Western Visayas People’s Agenda

ILOILO City – Various organizations and sectoral groups crafted last June 18 the Western Visayas People’s Agenda, a document containing the demands and issues of the people in Panay and Guimaras.

Led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), the People’s Summit’s agenda will be presented to the National People’s Summit in UP Diliman, Quezon City on June 29 and then to President Rodrigo Duterte on June 30.

Bayan will also lead a mobilization rally on June 30 to welcome President Duterte and his pro-people policies and programs. But the group clarified that it will remain vigilant and watchful over Duterte’s anti-people policies and will employ the strategy of unity and struggle.

Here are the demands included in the Western Visayas People’s Agenda for the First 100 Days of Duterte Administration:

1. Accelerate the peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP. Decades of using military force to defeat armed revolutionary forces failed. Far from eliminating the NPA, the militarist solution further fueled armed resistance and resulted in widespread human rights abuses, as the social roots of the revolution remain unsolved. We support incoming President Duterte’s decision to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in seeking just and lasting peace. Both Parties should uphold previous agreements agreed upon between them, i.e., The 1992 Hague Joint Declaration and the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws) and proceed to discuss other substantive agenda.

2. Release all political prisoners. We support incoming President Duterte’s plan to release all political prisoners. This will augur well for the quest for just and lasting peace. Immediate release of ailing, elderly, nursing mothers should be prioritized.

3. Certify as urgent the enactment of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill. Expedite the resolution of pending cases of agrarian reform beneficiaries. Increase support to farmers and the agricultural sector. We support the immediate enactment of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill which will implement the free distribution of land to the tillers, to end the feudal bondage of farmers in the countryside. Pending cases of agrarian reform beneficiaries under the defunct CARP, should be expedited to render justice to the toiling farmers. In order to ensure farmers productivity, we support President Duterte’s stand on free irrigation services. Rehabilitation of irrigation canals and building thereof in areas without such must be undertaken to ensure delivery of water to farms. Farmers need increased support in pre-and-post-harvest facilities. The coco levy fund must also be returned to our coco farmers.

4. Immediately release assistance to victims of El Niño. Simplify the procedure in availing of the calamity aid. We appeal to incoming President Duterte thru his appointed DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo to immediately release much needed assistance to victims of El Niño in Western Visayas. Victims are in need of immediate food and livelihood support program to recover from the effect of El Nino. The DSWD Region VI has been insensitive to farmers seeking assistance thru dialog which culminated in a five-day camp out. Instead of giving immediate assistance, DSWD officials required protesting farmers the usual bureaucratic run around that until now, none of them received assistance from the government.

5. Speed up the completion of the relief and rehabilitation of Yolanda victims. Investigate anomalies in the distribution of disaster assistance. Western Visayas was second to Eastern Visayas in terms of lives lost, injured persons, houses damaged and destroyed livelihood by the super typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013. “Emergency Shelter Assistance” (ESA) was only released a year after the typhoon with so many exceptions (i.e., those who received assistance from NGOs, those whose income is more than 15.000 and those who live in “danger zones” are not qualified beneficiaries of ESA). The much delayed assistance was utilized by incumbent candidates in the last election to buy votes and promote patronage politics. Until now there are still many Yolanda victims who have not received ESA and are confronted with issues related to the implementation of the “no build zones” and the rehabilitation of their livelihood. Again, we appeal to incoming President Duterte to instruct incoming DSWD Secretary Taguiwalo to address these concerns. In Aklan, we appeal to incoming DSWD Sec. Taguiwalo to STOP the DSWD Regional Office 6 to treat as “savings” the remaining ESA budget and instead release it to those whose names are not in the DSWD list but are legitimate beneficiaries of the ESA. Scrap the memorandum circular #24 (MC24) that discriminates other legitimate victims. Release financial assistance for the rehabilitation of damaged livelihood of Yolanda survivors. Scrap the No Dwell/Build Zone policy that displaces marginalized fisherfolks and farmers and favors the local and foreign capitalists’ventures for eco-tourism and commerce. To those who have been dislocated, should be provided with accessible livelihood in their relocation sites. Lastly, victims of the NAPOCOR barge oil-spill in Estancia, Iloilo should also get compensated.

