Wednesday, November 30, 2005

NR1201:Arroyo allies deliberately delaying Garci investigations as Xmas break nears

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release December 1, 2005

Arroyo allies deliberately delaying Garci investigations as Xmas break nears; Garcillano being treated tolerated with Malacanang's blessings

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today said that leaders of Congress are evidently treating ex-Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano with kid gloves. He said that considering that Garcillano is the main, most important witness in the Hello, Garci investigations, it was patently obvious that Congress leaders allied with Malacanang are not in any clear hurry to compel Garcillano to surface.

"This is more like a slow dance where Macapagal-Arroyo allies in the House are swaying gently to Garcillano's rythm. If it weren't for the relentlessness of the Opposition in demanding that Congress take immediate action on Garcillano, there would hardly be any action done to haul Garcillano forward," he said.

"If it were up to Malacanang and its allies in the House, the Hello, Garci issue would be dead and buried, and Garcillano can just fade away into anonymity. "

"It's difficult to not suspect that Congress is deliberately being slow in its measures to compel Garcillano to surface and appear before proper investigations. The Christmas break is fast approaching, and the delays are deliberate to make sure that the investigations into the tapes do not reopen until after the Christman break," he said.

The veteran labor leader challenged Macapagl-Arroyo allies to announce that the investigations into the Garci tape with Garcillano already attending will proceed even during the Christmas break. "Will Arroyo allies allow this? The issue is quite big and has serious implications on the immediate future of the presidency and its political governance. Will Arroyo's allies in the House give this issue the importance it deserves and proceed with the the investigations even during the break?"

Beltran said that Garcillano should not be allowed to live a normal life ever again so long as he refuses to come forward and give his testimony regarding the contents of taped conversations and what they imply. "He will run out of excuses eventually. It is to his best interest that he come forward and testify. He should be arrested and held on charges of obstruction of justice for evading the investigations for the last six months,' he said.#

NR1201:On Thaksin's charges that SEAG rigged

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release December 1, 2005

RP govt should demand an apology from Thai Premier for Pinoy athletes; GMA reputation as electoral cheat must have influenced Thaksin's comment on supposed SEAG rigging

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today expressed outrage over the insulting allegation Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra made against Philippine athletes. Shinawatra has alleged that the Philippines has rigged the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in favor of its own athletes.

Beltran said that even as the Macapagal-Arroyo admnistration says that it will conduct investigations into the allegations, the government should still demand a public apology from Thaksin, given that the latter's statements are damaging and malicious.

"His allegation is a serious insult against our athletes who have trained very hard for the SEAG. The victories they have been getting are well-deserved.They overcame so many obstacles just to be able to compete, regardless of the sorry lack of govenrment support for competitive sports. On the other hand, it's not farfetched that that Thailand and the other SEA nations feel justified in making such insulting, loose comments about the credibility of our judging system even in the sports area because the Philippines' own highest official is thoroughly lacking in credibility and legitimacy," he said.

"It's tragic and infuriating at the same time that because of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her illegitimate leadership, other sectors of our society are being suspected of being composed of cheaters and underhanded players," he said.

"Thaksin is most likely also making allusions to the fact that if the president of the Philippines was elected only through massive electoral fraud and poll manipulation, it's not farfetched that even our athletes are also cheaters," he fumed.

"It's not a secret in the SEA community that there's a serious ongoing political crisis in the Philippines and it involves the president. Thaksin, reputed to be a shrewed and even relentless leader with strong tendencies towards fascism, is being malicious and using this as basis for his allegations against our athletes."
The veteran labor leader turned legislator also said that it was also possible that the involvement of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo also has a negative impact on the games' reputation and credibility. He said that Arroyo's image as a supposed jueteng lord and his supposed involvement in various corrupt schemes on behalf of the his wife's administration must also bring a pall over the games.

"Next thing we know, other SEA leaders would be implying that the Philippines has established a giant gambling ring connected to the outcome of the SEAG and that the RP goverment is laying down multi-million bets on its own athletes and thus the game rigging,' he concluded.#

NR1130:Expose political ambitions and motives of Charter change proponents

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 30,2005

Expose political ambitions and motives of Charter change proponents; Constitutional Crisis to explode if Congress insist on amending Charter on its own - Rep.Beltran

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that if Congress insists on imposing it will on the Filipino people by pushing for amendments to the Philippine Constitution and restructuring its protectionist provisions, it should be accountable for treason.He said that lawmakers pushing for charter change and advocating the removal of the provisions of the constitution prohibiting majority ownership of foreigners of Philippine land,resources and corporations especially in the vital industries were party to treason.

"They are essentially putting the Philippines up for sale,making it completely vulnerable and available for the exploitation and abuse of foreign corporations and their local big business partners. This is the main agenda of those pushing for charter change -- to legalize the wholesale plunder of the Philippines and its resources by foreign corprations and big business.What else can this be considered but a blatant and shameless betrayal of the national interest?,"he said.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that for the sake of the Filipino people and the generations to come, the Senate should thwart this plot emanating from Congress.He said that there were no moral or legal reasons as to why the agenda of the House should be supported. "This is strictly a self-serving thing.There is no way the Filipino people can benefit fromCharter Change.It's being embarked upon by allies of Macapagal-Arroyo as an opportunist tactic: the proponents are taking advantage of the public's preoccupation with political crisis directed against the illegitimate executive to ram though this most anti-people agenda,"he said.

Beltran said that the business/economic and political interests of the Charter Change proponents in the House shouldbe exposed.He said that proponents of Charter Change keep citing the Filipino people and their supposed will and demand for amendments to the Constitution,"But in truth its only the congressmen who are eager for charter change.Their reasons for pushing for amendments in the country's economic and political structures are highly suspect and they should be exposed. They appear to have much to gain either in terms of economic wealth or political influence and clout if the moves to amend the Constitution push through,"he said.

