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BIDA Bill, Approved on the Second Reading Despite Public Clamour

AKLAN – Despite the opposition of local and some national government officials, different groups, and personalities, the BIDA Bill was approved, on the second reading, by the House of Representatives last August 4.

As one of Duterte’s priority legislations, the BIDA Bill aims to establish the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC).

According to BAYAN Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, the establishment of the BIDA corporation will negatively affect the residents and the local small-scale businesses in Boracay. Once approved, BIDA corporation will have the authority and power to “contract, lease, buy, sell acquire, own, or dispose real property whatever nature”. This is also one of the reasons why Senator Leila de Lima opposes the approval of the said bill.

In addition, Zarate states that there are several senators who fear that the bill would further open the island of Boracay to the control of large corporations and foreign investors.

According to BAYAN Aklan, the approval of the BIDA Bill on the second reading despite public opposition is a manifestation of the Duterte administration’s desperation to control Boracay. BAYAN Aklan adds that the establishment of BIDA would remove the power and authority of the LGU to manage the island, which is a violation of the Philippine Constitution and the Local Government Code.

Aklan 1st District Representative Carlito Marquez has also submitted a withdrawal of his support due to the outcry of different stakeholders in Aklan who have expressed their opposition to the bill./PT

Aklanons Continue to Strengthen their Call for the Junking of the BIDA Bill

KALIBO, Aklan – In Duterte’s last State of the Nation Address which happened last July 26, Akeanons and progressive groups called for the junking of the proposed BIDA Bill as well as the formation of a Boracay Island Development Authority. The groups put up streamers with the calls “No to Bida!”, calling for the junking of said bill which would only result in the displacement and unemployment of the locals and workers in Boracay Island.

Under the government’s proposed plan, they would be putting up a government-controlled corporation or a GOCC under the name ‘Boracay Island Development Authority’ which would then handle the management of the island of Boracay. This is one of the priority bills that were highlighted by Duterte during his then State of the Nation Address last 2020.

The local government of Aklan also expressed their dissent over the government’s proposal as that would lead to them having no authority over the island of Boracay.

According to Kim Sin Tugna of Bayan Aklan, the BIDA Bill aims to make Boracay Island an exclusive zone for the elites and for foreign businesses and companies. The national government wants to control all socio-economic activities in the Island, Tugna adds. Tugna also emphasizes that this is in line with the closure of Boracay island last 2018 which was a prelude to opening the island to multinational businesses. BAYAN Aklan also stated that the majority of the land in Boracay is now owned by foreign investors and soon will be occupied by a Chinese-owned casino.

Bayan Aklan urges all Akeanons to remain steadfast in calling for the junking of the proposed bill.

Last July 15, in a joint committee meeting in the House of Representatives, the Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization as well as the Committee on Local Government approved the BIDA Bill or House Bill 6214./PT

AKLANON ACTIVIST FACED ANOTHER ATTACK FROM NTF-ELCAC

KALIBO, AKLAN – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Aklan’s provincial chairperson, George Calaor, yet received another libelous remark from the state forces during a joint police and military welcome ceremony for the 14 alleged rebel returnees in Libacao town, Aklan last July 8, 2021.
According to Calaor’s statement sent to the media, Atty. Ronilo Inventado, who represented the Department of Justice in the said event, claimed to be in dismay with the activist who, despite being such a gifted student before, has chosen the wrong path. Moreover, Inventado claimed to be closely acquainted with Calaor, who was his former classmate in one of the subjects in AB class during college. However, Calaor said that he was never enrolled in any AB classes as he was taking up Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED) back in Aklan Catholic College, formerly Aklan College. Furthermore, Calaor said that Inventado has never been closely acquainted to him nor was his classmate before.
Calaor denounced the malicious vilification by Inventado and condemned the continuous red-tagging perpetuated by the state against him and his fellow activists in Aklan.
“I believe he used his fabricated knowledge about me to build his credibility to convince the people that I am a terrorist,” said Calaor. Moreover, Calaor said that Inventado’s claim “is a blatant lie and clear fabrication to belie his intent to further their efforts to condition the mind of every Aklanons that I am atrocious, that the likes of me [have] no place in this world and that my acts and advocacy should not be followed by every citizen”.
According to Calaor, the continuous attacks against their ranks by the state’s elements in the province of Aklan, clearly manifests the ruthless, barbaric and desperate effort of the National Task Force to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict (ELCAC) to condition the minds of every Aklanons for the possible events of illegal and warrantless search and arrest likewise extra-judicial killings in the province.
Calaor also declared that Atty. Ronilo Inventado’s prejudgment against the correctness of his political standpoint and principle is malicious and baseless.
“I was not astray and have not wasted my gift of knowledge when I decided to selflessly submit myself to the masses and joined them in their nationalist and democratic struggle for genuine freedom and democracy. I cannot afford to put a price to my service at the expense of the unjust sufferings from landlessness and exploited labor of the peasants and workers,” said Calaor. “I challenge his objectivity to be critical on how the US-Duterte government gallantly wasted people’s money in the NTF-ELCAC while being so inutile in responding to the urgent needs of the Aklanons in this trying time under the pandemic. I also challenge Atty. Inventado prove his allegations in the proper venue to put merit to his representation,” Calaor added.
In a final statement, Calaor challenged Atty. Ronilo Inventado for public retraction of his statement against him. He also calls the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate and make the involved element of the state be made accountable for orchestrating malicious and baseless attacks against him and his fellow activists in Aklan. Calaor also appeals to every citizen to support his plea.
Who is Calaor?
Calaor is graduate of Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED) not AB, from Aklan College now Aklan Catholic College in Kalibo, Aklan.
He is the Provincial Chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Aklan.
Calaor is also a poet and have published of book entitled Uyayi Ng Himagsik, a collection of poetry of love and struggle. Some of his works are also published in various literary folios and publications, local and abroad.
Calaor is among personalities and leaders of BAYAN and MAKABAYAN bloc in posters red-tagged as organizers of legal front organizations of the CPP and New People’s Army (NPA) posted in the strategic areas of Iloilo in 2018 and 2019, and in Aklan on 2020./PT