6. Implement a 750 daily minimum wage for workers in the private sector and monthly minimum salary of 16,000 for government employees nationwide. End contractualization among workers in the region. The current minimum wage as of June 2016 in Metro Manila is only 491, which is way below the living wage of 1,088. The minimum wage for non-agricultural workers 256.50-298.50 and for agricultural workers 256.50-266.50 only . We appeal to incoming President Duterte to cause the enactment of a national minimum daily wage of 750. It is only just that the creators of the wealth of our nation, benefit from the growth of the economy. We also support incoming President Duterte’s pronouncement of eliminating contractualization which aggravates the poverty and misery of the toiling masses. We demand the scrapping of DOLE Department Order No. 18-A Series of 2011 that legitimizes labor-contracting policies, a premise for massive contractualization in many companies. We propose that incoming DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello investigate the widespread contractualization in Western Visayas. For government employees, a monthly minimum living wage of Php16,000 must be implemented. Workers’ rights to form and organize unions on both public and private must be protected. We also demand for immediate solutions to labor cases of workers pending at DOLE/NLRC, etc. Trumped-up charges against labor union organizer and leaders must be junked.

7. Stop the construction of the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Phase II and the Pan-ay River Basin Integrated Development Project. Promote building of small community-based irrigation systems. The Jalaur River megadam project in Iloilo is estimated to be funded by a total of 11.2 billion, 8.9 billion of which will be loaned from the Korean Eximbank and the rest funded by the government. This was a priority project of President Aquino and Sen. Drilon was initially funded with 450 million from the illegal DAP. The construction of this megadam project should be suspended because: 1.) it is within the area where the active West Panay Fault that caused an 8.2 tremor in 1948 is located, 2.) violates indigenous people’s (Tumandok) right to their ancestral domain, 3.) displaces Tumandoks and farmers from the project area, and 4.) potential ecological disaster to downstream municipalities during extreme weather conditions. A better alternative is the construction of several affordable small community-based irrigation systems to enhance agricultural productivity. The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) should be investigated on the controversial overprice P5.8 million drone issue related to the construction of Jalaur megadam. Another ambitious project, the Pan-ay River Basin Integrated Development Project should be suspended and thoroughly studied for similar aforementioned reasons against the Jalaur megadam.

8. Stop the implementation of the K-to-12 program. The program is designed to cater to the needs of foreign countries and not to the needs of the nation in modernizing agriculture and national industrialization. Hence, the stress on technical matters and the neglect of developing a nationalism and social awareness among the students. This is the fundamental flaw of the program. In addition, the government is not prepared to implement this program. We lack teachers and classrooms to accommodate the senior high school students. Stopgap remedy like using classrooms of elementary schools aggravates the problem of the already limited classrooms in these schools. Thousands of freshmen and sophomore instructors in colleges and universities are left jobless. The arrangement that senior high schools students may enroll in private schools, benefit the later in terms of more profits.

9. Investigate and stop anomalous PPP projects in the region. PPP projects in the region are used by incumbent local officials to favor their cronies. The Guimaras-Iloilo Ferry Terminal (GIFT) was designed to provide monopoly business (as two traditional ferry ports will be closed and all passengers are compelled to pass thru this centralized facility) to Double Dragon Corporation, of Edgar Sia II, founder of the Mang Inasal food chain, and Honeystar Holdings Corp., headed by Tony Tan Caktiong, founder and chair of Jollibee Foods Corp. They are known campaign supporters of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog. The Iloilo City Central Public Market is scheduled to be privatized thru a PPP agreement between the Iloilo City LGU and Shoe Mart Corporation. The Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) is undergoing a creeping privatization initially thru the “bulk water supply” agreement with Flo Water, a corporation of the Floretes, close friend of Iloilo City Cong. Jerry Treñas. Other anomalous PPP projects that must be investigated are the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) and the Kalibo Shopping Center in Kalibo, Aklan.

10. Investigate and stop anomalous implementation of the CCT program. This dole out program of the government enhance the mentality of mendicancy while not solving the roots of widespread poverty, i.e. lack of genuine land reform, lack of factories that generate sustainable livelihood, insufficiently funded health and education facilities. Worse, this program is used to enhance patronage politics. DSWD officials use the program to undermine people’s organizations and their empowerment. As poverty identification system, the National Household Targeting System of the department must be reevaluated. The NHTS only identifies as poor and are eligible for assistance those families earning daily Php40.00 and below, among others. Hence delisting many legitimate poor families. We support the new administration of Sec. Taguiwalo of incorporating livelihood program for the poor.

11. Stop demolition of urban poor communities, without proper relocation and provision of alternative livelihood. Demolition of urban poor communities to give way to real estate and commercial development is widespread in the region. However, houses of this marginalized sector are usually demolished without sufficient provision for humane relocation and decent livelihood. We appeal to incoming President Duterte to stop all demolition without sufficient provision to the aforementioned concerns.

