Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Privileged speech delivered by Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran

Signing the anti-poor and anamalous contract of the RP-China Northrail Project is an impeachable offense of PGMA
Privileged speech delivered by Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
August 8, 2005



Mr. Speaker, this Representation rises on a matter of personal and collective privilege. I wish to speak on the assertion made last week by Chinese Ambassador Wu Hongbo that the $530-million Northrail project is above board and “just and legal.” This assertion was made public through media reports all week last week..



Mr. Speaker, in this project building the Northrail, China has taken full advantage of the Philippines, and the Philippine government led by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allowed it to happen.

The Northrail is being built from Caloocan to Clark Airbase, Pampanga to the Subic Freeport Zone in Zambales and there's an extension from Caloocan to Fort Bonifacio and another from Clark heading towards Poro Point in La Union. All the parts of the project are in the midst of implementation at various levels; what is clear, however, is that the construction is being hurried. Why? Because as the project is being built, the numerous anomalies and violations the project proponents are guilty of are being exposed.


Close scrutiny of the contract between the Philippines and China will expose the project as onerous and that it constitutes a wholesale betrayal of national sovereignty and the welfare of the Filipino poor.


The loan contract between the Philippines and China (titled "Buyer Credit Loan Agreement No. BLA 04055 between the Export-Import Bank of China and Department of Finance of the Republic of the Philippines for the NorthRail Project-Phase 1, Section 1 stands as the official document on which the financial aspects and actual construction plans of the project is based. The terms and conditionalities stated in this contract -as well as the responsibilities of both contracting parties - are shocking and cause for national outrage.



In the contract for the loan release signed on February 26, 2004, the following are stated:

a. The amount the Philippines borrowed for the project is US$400 million. This will be paid for within twenty (20) years with an interest rate of three percent (3) per annum.

b. The payment amount will be divided in 30 installments, with each installment amounting to Thirteen billion, three hundred thirty-three million, three hundred thirty-three thousand, three hundred thirty-three (US$13,333,333.33.)The payment schedule however, as stated in a provision in the contract, will be determined by China and cannot be disobeyed or changed by the Philippines. There is the possibility here that China can demand payment of two, three or four installments in one year and can create payment difficulties for the Philippines.

c. The Philippines will pay a Management Fee of 0.2% of the amount borrowed, or US$800,000 sixty (60) days after the contract signing. Apart from this, the Philippines will pay a Commitment Fee which is the same amount per annum, also 60 days after the signing. The Philippines will also pay US$10,000.00 for the preparations and ratification of the loan agreement.

d.The said loan is what will be utilized for the PNR-MRP project for which the only designated contractor is the China Machinery and Equipment Corporation which is owned by the Chinese government.

It's patently clear that the provisions on the loan conditionalities alone are enough to drive the country even deeper in debt. At the minimum, the Philippines will be paying double the amount it is borrowing, and the country's foreign debt (already pegged at US$57 million) will again grow exponentially if debt payments are delayed;

The following contemptible conditions are also stated in the contract:

a. The Philippines cannot cancel or rescind its part of the contract;
b. All the taxes and fees for various permits necessary for the construction and completion of the project will be shouldered by the Philippines;
c. The laws to govern the contact will be the laws of China, and not of the Philippines, and in the case of any foul-up, the Philippines can be charged by Chinese courts;
d. The Philippines waives control over its assets. This means that the Chinese government can sheriff and take control over the assets of the Philippines with the exemption of diplomatic missions, military installations, and facilities that are "for public use." Apart from this, China can also take control of the Philippines' natural resources, as well as government-owned and controlled corporations and the like;
e. Any loss in profit, financial damages and other expenses that will be incurred as a result of the failure of the Philippines to obey the provisions of the contract will be shouldered by the Philippines;

Mr. Speaker, simula pa noong termino ng Rehimeng Ramos, ang proyekto modernisasyon ng PNR ay may buo ng konsepto at plano sa ilalim ng Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) nito. Nakabalangkas ang MTPDP bilang isang huwad na pangkaunlarang plano sa pagkakapasok ng Pilipinas sa General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) at iba pang maka-isang panig na economic and trade agreements kasama ang ibang bansa. Sa simula pa lang, ang multi-bilyong proyekto sa riles ay pangunahin ng nakaasa sa pamumuhunan at pangungutang sa mga dayuhan.



Simula pa 2003 pilit ng itinatago sa kaalaman ng sambayanan ang nilalaman ng “sell-out” at makaisang panig na kasunduang ito na kung saan tahasang niyuyurakan ang soberanya ng bansa at higit na maglulubog sa bayan sa pagkakautang sa mga dayuhan. At ngayon, bumulagta sa ating lahat ang pagkakalantad ng lihim na pakikipagkasundo ng pamahalaang Arroyo sa China at Korea na silang mga partners ng Pilipinas sa proyektong pa-riles.



Upang maiwasan ang mga malawakang protesta na ibubunga ng proyekto, nagpapalaganap ang pamahalaang Arroyo ng malawakang panlilinlang tungkol sa proyekto. Pinagsanib ang iba’t-ibang ahensya na pinamumunuan ni Bise-Presidente Noli de Castro at kinumtsaba ang mga Local Government Units at mga grupong kunwariy nagbabantay sa riles at humihingi ng relokasyon para sa mga apektado.



Walang kahihiyang ipinapahayag ni Bise- Presidente Noli de Castro na isinasaayos nila ang relokasyon ng mga residente sa tabing riles at ipinagyayabang pa na may nakalaang pondo na matatanggap ang mga maralita sa daang bakal.