He appealed to members of the Senate to stand relentlessly against Charter Change and refuse to cooperate with Congress on the matter. "There will be a constitutional crisis before long. Congress is abusing and exploiting its duty and powers and using them to perpetuate the self-serving political ambitions and economic aspirations of Charter change proponents.These lawmakers who support Charter change are putting their own self-interests way ahead of the country and the Filipino people's."#

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

NR1129:Malacanang and Garcillano's inconsistencies

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 29, 2005

"Hello, Garci" scandal - Nothing has been settled, no one has been cleared and GMA is still in hot water - Rep. Beltran

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today said that Malacanang presidential adviser Gabby Claudio's offer of legal assistance to ex-Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano severely contradicts presidential spokesperson Ignacio Bunye's statement that Malacanang will not interfere or even comment on Garcillano's declarations. He said that this difference between Claudio and Bunye's statements reveal that Malacanang is more or less at a loss as to how to handle Garcillano and the potential damage he can wreak should he decide to surrender to Congress and deliver a full account of what took place in the May 2004 elections.

"In any case, it's evident that Macapagal-Arroyo's problems are far from over. Garcillano has not yet made a full account of the May 2004 election and the massive fraud he helped perpetrate upon the bidding of the incumbent executive. Nothing has been settled, and no one has been cleared. Garcillano is most likely lying through his teeth about his not leaving the country in the last six months and about not orchestrating electoral fraud in 2004 -- and the more lies he issues, the worse it will be not only for him but for Macapagal-Arroyo as well. The seed of doubt against Macapagal-Arroyo has long sprouted and grown into a sturdy tree, and Garcillano's lies all the more strengthens it. The longer Garcillano refuses to surface and give a proper testimony at the appropriate legal venue, the bigger Malacanang's problems will be," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that Malacanang is now in a quandary, whether it will discourage Garcillano from speaking, or compelling him to continue issuing his lies. "Either way, the backlash will be severe, both against Garcillano and Macapagal-Arroyo. Neither party has gotten their stories right, and the public is getting angrier and frustrated by the minute with their inconsistencies," he said.

Beltran said that Congress should immediately reconvene the committees investigating the Hello, Garci tapes and reinstate the bounty on Garcillano as well as lay down the warrant for his arrest. "Garcillano is giving the entire country the runaround. What he's doing is blatant obstruction of justice. He should be considered a fugitive from justice and immediately arrested when located," he said.

In the meantime, Beltran said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) conclusion of its probe into the alleged involvement of some of its top officers in the "Hello Garci" scandal was suspicious in its timing apart from the fact that the probe has not produced any positive results. The five-member fact-finding board headed by Inspector General Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga turned over its findings to AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Generoso Senga last week amid reports that Garcillano had reappeared after hiding for months.

"Nothing happened to the AFP's probe on the military men whose names were mentioned in the tapes.It appears that the probe itself was implemented only to pacify the public and make it appear that the AFP is not sleeping on the watch and condoning any corrupt practice of its officials. It was just an investigation in form -- the board won't even consider going after Garcillano and get the truth directly from him about the officers whose names he mentioned in his taped conversations," he said.#

Saturday, November 26, 2005

NR1126: Solon slams Meralco's lies about the rate hikes and EVAT

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 26, 2005

Solon says Meralco lying against its rate hikes and EVAT

Anakpawis Repressentative Crispin Beltran today said that there is nothing to be grateful for about the Energy Regulatory Commission's postponement on its decision regarding Meralco’s latest petition for a 14.76-centavo per kilowatt hour (kWh) rate hike.Meralco filed the petition in June. If implemented, it would add P29.52 to the monthly billing statement of a household that consumes 200 kWh. According to reports, the ERC will come up with the decision early next year.
"Meralco has already jacked its rates and it continues to increase them on a regular basis because of the unbundled rating scheme and the expanded value-added tax. The supposed delay in the implementation a new rate increase is nothing to be glad about because electricity rates are always on a steady rise anyway. There is nothing to thank the ERC or Meralco for," he said.

The ERC recently adopted Resolution 20 allowing power-generating companies, distribution utilities and the National Transmission Corp. to impose the 10-percent VAT on electricity sales. .Meralco customers will already be paying the 73-centavo rate hike reflecting the EVAT in December. The law imposes a 10-percent VAT on power and petroleum which were previously exempted.

"If the ERC was really concerned about the public welfare, it could have delayed even for a year the implementation of its Resolution 20 on the application of the EVAT on power, but it didn't. For all their denials, Meralco will still be slicing off considerable profits from the 73-centavo rate hike because of the EVAT. This is a done deal between the Macapagal-Arroyo government and the power and oil companies: they all want to bleed more profits at the expense of consumers via the EVAT," he said.

Beltran said that the ERC and Meralco are fooling no one with their statements and even advertisements regarding the EVAT and how Meralco is supposedly getting nothing from it. According to the various TV and radio ads it's been airing, Meralco will not benefit from the EVAT and that every centavo collected from the EVAT will go straight to the national govenrment.

"This is an added insult to the great injury that Meralco continues to cause its customers and the general public. Does Meralco think it's fooling anyone with this tripe? The computations for the rate hike are strictly between Meralco and the ERC, and between them, they can cook up and justify any formula they want and have Meralco skim off money from the EVAT collections in the process. It's most likely that Meralco will not be immediately remitting any EVAT collections to the national govenrment at the soons possible time. Ther's no genuine transparency in the way Meralco computes and adjusts its rates, and throwing in the EVAT, there'll be more magic tricks involved," he concluded.#

NR1126:Garcillano should not be allowed to hide behind wire-tapping law

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 26, 2005

Garcillano should not be allowed to hide behind wire-tapping law

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today said that former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano's continuing refusal to surface and make a public accounting for his supposed role in massive electoral fraud in May 2004 should be held in contempt. "Garcillano is guilty of obstructing justice. As an employee of the govenrment, he has the rensposibility to give explanations regarding the various allegations and accusations against his office and even his person," he said.

