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PROGRESSIVES CALL TO LOWER OIL PRICE

ILOILO CITY – Earlier today, progressive groups under BAYAN-Panay held a picket-protest in front of the Land Transportation Office 6 to register their call to immediately lower the prices of petroleum products amid the successive oil price hike for more than two months now.

According to Bryan Bosque, spokesperson of the group, the government can and do have the power to do so by suspending or removing the excise tax and value added tax levied to said products.

Bosque added that the people should not be the ones shouldering said taxes especially on a prime commodity like petroleum.

According to the group’s account, P11-P15 per liter could be deducted from the current price of diesel if the government intends to do so.

For long-term solution, the group said that the government must regularize the oil industry in the country by junking the Oil Deregulation Law and to buy back Petron, which can have an influence in setting the oil prices in the market./PT

OPINION | THE MYTH OF DUTERTE’S POPULARITY AS HE ENDS HIS TERM

THE MYTH OF DUTERTE’S POPULARITY AS HE ENDS HIS TERM
OPINION | SIEGFRED DEDURO

Filipinos are made to believe that President Duterte remains popular as he caps his term.  This myth is based on surveys and reinforced by the government social media troll farms and sustained disinformation thru the main media outlets.

A wrong discernment on this issue may spell defeat or disadvantage to candidates who align themselves with Duterte or take a wishy-washy position in relation to Duterte.

 

FALSE POSITIVE SURVEYS

Like COVID-19 antigen tests, surveys could be false positive.  

No less than Pulse Asia president Ronnie Holmes have not ruled out the fear factor in their interviews. 

Hindi mo rin puwedeng tanggalin na mayroong mga ibang tao na maaaring ang nananaig sa kanila ay ang apprehension o takot, pero ganun pa man ang kanilang ipinapahayag yung kanilang opinion,” Holmes said in the “Basagan ng Trip” interview that aired on Sunday, October 11.

Kung talagang nangingibabaw ang takot ngayon, hindi mawawala yung takot na iyon kahit wala si Duterte. Pero mas importante rito, doon sa aming isinasagawang survey, tinitignan rin naming yung nonverbal behavior ng respondent,” Holmes said.[1]

Mangahas revealed the findings in an Inquirer column on Saturday, where he said the Social Weather Station (SWS) found in June 2019 that 51% of Filipinos agreed with the statement: “It is dangerous to print or broadcast anything critical of the administration, even if it is the truth.”[2]

The SWS July 2021 survey also reveals that 45% say it is dangerous to publish things critical of the administration; only 25% say it is not dangerous.[3] Indeed, who among the interviewees would not have serious apprehension of being a target of retaliation amidst the state-instigated climate of terror and impunity?

Meanwhile, surveys taken thru the filter of fear, respondents have now gradually expressed their real sentiments. 

The September 2021 Pulse Asia survey shows that in the span of a year, approval ratings for how the government is preventing infections and fighting corruption fall by 25 percentage points.[4]

 

ALIGNING WITH OR AN INDECISIVE POSITION IN RELATION TO DUTERTE IS A DOWNSIDE TO CANDIDATES

Filipinos want change. They don’t want another Duterte nor a Marcos in Malacanang.  They want a leadership who is compassionate, competent, upright, defender of human rights and nationalist.

Whoever sides with Duterte and/or Marcos will be spurned by the people. The cutting edge issue in the 2022 elections is whether to enable or reject a Duterte dynastic succession and/or a Marcos restoration.

Iloilo Province Gov. Defensor, Iloilo City Mayor Treñas, and Antique Gov. Rhodora Cadiao have taken the right decision to jump out of the Duterte camp.  Hopefully, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores and Guimaras Gov. Samuel Gumarin will follow suit.

On the other hand, the decision of Capiz Gov. Esteban Evan Contreras, former Governors Victor Tanco, Vicente Bermejo, Esteban Contreras and Jose Ting Borda is problematic.  In their desire to end the Roxas political dynasty in Capiz, they chose to side with Duterte.