12. OFW Concerns. A significant number of Overseas Filipino Workers hail from Western Visayas. As of July 3, 2015 is a total of 178,097 OFW in the region. Their remittances to their families and their investments have substantial impact on the local economy. Notwithstanding official pronouncements that they are the “New Heroes”, OFW’s welfare and rights are grossly neglected. Among the issues that we appeal to the incoming administration to address are the following: 1.) set up a sufficient legal fund overseas and ensure adequate legal assistance to OFW having legal problems, 2.) give high priority in assisting maltreatment and sexual abuses and punish negligent DFA/DOLE personnel posted abroad in immediately assisting abused OFW, 3.) expand assistance to OFWs returning home for good or who were deported or suffered accidents while working abroad, and 4.) regulate placement fees of agencies through constant monitoring of their operations, 5.) strict implementation of Migrants Act of 2005 and its amended version in 2011.

13. Campaign against Illegal Drugs. We fully support incoming President Duterte’s intent to launch an all out campaign against illegal drugs. Illegal drugs proliferate amidst mass poverty and destroy the future generation and our aspiration for a progressive nation. The influence and the impunity of drug lords enhanced by narco-politics and corruption within the ranks of the AFP, PNP, and local officials. On the other hand, we hope that the campaign is conducted in accordance with due process. Prosecute and penalize big drug lords and protectors. We are concerned with the spate of extra-judicial killings allegedly of “drug pushers”. While we support incoming President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, we believe we should uphold due process. We gathered reliable information that this series of killings of supposedly drug pushers are done by members of PNP and other state agents to silence possible “leaks” that may expose local official, military and police coddlers of the drug syndicates. We propose to incoming President Duterte to investigate this matter.

14. Freedom of Information. We propose to incoming President Duterte to support the early enactment of the Freedom of Information Bill. The people should be allowed access to relevant government documents of public interest.

15. Uphold Press Freedom: Stop media killings and protect media practitioners. Implement the Mandatory Insurance Coverage for Journalists and support the decriminalization of libel. The killing of journalists in the Philippines has remained unabated in the present administration. We encourage the incoming administration to address the problem of impunity in the cases of violence against journalists.

16. Power and electricity. Reevaluate EPIRA Law and replace it with a law that would protect consumers better and ensure lower electricity rates. Reported negative impact on surrounding communities of the coal plant in Iloilo City should be investigated. Stop the construction of more coal plants in the region.

17. Protection of MSME against monopoly. Investigate the provisional authority granted to Vallacar Transit in operating its terminal at Buhang, Jaro, Iloilo City. Protect small bus operators against monopoly of Vallacar Transit. The monopolistic practice of Vallacar Transit (Ceres) of unfair competition is causing bancruptcy to other small bus companies. This should be investigated and the rights of small bus operators protected.

18. Transport Issues. Scrap policies detrimental to the livelihood of Small Public Transport Operators such as LTFRB’s Joint Administrative Order of JAO, jeepney phase-out policy, and the shepherd’s badge. Monitor and regulate oil prices.

19. Militarization. We propose the immediate pull-out of military forces and dismantling of paramilitary groups stationed in indigenous people’s communities. Investigate the cases of human rights violations perpetrated by the military against the indigenous people like the killings of Rodelyn Aguirre, a 6-year old child and Pastor Mirasol in Tapaz, Capiz in 2012.

20. Respect and Uphold Indigenous Peoples Rights to Self-Determination. Junk the Presidential Proclamation #67 that declared the 33,310 hectares of IP lands in Tapaz and Jamindan in Capiz province as military reservation. Also scrap the Presidential Proclamation #429 declaring the 3,463.898 hectares of IP land in Lambunao and Calinog as school reservation. Other land grabbing schemes are the National Greening Program of the DENR, and the two mega-dams in Jalaur and Pan-ay rivers that needs to be stopped also. Implement sustainable programs for environmental protection and preservation that respects and upholds the indigenous people’s rights to self-determination.

21. Health and Sanitation. Increase the budget for health services. Stop the move to corporatize the Western Visayas Medical Center and other public hospitals. Make health services accessible to the remote communities.

22. Pension Increase. We appeal to the incoming President Duterte to support the legislation seeking for the P2,000.00 increase of the social pension of SSS pensioners. GSIS and social pensions for indigent senior citizens.

23. Women and Children’s Rights. Address the VAWC cases by giving assistance to the victims of abuses.

24. Scrap the Mining Act of 1995 and support the passage of the People’s Mining Bill that will favor the Filipino government, small miners and protect the rights of the affected communities./PT


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