"Garcillano is acting very much like a prima donna and this is beginning to grate on everyone's nerevs. He has caused enough trouble and his continuing coyness about surfacing and giving his testimony regarding the contents of the Hello, Garci tapes should not be tolerated one minute more."

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that either the Department of Justice or the Supreme Court should issue a subpoena and arrest warrant for Garcillano. "It's also quite curious that the DOJ and the SC remain relatively quiet on this matter. They're allowing Garcillano to play hide-and-seek at the public's expense. For months Garcillano along with one of his text and call-mates Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been at the center of the political storm, and his disappearance has created so many roadblocks in the search for the truth behind what really happened in May 2004.He should be arrested immediately and compelled to give his account of the tapes."

"DOJ secretary Gonzales is curiously mum and seems to have no will at all to go after a most wanted fugitive from justice which is what Garcillano is. Malacanang has most likely given orders to let Garcillano run around free - even under the very noses of the PNP, the DOJ and the SC," he said.

Beltran said that Garcillano's refusal to speak on his taped conversations with Arroyo and other politicians on the grounds that it was against the wire-tapping law all the more compounds his crimes.

"Wire-tapping law or not, if Garcillano really wants to clear his name and reputation he should account for the controversial contents of the tape. He cannot be allowed to hide behind the wire-tapping law and evade the greater issue: massive electoral fraud he allegedly perpetrated on behalf of Macapagal-Arroyo and members of her slate," he said. #

NR1124:Lawmakers, transport groups and consumers unite against oil deregulation

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 24, 2005House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Lawmakers, transport groups and consumers unite against oil deregulation; chastise Congress for failure to address worsening oil crisis

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today sponsored a public forum in the House of Representatives on the worsening oil crisis brought about by the unending oil price hikes. He was joined by invited guests Sen. Jamby Madrigal; Mr. Cris Elgario, President pf the LPG Dealers Association of the Philippines; Prof. Danilo Arao, spokesperson of Kontra-Kartel; Mr. Arnold Padilla of the independent IBON Foundation; Mar Garvida, president of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytors Nationwide (PISTON); and Carmen Deunida, National chairperson of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap.

Also invited were spokespersons from the oil companies Shell, Caltex, Petron and small dealers Total Philippines and Flying V. Solons sympathetic to the call for the junking of oil deregulation have also been invited.

Sen. Madrigal has been invited to share her stand on oil deregulation and the oil prices hikes. Sen. Madrigal is the author of the bill scrapping oil deregulation in the Senate.

Beltran said that Congress has not prioritized legislative measures that aim to solve the worsening oil crisis. He said that there were already pending bills calling for the scrapping of the oil deregulation law and the nationalization of the local oil industry. “There is a pressing need to review oil deregulation. The impact on consumers and drivers are already devastating. Small oil players are also negatively affected by oil deregulation.”

“Congress has acted on none of these measures. It’s a great disservice to consumers and the rest of the Filipino people that Congress continues to ignore the strong clamor for the review and scrapping of the oil deregulation law. This infamous law is at the core of the relentless oil price hikes that consequently send the prices of basic commodities and rates of utility services such as electricity and transportation soaring, “he said.

“The relentless oil price hikes are taking their vicious toll on the public. Jeepney drivers organizations cannot be blamed for wanting to raise transport fares because of the high gasoline prices. Consumers, in the meantime, are ill-equipped to cope with the increasing costs of prices of basic goods. What is the government doing about this? Nothing! All we hear from the Department of Energy are roundabout explanations that head nowhere and resort to nothing. The measly rollbacks and discounts on oil and petroleum in certain gas stations in the Metropolis are essentially useless,” he said. #

NR1124:Garcillano should be placed under the custody of religious groups, the Church

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 24, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Garcillano should be placed under the custody of religious groups, the Church; investigations into tapes must continue

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that controversial ex-Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano should not be allowed to be taken into the custody of Malacanang lest his life be placed in greater danger and his burgeoning resolve to give his say on the content of his taped conversations pointing towards massive electoral fraud in May 2004 be shaken or compromised.

“Garcillano has a greater chance of surviving if he seeks sanctuary with church or religious groups. His safety must be secured and all measures to guarantee this must be initiated. After all this time, he must have realized that the longer he remains silent and in hiding, the worse the repercussions on him and his family will be. He will never be able to live a normal life unless this issue is settled once and for all,” he said. “If Garcillano has any hope of clearing his name and his reputation, it will rely on his willingness to be finally upfront and honest regarding the May 2004 elections and whatever dirty tasks and tricks he was assigned and ordered to implement.”

Beltran said that if Malacanang was behind Garcillano’s surfacing and if the Palace was plotting to make Garcillano give false testimonies that will deflect the main blame from Macapagal-Arroyo, “This will be immediately be exposed, and Macapagal-Arroyo will be in an even greater fix. The electoral fraud perpetrated by the highest official of the land is the main issue here – much more than Garcillano’s dealings with other politicians. What all this proves is that elections in this country are so easy to manipulate by the corrupt rich and powerful,” he said.

“Garcillano better watch his step. If he does implement any scheme of Malacanang, he will only be digging a deeper hole for himself.”

