of his national security team since the opening weeks of his presidency. He invoked the political upheaval and violence roiling the Middle East, the nearly 10-year-old Afghan war and the hard cost-cutting decisions ahead as the country tries to reduce its crushing debt.

"Given the pivotal period that we're entering, I felt that it was absolutely critical that we had this team in place so that we can stay focused on our missions, maintain our momentum and keep our nation secure," Obama said at the White House.

In the biggest change, CIA Director Leon Panetta will replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates when Gates makes his long-planned exit this summer. In remarks introducing the Cabinet and Afghan war leaders, Obama also bade farewell to Gates after a tenure begun more than four years ago under President George W. Bush.
Gen. David Petraeus, the high-profile commander of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will replace Panetta at the CIA late in the year, after helping to manage the first steps of a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen will succeed Petraeus as the top commander in Afghanistan, and seasoned diplomat Ryan Crocker will take over as ambassador there.

The new team in Kabul will manage the planned shift toward a back-seat role for the United States and its NATO partners, as Afghan security forces gradually assume responsibility. Both Allen and Crocker have experience with a similar transition in Iraq, and with the effort there to broker deals with former militants and political rivals that U.S. officials want to mirror in Afghanistan.

"These are the leaders that I've chosen to help guide us through the difficult days ahead," Obama said in the White House East Room with Gates, Panetta, Petraeus and other top officials by his side.

"I will look to them and my entire national security team for their counsel, continuity and unity of effort that this moment in history demands."

There are no new names among the group; all are current or former government officials with long resumes in Washington or in battle zones, and the long-pending reorganization is less a shake-up than a rearrangement of a team the White House credits with an orderly winding down of the Iraq war and the troop buildup in Afghanistan.

Members of the new slate also have handled the sometimes-contentious relations with Pakistan and other countries key to success in Afghanistan and in the wider fight against terror.

The changes, which require Senate approval, come as the Obama administration confronts numerous national security challenges at home and abroad, including finding a way out of the increasingly unpopular war in Afghanistan and making politically risky cuts to the Pentagon budget.

Gates and Obama's four new nominees took turns speaking after the president, several of them delivering grave messages about the challenges confronting a nation burdened with overseas conflicts and budget deficits.

Defense budget-cutting

By persuading Panetta to move from the spy agency to the Pentagon, Obama has turned to a widely respected Washington insider and veteran of fierce budget fights as the administration prepares for intensifying political battles over shrinking an estimated $1.6 trillion annual federal deficit.

The choice of Panetta, who was budget chief under Democrat Bill Clinton, suggests the president sees Pentagon budget-cutting as a major issue. Gates, who oversaw a turnaround in the Iraq war in 2007 and pushed for a bigger troop commitment in Afghanistan last year, is known to believe that his cost-cutting initiatives are the most important features of the legacy he will leave after more than four years in office.

Gates has come up with $400 billion in cuts in the defense budget for the next 10 years, and Obama has asked him to come up with $400 billion more, a task that will now fall to Panetta.

Gates' arrival at the Pentagon in December 2006 began a period of major shifts in U.S. defense policy, including a more muscular approach in Iraq, an expansion of the heavily stressed Army and Marine Corps, a more conciliatory approach to Washington's European allies and better Pentagon relations with Congress. By the time he leaves June 30, Gates will be the fourth-longest serving Pentagon chief in history.

Benefiting in part from comparisons to his more combative and controversial predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, Gates developed and nurtured a reputation for candor, common sense and collegiality that gave him sway in Congress and a strong voice on Obama's national security team.

A native of California, Panetta spent 16 years as a member of the House of Representatives, including his final four years as chairman of the Budget Committee. He joined the Clinton administration in January 1993 as budget chief and in 1994 became the White House chief of staff. In those roles he had extensive contact with Hillary Rodham Clinton, who as Obama's secretary of state has put a strong emphasis on cooperation between the State Department and the Pentagon.

Today, we are a nation at war. And job one will be to ensure that we remain the strongest military power in the world to protect that security that is so important to this country," Panetta said at the White House.

"Yet, this is also a time for hard choices. It's about ensuring that we are able to prevail in the conflicts in which we are now engaged, but it's also about being able to be strong and disciplined in applying our nation's limited resources to defending America."

Cartwright replacing Mullen
Obama's emphasis on continuity in his national security team is reflected also in his expected choice of Marine Gen. James Cartwright to succeed Navy Adm. Mike Mullen as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Mullen retires at the end of September.
Cartwright, like Mullen and Gates, is a holdover from the Bush administration; his second two-year term as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs ends in August. If he does succeed Mullen he will be only the second Marine ever to be the top U.S. military officer. The other was Gen. Peter Pace, who preceded Mullen.

Until recently, Petraeus had seemed the most obvious choice to succeed Mullen, given his extensive experience as a top commander.

Stephen Biddle, a military expert at the Council on Foreign Relations who has periodically served as a civilian adviser to Petraeus, said in an interview that he suspects Obama chose not to pick Petraeus as the next chairman because the two men do not have a close relationship. That left the CIA as one of the few good options for keeping Petraeus in a job suitable to his skills.

