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Groups press demand on fare rollback

Train Riders Network (TREN), an alliance of workers, young professionals and other train riders today reiterated their call for the Supreme Court to pass a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implemented MRT-LRT fare hikes. They held a picket protest in front of the Department of Transportation and Communications after holding an information dissemination activity at the North Avenue MRT Station in Quezon City earlier.

January 12, 2015

ON THE MURDER OF THE CHARLIE HEBDO EDITORS, CARTOONISTS, STAFF AND SECURITY OFFICERS

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Chairperson

International League of Peoples’ Struggle

January 9, 2015

 

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, condemn the murder of the twelve Charlie Hebdo editors, cartoonists, staff and security offices in Paris and we express condolences to their families, colleagues and friends. The victims deserve the sympathy and indignation of the people. No one ever deserves to be murdered.

 

The Charlie Hebdo personnel had the status of journalists and were entitled to the freedom of the press as well as the right of everyone to the right of free expression, subject to respect to the inviolability of the just rights of others, be they individuals, groups or communities. Whether the Charlie Hebdo personnel performed their calling responsibly or not, their murder is unjustifiable because they carried on their trade with pen and ink and were entitled to the fundamental right to life and of due process.

 

But we cannot go so far as to proclaim ourselves as Charlie Hebdo because we know that this publication has sought to earn money by trading on extreme religious and racial biases, insults and taunts to entire communities and to the Islamic world of more than 1.6 billion people. It is necessary to qualify our sympathy, which is focused on the aspect of murder, in order to prevent the use of the murderous incident to further inflame religious and racial hatred against the people of color, favor the rise of repression and fascism and approve the big scale terrorism of French imperialism abroad.

 

We object to and oppose the competition among political factions of French imperialists (like those parties headed by Hollande, Sarkozy and Le Pen) to use the murderous Charlie Hebdo incident to whip up state terrorism and make a wide boulevard or express way for fascism. Islamophobic attacks have begun to break out in several French cities. We must understand that the various political factions of the French big bourgeoisie created the domestic crisis situation and pushed the aggressions abroad which have led to the Charlie Hebdo incident.

 

We must recall that one after the other the Sarkozy and Hollande regimes have taken a major role in US-NATO aggressions against countries in North Africa and Middle East or West Asia, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Libya and Syria. They have participated in mega-terrorism involving the massacre and displacement of millions of people and the massive destruction of states, economies and social infrastructure.

 

Aside from using economic sanctions and weapons of mass destruction, the US and other Western imperialist powers (including UK and France) have shown a knack for creating their own Islamist terrorist groups in order to push imperialist objectives. They promoted Islamic fundamentalism for anti-communist purposes and this eventually led to the formation of Al Qaida of Osama bin Laden. They also financed, organized, armed and trained the Al Qaida types of terrorist groups to cause the downfall of Qaddafi in Libya and to carry out the current depredations in Syria and Iraq.###

 

The two major suspects in the Charlie Hebdo incident are supposed to be French citizens of Middle East origin who have been trained as operatives of Daash or the Islamic state (ISIS or ISIL) and who have just come from combat duty in Syria or thereabouts. The theories about them is that either on their own they were driven by the anti-Islamic satire of Charlie Hebdo to commit the murders or they are merely fictive agents or actual puppets in a 9-11 type of false flag operation carried out by French intelligence to divert attention from the worsening economic and social situation and justify the escalation of state terrorism in France as well as the aggressive actions of France abroad.###

 

 

 

 

BAYAN MUNA MOVES TO DEFER MRT/LRT FARE HIKE AT CONGRESS HEARING

Says DOTC made 3 fatal admissions vs MRT/LRT fare hike

At the first hearing of the Congress Transportation Committee on the Light Rail Transit 1 and 2 (LRT 1 and 2) as well as the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) fare hikes Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said that Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary (Usec.) Jose Lotilla made at least three (3) fatal admissions against the MRT/LRT fare hikes.