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that the House Committees tasked with investigating the Hello, Garci tape scandal should reconvene and reopen the investigations given that Garcillano has already surfaced. “The key witness has already surfaced and has expressed his willingness to give his explanations regarding his taped conversations. If he lies and perjures himself, there will be hell to pay. All other witnesses must also be invited once more to prepare for the continuation of the hearings. This is the most logical and expected step.”

He expressed outrage over the replacement of Rep. Gilbert Remulla as chair of the committee on public information, saying that Remulla was an able and efficient chairman and the investigations under his facilitation were credible despite a few setbacks.

“Rep. Remulla was an able committee chairman, and it’s a great loss to the committee not to mention the investigations on the Garci tapes that he should be replaced. We can only hope that his replacement, Rep. Talino-Santos would be as fair and efficient as he was. Rep. Talino-Santos would do well to immediately call for the reopening of the investigations,” he said.#

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

NR1122: For the sake of the Filipino people and the national interest, the Senate should continue ignoring Cha cha

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 22, 2005

For the sake of the Filipino people and the national interest, the Senate should continue ignoring Congressmen’s call for Charter Change – Rep. Beltran

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today said that the Charter Change agenda constitutes treason against the Philippines and the Filipino people, and pointed out that all lawmakers who support to amend the Constitution by removing all protectionist provisions in to pave the way for a 100 percent liberalized Philippine economy will be known in history as traitors to the national interest.

“For the sake of the Filipino people and the national interest, we hope that the Senate continues to dismiss the moves for Charter change emanating from Congress. There are infinitely more important, more urgent issues the country’s lawmakers should attend to, and amending the Constitution is not one of them. If congressmen are really sincere in wanting what’s best for their respective constituencies, they should support the calls for increases in wages and salaries for workers and government employees; the scrapping of the oil deregulation law and rollback of oil prices; and the nationalization of the electric and power industry to bring down electricity costs. This charter change plot is elitist and anti-people,” he said.

Beltran said that the Charter Change agenda is a heinous plot to further rape the country and legalize this rape. “The proponents of Charter Change seek to overhaul the highest law of the land and make it fit the over-all economic and financial agenda of foreign big business and their local partners. This is a matter of making the Philippines fully accessible and vulnerable to the rapacious greed of foreign big business who want to completely exploit the country’s resources and manpower. The political restructuring of the government under an amended charter, meanwhile, is to establish a government that will rubber-stamp all economic reforms that will spell superprofits for the ruling elite on the one hand, and devastation for the poor and working people.”

“It’s a moot debate, the issue of whether the government system should be changed to parliamentary from presidential. So long as the same political elite remain in power, with their stranglehold over the economy and all seats of governance, there can never be progress in the Philippines. The country will forever remain poor and the people under the yoke of economic deprivation and political repression. The only ones pushing for Charter change are the very same individuals and groups who want unhampered political power so they can consolidate their economic wealth further at the expense of the poor majority.”

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that when in comes down to the brass tacks, Charter Change proponents were already violating the rules of Congress and the very laws of the land that criminalize actions inimical to public welfare and interest. “Charter Change proponents in the House are breaking the rules of Congress. They’ve twisted and manipulated Congressional procedures and rules pertaining to the passage of resolutions and committee reports just so they can proceed with their Charter Change agenda,” he said. #

Monday, November 21, 2005

NR1122:Issue of Political Killings should be brought directly to Malacanang's doorstep

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 22, 2005

Issue of Political Killings should be brought directly to Malacanang’s doorstep; Congress should at least issue expressions of outrage and sympathy for murder of civilians

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today expressed outrage over the relentless attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Macapagal-Arroyo government against political activists, journalists, and other unarmed civilians. He said that the recent murders of a journalist, a Bayan leader, a leader of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and her husband, and the massacre of seven farmers in Palo town, Leyte should be brought directly to the doorstep of Malacanang.

“Only this government is capable of such brutality in this country,” he said. “There can be no other suspects but the operatives and mercenary forces directly under the command and authority of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. Macapagal-Arroyo herself condones these killings on national media and justifies them as part of her government campaign against terrorism, when it’s patently clear that the victims are unarmed, non-combatant civilians. She has said and done very little by way of condemning this spate of political killings and assassinations, and by keeping her lips tightly closed on this matter she encourages the military to continue their rampage. Her hands are drenched with the blood of her countless victims. She is the commander-in-chief of the AFP, she should be directly held responsible for these deaths.”

Beltran said that the AFP is trying to justify the cold-blooded murder of civilians by saying that their victims are supporters of the NPA. “The seven farmers in Palo were civilians, non-combatants. They were killed because they were opposing the landlord of Barangay San Agustin’s refusal to recognize the rights of the farmers to the land. To brand them as members of the NPA was the only way the AFP could justify their cold-blooded murder.”

“These killings are brutally reminiscent of the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship when civilians and activists were abducted and summarily executed. What’s appallingly worse in the case of the killings under the incumbent regime is that Macapagal-Arroyo did not even need to impose martial law to execute this continuing series of killings against political activists who are among her strongest critics. Under Macapagal-Arroyo, the military has done away with all pretense of being protectors of the law and instead has taken to killing unarmed civilians. The military is venting its frustration over its failure to defeat the New People’s Army (NPA) on non-combatants and ordinary civilians.”