They should be reminded that they may be seen by Capizenos as enablers of impunity in extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests based on trumped up charges, incompetence in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, and corruption.

Also, none of those who support Duterte raised their voices against the heinous massacre of 9 Tumandok leaders and the arrest of 16 others last December 30, 2020 in Tapaz; they have all but disregarded the outrage of church leaders, various  sectors and friends of the Tumandok people both nationally and internationally./PT

Iloilo City Schools Set to Open For Face-to-Face Classes

ILOILO CITY – The Nursing program of the West Visayas State University, as well as the Nursing, Medical Technology, and other allied health service programs of the University of San Agustin are set to open for face-to-face classes this October.

West Visayas State University has set to open limited face-to-face classes for 4th year Nursing students starting today, October 25, after the Commission on Higher Education approved their request for limited face-to-face classes.

Students and youth organizations of the said university welcomed this step towards safe re-opening of the school. Last October 18, students and youth organizations held a picket protest to demand from the national government additional funding for schools to ensure the health and safety of the students in the midst of the pandemic.

According to Hershey Sumpay, the Chairperson of the University Student Council of WVSU, they really welcome this positive step. However, Sumpay added that health protocols must be ensured and strictly followed. Therefore, additional funding must be given to the university to ensure that facilities and equipment are in place to ensure also physical distancing, sanitation, and other health protocols.

For Anakbayan Panay, the gradual opening of schools for physical classes is a very positive step, but it should not be left in the hands of the school administrations or the LGUs. According to Jasper Villa, spokesperson of Anakbayan Panay, the national government must stand up for its responsibility to ensure quality, free, accessible, and safe education for the people. Therefore, more funds should be allocated in education and healthcare.

Villa also added that funding for useless government projects such as NTF-ELCAC that redtags and endangers the lives and security of the students, should be diverted to education and health to ensure the rights of the people to education and other basic social services in the midst of a pandemic.

It has been a year since the country suspended face-to-face classes but it remains to be one of the only two countries in the world without face-to-face classes. It has been a year also that the students, teachers, and parents have been called for the ligtas na balik eskwela because distance learning has never been effective./PT

Farmers March for Land, Aid, and Justice

October 22, ILOILO Farmers held protest actions across the country last October 21 to voice out their call for land, aid and justice.

Together with progressive organizations led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng PIlipinas (KMP), the protest action is the culmination of the group’s October Peasant Month campaign. The protest action also commemorates the signing of Presidential Decree 27 or the land reform program of former Ferdinand Marcos.

According to Danilo Ramos, the chairperson of the KMP, PD 27 and subsequent agrarian reform programs have failed to destroy monopoly on land that has pushed farmers into extreme poverty.

According to KMP’s data, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program does not cover various lands especially those with 8% slope. The group added that the total 5.4 million hectares covered by CARP is only 44% of the total 12.4 million hectares of arable land. As of August 2021 alone, there were only a total of 2.9 million CARP beneficiaries and did not include the nearly 10.75 million farmers registered on various agrarian reform lists of the government.

Farmers from Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are demanding that agricultural lands, especially paddy fields, be protected against land use conversion. According to the KMP, Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary has become the hotspot for land conversions.

Farmers also called for a Php 15,000 production subsidy. According to PAMANGGAS, the pandemic has worsened their situation but they have not received adequate support from the government. The P5,000 cash assistance provided by the DA to the farmers is selective and not enough to address the production losses of the farmers.

Amihan, meanwhile, challenged those running for the presidency to address the farmers’ demands for land, aid and justice. The group challenges the candidates for presidency to lay concrete platforms that will address the decades-old call for genuine land reform, support services and production subsidies, and justice for all the victims of human rights violations.

The protest and call were joined by farmers from the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Panay and other parts of the country./PT

OPINION | On Robredo’s Senate Slate Announcement

OPINION | Prof. Tomasito T. Talledo

“Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makarating sa paroroonan”

I will vote for Robredo but my vote is not for her: my vote is against her despicable rivals for presidency come May 2022. Ah, I embrace this as instance of tragedy in my biographical lifeline. I accept this tragedy as I walked on the side of bad faith. Since alone I cannot reverse the storm I find myself in, I will bow to the strong wind like the proverbial oriental bamboo.