BAYAN-AKLAN’S DIALOGUE WITH AKELCO, A SUCCESS

KALIBO, AKLAN – The dialogue launched by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Aklan with Aklan Electric Cooperative (AKELCO) on December 10 was a success. The said dialogue was part of their activities in line with the commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of International Human Rights Day.

BAYAN-Aklan laid out their suggestions regarding the Power Supply Disconnection Freeze signed by the members of different organizations who are also consumers of the AKELCO.

AKELCO immediately responded to some of the group’s appeals  such as agreeing to accept a promissory note addressed to AKELCO’s administrator from its consumers for a staggered basis of payment or an installment based on the capacity of the consumers to pay.

The said dialogue was pushed through as many consumers were worried about their combined bills from April 2020 to December 2020. AKELCO also agreed to reduce the cost of the installment of electricity meters.

Moreover, AKELCO promised that their administration will discuss other matters and concerns submitted to them by their consumers through BAYAN-Aklan, and that it will be open for future dialogues as soon as possible.

According to Kim-Sin Tugna, BAYAN-Aklan’s spokesperson, victory can only be achieved through the unwavering support and mobilization of the people. He added that such victory of the Akeanon people will serve as an inspiration to achieve real social change./PT

72ND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY PROTESTS, SUCCESSFUL AMID THREATS, INTIMIDATION, AND ARRESTS!

ILOILO CITY – On the very day of International Human Rights Day, Duterte demonstrated his fascist nature and committed human rights violations in the form of syndicated raids, planting of evidence and filing of trumped up charges against union organizers and a member of the media.

According to Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, Duterte haphazardly scandalized the International Human Rights Day following the arrest of the seven activists.

Palabay added that the main objective of such raids and baseless arrests by Duterte would be to silence the people from voicing out and the media from exposing its corrupt administration.

Despite the crackdowns, thousands of people marched towards Mendiola calling for the ouster of Duterte. They condemned the Duterte administration’s crackdown against its critics.

In Panay, different organizations and sectors have successfully gathered in the city of Iloilo and Roxas, as well as in the town of Kalibo, to commemorate the International Human Rights Day.

In Iloilo City, progressive groups gathered inside the University of the Philippines Visayas despite the deprivation of the city government to give a permit, series of intimidation, and the efforts of the police forces to stop the said activity.

The persistence of the people to conduct such protests, in various parts of the country, only shows Duterte’s isolation from the interests of the wider population.

According to those who participated in the protests, hunger, landlessness, low price of palay, unemployment, and the expensive prices of basic commodities, pushed them to join the protests despite the threats of the government.

For Bayan Panay, Duterte should be ousted because of his useless response to the crisis while being busy with spreading violence to silence the people and to cover up his inutile response.

In order to do this, the conveners of the Panay Peoples’ Coalition called for the people to unite to end Duterte’s tyrannical rule./PT

Typhoon Ursula victims in Aklan demand for fair, immediate, and transparent distribution of assistance

ILOILO City – Fair, immediate, and transparent distribution of relief assistance to the survivors of Typhoon Ursula, NOW!

Typhoon Ursula has greatly affected the poor and the marginalized in the province of Aklan.

“It is worsened by the power outage and more so by the local government unit’s (LGU) slow response,” said Bayan Aklan in a statement.

“After Aklan declared a province-wide state of calamity, people were hopeful that their inability to buy basic necessities will somehow be addressed. However, they were disappointed of the slow and selective assistance of the LGU,” the group said.