The veteran labor leader turned legislator also took the leadership of the House of Representatives to task for not even issuing a statement regarding the killings. He said that Congress also remains silent on the rash of killings taking place in the various regions, “As if nothing was happening and everything is normal,” he pointed out. “We hope that Speaker Jose de Venecia will stop ignoring these killings and take action, even if only to lead Congress into expressing sympathy for the victims. All these months that the activist lawmakers of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Womens’ Party have been sounding the alarm over the seemingly endless series of killings, Congress has not taken action.” #

NR1121: Fertilizer fund probe no big deal if only Lawmakers will make an honest public accounting

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 21, 2005

Fertilizer fund probe no big deal if only Lawmakers will make an honest public accounting of how they disbursed their respective allocations; grudge match between the Senate and the House serves to deflect issue away from Malacanang

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that investigations into the P152 M fertilizer scam involving influential members of the House of Representatives should be pursued up to its logical conclusion and the masterminds behind it brought to light.

He said that it was most suspicious that up to now, former undersecretary Jocelyn ‘Jocjoc’ Bolante is still missing and has yet to make a statement on the issue. "Bolante, like her equally controversial fellow official Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcilliano, has mysteriously disappeared. She’s a key witness to this fertilizer scam and her testimony will without doubt clear the issue once and for all. Her testimony could also land a lot of influential personalities in the doghouse.”

“Bolante’s mysterious disappearance all the more strengthens the allegations that this fertilizer issue is not all black and white and aboveboard. It’s not unlikely that Malacanang is also behind her disappearance, the same way the Palace has also orchestrated Garcilliano’s disappearance,” he said.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that Malacanang’s attempts to wash its hands of responsibility for the fertilizer scam should be thwarted. “This is so like Malacanang to try and weasel itself out of a sticky situation. The funds released supposedly for the purchase and distribution of fertilizer to congressman clearly constitute a massive bribe considering they were given out only a few short months before the 2004 elections. Macapagal-Arroyo and her various spokespersons cannot just wave away their responsibility to account for the funds, the motives behind their release and the suspicious timing behind all of it,” he said.

“The still unresolved issue of electoral fraud perpetrated by Macapagal-Arroyo could also be connected to the fertilizer scam. There are already allegations that the fertilizer funds were actually funneled into the election campaign of the incumbent executive, including the dirty tricks department. If all of this were aboveboard, Malacanang should lose no time to call on its allies in Congress to make a public accounting of their utilization of the fertilizer find funds,” he said.

Beltran said that it was not likely that congressmen will willingly volunteer information regarding their receipt of their fertilizer fund allocations and how these were disbursed to their respective constituencies. He said, however, that solons who have nothing to hide should come forward and make a public accounting of how they utilized the funds and present proof. “There really is no need to be defensive about this issue. It is only a matter of auditing and honest release of accounts.”

“This is the duty of lawmakers – to explain to the public and their constituencies how they make use of public funds done to the last centavo. Even without the prodding of the senate, it is still incumbent among congressmen to account for their expenditures and disbursement of public funds,” he said. “The fact that this has all developed into a grudge match between the senate and the congress with members of both houses trading accusations against each other serves to deflect the attention from those mainly responsible for the scam – Malacanang and its operators,” he concluded.#

NR1118: One-month delay in EVAT increase nothing to rejoice for

From the Office of Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran
News Release November 18, 2005

One-month delay in EVAT increase nothing to rejoice for; More Filipinos to disappear under the poverty line

Anakpawis Representative Crispin beltran today expressed outrage anew over what he termed was the Macapagal-Arroyo government's "ruthlessness' in imposing the new expanded value added tax law. The value-added tax on goods and services will be raised from 10 percent to 12 percent on February 1 a month later than originally planned.

Beltran said that the one-month delay in the implementation of the additional 2 percent increase was essentially meaningless for consumers becase manufacturers and the oil companies have already computed the increases in their prices and rates. "The one-month delay is nothing. The EVAT's immediate impact even before it was first implemented on November 1 was to send prices soaring. Consumers are already in shock by how even more expensive basic commodities are; and it's no comfort at all that they will shoulder the added 2 percent in the EVAT in February instead of January 2006. It's all the same to consumers, given how helpless they are against the VAT with only their small wages to help tide them over."

Beltran said that the Macapagal-Arroyo government's determination to generate revenues was without doubt at the expense of the Filipino people and their economic welfare. "For whom is this government in such a desperate hurry to accumulate funds? The VAT collections will not be going to social services at all, but to foreign debt payments and the pockets of corrupt government officials especially those in Malacanang, and those close to the illegitimate incumbent executive," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that that Malacanang and the Department of Finance's haste to pacify and reaasure big businesses over the EVAT increase delay was callous and contemptible.

"Has Malacanang and the Finance department done any study or research as to how these new tax impositions will impact on the poor and the unemployed? On the low-income earners and the underemployed? They have done nothing to assure or assist the poor majority at the face of the the EVAT's onslaught. There have been no genuine, substantial wage and salary increases in the public and private sector for the last six years, and the people have no other means for survival against the impact of the EVAT but their measly incomes. Millions more Filipinos are sure to sink under the poverty line because of theEVAT. The EVAT is a victory for the exploitative businesses and their corrupt partners in government, and a brutal punishment against all poor and working-class Filipinos," he said. #

NR1118:DOJ, DFA incompetence on rape case involving 6 Marines

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 18, 2005

DFA, DOJ's outrageous incompetence in rape case involving 6 US Marines only reflects Malacanang's lack of determination and its subservience to US authorities

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration's failure to secure the six US Marines who raped a 22-year old Filipina earlier this month is further grounds to denounce the incumbent illegitimate executive and demand her removal from office.

"Macapagal-Arroyo's underlings and henchmen such as justice secretary Raul Gonzales and the officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) are only taking their cure from their boss in this issue. Macapagao-Arroyo has once more exposed her true loyalties in the way she did not jump on the ball on this viciousness the US marines have committed against one of her constituents. Macapagal-Arroyo has been weak and wishy-washy on her stand on this rape case, and the likes of Gonzales can only be the same. If the head of state cannot even issue a strong declaration and call for justice and immediate retribution for the victim who is one of her constituents, what else can be expected of her underlings?,"he said.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that the cards were already laid on the tabl, and it's Malacanang who has dealt them. "Chances are the six US Marines will be out of the country before Christmas. They'll rescued by their own government who has said and done nothing to even apologize to the Philippine government or the Filipino people for this heinous crime perpetrated by its troops," he said.