“No.1 is that Usec. Lotilla admitted that the DOTC does not have the authority to increase fares, so the fare hike is illegal. No.2 he also admitted that the MRT/LRT makes profit and that the fare hike would go to the concessionaire. No.3 Usec. Lotilla also said that under the concession agreement for the LRT1 extension, this would just be the first fare increase and that there would be fares hikes every two years,” said Senior Deputy Minority Leader Colmenares.

“There is treachery and deception on Malacanang’s part because they have not been forthright about these issues and are still doing all they can to justify the fare increase. It is also deplorable that DOTC Sec. Joseph Abaya did not even show up at the hearing but is all over media defending the fare hike,” added the progressive solon.

“As it is I already moved for the Transportation committee to recommend the deferment of the fare hike pending the decision of the Supreme Court for the TRO. We will do all we can to stop these hikes because this is just the start of fare hikes especially LRT1,” said Rep. Colmenares.

Based on a study of IBON Foundation, the LRT 1 is the biggest project auctioned so far by the Aquino administration under its PPP program at P65 billion. It is also one of the most controversial because the Aquino government has given greater guarantees and perks than the ‘sweetheart deals’ done by previous administrations, the grave effects of which the public is still paying or to this day.

Quoting again from the IBON study Rep. Colmenares said that; “among the guarantees and perks that MPIC-Ayala group now enjoy are 1.)  the government will actually be paying some P34.9 billion or more than the half the of the total project cost of P64.9 billion for right of way acquisition, purchase of coaches, civil works, etc. This means that Light Rail Manila Consortiums rail business in effect benefits from the lower borrowing costs of government including from official development assistance (ODA). There is also an additional P5 billion subsidy of ‘viability gap funding’. Moreover, the concession agreement allows Light Rail Manila to pay the premium in tranches- 10% up front and the rest in a quarterly basis after five years,”

“2.) They are also assured of fare hikes, with their concept of notional fare composed of the boarding fare which is charged to commuters per trip and a distance fare which is charged according to distance travelled from the boarding station to the exiting station. The concession agreement (CA) states that by August 1, 2014 the private concessionaire is granted an initial notional fare that is actually a fare hike, which what they are demanding now. The initial notional fare is a boarding fee of P12.13 plus a distance fare of P1.10 per kilometre. This provision will result in an increase of fares up to 101.7% per trip depending on the route,” he added.

“3.) The CA also allows Light Rail Manila to have periodic adjustments in the notional fare starting August 1, 2016. The consortium is allowed to increase by 10.15% every adjustment period (every two years). Also upon completion of the extension line to Niyog station in Bacoor, which is estimated to take three years, the notional fare at that time can be hiked by five percent. On top of this, the CA also allows to adjust notional fares automatically according to inflation rates (inflation-rebasing) every four years starting from 2018 onwards.  Aside from these there are other additional increases: 1.) another 5% hike upon completion of construction of the extension; 2.) a programmed periodic adjustment of some 10% every two years; and 3.) pass-on of power cost fluctuations up to 5% of the notional fare,” said the progressive solon.

“4.) The CA also contains a mechanism assuring Light Rail Manila that it will be able to collect the notional fare if the approved fare is lower. Which means the government will pay a ‘deficit payment’ to cover the gap. This is a regulatory risk guarantee and the consortium never had it this good but at the expense of commuters. Seeing the extent of the perks the MPIC-Ayala group are enjoying it is incumbent upon us to exhaust all means so that commuters would not be at the losing end of this more than a sweetheart deal,” ended Rep. Colmenares.. ###

People’s verdict on US-Aquino regime’s human rights violations: Panagutin, Palayasin!

The US-backed Aquino regime stands trial for crimes against the Filipino people as organizations led by Karapatan, Manilakbayan, Bayan, and Defend-Southern Tagalog gather to commemorate the International Human Rights Day.

“The witnesses are the victims of human rights violations or their kin. Their testimonies are their own harrowing experiences under the US-Aquino regime. Today, they will declare the verdict on the US-Aquino regime’s crime against the Filipino people, its violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. For these crimes, we say, the US-Aquino regime is guilty,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Karapatan enumerated a number of these crimes:

· BS Aquino paid no heed to the demands of the Manilakbayan contingent, mostly peasants and indigenous peoples, to pull out the 55 battalions of AFP combat troops in Mindanao that implement Oplan Bayanihan and protect big foreign mining corporations and plantations, which plunder the country’s resources.