"You probably don't want to create an impression that you fired him," Biddle said. "And how many other jobs are there that are appropriate for somebody of Petraeus' stature?"

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PAMANA: fooling the poor people-NPA (NDF)

PAMANA: fooling the poor people

Ka Samuel Guerrero
Celso Minguez Command
NPA Sorsogon
April 25, 2011

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process are hastingly implimenting today in the province of Sorsogon a new program in counterinsurgency known as Payapa and Masagandang Pamayanan or PAMANA. The OAPP hoped that it be initiated immediately the program in the province as pilot area as part of a showcase in the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III incoming July.

Like the 4Ps program, the PAMANA is a grandiose hoax part of Oplan Bayanihan of the AFP. Consisted of different projects apparently for peacekeeping and progres but obviously its purpose to suppress the growing revolutionary struggle.

The OAPP is now trying to use the local government unit as its executor of the project PAMANA in remote villages of various towns in Sorsogon. Concerned that perhaps the OAPP will unveil its real goal of PAMANA as imperceptible to design a counterinsurgency program.

We are fully confident that the local government will never be used for Counterrevolutionary programs or any other programs unfavorable to their jurisdictions. We knew that Mayor Jimmy Fragata of Juban and other local executives in the province never to sacrifice the people's welfare, also entrusted is the continued confidence of the people in them and the opportunity of good relations with the Revolutionary Movement.

It is justified to oppose and hinder the implementation of PAMANA in the province. The Reovlutionary Movement is determined to fustrate it and to do it wholly for the people not to fall into the Counterrevolutionary trap. We would greatly appreciate if all are enjoined in this goal the local government and all who took interest in the welfare of the people of Sorsogon.

Oppose the fraudulent PAMANA program!
Oppose the Oplan Bayanihan of the US-Aquino Regime!

AFP Death Squad member, punished by the NPA

AFP Death Squad member, punished by the NPA

Apolinario Matienza
Edgardo Dagli Command
New People's Army Batangas
April 25, 2011

Members of the Edgardo Dagli Command of the New People's Army-Batangas sucessfully punished a member of the death squad of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP-CIDG known with the alias of Dennis/Allen. "Dennis" is directly responsible for the death of two mass leaders in Batangas.

"Dennis" is a member of an armed group of AFP-PNP who initiated the murder last April 11 against Kenneth Reyes, 28 years of age, captain of Barangay Maguihan, Lemery and chairman of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Batangas. He is also responsible for the murder last November 7, 2010 on Ireneo "Rene" Rodriguez, in Balayan, Calaca, Batangas. Rodriguez is an offical of Samahan ng Magbubukid ng Batangas or SAMBAT.

The punishment of Dennis is initiated by the NPA under the direct orders of the People's Court. In studying of the courts regarding his case, he was responsible for the death of a bodyguard of the mayor of Balayan last 2009.

Dennis became an armed agent of the CIDG last 2009. He was a former member of the NPA yet he engaged in anti-social activities after stepping down. He became a chronic drunkard and womanizer. Later on he was used by the CIDG as a hired killer. There are numerous pleas of the people against Dennis are being accepted by the NPA.

In the operation involving netting and extortion by the police of Calatagan and Balayan he was actively participant. As a member of PNP, he freely carrying a pistol in exchange for his willingness to kill as long as it was ordered by the handler of the group of extortionist-fascist CIDG.

Dennis was also used by the AFP and PNP for operations involving killing of active, militant leaders of the Democratic mass movement. In using hired killers, the military and the police are avoiding exposure to the public, especially to the media that they are directly responsible for the politically-initiated assassination of Nationalist leaders. In the case of the death of Reyes and Rodriguez, the PNP showed it as personal or drug-related cases.

All of these are under the designs of Oplan Bayanihan of the US-Aquino regime that is, indifferent to OBL I and II. Like the past, AFP and PNP used criminal thugs, gangsters like Dennis.

The punishment of Dennis are exalted by the people of Batangas. Thus, given justice to the leaders and other common people whom became its victims. Because of this, it was fully embraced and entrusted by the people the New Peoples Army who strictly adhere to the process of Revolutionary Justice.

Long live the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People's Army, and the NDFP!

Long live the Philippine Revolution!

Rodong Sinmun on Economic Crisis in Capitalist Countries-KCNA

Rodong Sinmun on Economic Crisis in Capitalist Countries

Pyongyang, April 28 (KCNA) -- The economic crisis in the capitalist countries is by no means a phase of the course of business cycle which had been generally called an economic crisis in the past but an overall economic crisis accompanied by economic chaos and fluctuation deepening in all aspects, says Rodong Sinmun Thursday in a bylined article.

The worst is the financial crisis, it notes, and goes on:

The present financial crisis is rapidly spreading with the greatest destructive power in the financial history of capitalism.

The destructive power is shaking the financial ruling system of the capitalist world to its very foundation and bringing about a final collapse of the U.S. dollar-dominated system.