The group also questioned the use of calamity fund’s budget for disaster preparation since it took almost 10 days before the residents received relief assistance. “It only goes to show that the LGU did not learn from their experiences during Typhoon Yolanda.”

“It is clear, according to the group, that Ursula is not as destructive as Yolanda. However, for as long as funds to rehabilitate damaged houses and livelihood will not be given to the survivors, Ursula and other calamities will be more destructive than Yolanda.”

Together with the survivors of Typhoon Ursula, Bayan-Aklan called out the national government to help the LGU for their fast recovery.

They also demanded to junk the anti-poor Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, review the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council’s implementing rules and guidelines, as well as allocate more budget for recovery and rehabilitation.

Moreover, they also demanded the LGU to distribute relief assistance, fairly and immediately./www.panaytoday.net

HANDA NA*

Sakal sa kahirapan at magang-maga sa pamamaslang…
Duterte bansa ay ginawa mong pugad ng kahalimawan!

Mga lansangan sa kalunsuran ay naging gubat ng pasismo…
habang ang kanayunan hinalugada’t ginalugad mo ng terorismo!

Soberanya din ay isinubo mo sa bunganga ng mga diyos-diyusan mong mga among dayo…
Amerika at Tsina, aso kang sa kanila, ay  tutang-tuta at kay amo…
ngunit sa bayan at sambayanan, traidor ka!
Kawatan at mapagkanulo!

Sige Duterte…! Magbanta ka pa ng delubyo!
at mamamayan, ‘di ka aatrasan, handang-handang lumaban, walang takot sa iyo!

Alalahanin mong Malakanyang, ay nasa paanan lang ng kabundukang ito
at ikaw ay manhid at bulag—walang malay na kaming hindi mo matalo-talo
ay daang libo pulang mandirigmang nakapaligid sa iyo—kubkob na ang iyong palasyo!

Umpisahan mo nang magdasal–lumakad ng paluhod sa dambana ng sinasamba mong demonyo…
at wala kang tatakbuhan at baka kahit sa impyerno…
walang silid na magbabahay sa sobrang laki ng krimen mo!

Sige Duterte…! Magbanta ka pa ng delubyo!

Handa na kaming magpapatalsik sa iyo!

* Sulat at mga dibuho ni George Tumaob Calaor, dating Bayan-Aklan coordinator.

Humanitarian Volunteers Blocked From Entering Boracay

Boracay Island – Twenty-nine volunteer members of the Humanitarian Mission composed of teachers, students and scientists were not permitted to enter the island of Boracay yesterday to bring food relief to the affected residents of the closure.

The humanitarian mission is scheduled from June 29 to July 1 and is the 3rd of the series of missions organized by Friends of Boracay, Rise Up Aklan and We Are Boracay in partnership with the Boracay Christian Church, Bloomfield Integrated Academy and Boracay Island Global Academy. The beneficiaries of the mission are members of We Are Boracay, an alliance of residents and workers of the island.

The mission aims to conduct relief distribution and needs assessment analysis to the residents after two months of the closure following the President’s declaration of the rehabilitation of the island for six months.

According to Kim Sin Tugna of Rise Up Aklan, the food assistance is donated to address the hunger situation of the residents due to loss of livelihood and limited assistance from the government itself.

“Two months after the closure, many residents are feeling the pangs of hunger especially those who remained in the island who are relying on the meager support from the government. The reliefs from private donors could have provided the gap in the food supply for the locals who were displaced from their work,” he added.

Tugna said their team was barred by the Boracay Security Committee.

Rise Up Aklan, headed by Tugna has a standing agreement with the DSWD Regional Office VI Director Rebecca Geamala to conduct enlistment of victims for Disaster Assistance Family Access Card (DAFAC), a requirement needed to provide proper assistance to victims of closure.

Olive Abanera, We Are Boracay coordinator was saddened by the food blockade.

“We have been experiencing hunger for two months now and this food blockade only exacerbates our dire situation,” she said.

Abanera added that their efforts as victims to provide assistance to their hungry members were treated as a security threat by the security committee.

“Is it wrong to feed the hungry? Is it wrong nowadays to struggle for our survival? Why do they consider humanitarian volunteers as security threats? With hundreds of armed police and military personnel deployed in the island, are they hiding something that is why they are blocking our mission volunteers?” questioned Abanera.

“We have been conducting this mission for two rows already and this is the only time our volunteers were blocked. We have followed the protocol and informed the inter-agency task force days ahead of the mission and we were not even informed of the reason of the blockade,” Abanera added.

Tugna also questioned the capacity of the task force to block the mission team.

“This is a legitimate mission and the people are expecting their rice subsidies from their donors. The blockade only highlights what seems to be a “de facto martial law” happening in the island,” said Tugna.