"The DFA and the DOJ are also to blame for this roadshow of incompetence and lack of genuine determination to seek justice for the victim; but for the most part the blame should go to Macapagal-Arroyo," he added.

Beltran said that the least the Philippine government can do is immediately suspend the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and work towards its final scrapping. "This rape case and the arrogant and shameless conduct of the US military and civilian authorities in securing the perpetrators is more than enough reason to junk the VFA.It's as clear as day that the Philippines gains nothing but loses so much under the VFA, and the US government cares little or nothing for its disastrous impact on Philippine politics or socio-cultural affairs. The longer the Philippine government under Macapagal-Arroyo maintains such military agreements such as the VFA with an arrogant, abusive and exploitative government such as the US, the worse the Philippines' internal security will be," he concluded.#

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nr1117:Protests against new meralco rate hike should also be directed against GMA

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 17, 2005

Protests against new electricity rate hike must directed against GMA, not just Meralco and monopolies in electricity industry

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today strong denounced the plans of power distributor Meralco to raise its rates by 10 percent or as much P108.35 for customers consuming 200 kilowatt hours per month. Billing of large residential consumers with 300 to 700 kwh monthly consumption are expected to shell out P169 to P437 more. These increases are due to EVAT and on top of it is the National Power Corporation's power rate increase through the Generation Rate Adjustment Mechanism (GRAM). Meralco's new rates will be reflected in the December billing."

"Higher electricity rates imposed by giant power distributor Meralco will mean a bleak Christmas for its 22 million consumers who are already heavily burdened by Meralco's already exorbitant rates and the new EVAT. This only goes to prove that Macapagal-Arroyo's ever-worsening uselessness as president. She had stood idly by as Meralco continued to jack its rates and undermine the economic welfare of its costumers. Protests against the new electricity rate increase must also be directed against Macapagal-Arroyo and not just against Meralco,” he said.

In January, power rates will increase again as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approves the NAPOCOR petition for cost recovery.

"There really is no basis to agree to Macapagal-Arroyo's essentially dubious calls for reconciliation and unity. The economic difficulties of the Filipino people continue to worsen under her corrupt and illegitimate leadership. Utility monopolies such as Meralco as coddled and spoiled by this corrupt administration at the expense of the Filipino people's welfare,” he concluded.#

Dissenting opinion of Rep. Beltran on Cha cha commitee report

No to Foreign Ownership of Mass Media!

Protect the National Patrimony!
Defend Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights!

Dissenting Opinion of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
On Committee Report No. 1065, re House Concurrent Resolution No. 26
16 November 2005

On August 2, 2005, Social Weather Station released the result of their survey on charter change: “seven in ten of adult Filipinos believe that there are no constitutional provisions which need to be changed at the moment.”

This representation of Anakpawis partylist shares the view of majority of Filipinos there are no constitutional provisions which need to be changed at the present time. This representation registers his opposition to Committee Report (CR) No. 1065 on House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) No. 26, “Concurrent Resolution calling Congress to convene jointly to propose amendments to, or revision of, the 1987 Constitution.” I am of the firm opinion that Charter Change is not the solution to the crises currently faced by the Filipino people, nor it will be a solution to the “continuing political instability and serious economic difficulties through the last eighteen (18) years.”

This representation’s opposition to CR 1065 is due to the following reasons:

1. CR 1065 is an amended CR 413. In the 9th committee meeting of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments (August 16, 2005), Committee Report No. 413 was reviewed, and upon motion of Rep. Mauricio Domogan, approved amendment to the committee report by changing the phrase “constitute themselves as a Constituent Assembly” to “ convene jointly.”

Amending a Committee Report is a clear violation of Section 38 (Committee Reports and Orders) paragraph 3 of the Rules of the House of Representatives (13th Congress), which states:

“Once a committee report is approved, the report and the corresponding measure it covers shall no longer be subject to any change, amendment or alteration, except correction (s) of typographical errors."

2. The revision of an already approved Committee report for the purpose of pushing constitutional amendments despite Senate’s disapproval is a clear violation of the Constitution, which provides for Congress as a bicameral legislature, voting separately, for the purposes of checks and balances.

Senate and the House of Representatives are co-equal bodies in a bicameral system, each house of Congress should vote separately, for one Congressman vote is not equal to one Senator vote.

CR 413 was revised in response to the Senate’s negative stance to Constitutional Amendment. In the revised resolution, Congress will convene jointly with the assumption of “voting jointly,” that is, 195 signatures may be enough to push for constitutional change.

3. There is no genuine public clamor to revise or change the Constitution at the present time. The recent survey of the Social Weather Station (August 2, 2005), shows that “seven in ten of adult Filipinos believe that there are no constitutional provisions which need to be changed at the moment.” The percentage notably increased from 59% in September 1992 to 70% in August of this year.

4. Changing the highest law of the land needs genuine public consultations and information dissemination. Consultations are supposed to be democratic. The Committee, however, did not invite anti-charter change resource persons in the committee deliberations. Moreover, the committee also approved to conduct massive information campaign on the pros and cons of the two modes of proposing amendments to the Constitution: Constituent Assembly and Constitutional Convention. Unfortunately, not one was realized—a clear violation of Section 26 paragraph 2 of the Rules of the House of Representatives:

“…committees shall establish appropriate systems and procedures to ensure that constituencies, sectors and groups whose interests are affected by any pending measure are given sufficient opportunities to be heard, pursue dialogues and consultation with affected sectors and constituencies, conduct researches and engage the services and assistance of experts and professionals from the public and private sectors as may be needed in the performance of their functions”

If the government afforded to sign a multi-million contract with US lobby firm Venable LLP, why can’t it afford to conduct massive information campaign to the Filipino people?