The overall economic crisis in the capitalist countries is bringing serious consequences to the world economic development and international relations.

Contradictions and discord are festering between the U.S. and other capitalist countries and between the developed capitalist countries and developing countries as the economic crisis is gaining in depth.

The U.S. imperialists, now in the grip of the economic crisis, are seeking a way out of it in igniting a war of aggression against the anti-imperialist independent countries and, furthermore, are working hard to unleash a new regional war, a global war. But such act is nothing but bluffing and it will only precipitate their doomsday.

The serious economic crisis sweeping the capitalist world, acute confrontation among big powers, the struggle of the toiling masses in the capitalist countries for vital rights and freedom and the intensified anti-imperialist struggle of the people of developing countries are the natural consequences entailed by the overall economic crisis in the capitalist countries.

It is an important way for warding off the baneful impact of the above-said economic crisis to develop a self-supporting national economy, destroy the outdated and unfair international economic order and build instead a new fair one, concludes the article.

WikiLeaks Suspect No Longer in Solitary

WikiLeaks Suspect No Longer in Solitary*

Bradley Manning moved from Quantico to Kansas detention center.

By Josh Voorhees
Posted Friday, Apr. 29, 2011

Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of providing hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, will no longer be held in solitary confinement.

The Army announced Thursday that Manning was transferred last week from the Quantico Marine base in Virginia to a detention center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

At the Kansas facility, Manning will be housed with other medium-security military prisoners who are awaiting trial. He will have his own 80-square-foot cell, wear standard prison clothing and have access to communal areas during the day, according to the AP.

His new living conditions represent a drastic improvement from how he was treated at Quantico, where he was held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, "stripped naked each night and given a suicide-proof smock in which to sleep," USA Today reports.

The move suggests that the military no longer believes that Manning is a suicide risk, which was the official reason that military officials gave for his isolation and treatment at Quantico.

Manning’s attorneys and supporters called those conditions inhuman and excessively harsh, and Amnesty International said that the military’s treatment of Manning may have violated his human rights. His transfer comes slightly more than a week after a U.N. torture investigator complained that he was denied a request to meet with Manning in private at Quantico.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ombudsman Gutierrez resigns, DILG exec confirms

Ombudsman Gutierrez resigns, DILG exec confirms*

By Jaemie Quinto, Tetch Torres, Marlon Ramos, Radyo Inquirer, Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has resigned, according to sources at the Office of Political Affairs in Malacañang.

The sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to media, said Gutierrez submitted her resignation letter to President Benigno Aquino III at about 10 a.m. Friday.

The same sources said Gutierrez’s resignation is effective May 6.

Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo confirmed Gutierrez’s resignation.

"Gutierrez went to President Aquino at his office this morning and personally submitted her resignation, which the President accepted," Robredo said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

"She's on her way now to formally inform her staff and then announce it to the media. Thereafter, the President will make a statement," he added.

Another member of the Cabinet sent a similar text to the Inquirer but asked not to be identified.

Gutierrez is facing impeachment charges for, among others, alleged neglect of duty in failing to act on the criminal and administrative cases filed primarily against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and husband, Jose Miguel.

Gutierrez will hold a press conference later on Friday and speculation is rife that she will announce her resignation.

Mr. Aquino is also expected to announce Gutierrez's resignation.

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Ombudsman: Arroyo plunder case is ours

Ombudsman: Arroyo plunder case is ours*

By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star
Posted at 04/29/2011

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman will take over the plunder case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after the investigation of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Assistant Ombudsman Evelyn Baliton said the anti-graft agency has exclusive jurisdiction over all criminal cases against government officials and employees.

“If it is within the DOJ’s mandate to initiate an investigation, and if that investigation is in the nature of fact-finding, whatever finding of that investigation will be forwarded to our office,” Baliton said yesterday.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the DOJ has authority to look into the plunder complaint against Arroyo and her former officials.

Arroyo is leaving her fate to the courts, former spokesman Gary Olivar said yesterday.

“That (guilty or not) is up to the court to decide,” he said.

“Due process is there to separate the rumor from the substance of the statement, we have to rely on that, regardless if you are a former president or not.”

House of Representatives Senior Deputy Minority Leader Danilo Suarez earlier predicted the case would be dismissed by the court.

OWWA: Fund transfer legal

Administrator Carmelita Dimzon of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) believes the transfer of the agency’s fund to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has legal basis.

Speaking to reporters in Lingayen, Pangasinan, Dimzon said that it is unfair to link the agency to the plunder case against Arroyo and three of her former officials.

“When the news hit the papers, we immediately got the papers from our files and we saw that the transfer of the P530 million that attorney Frank Chavez was questioning was all in order,” she said.

“The fund previously managed by OWWA for Medicare was transferred to PhilHealth because PhilHealth is taking care of the health benefits of OFWs.”

Dimzon said no anomaly is involved in the fund transfer as far as the OWWA is concerned.

“No one is involved in the anomaly, as far we are concerned, none,” she said.

