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Thursday, April 06, 2006

 

Charter Change and mining

Among the deceitful Malacañang agenda to amend the 1987 Constitution is to pave the way to intensified environment and economic degradation due to liberalized mining.
We firmly believe that Arroyo’s charter change drive also aims to add more teeth to the already notorious 1995 Philippine Mining Act (Republic Act 7942), that the Supreme Court again affirmed last year. The decision of the high tribunal declaring the constitutionality of Section 76 of R.A. 7942 and its implementing rules and regulations was expected.
However, no amount of touted revenues and compensation can pay for the permanent damage to the environment, the displacement of indigenous communities, and the loss of lives and livelihood that will result from large-scale mining.
It is frustrating that the lessons from our people’s tragic experiences with large-scale foreign mining in Boac, Marinduque, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, Rapu-rapu, Albay, Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, Surigao del Norte, and other areas are ignored by the national government. It should be noted, however, that no measures have been put in place to reverse the continuing damage to the environs and people of the said areas.
We challenge the Supreme Court justices to go to these areas and see for themselves what the local communities have lost: indigenous peoples’ ancestral domain, once productive farmlands, pristine rivers, and marine ecosystems. This may help them see the anti-Filipino and anti-environment nature of RA 7942.
The full-blown implementation of a liberalized, privatized, and deregulated mining industry will come into reality once charter change has been enacted. The constitutional overhaul will allow 100% foreign-ownership of our lands and the exploitation of our natural resources. Charter change will actually further open the country to unbridled foreign exploitation and plunder
Under the current Constitution, land ownership is reserved for Filipinos so that our people should have the priority to develop our resources for the good of the country.
The proposed Constitutional amendments for liberalization will further aggravate landlessness, land-use conversion, the whole-sale exploitation of our natural resources, food insecurity, and the destruction of the environment. Filipinos will be deprived of the right to use the country’s resources for their own benefit. Local industry and agriculture, which cannot compete with big multinational companies, will also be destroyed.
We will heighten opposition to the Arroyo-engineered Charter Change and continue to work for an alternative people’s mining policy.
 

Why I voted NO to the Anti-Terrorism Bill

At whatever angle you look at it, House Bill 4839 or the Anti-Terrorism Bill, defies all recognized statutes, every existing law and no less than the Constitution itself.

This bill will invalidate whatever we have gained throughout our nation's colorful history: the relative freedoms we now enjoy, attained through blood spilled by our forebears and modern-day martyrs in their fight and continuing struggle against tyranny and oppression.

Defining terrorism will be the same as calculating infinity. The bill’s definition illustrates the whimsical nature of the bill, encompassing even the most natural of all human acts and functions.

Perhaps by deliberately raising my voice to stress my point, I would jolt my colleagues from their comfortable seats, and in the process strike panic and fear in their hearts. Would I then be guilty of committing terrorism?

If a movie house was to feature a gory horror flick that would most certainly cause fear to a segment of the general public, would its proprietor be liable under this bill?

To proclaim that this bill intends to preserve peace and security is like burning a house down to prevent an arsonist from doing it himself. The bill claims to protect human rights but does exactly the opposite. In the end, Congress is not here to practice democracy, but merely preserve its trappings.

The 13th Congress has been publicly identified as a rubberstamp of Malacañang . A notoriety it gained during deliberations on Arroyo’s tax measures and the clobbered impeachment proceedings. Taken in the context of the crisis in leadership experienced by the current occupant in Malacañang, the public is inclined to view the passage of the anti-terrorism law as a way to shield the beleaguered President from her critics.

Considering the government’s current tendency to implement repressive measures, an anti-terror bill at this point would be the pinnacle of despotism of the Arroyo regime. The law will transform the whole nation into a police state. It is Proclamation 1017 institutionalized and stripped of its pretensions. Intended to quell public dissension against an illegitimate President, the Anti-Terror Bill becomes a self-interest bill that should be fervently opposed.

That the bill is eerily silent on State terrorism exposes its real objective of targeting and preempting the government’s legitimate and legal political opponents. It does not condemn or penalize the mass bombings of civilian communities by the AFP in Mindanao and in the countryside, despite easily fitting the description of terrorist acts. It does not preclude political harassment, abductions and killings of activists but actually justifies and legalizes their commission.

Approving this bill ultimately panders to the whims of the U.S. in its objective of consolidating its global politico-military position. The U.S. has been eagerly pushing for the enactment of this bill not only in the Philippines but in other countries as well. It would surely be in the interest of the Arroyo regime to preserve U.S. favor in her government’s moment of irredeemable crisis.