“This is a crime against humanity considering that the island is under a state of calamity and under international protocols, food assistance is highly encouraged during crisis situation,” added Tugna.

“This also violates the freedom of assembly and right to redress and grievance as enshrined by the constitution.”

Feny Cosico, the team leader for the scientist group expresses dismay and outrage over the inhumane treatment of the Boracay security group for the food blockage.

“The scientists have volunteered to take part in the Humanitarian Mission by means of facilitating the Needs Assessment Analysis. This activity is crucial in having an in-depth assessment of the people’s needs apart from providing them their basic needs as food, water and shelter.”

She added that “we want to know their perception and aspiration that have been deprived from them at the start of rehabilitation. We support the rehabilitation of the island but not at the expense of the people. They should be the foremost consideration in the rehabilitation activities as there are the permanent dwellers of the island.”

The scientists also question the comprehensive rehabilitation plan.

“At this point, we see no clear comprehensive rehabilitation plan that includes the participation of all stakeholders specifically the locals who were treated inhumanely with the food blockade of the security. The restoration of the ecological integrity of the island is nowhere near its completion with its target date on October. We have yet to see a comprehensive plan that does not only cover the removal of illegal, but it must include the restoration and preservation of its natural ecosystem.” /PT

Grief in Boracay

 

“Kaya namon nga mga iloy ang kalisod, ang hindi namon kaya ang makita amon onga nga gakalisod.”
(We, mothers, could bear grief, but we cannot bear seeing our children suffer.)
-Ati mother in Boracay
 
The Duterte government single-handedly ordered the closure of Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan province for tourists and non-residents for six months starting April 26, 2018.
Duterte described the island as a ‘cesspool’ and announced rehabilitation and land reform for the island.
Various groups opposed to the closure of the island expressed dismay after Duterte admitted he has no master plan for Boracay. Groups as well questioned the viability of the land reform for the island.

‘No plan, no heart’ in Boracay closure – Kalikasan

ILOILO City – Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) held a picket at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protest the impending closure of Boracay island. The group said the arbitrary six-month closure had no comprehensive scientific rehabilitation plan but will displace thousands of workers in the process.

“Duterte’s Boracay closure order is like bar-drunk swagger that had no comprehensive, scientific basis and no heart for the 36,000 workers it will displace. His yes men are struggling to come up with rehab, security, and even completely illogical land reform plans, but these cannot justify the full closure of the island. With no comprehensive rehab plan whatsoever, we see Duterte’s closure order will benefit the only Boracay projects that have full plans and in full implementation, the Chinese-backed mega casinos,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The environment group noted that the planned mega casino of Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment will be built on an inland forest area of Boracay and still has a provisional permit from the government in effect up to present.

“What kind of environmental rehab plan would allow the conversion of native tree forests into a mega-casino? Despite the Department of Tourism’s claim that Galaxy casino is searching for a new location, locals report the company’s local partners recently continued to acquire land in Boracay. The DILG’s guidelines on the closure do not even include a moratorium for new construction projects which makes the closure order even more suspect,” said Dulce.

NO REHAB PLAN
A Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission (FFSM) was conducted last week by environmental groups and people’s organizations to investigate the circumstances and effects of the impending closure of Boracay on the people. The Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) was among those groups which joined the mission.

“Despite repeated requests by various organizations and even media outfits, President Duterte and the DENR has not yet divulged any plan or paper which details how exactly they are going to embark on rehabilitating the island, or as to why they arbitrarily chose six months as the supposed recovery period. There was not even a public consultation held prior to Duterte’s verbal pronouncements on closing the island. Up to the present, there is still no order or legal basis for the closure.” said Lia Alonzo, a researcher from CEC.

MILITARIZATION OF BORACAY
Kim-Sin Tugna, of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Aklan, who was also part of the FFSM, reported that the deployment of 630 fully-armed police only sowed fear and terror among the populace.

“Despite the absence of a writ of eviction, which can only be issued by the courts, the DENR escorted by police forces have been asking residents to leave since their houses were said to be built on wetlands. The residents wondered why they were being evicted now when they have been paying taxes for the land they were occupying. The intimidation of the police in fatigue uniforms and bearing high powered rifles caused fear and panic among the residents. During our public consultation, residents reported to that the police told them that they will ask for the deployment of soldiers and turn Boracay into a ‘new Marawi’ if the residents will resist,” Tugna said.

“Although the rehabilitation of the Boracay is indeed much needed, any move to help the islands heal should also not leave behind the livelihood concerns of the residents who have no other means to earn a decent income in the first place. But with a casino to be built on Boracay’s forest itself, the closure order only reveals that the Duterte regime’s environmental pronouncements are a sham. Moreover, we castigate the Duterte regime for enforcing its arbitrary closure order using draconic and dictatorial methods which only terrorize the people,” Dulce concluded.(panaytoday.net)