Duque: OWWA losing money

OWWA was losing a lot of money to fraudulent health insurance claims prior to the transfer of its funds to PhilHealth in 2005, a former PhilHealth president said yesterday.

Civil Service Commission chairman Francisco Duque III said that was one reason why PhilHealth took over OWWA’s Medicare finances pursuant to Republic Act 7875, which requires that the government should only have one insurance system.

Duque told The STAR former OWWA chair Patricia Sto. Tomas and Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, a former OWWA board member, have confirmed the leakages.

Duque, who was PhilHealth president when the P530-million fund transfer was made, said between P150,000 to P250,000 was released to fictitious health care benefit claimants sometime in 2003 or 2004.

“They investigated and found fictitious addresses and names or persons that were nonexistent,” he said.

Duque said the health insurance claims spoke of catastrophic illnesses like cancer that needed immediate financial assistance.

“They were bleeding from the fraudulent claims, it appears that there were many occasions,” he said.

Duque assured overseas Filipino workers that OWWA Medicare funds are being used properly for health care insurance.

“You can ask for records,” he said. “The funds are used for nothing else but your healthcare. Don’t worry. Your funds are being taken care of by PhilHealth Insurance Corp.”

As early as 1997, PhilHealth has been pushing for the transfer of OWWA insurance funds, Duque said.

Baldoz: Fund transfer legal

Labor Secretary Baldoz vouched yesterday for the legality of the transfer of some P530 million in OWWA funds to PhilHealth.

“I am a signatory to the resolution allowing the release of funds, but there is a legal basis for the transfer of funds from OWWA to PhilHealth,” she said.

Baldoz said the OWWA board approved the release of the funds based on an executive order of President Ramos in 1994 requiring insurance coverage for all OFWs.

An executive order issued by President Arroyo also provided for the transfer of OWWA funds to PhilHealth, she added.

Baldoz said the funds transferred to PhilHealth from OWWA should be used solely to provide health insurance coverage for OFWs.

“The guideline is very clear that the fund is solely for the insurance coverage of OFWs, and if ever the fund was used for other purposes we are no longer aware of it and only PhilHealth can explain the actual disbursement,” she said.

Lacierda: Palace not involved

Malacañang is not involved in the filing of the plunder case against Arroyo, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday.

“It is not true that Malacañang is behind the plunder case against GMA,” he said.

“In fact, we haven’t seen a copy of the complaint (filed by former Solicitor General Frank Chavez).

“So we cannot comment, whether it has loopholes or not. I guess that would be a natural defense of those who are on the side of (the) accused.” – With Eva Visperas, Mayen Jaymalin, Paolo Romero, Delon Porcalla

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Ombudsman submits resignation to PNoy: sources

Ombudsman submits resignation to PNoy: sources*
Posted at 04/29/2011

MANILA, Philippines - Embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has submitted her resignation letter to President Benigno Aquino III, sources told ABS-CBN News Friday.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, House justice committee vice-chairman, confirmed the news on ABS-CBN News Channel.

"It is a welcome move in that it would spare the nation a lot of trouble," he said.

Sources said Gutierrez personally went to President Aquino Friday morning to submit her resignation letter, which the President immediately accepted.

A source said Gutierrez will inform her staff about her decision before speaking to the media. The President is expected to issue a statement this afternoon.

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Is repression sacral?

Is repression sacral?

Is repression sacral?
To the people it is not, but to those who insist on order, it is.

Being a witness in the daily doings of the society, state-sponsored repression nowadays remained pervalent, that despite criticism both here and abroad, their actions are rather justifying their means to restore order to a rotten, dilapidated society, even at the expense of killing innocents for their worthless reason.

Most Right-wingers tend to do so, Pinochet, Batista, Papadoulos, even Ferdinand Marcos and its succeeding Pilipino Presidents like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo emphasised much of "Order" that obviously, caters to the few and not for the many, regardless of their sentiment speaks of like "Development."

And speaking of "Development" in a rotten, dilapidated society, does it created much opportunities for everyone? Especially to those who are victims of those who impose "Order?" It's like this, having a "Counterinsurgency operations", of "Hamletting" and "Concentration" while at the same time creating farm to market roads and other infrastructure just to "appease" the people. To an ordinary man, which is worth describing to that order who done both things? The former or the Latter?

I even think of it confusing that the system pulls us backwards all in the name of "Order" over "Development." That most of these people, composed of Right-wingers and opportunists, joined in the "Change caravan" just to grab the scene and putting everything back on a track "that pleases to their senses." Inquisition, "Book burning", "Total Censorship" and absolute imposition of so-called "Morals" in a "Democratic society" everyone?

To a right-winger, their aloof for change (despite bannering it) perhaps, are taking it in an irrational context, that revolution, or any kind of change contrary to their wishes are generically serves the Devil, with a particular emphasis upon two of them that have a special hatred for the prevailing order of things, or in an ultramontane idea, the Church and state entwined. As what Corrêa de Oliveira said:

"If the Revolution is disorder, the Counter-Revolution is the restoration of order. And by order we understand the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ. That is, Christian civilization, austere and hierarchical, fundamentally sacral, anti-egalitarian and anti-liberal."

