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‘We need a full-time, hardworking, and sincere agriculture secretary’

Malinaw ang panawagan ng mga magsasaka mula sa Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) na magbitaw na sa pwesto si Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. bilang secretary ng Department of Agriculture (DA), at sa halip ay magtalaga na ng isang full-time secretary para sa kagawaran.

Binatikos din ng KMP ang pakikipag-usap ni Marcos Jr. sa Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) noong Oktubre 21 upang hingin ang kanilang payo para tugunan ang krisis sa pagkain.

“He snubbed the farmer-proposed Doables in Agriculture and chose to listen only to business executives,” ani ni KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos sa kanilang inilabas na pahayag. Binanggit din ni Ramos na ang isa sa lead convenor ng PSAC ay mula sa Aboitiz Group na isa rin sa nangunang contributor ni Marcos Jr. noong eleksyon.

“Marcos’s group of advisers obviously have business and profit as their top priorities. Farmers and food producers on the other hand, are proposing concrete and actionable measures on how to boost local food production, how to genuinely develop the agriculture sector, and protect farmers and consumers alike from inflation shocks. [We need] to genuinely strengthen agriculture and fight hunger, Marcos Jr. should heed the demands of farmers, fisherfolk and food producers,” pagtatapos ng KMP sa kanilang pahayag.

Marcos fails to impress activists in inauguration speech

Among those who closely listened to Ferdinand Marcos’ Jr’s inauguration speech, activist groups were unimpressed with the new Philippine president’s words, calling it a string of worn-out rhetoric without concrete programs to address the country’s problems.

Human rights lawyers said they have heard Marcos Jr’ words more than half a century ago, adding his mantra of unity is but a tired cliché and cosmetization for continuing impunity for past, present and even the future wrongs.

“Yet prove us wrong that the dark, dangerous and sordid yesterdays are not going to be our same bad, base and miserable todays and tomorrows,” National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia said.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said Marcos Jr’s only used the historic event to heap praise on his father’s so-called legacy, conveniently avoiding any mention of the ousted dictator’s fascism in his long reign in the 60s to the 80s.

“He was very selective in what he wanted to highlight with his father’s so-called achievements, and even those need to be fact-checked and not be taken as gospel truth,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said after the new president’s inauguration on Thursday, June 30.

Reyes said that Marcos Jr’s claim he shares the same dream as the ordinary Filipino is mere platitude, omitting mention of his privileged position.

“The major issues such as high oil prices, crushing taxes, low wages, and human rights were altogether ignored or left out,” Reyes added.

Reyes pointed out that Marcos only promised to “get things done” but fails to give any concrete program how he intends to do so.

“Twice he tells us a comprehensive plan is being draw up to address the issues facing the people. The public however will have to wait until the incoming regime gets its act together, and even then, we are unsure of the outcome of Marcos’ pronouncements,” Reyes said.

“We should brace ourselves for more of the same. Indeed, there are no reasons to celebrate this day,” he added.

Marcos’ failure to present even an outline of an economic agenda also disappointed

IBON Foundation’s Sonny Africa who said Marcos Jr appeared to have failed to prepare since he won the elections in May.

“A serious presidency would’ve have prepared its economic agenda long ago and not waited until after elections. Our huge problems deserve no less,” Africa said.

“President Marcos and his economic team clearly aren’t ready nor brining any new ideas to fix our old problems,” Africa added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Scientists slam Marcos Jr’s plan to review BNPP project revival

AGHAM recommends ‘sustainable, safe, accessible, affordable and reliable’ energy sources instead

A science and technology group refuted president-elect Ferdinand Marco’s Jr’s pronouncement that a refurbished Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) may prevent an energy crisis and may even usher in rapid industrialization in the country.

AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology said that the supply of electricity is not the most pressing problem in the country but its cost to the consumers—the most expensive in Southeast Asia.

“The current energy crisis is a result of the liberalized policy implemented since the 1990’s that allowed the privatization of our energy facilities and deregulation of the energy industry,” AGHAM said.

“This led to relentless increase in the cost of electricity, unstable power supply, and further increased our dependency to imported fossil fuel such as coal. The 621-megawatt nuclear plant will not resolve the above problem but will further aggravate it,” the group added.

AGHAM said private ownership of electricity generation, transmission and retailing in the country has driven its cost unjustly high.

“As long as the [privatization] policy…will not be reversed, private and foreign corporations will continue to monopolize our industry for their own interest and profit, and industrializing the Philippines is not part of it,” AGHAM said.