· The 226 victims of extrajudicial killings—84 of them are from Mindanao; 136 are peasants, and 54 are indigenous peoples. There are also 225 victims of frustrated killings. What is more alarming is the manner by which a number of victims were killed. To date, there are 15 victims of extrajudicial killing who were brutally slain, involving individuals who were tortured to death, beheaded, hogtied and dumped in a shallow grave.

· There are more than 145,000 victims of the AFP’s use of, and encampment in, schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purpose. Most of the documented cases are in Mindanao.

· BS Aquino regime used trumped-up criminal charges against activists and community leaders to silence them and quell protests against government policies and projects that attack their communities. There are 491 political prisoners, most of them falsely charged with criminal offenses.

· Millions of people’s money were used by Voltaire Gazmin’s Department of National Defense and Mar Roxas’s Department of Interior and Local Governments as bounty for “communist leaders” in their Order of Battle (OB). The practice has victimized civilians who are jailed by insisting they are the persons whose names appeared in their OB list. For 2014 alone, Gazmin and Roxas’s departments gave away Php 51.2 million to “informers” as reward money.

· While mouthing slogans of peace, BS Aquino continues to stand in the way of peace. It refuses to seriously face the National Democratic Front of the Philippines at the negotiating table, disregards previously signed agreements and reneges on its commitment to release “all, if not most” of political prisoners. It has not ceased to arrest and detain NDFP peace consultants. There are currently 14 NDFP detained consultants who are protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

· The violation of rules of engagement and international humanitarian law against the civilians and the seven members of the New People’s Army in a Northern Luzon Command-led military operation in Lacub, Abra on September 3-6. Recca Noelle Monte was killed without any gunshot, and Arnold Jaramillo’s body was riddled with bullets. The two, with five other NPA members Brandon Magranga, Ricardo Reyes, Pedring Banggao, Robert Beyao and Roberto Perez were tortured, willfully killed and their remains desecrated.

· The BS Aquino regime isguilty of treason for the US re-occupation of the Philippines and the sell-out of the country’s sovereignty through the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.The BS Aquino regime isguilty for the systematic human rights violations perpetrated under the Oplan Bayanihan, and directed by the US through its Counterinsurgency Guide of 2009.

Palabay said, “The victims of typhoons Yolanda and Ruby taught us not to depend on the government that is unreliable and useless; that our safety and well-being rest in our own hands and in our collective power. We can apply this lesson in dealing with our miserable situation under the US-Aquino regime.”

In its more than four years in power, Palabay said, the “BS Aquino regime has done nothing but exaggerate the actions it has taken supposedly to address human rights violations; or ignore as baseless or propaganda the complaints of violations against his regime. He calls the people’s protests against human rights violations as heckling, hooliganism or vandalism.”

These cases will also be brought before the international community through the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) on the Crimes of the US-Aquino Government Against the Filipino Peoplebeing organized by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and other international groups, in July 2015. “We call on the international community to support the Filipino people’s voices at the IPT,” said Palabay.

“In the end, because the US-Aquino regime does not uphold and protect our individual and collective rights, it is also our right as a people to kick out a president that has only served well the corrupt bureaucracy, his own landlord class and his master, the US imperialism. Thus, we say: US-Aquino regime,papanagutin, palayasin,” ended Palabay.

http://karapatan.org/2014+monitor+year-end

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Bonifacio Day 2014 — Robin Padilla, Juana Change…

Actor Robin Padilla, comedienne Juana Change and other luminaries join militants in commemorating the 151st birth anniversary of Filipino revolutionary martyr Gat Andres Bonifacio. ILPS-Philippines and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Chair Elmer Labog vows to continue the struggle for freedom and democracy. Also in the rally are Makabayan President Satur Ocampo, Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Manobos from Mindanao and leaders of various sectoral social movements.