Corrêa de Oliveira, a feverent ultraconservative Christian, opposed modernity both in the church and in society, and its ideas somehow putting much Christian rhetoric just to justify his stances yet some of the verses in the Bible, even the actions made by the early Christians are contrary to his or other similar individual's ideas. If Revolution is disorder, how come Christ called for change using a sword according to Matthew 10:34? As well as of distributing wealth according to Luke 22:35-38? Isn't it contradicting for a worshiper, especially to a Conservative one thinking the former and not noticing the latter?

I even remember some of my earlier writeups concerning repression and social crisis in the society. And one Right-winger admitted the fact that he, himself is anti-democratic, citing the Athenian Democracy as its example:

"...The word democracy is a big joke on humanity. Remember that the first victim of democracy was Socrates, who was condemned by the people of Greece to death because of his influence on the young people. Democracy simply means mob rule..."

Indeed that "Democracy" is a big joke, especially if it is ran by a clique trying to protect the rotten order than of creating certain changes. That they wanted a "Government on high" and unleash a series of terror to justify their existence. Like Chiang Kai-Shek for example.

According to my writeup, it said:

Chiang Kai-Shek, like those of the conservatives who "hijacked" the revolution and of the Guomindang itself "museumified" change while step-by-step reviving the age-old, neo-Confucian, ideals what the majority of Sun Yat-Sen's followers shunned, from the faction led by Chiang Soong Ching-ling to Mao Zedong, who, also a soldier of the 1912 revolt and a communist who joined the Guomindang after the Sun-Joffe manifesto before becoming a leader of the communist party and the whole China itself-and opposing Chiang's measures that seemed contrary to the ideals of "freedom, democracy and social justice" as the late Sun envisioned, and according to him, referring to the Guomindang and Chiang:

"There are many stubborn element, graduates in the specialty schools of stubbornness. They are stubborn today, they will be stubborn tomorrow, and they will be stubborn the day after tomorrow. What is stubbornness (huan'gu)? Gu is to be stiff. Huan is to not progress: not today, nor tomorrow, nor they day after tomorrow. People like that are called the stubborn elements. It is not an easy thing to make the stubborn elements listen to our words."

And thus,
It also shows how wingnuts are, as what Mao said, "stubborn" and yet bannering the words like "change," "innovation," "freedom," "democracy," and the like, using it for cosmetic purposes while in fact disagreeing it, stubbornly disagreeing it to the core as what they do so with the cause of defending their concept of "tradition" and "order."

Such sentiment made by those who "defend order" rather fuels anger especially those who endure hardship and repression both temporal and spiritual. The system may have parroted everything progressive but in practise they simply done the contrary-that justifies its own "Sacrality" over "The will of the people." And since Counterrevolution is sacral, is Repression also sacral?

If so, then whatever their sentiments justified, it makes rebellion justifiable, liberative, and sacral, especially to an oppressed being yearning for justice and righteousness.

Wages not Chains!

Wages not Chains!

We've all heard the news about the Labour Department's response of not issuing wage increase for the workers this coming May day.

Using "regional wage boards" as an alibi, the Labour department, obviously catering for the employers are simply disregarding the plight of the workers in midst of the growing crisis around the country, signified by the increase in prices of commodities, oil and gas, fares for transport and even tuition and other fees that seemed not enough for their daily wages, even it is being saved for years to support with.

But despite the protests and grievances, the system rather responded with rampant Fascism in the name of "Police action" and of "Harmony in the workingplace." Such actions rather fueled discontent and defiance-like those of the illegal settlers who threw sticks and stones against the riot police and demolition men just to defend their barricades, houses, and their right for a decent living, employment and education for their children. The system, despite parroting statements such as "Democracy", "Reform", "Change", or even "Transition" are merely like aluminum foils and toppings for their Conservatism and Repression; they may speak of harmony in the workingplace and impose Japanese-style models, but at the same time doing union busting whilst accumulating more profits whilst its workers aquired few to none.

In short, in lieu of an increased wage, the system rather imposed shackles and chains to the struggling worker. Putting them into contentment, such measures failed to stop the growing discontent as more and more workers, farmers, students, even the unemployed professionals felt the growing crisis and at the same time repression made by a system who speaks of a rhetoric contrary to their action. After all, to the reactionary system it is "Dura Lex Sed Lex" but to the toilers that "Lex" is nothing but a hollow set of phrases imposed just to control without any benefit at all. How come? Imposing fascism against the toilers to benefit the profiteers? Yes.

Today, and this coming May Day, all workers and peasants in the Philippines, bonded by disenfrachisement by the system and longing for a progressive society are marching, chanting, facing the gates of the keep where the coddler of the stooges staying.

Resist plan to allow US to re-establish military presence in Subic--CPP (NDF)

Resist plan to allow US to re-establish military presence in Subic--CPP*

CPP Information Bureau
April 28, 2011

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today called on the Filipino people to vigorously resist any plan of the US and Aquino governments to reestablish military presence in Subic Bay, whether in the form of a military base or related facilities for the US military.