Taliwas sa kasungalingang ito ang kalunos-lunos na kalagayan sa ngayon ng mga naninirahan sa tent sa Bayugo, Meycauan, Bulacan at yaong mga pinatapon sa Panghulo, Malabon, Bignay, Valenzuela at sa Townsvile, San Jose del Monte Bulacan. Dagdag pa rito ang mga nagpapalaboy ngayong mga pamilya na walang matirhan dulot ng pasistang demolisyon sa daang bakal.



Sa panimula ng panlilinlang, may kuntsabahan ang LGU, NHA at mga grupong nagpapanggap na maka-mahirap para lokahin ang mga maralita sa daang bakal. Sinasabi nila sa mga residenteng may malaking halaga silang matatanggap kung sila’y boluntaryong maggigiba kanilang bahay. Kasabay nito ang pananakot na kung hindi sila agad aalis, mauubusan sila ng magandang puwesto, hindi na makakakuha ng tulong pinansyal, at sa malaon ay sapilitan din namang palalayasin



Ang katotohanan, walang mahahawakang pera ang mga napapalayas sa daang bakal. Ang ilang mauuna ay ipakikitang binigyan ng P11,000. Ito ay upang magsunuran ang iba pa sa paggiba ng kanilang bahay. Matapos maisagawa ang gibaan,patitirahin sila sa isang tent na ipahihiram lamang sa loob ng 5 araw sa isang relokasyon na walang serbisyo sa tubig, walang kuryente at walang kubeta.



Ang ilang papalaring makakuha ng relokasyon ay hindi dapat pumalya sa pagbabayad ng upa. Sa maikling sabi, dahil wala ngang regular na kita, ang maralitang ni-relocate ay palalayasin din kalaunan.



Mr. Speaker, walang sapat na pondo para sa relokasyon. Para pa lang sa Phase I, Section 1 ng Northrail o ang proyekto mula sa Caloocan hanggang Malolos- kinakailangan na ng US$82 million (P5 bilyon) para sa relokasyon ng mahigit 20,000 pamilyang naninirahan sa daang bakal. Ang halagang ito ay counterpart ng Pilipinas sa proyekto na ang ibig sabihin ay hindi maaring ibawas sa pondong inutang sa China.



Everyone knows that the government’s finances is in the red. Taong 2003 pa ay mayroon na itong budget deficit na nagkakhalaga ng P200 milyon. Sa sumunod na taon lalo pang lumala ang kalagayang ito dahil sa paglustay ng pamahalaan ng kanyang pondo para gamitin sa kampanya ni Gng. Arroyo noong nakaraang eleksyon. Kaya naman ng mapilitang itong umamin na nasa fiscal crisis ang bansa, at desperado itong nagpapataw ng kaliwa’t kanang buwis at magkandarapa na mang-aakit ng dayuhang pamumuhunan at pangungutang.



Kung gayon, saan kukunin ng pamahalaan ang ganito kalaking halaga. Maging ang NHA ay aminadong wala itong ganoon kalaking halaga at na kailangan pang mangutang ng panibago para may maipanggastos para dito.



Kung walang sapat na pondo ang pamahalaan para sa relokasyon ng 20,000 pamilya sa kahabaan ng Phase I Section I pa lang ng riles mula Caloocan hanggang Malolos, paano pa ito magkakaroon ng pondo para sa 85,000 pamilya na nasa kahabaan ng riles mula Caloocan hanggang Alabang?



Mr. Speaker, walang sinuman ang nagnanais na manirahan sa maingay at peligrosong lugar gaya ng tabing riles. Ngunit dahil sa inkapasidad ng gobyernong ito na lumikha ng desente at nakabubuhay na trabaho, marami ang napilitang mapadpad at manirahan sa daang bakal at iba pang mapanganib na lugar.



Hangga’t nanatiling laganap ang kawalan ng trabaho, hangga’t nanatiling limos ang sahod ng mga manggagawa, at habang ang mga magsasaka’y patuloy na nasasadlak sa hirap dahil sa kawalan ng sariling lupang sinasaka- magpapatuloy na maninirahan ang maraming mamamayan maging sa mga pinakamarumi at pinakapeligrosong lugar sa kalunsuran.



Mr. Speaker, mga kagalang-galang na kinatawan, ang Philippine National Railways ay isang pampublikong industriya sa transportasyon na dapat sanang nagsisilbi sa mamamayan bilang bahagi ng serbisyong panlipunan ng pamahalaan. Ngunit dahil taksil sa interes ng sambayanan ang bangkaroteng rehimeng Arroyo, ang solusyon nito ay patakarang pribatisasyon imbis sa serbisyong panlipunan.Dahil sa pribatisasyon, walang pusong ginigib ang mga bahay ng libo-libong maralita, mabigyang daan lang ang ma-anomalyang at maka-isang panig na proyekto.



The Philippine government's involvement in this contract with China constitutes a national betrayal as the government surrenders national sovereignty and patrimony to China. The Philippine government led by Mrs. Arroyo has put up the country's natural resources and other assets as collateral and financial guarantee for a project that will not benefit the Filipino people but instead provide greater convenience to foreign investors at the expense of Philippine laws and the welfare of hundreds of thousands of residents.



Finally, Mr. Speaker, this Representation would like to assert that the President is impeachable for signing this contract with China. She abused her authority as executive and bypassed the authority of other branches of govenrment to scrutinize and decide on the nature of this contract and its impact not only on the economy, the country’s foreign policy, but on the very lives and furture of millions of Filipinos. This issue alone when fully exposed and explained to the public is enough to convince those remaining Filipinos who have not yet taken a stand to demand Pres. Arroyo’s impeachment and immediate removal from office. The approval of this anomalous project is included in the impeachment complaint Anakpawis supports, the same complaint that will be heard this coming Wednesday. This is all Mr. Speaker, thank you and good evening.#






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