My vote for Robredo as President is without conviction. It will be in hollow form without substance. It will in my tongue taste like a bittermelon of “negation of the negative”. Some sort of medicine for my attachment to diabetic “sweetness and light”.

By all indications Robredo as presidential candidate appears to have agency but without reflexivity. Her initial reluctance to run was effectively reversed by the oligarchic cunning of the Liberal Party caboodles (also sweety coated by 1Sambayan coalition). The caboodles, of course, scripted her sugary speech addressed to the many. And she was made to sound warm and maternal to the receiving ears of the public.

Lo! the trapos who were currently “out” (those kicked by the trapos of Duterte) suddenly gained new enthusiasm to get back into business. Robredo’s acceptance speech sounded as siren call to their ears. And the public relations artists around the uragon presidentiable smiled from ear-to-ear for the prospect of landing in Malacanang Palace.

Robredo may have agency but without reflexivity in the choice of candidate senators in her list. When she publicly disclosed the names, not a few were disappointed since she included those who clearly do not share her advocacies for the commonweal. She collected a bundle of notorious trapos, shameless double dealers, intellectually dishonest persons.

What for? To boost high the prospects of her electoral victory and of the oligarchic Liberal Party? What about the victory and vindication of the exploited laborers, famished peasants, marginalized indigenous peoples, victims of EJKs and political prisoners? After hi-jacking the label as Opposition to the Duterte Administration, Robredo and the oligarchic Liberals walked away quickly without looking back who they left behind. Ah, they forgot: “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makarating sa paroroonan”. Isa pa: “Ang lumakad ng matulin kung matinik ay malalim”. # # #

COUNCILOR LOVE BARONDA PROMISES TO CARRY THE LIGTAS BALIK ESKWELA CAMPAIGN

ILOILO CITY – The Back-to-School Network Panay held a dialogue with Iloilo City Councilor Love Baronda on the safe re-opening of schools last October 5 at Iloilo City Hall. Councilor Baronda is the standing chair of the Committee on Education of the city council.

BTS Network Panay submitted a petition to the councilor’s office that included the 10 demands of the alliance, which the councilor affirmed to support.

During said dialogue, Sir Francisco Golez, a teacher and former president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Union in the region, revealed that parents cannot afford to buy gadgets for their children and to purchase load daily to access the internet. He added that the situation is also difficult for the teachers and there are even times when the cost of printing of the modules comes from their own personal pockets.

Hershey Sumpay, the current University Student Council Chairperson of West Visayas State University, also expressed her sentiments as a student. According to Sumpay, the quality of education during face-to-face classes really changed and differ from online learning. She added that the people have the right to education and services and healthcare, therefore these must be ensured by the government at the same time.

The Philippines and Venezuela are the only remaining countries in the world that have not yet opened schools.

Baronda promised that she would bring the campaign of the BTS Network to the local council and she asked for additional data so that she can defend the alliance’s demands to the best of her ability.

The Back-to-School Network believes that this is a positive step towards the safe re-opening of schools in the midst of the worsening health crisis that the Duterte government failed to address.

The BTS Network is an alliance of students and faculty, and of various organizations that carry the people’s interests in education, health, and the economy./PT

ROXAS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL’S SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET, STILL HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED; HEALTH CARE WORKERS TO FILE MASS LEAVE

ROXAS CITY – The employees of the Roxas Memorial Provincial Hospital (RMPH) intend to pursue their plan to file for leave of absence if the hospital’s supplemental budget will not be approved.

According to Dr. Edmarie Tormon, OIC of RMPH, there are more than 68 healthcare workers who have already filed for leave of absence and they have also received a petition from the employees who plans to file for mass leave if they will not get paid.