Last Tuesday, US Senators Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran met with Philippine President Benigno Aquino after visiting the Subic Bay Freeport to be briefed about the situation in the former US military base. The US military is reportedly searching for alternative places in the Asia-Pacific region to establish bases in the face of growing opposition to their military bases in Okinawa, Japan where the US 7th Pacific Fleet is headquartered.

"Thirty years after the landmark repeal by the Philippine senate of the 1946 US-RP Military Bases Agreement (MBA), the US imperialists are again seeking to establish their military presence in Subic Bay. This will be a great historical reversal," said the CPP.

On September 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate voted to reject the proposed Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security which would have effectively extended the 1946 US-RP Military Bases Agreement for another 10 years. For more than 50 years after granting "independence", the US imperialists retained control over close to 70,000 hectares covering the Subic Naval Base, Clark Air Base and several other military bases across the Philippines. The US-RP MBA is one of several unequal agreements between the US and the Philippines which include the 1956 US-RP Military Defense Treaty which obliges the Philippine government to side with the US in conflicts it gets into.

In 1998, however, the US and Philippine governments signed the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which allowed US military personnel to stay in the Philippines to be governed by a status of forces agreement (SOFA). These agreements have been taken advantage of by the US to maintain the 600-strong Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF-Philippines) based within Camp General Navarro, headquarters of the AFP Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.

"If the Aquino regime acquiesces to the US government's plan to reestablish its facilities in Subic, it would be committing a grave historic act of treachery against the Filipino people," said the CPP. "US military presence in the Philippines is a direct affront and insult to Philippine sovereignty."

"By maintaining its presence in the Philippines, the US military continues to use the Philippines as a jumping board and base for the forward deployment of their units in order to intervene militarily in the Asia-Pacific region. The US continues to use the Philippines as a foil against the economic and military expansionism of China which the US regards as one of the biggest threats to US imperialist ultra-national interests," pointed out the CPP.

"The US JSOTF-Philippines also engages in counterinsurgency operations, directly and through the AFP. They act in accordance with the US Counterinsurgency Guide and seek to put an end to the Filipino's resistance against US economic, political and military dominance in the Philippines."

"The Filipino people should oppose the collaboration of the US government and Aquino regime to heighten US military presence in the country," added the CPP. "We must rekindle the spirit of patriotism in order to assert national sovereignty and confront the issue of US military interventionism and economic and political dominance."

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Message on the Occasion of the 27th Cordillera Day-NPA (NDF)

Message on the Occasion of the 27th Cordillera Day*

Ka Diego Wadagan
Agustin Begnalen Command,
April 26, 2011


Message on the Occasion of the 27th Cordillera Day in Buneg, Lacub, Abra

Warmest revolutionary greetings to all the participants and/or delegates of the 27th Cordillera Day Commemoration! In behalf of the entire revolutionary movement in the province of Abra, the NPA's Agustin Begnalen Command congratulates the CPA, KASTAN, TULBEK, and the people of Buneg for organizing this historic event. We likewise welcome to the province delegates from all over the Philippines and abroad, members of progressive mass organizations, alliances and institutions, and friends and supporters of the legal and democratic mass movement. We acknowledge the presence of members of Peace Panels of the NDFP and the GPH.

April 24 is indeed a historic day. It marks the 38th Founding Anniversary of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the largest alliance of revolutionary mass organizations of the democratic classes and sectors in Philippine society, led by the CPP. It is also the occasion of the 27th Cordillera Day, the commemoration of the martyrdom of Cordillera leaders who led the fight to defend land, life and dignity of the people and the struggle for self-determination, national freedom and genuine democracy. On this occasion, we give the highest red salute to the NDFP allied organizations, and to the martyrs of the national democratic revolution. We renew our commitment and raise to a higher level our perseverance to form the broadest unity of the Filipino people and pursue armed struggle to fulfill the requisites and advance the national democratic revolution to strategic stalemate and final victory. We derive inspiration and draw strength and lessons from the shining example of our martyrs.

One of the best ways to commemorate these historical events is to gather thousands in Buneg, Lacub, Abra, the venue for this year's Cordillera Day. Collective renewal of commitment and raising our level of perseverance should be undertaken with the people engaged in actual militant struggle to defend their ancestral land, life, and their dignity. Learning from history, understanding the need to change society, and deriving inspiration from our martyrs should be translated into actual and direct involvement in militant and armed struggle.


The people of Abra are proud of their rich revolutionary history and tradition. Like the rest of the peoples of the Cordilleras and the Philippines, the Abrenians valiantly fought against colonialism and imperialist aggression. We can speak of Gabriela Silang, the Tinio Brigade and other Katipuneros, the HukBaLaHap and the Bolomen.