Reopening the BNPP in the framework of a liberalized energy industry will not serve its purpose of providing lower cost of electricity and it will not redound to industrialization, the scientists said.

Peddling to foreign investors

The group reacted to a pronouncement made by the president-elect after his meeting with South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Inchul last week.

Marcos Jr said that he is reviewing earlier recommendations made to revive the BNPP.

“We discussed with the South Korean ambassador their offer and their nuclear power expert has already visited the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, to see what else could be done, whether or not it could be revived or if a new one should be built,” Marcos said.

“We revived the discussion. Although they have come before, we will now study their recommendation, their findings and we will see if we can still apply,” he added.

Earlier, the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) said the BNPP can be rehabilitated in four to five years at a cost of about $1.0 billion.

AGHAM however slammed the pronouncement, saying Marcos is already peddling the project to foreign investors even before assuming the presidency.

“[He] denies the fact that the BNPP is already antiquated, faulty, dangerous and has served as a milking cow for corrupt practices. The risk of allowing an old facility with around 4,000 technical defects to operate would be high. It is also crucial for the government to present concrete for the disposal of spent uranium fuel,” it said.

The BNPP was constructed under the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Sr that cost Filipino taxpayers a total of $2.2 billion.

The succeeding Corazon Aquino government mothballed the BNPP, citing massive corruption in the project.

In June 2021, the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed a Sandiganbayan decision finding corruption in the BNPP project and ordered Marcos crony Herminio Desini’s estate to pay the Philippine government PHP1 billion in exemplary damages.

Desini brokered the USD2.2-billion BNPP project to American nuclear power company Westinghouse Electrical Corporation.

FACT CHECK: Marcos Jr. claims politics behind mothballing of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

Enough supply

AGHAM said a nuclear power plant is unnecessary, asserting the country still has enough power supply.

“In 2020, the country has an installed capacity of 26,250 megawatts (MW) with a dependable capacity of 23,410 MW while the peak demand is just 15,282 MW in the same period. We have more than enough in the coming years,” it said.

The group said the Philippines has other energy options that are sustainable, safe, accessible, affordable and reliable to address expected power demand of the country.

“While we recognize the fact that nuclear energy is a technology option, it is not a good option and the country can do without it. We should give more weight to the safety and lives of our people, environmental costs, and its social and economic viability,” AGHAM said.

It added that the country must instead “harness indigenous energy resources and move away from imported, dirty, and dangerous fuels such as coal and nuclear.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Media groups urge Marcos Jr to ensure media freedom

Manila’s Cardinal Advincula: ‘When truth is at stake, remaining apathetic and being silent is a sin’

International and local media groups urged the incoming Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government to commit to protecting media freedom they said has since deteriorated after being restored upon the ouster of the first Marcos regime in 1986.

Reminding that the media was “restricted and regulated” during his father’s regime, seven media groups said media freedom has also suffered under the outgoing Rodrigo Duterte government with increased attacks on journalists and independent media.

“The president-elect of the Philippines as a result of the May 9 election must ensure the protection of media freedom in the country. Media freedom is important to fulfill the right to information for the public, which is one of the keys to democracy,” the seven groups said.

In a statement, the Alliance of Independent Journalists, Center for Independent Journalism, The Movement of Independent Media / Gerakan Media Merdeka, Freedom Film Network, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association, and Association of Journalists of Timor Leste cited that the Philippines has declined on the World Press Freedom Index in the last five years.

“Using new metrics to measure press freedom in its 2022 index, Reporters Without Borders ranked the Philippines 147th, the third lowest in Southeast Asia,” the groups said.

They added that the guarantee of media freedom must be implemented by enacting press freedom laws, establishing independent media councils, decriminalizing defamation, ending censorship and bans on the media, and stopping lawsuits.

The groups also said the Philippine government must stop the practice of impunity by committing to uncover and prosecute the perpetrators of attacks against journalists and media, both physically and digitally. Perpetuating impunity will result in a prolonged cycle of violence.

Letter to President-elect Marcos

In a separate May 23 letter, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) President Jodie Ginsberg requested President-elect Ferdinand Jr. to reverse Duterte’s “abusive acts and policies” targeting independent media and journalists and to restore the Philippines’ “once-proud standing as a regional bastion of press freedom.”

Ginsberg said that Marcos should undo Duterte’s long campaign of intimidation and harassment of the press and “give top priority to this urgent task.”

“The legitimacy of your administration should be based on independently reported facts that allow for the kind of true public accountability that is the hallmark of strong democracies. The people of the Philippines deserve no less,” Ginsberg wrote.