5. The shift from a presidential-unitary to a unicameral-federal system will mean nothing as long as the same elite families, parties and power brokers rule.

6. The “review of basic economic provisions to maximize the benefits and welfare of the people” means opening grounds for tighter monopoly control over the economy by foreign multinational corporations and even worse poverty for our people.

We fear the total removal of what remains of the nationalist provisions in the Constitution that protect local industries and jobs, and advance the cause of building a self-reliant, independent and strong national economy.

In essence, HCR 26 proposes a 60% Filipino, 40% foreign ownership of mass media from a 100% Filipino ownership in the present Constitution. We could expect even worse amendments should HCR 26 be approved.

7. The Arroyo administration supported the US war on Iraq and continues to allow joint military “trainings” in the country, which the Filipino people have long opposed since the Estrada administration. Tracing the history of U.S. intervention in the military affairs of the country reveals that opening the Constitution to amendments will likely dismantle the provisions on national sovereignty and Bill of Rights that protect civil liberties and democratic rights of the people.

We cannot allow Congress to break the House rules and the highest law of the land just to push for Constitutional amendments subservient to the interests of traditional politicians, big business groups and foreign capitalists. The people needs the enactment of laws that would truly improve, and not worsen their lives.

Last year, President Arroyo declared that the country is under fiscal crisis and that there is a need to generate additional revenues through the imposition of Sin Taxes, Tax Amnesty, Tax Incentives, Value Added Tax (VAT) rate increase, VAT exemption lifting and other revenue generating measures, all of which are additional burden to the majority of the Filipino people who are already in deep crisis due the relentless increases in prices of basic commodities and utilities (16x increase in oil prices for this year alone, increase in water and electricity rates). The government however, does not implement or impose any price control on basic utilities such as water, electricity and oil industries despite their skyrocketing prices the people can longer afford.

In direct contradiction to what it should be doing, the government pushes for privatization of all other basic industries to the detriment of the people. The government even passed laws contrary to the Constitution, to wit: Electric Power Industry Reform Act, Oil Deregulation Law of 1998, Mining Act of 1995, Foreign Investments Act of 1991, and Investors Lease Act of 1995 among others, which violate of Article 12 (National Economy and Patrimony) of the Constitution.

Aside from economic crisis, the country is also facing political crisis. The rift between the Senate and the House of Representatives undeniably affects the quality of laws passed, and exposes the rotten system of elite-governance in the country. This year the president faced an impeachment complaint, but despite junking of the complaint in Congress, a continuing public clamor for her removal from Malacañang continues in the streets, in academic institutions, in the business sector, among others.

What the country needs now are laws that will improve the economic conditions of the suffering masses. The six-year old call of the workers for a legislated wage increase is not yet approved in Congress. The government’s budget allocations for basic social services such as health, education, housing and agriculture remain low despite the increasing rate of illiteracy, homelessness, landlessness and people who cannot afford the high cost of medication and health services.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

NR1115:Malacanang dared to reveal ad campaign on bird flu; Palace wants to bombard the public with stories unconnected to political, economic crisis

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 15, 2005

Solon dares Malacanang reveal ad campaign on bird flu; says Palace wants to bombard the public with stories unconnected to political, economic crisis

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that said that Malacanang's dealings with the ad and publicity agency Mccaan-Ericksonmost likely go beyond consultations on public dissemination of information on the supposed impending outbreak of bird flu. Beltran dared Malacanang spokesperson Ignacio Bunye to reveal the details of the contract and to present to the media the details of the supposed information campaign on bird flu McCaan-Erickson is being paid to handle.

"Given Malacanang's desperation to turn the public's attnetion from the continuing protests against the president of dubious legitimacy and the various forms of protests against her corruption and rising polutical repression, it wouldn't be surprising at all if the bird flu epidemic is being used by the government as a diversionary issue," he said. "Despite the possible seriousness of the supposed pending outbreak, the public's attention is still rivetted to the protests against Arroyo and the various activities geared toars exposing the various charges against her. Macapagal-Arroyo is far from being off the hook, and she's desperate for means to deflect public attention from her person and the prptests against her."

"The McCaan-Erickson contract Malacanang is supposedly in the process of forging could cover more than the projection of information regarding the bird flu, but could also entail a comprehensive media campaign intended to clean up Macapagal-Arroyo's corrupt image," he said.

"If it was really the bird flu outrbreak that Malacanang wants to disseminate information on, then it should've been the task of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) to do so. Macapagal-Arroyo wants to embark on a full-scale ad and media campaign to project her so-called strong republic, and to bombard the media with various stories that will take attention away from the protests against her -- including activities such as the Citizens' Congress for Truth and Accountability," he said.

"Malacanang want to flood the public with stories that are not connected to raging economic and political crisis, and what better institution to do this than a well-established advertising company whose main jon, after all, is to sell products and services the public does not necesarrily need?"

NR1114:Put aside talks on Charter Change; GMA's worsening schizophrenia

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 14, 2005

Charter Change debates should be put aside for discussions on how to alleviate the impact of the EVAT, oil price hikes on the poor; GMA's worsening schizophrenia

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that debates on charter change should be considered low priority given the country's more pressing economic and political problems. He said that amending the 1987 constitution was the farthest thing from the Filipino people's minds, and that they were more preoccupied with trying to find solutions to their worsening economic burdens brought about by the implementation of the expanded value-added tax (EVAT) and the almost weekly increases in oil and petroleum prices which in turn also cause a chain reaction of increases in the prices of basic products and rates of social services such as water and electricity.