In 1973, the first NPA squad was sent to Abra to start armed revolutionary work. It was in the municipalities of Lacub, Malibcong, Tineg and Baay-Licuan that the revolutionary movement started to take deep roots through the efforts of the pioneering NPA unit, and spread like wild fire throughout the entire province. By building a solid mass base, the broadest unity of the people for revolution and for specific issues, by advancing agrarian revolution and extending socio-economic services, and waging legal and armed struggle, the people of Abra, along with the rest of the peoples of the Cordilleras and the Filipino people, were triumphant in the struggle to defend their ancestral and agricultural lands, their livelihood, and against the exploitation and expropriation of their rich natural resources. Such was the struggle against the Cellophil Resources Corporation (CRC), the Binongan River Dam Project (that would have inundated Lacub villages including Buneg), and the various mining projects like those of Abra Mining and Industrial Corporation and Marcopper.

Militarization is a nightmare to the people. The elders and middle-aged parents can attest to the fact that along with incursions on the peoples patrimony and ancestral lands by transnational corporations and their local business partners, came fascist terror variously carried out by the defunct PC and CHDF (Philippine Constabulary and Civilian Home Defense Forces); later by the PC-INP (Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police); and then the PNP (Philippine National Police) and various infantry battalions and special forces of the Philippine Army and the Philippine Marines. In the 70's, the military campaign was the "nip-in-the-bud" against the still developing armed revolutionary movement. And during the late 80's and 90's there was the Oplan Lambat Bitag 1 ïƒ 4. Different names, uniforms, plans and packaging; but the people will always remember deception, treachery and fascist terror perpetrated by state machineries and their local running dogs.

Militarization was not only aimed against the NPA. The fascist armed forces and para-military units of the reactionary government did not distinguish armed from un-armed, legal and illegal groups and individuals. Human rights violations were prevalent. Entire army brigades were poured into North and South Abra. But the people, along with their true army, the NPA, valiantly fought back and victoriously drove away the destructive, exploitative and oppressive projects of the transnational corporations, and the fascist troops of the reactionary government.


There was a brief respite in the aggressive incursions of transnational corporations (or "development" aggression) in the province of Abra, and the accompanying militarization of the province. Learning from their defeat against a united people, the reactionary government temporarily retracted projects of transnational corporations and their local counterparts. Fascist troops were also temporarily redeployed outside the province from 1998 -- 2003, with only 1-2 companies of the 17th IB serving as maintenance units.

But not for long…. The mining industry became one of the pillars of the economic programs of various regimes, from Fidel Ramos, Erap Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, and now the Noynoy Aquino Government. Setting its eyes on the mineral-rich Ilocos and Cordillera region, these regimes desperately maneuvered to implement mining projects. Deception though reformism was the initial dominant component of the ploy, through the enactment of laws, setting-up of deceptive government agencies and pseudo-NGOs. But always, state fascist terrorism combined with reformism and deception.

The US-GMA Regime started to implement Oplan Bantay Laya in 2003, just as mining applications were secretly revived and processed anew. Back then, the priority of the OBL in Abra were Central Abra (BuDaBoSa -- Bucloc, Daguioman, Boliney, Sallapadan) and Northwest Abra (Tineg and LaDaLaga -- La Paz, Danglas, Lagayan). This slicing technique is an old tactic with the strategic purpose of isolating the guerilla fronts in North Abra, South Abra, and the Northern Ilocos areas. But every strategic military plan is always hinged on political and economic programs of a government. The ultimate goal is to prevent and subdue opposition of the people to "development" aggression, and clear the area from complimentary armed support of the NPA to the people's opposition.

To date, there are 3 approved Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA) 1 approved Exploration Permit (EP), all in Baay-Licuan, and 30 pending applications for EP, MPSA, and Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) in the province. Here are some interesting facts:

1.In 2008, then Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro declared Abra as a priority in the Government's OBL2, because of mining projects in the province. Of the 30 pending mining permit applications, 14 applications were filed before 2008, and 16 of these were filed post Sec. Teodoro's declaration.

2.Clearly, the 503rd Brigade should appropriately be renamed Mining Security Brigade. Consider the following:

a.In 2008, after the DND declaration prioritizing Abra in OBL2, the 503rd Brigade HQ was moved from Sulvec, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur to Barbarit, Lagangilang, Abra.

b.Also in 2008, the 41st IB HQ was moved from Barbarit, Lagangilang to Bakiro, Baay-Licuan. Now, the entire 41st IB is deployed in the municipalities of Tineg, Lacub, Baay-Licuan, and Malibcong. It is no coincidence that there are 3 approved MPSA, 1 approved EP, and 8 pending mining applications in Baay-Licuan; there are also 8 mining permit applications in Tineg, 5 in Lacub, and 4 in Malibcong.

c.To date, the entire 50th IB is now deployed in Central and South Abra, from its original deployment in the boundary areas of Ilocos Sur, Benguet, Abra and Mt. Province. Again, it is no coincidence that there are numerous mining permit applications in these areas: 7 in Boliney, 6 in Tubo, 5 each in Daguioman and Bucloc, 1-3 applications each for Sallapadan, Manabo, Luba, Bangued, Pidigan, San Quintin, San Isidro, Bucay, Lagayan, Villavisiosa and Penaruba.

d.The 52nd and 53rd Division Recon Coys (DRC) are regularly under operational control (OpCon) of the 503rd Brigade during combat operations in the province. There is unconfirmed information that part of the 51st DRC is now in Sallapadan.

e.The Charlie Coy of the 77th IB is in Talogtog, Lagangilang, and serves as the cadre company of some 400 CAFGUs (the 503rd Brigade reports 800, meaning 400 "ghosts" are receiving salaries and other benefits, another version of AFP corruption)

3.In the entire Ilocos and Cordillera region, it is only in Abra where the PNP Regional Mobile Group (RMG) and the Special Action Force (SAF) is actually engaged in direct counter-insurgency operations, sometimes disguised as anti-private armed group (PAG) operations.

Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2 were rejected and defeated by the Filipino people, largely because of unprecedented human rights violations such as extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. Patterned after the US COIN GUIDE (Counter-insurgency Guide), Oplan Bantay Laya was repackaged by the Noynoy government as Oplan Bayanihan, and counter-insurgency was renamed into "internal peace and development operations" from "internal security operations." Accordingly, Special Operations Teams (SOTs) are now called Peace and Development Teams (PDTs). Still the same dog brandishing a new collar and with a new master. Essentially the same fascist AFP serving the interests of big mining interests, in cahoots with bureaucrats in government, and mouthing seemingly new pro-people objectives.


While Filipinos share the same experience of pacification and subjugation, we also share a common history of proud and valiant struggles against colonialists and imperialists, oppressors and exploiters.

Lacub is no different from this. The people of Lacub should be proud of their revolutionary history, sending their best sons and daughters to the revolutionary movement and building organs of political power in the past. But unremolded elements from the CPP-NPA, including some cadres, were not able to withstand counter-revolutionary pressures and bourgeois-reactionary enticements. Eventually, they were weeded out in the revolutionary movement; and some found their way into bourgeois politics and warlordism. The people of Lacub was dragged into confusion and disarray, as warlordism rode roughshod. The people was divided, especially during bourgeois electoral exercises. The people were afraid of standing up against oppression and repression by local warlords, and some blamed the CPP-NPA for deeds undertaken by these former cadres-turned-warlords. The people felt helpless, even as they struggled to rebuild their organizations, strengthen their unity, and implement projects to uplift their socio-economic conditions.

This situation was exploited by the 41st IB, particularly the A Coy, when they conducted SOT operations, especially in Talampac in 2008. Disunited and feeling helpless against warlords, how can they stand up against a bigger and more ferocious fascist group?

Militarization and warlordism cannot forever cow the people into silence and passivity. Patience has its limits, and deep revolutionary consciousness through almost 4 decades of revolution can be likened to a social volcano. The imposition of an exploration project of the Golden Lake Mineral Resources was the cue, and now the people's anger and positive initiatives are exploding and spreading across other municipalities in the entire province. And with the support of the entire Cordillera and the Filipino people, along with support groups abroad, Noynoy Aquino's joint projects with transnational corporations and their local minions that are oppressive, exploitative and destructive will be rejected by the people of Lacub; counter-insurgency campaign disguised as "peace and development missions" will not succeed.

As history have shown and again will prove, a people united, shall never be defeated!


The Agustin Begnalen Command always have high regard for the masses. We trust that the people can and will formulate plans of actions appropriate for the current situation during workshops to be conducted during the Cordillera Day 2011 Commemoration.

But while we tactically focus on campaigns against large-scale mining incursions, militarization, and human rights violations, we must never forget that thoroughgoing changes can only be achieved after the final victory of the national democratic revolution (NDR). To this end, let us heed the Party's call to fulfill the requisites to achieve the strategic stalemate of the NDR, even as we are open and support the current Peace Talks undertaken by the NDFP and the GPH. It is a good occasion for the Cordillera Day 2011 participants to share their views on the issue of the peace process, with the presence of representatives of both the NDFP and GPH panels.

As to the tactical struggles of the people of Lacub, this is only the beginning. Contradictions will intensify and we must prepare for these. We must further strengthen the unity among the people, and extend these to other sectors of Lacub, other municipalities of Abra, other provinces, and with other groups abroad. We must endeavor to persuade and draw to the side of the people misguided and misinformed officials from the Barangay and the LGU, as well as other individuals. We must carefully decide when an individual can already be categorized as incorrigibly against the people, and when it is already time to isolate the few among them. In this struggle, as has always been in the past, the NPA will provide full support, and will conduct parallel initiatives against the AFP, PNP, para-military forces, and large-scale mining companies. Incorrigible bureaucrats in the municipal and provincial government, especially those who shall commit crimes against the people, shall be punished, after due process by the People's Court.

To better perform its tasks, we must strengthen the revolutionary mass organizations, the local Party branches, and the organs of political power. We must strengthen the NPA and build local militias and self-defense corps. Especially to the youth and students, we ask you to join the true people's army, the New People's Army.

Again, our warmest revolutionary greetings to all the participants of the 27th Cordillera Day.

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