Last July 13 of this year, RMPH submitted their request for Supplemental Budget to the Provincial Budget Office (PBO), which amounts to P94,526,432.54. In July 22, RMPH submitted their revised request to the PBO, which amounts to P47,500,000.00.

Moreover, in August 3, RMPH submitted their request for Supplemental Budget to the Capiz Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), to which Governor Nonoy Contreras marked as “urgent”. The first budget hearing of the SP happened last August 27, while the second hearing happened last September 8.

In September 24, RMPH employees held a protest and candle lighting activity to demand to the Capiz SP to immediately approve their request for Supplemental Budget. According to the employees, they have not received their salary for two months now and the hospital resources are now depleting due to lack of budget. Employees added that they are now at a point where patients would have to bring their own oxygen tanks for them to be admitted to the hospital.

The employees further added that if the SP won’t approve their request, it will violate the people’s right to healthcare as the hospital can no longer attend its patients’ needs due to limited resources.

According to the SP, they need some documents from RMPH like the hospital’s list of employees to find out if there are so-called “ghost employees”. However, the employees said that they are not ghost employees.

The SP also questioned why the hospital needs supplemental budget as they still have budget left before the fiscal year ends. However, based on a certification from the PBO dated September 23 of this year, RMPH only has P12,489.36 left for its ‘other professional services’ and P1,183,665.75 for its general services.

According to the employees, more than 500 of them are the ones suffering from this ‘political war’ as they have not still received their salary since August.

According to Alliance of Health Workers – Panay, the responsibility of increasing the hospital funding should not be left in the hands of the local government units alone, the national government should also increase the funding for public hospitals to also increase the salaries of healthcare workers, additional facilities and equipment to strengthen the healthcare system.

The healthcare workers of the RMPH are calling for the immediate approval of their requested supplemental budget so that they can provide their full service to their patients especially this time of health crisis./PT

LIGTAS BALIK ESKWELA CAMPAIGN REACHED MORE COMMUNITIES IN ILOILO CITY

ILOILO CITY – Ligtas Balik Eskwela (LBE) campaign has reached more communities in Iloilo City and nearby towns. According to a report by Nagkakaisa nga Katilingban sang mga Kababainhan nga Imol sa Syudad, the campaign reached Oton town and barangays in Iloilo City such as Rizal, Calaparan, San Juan, Tabuc Suba, Bito-on, Punong, and Sinikway.

“I can’t help my child much in school because I’m working. The online classes are burdensome because I have to provide the gadget to my child and spend also for his internet. It would be good to implement LBE so that our burden as poor families will somehow be lifted,” said a parent in Lapuz when asked why they want their children to go back to school.

In a short period of time, according to the Kabataan Partylist-Panay, they were able to collect thousands of signatures from the communities for their campaign. This, they added, shows greater support for such campaign and a manifestation that students, teachers, and parents already want to open schools.

Ligtas Balik Eskwela is the major campaign of the Back-to-School Network (BTS). According to BTS Network spokesperson Phillipe Hiñosa, the so-called ‘online learning modality’ is an additional burden to the people who are now suffering from the pandemic where the price of goods is very high and the lockdown in the communities is still ongoing.

It can be noted that on September 12, the said alliance held an online discussion on the education crisis, where they explained why schools need to be open, and why is there a need to increase budget for education and health. The discussion also included the group’s demand for 10,000 pesos student aid.

On the day of class opening this year, September 13, youth groups Anakbayan, Kabataan Partylist, and others submitted the third batch of signatures they have collected under the LBE campaign to the offices of the City’s Mayor and Congressman, Commission on Higher Education 6 and Department of Education 6.

Last week, September 30, workers, youth, women, and peasants gathered in the House of Representatives for a protest action to condemn the government’s immediate passing of next year’s national budget without considering the condition of the people.

According to the Kabataan Partylist’s first nominee Raoul Manuel, a large percentage of next year’s budget is still reserved for confidential and intelligence funds despite the fact that millions of Filipinos are hungry and impoverished due to the pandemic. Among the calls of the group are to abolish the NTF-ELCAC and the realignment of military funds to education and social services.