Ginsberg said the new Marcos administration should end the relentless persecution of journalist and Nobel Peace laureate Maria Ressa she described as “a global beacon of press freedom.”

“CPJ calls on your government to immediately drop all pending charges against Ressa, her colleagues, and the Rapplermedia group,” Ginsberg wrote.

She said the cases against Ressa and Rappler were trumped-up in attempts to shutter Rappler and carry potential prison penalties.

Ginsberg also mentioned Rappler reporter and NUJP director Lian Buan who complained of being shoved and blocked several times by the president-elect’s security detail and media relations officer while covering Ferdinand Jr.’s campaign events.

The CPJ said it also strongly calls on the incoming Philippine government to restore the operating franchise of ABS-CBN and to stop the Duterte regime’s red-tagging of journalists.

“Red-tagging is especially dangerous considering the Philippine military’s alleged role in extrajudicial killings and torture of accused communists,” Ginsberg wrote.

The CPJ also called on Marcos Jr. to drop the red tagging-related charges pending against journalist Frenchiemae Cumpio who has been languishing behind bars for over two years in an attempt to silence her reporting on the Philippine military’s operations against communist rebels and alleged associated human rights abuses.

“As the Philippines’ newly elected leader, you have the mandate to reassert your country’s damaged democratic credentials by forthrightly promoting and protecting press freedom. We urge you to seize this important moment and state clearly from the outset that journalists will be free to report without fear of reprisal, intimidation, or imprisonment during your tenure,” Ginsberg said.

‘Combat lies with truth’

Meanwhile, Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula warned of a “crisis of truth” and urged the Catholic faithful to combat lies.

Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula (wearing miter) mobbed by “selfie”takers at the end of the Thanksgiving Mass on the canonization of St. Titus Brandsma at the Cubao Cathedral last May 28. (R.VillanuevA/Kodao)

At the thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of Dutch Carmelite priest Titus Brandsma last Saturday, Advincula said the media should only be used to promote truth.

“When we seem to be experiencing a crisis of truth especially on social media, St. Titus inspires us to use social media as a pulpit from which we must proclaim, and if need be, defend the truth,” Advincula said.

Hailed as the Catholic Church’s martyr for press freedom, St.Titus Brandsma was arrested and killed by German occupiers for refusing to publish Nazi propaganda during World War II.

Advincula led the thanksgiving at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao with the Carmelite community in the Philippines after Brandsma’s elevation to Catholic Church sainthood by Pope Francis last May 15 in Rome.

“This makes St. Titus very relevant to our times. If there are forces that use social media to deceive and spread lies, let us come combat them with flooding it with the truth of God’s word,” the Cardinal said in his homily.

“St. Titus reminds that when truth is at stake, remaining apathetic and being silent is a sin,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

ITANONG MO KAY PROF: Hinggil sa Halalan 2022

Panayam ng Kodao Productions, sa pamamagitan ni Prof. Sarah Raymundo, kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison hinggil sa katatapos lang na Halalan 2022.

‘Who is this politician trying to influence the Comelec?’

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) welcomed Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s stand to disqualify Bongbong Marcos from running as president.

“We welcome the position taken by Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon in the matter of disqualification of Bongbong Marcos on the grounds of moral turpitude,” BAYAN said.

The group also raised concerns over the claim of Guanzon about a politician trying to delay the issuance of Comelec’s decision after knowing her stand on the issue.

“Who is this politician trying to influence the Comelec? Shouldn’t there be an investigation by the en banc and shouldn’t this politician be cited for contempt?” BAYAN asked.

“She is correct in citing Marcos Jr’s repeated failure to pay taxes and the corresponding fines as her basis to disqualify him from the presidential race. We raise concern over Guanzon’s claim that a certain politician was trying to delay the issuance of a decision by the Comelec First Division after learning of her vote to disqualify Marcos. Who is this politician trying to influence the Comelec?”Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)

Martial Law victims hold national gathering vs Marcos return to Malacañang

Human rights victims and defenders speak at the national gathering of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang (CARMMA) at the Bahay ng Alumni in U.P. Diliman last Monday.

Former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, Sr., and former senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Rene Saguisag joined hundreds of other human rights victims during Ferdinand Marcos’ 27-year rule as they chanted “No more Marcos!”

Among the speakers were Marie Hilao-Enriquez of KARAPATAN, Joanna Cariño of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), Bishop Arturo Asi of the UCCP (United Council of Churches in the Philippines), and Bonifacio Ilagan of the FQSM (First Quarter Storm Movement).