"Congress should put away all talks about Charter change and instead go into discussions on how to solve the successive oil price hikes, the problem of high unemployment and low wages, and the disastrous impact of the EVAT on the economic welfare of the Filipino poor," he said.

"It's doubtful that our lawmakers are not aware of the increasing burdens of our kababayans because of the crisis that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration has failed to solve. Congress should get in line and drop all unnecessary and self-serving discussions on how to perpetuate ambitious politicians in power and instead focus on crucial economic reforms the Filipino poor are in dire need of," he said. "Charter change is only the agenda of a few legislators whose motives for pushing amendments to the Constitution are suspect and questionable."

Beltran said that Macapagal-Arroyo herself was using Charter change to distract the public from the calls for her immediate removal. He said that Arroyo was trying to pass off charter change as an alternative to these calls, "As if by amending the Constitution, the political crisis brought about by her electoral fraud, corruption and continuous lies will be resolved. Her credibility isso severely eroded that she's grasping at straws to find a way to recover it, even if it means making compromises such as power sharing."

In the meantime, the veteran labor leader turned legislator said that president of dubious legitimacy Macapagal-Arroyo's renewed calls for unity in the wake of the first two sessions of the Citizens' Congress for Truth and Accountability (CCTA) should be ignored.

"Macapagal-Arroyo is by no means being sincere. She's actually become politically schizophrenic-- offering peace one moment, and then threatening to arrest her critics and detractors the next. What Macapagal-Arroyo really wants is to silence the opposition so she can continue her illegally appropriated term and implement her destructive economic and political programs. Her offer of peace and reconciliation is objectionable and should be outrightly rejected. There can only a chance for peace and reconciliation with her if she admits to electoral fraud and corruption, and steps down to make way for a transition council."

Beltran said that Macapagal-Arroyo's olive branch offering was also a means to appease and reaassure big busines groups who are in a quandary about continuing their support for her beleaguered administration. "She wants to project an image of strength and magnanimity, but in truth she's already appearing schizophrenic." #

NR1114:Solon makes plea for civilians in midst of AFP-ASG clashes

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin BeltranNews Release November 14, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Solon makes plea on behalf of civilians in the midst of clashes between the AFP and the Abu Sayyaf

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the ongoing clashes between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and members of the Abu Sayyaf group were sure to have resulted in civilian casualties, only the AFP were not immediately forthcoming.

Beltran said that the AFP leadership and the military command immediately involved in the skirmishes with the ASG in Jolo should make sure that civilians in the vicinity where the clashes take place have been safely evacuated to safety, away from the areas of battle.

“In the clashes between the AFP and the ASG, it has often happened that civilian live shave been lost in the crossfire, or civilians are wrongly tagged as ASG supporters and then thrown in jail. At all costs, the AFP must first ensure the safety of civilians and that their political and human rights are in no way compromised during operations against the ASG,” he said.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that the national government should mobilize all health and medical services available to assist civilians and as well secure their safety against any possible raid of the ASG. He pointed out, however, that it was more crucial to investigate the possibility that it is actually the presence of the AFP that is increasing the risk of ASG attacks and endangering the safety of the civilian populace.

“The military operations against the ASG are being conducted away from the knowledge and monitoring of the public, and given the mercenary character of the AFP, it’s most likely that these operations also have social repercussions on the lives of civilians in the area,” he said.

“It’s the continuing military operations that are causing worsening tension in the provinces, and the fact that these operations are being conducted often without regard or consideration for the religious and cultural values of the civilian populace. The ASG without doubt is also able to recruit from the members of the Muslim populace outraged by the brutality of the AFP and their disregard for the culture and traditions of Islam. Instead of gaining the support of civilians against the Abu Sayyaf, the AFP is pushing civilians to support the bandits out of a need for vengeance.”#

Sunday, November 13, 2005

NR1123:Malacanang waiting for more rapes by US servicemen before calling for VFA review

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 13, 2005

Malacanang wants more rape cases perpetraed by US servicemen before even considering review of the VFA

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the Macapagal-arroyo admninstration's refusal to even consider calling for a review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and its social impact was yet another betrayal of the Filipino people. He expressed strong disagreement with the statement of justice secretary Raul Gonzales that it was still premature to call for the abrogation of the VFA or even its review.

"What is this government waiting for? Another rape? The rape the six US Marines perpetated last November 1 was not the first act of brutality and violence US military forces have done against Filipinas. Does the Macapagal-Arroyo government want more Filipinas to be raped and violated by more US military men before it will begin investigations into the VFA and its destructive political and social impact on the country and the people?", he queried.

"What's most appalling and infuriating about the Arroyo government's stand on this issue is that it is more anxious to make sure that it's relations with US is not in any way compromised. Nowhere in any of Malacanang's public declarations have we heard Macapagal-Arroyo or her spokespersons denounce the six US Marines and the heinous crime they committed. Malacanang and its adjunct agencies immediately concerned with this issue are bending over backwards to assure the US that this rape case will in no way affect political and military relations between the two countries. The Macapagal-Aroyo government's loyalties and allegianc truly lie with the US," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator also said that despite denials from the government, it's becoming clearer every day that whitewash of the rape case is already in the works. He said the six US servicemen were already prepared to leave the country under the pretext that investigations against them will be done in the US.

"The bad guys will be allowed to make a clean get-away with the full blessing of the Philippine government," he exclaimed. "Filipinos who commit small-time, petty crimes in the US are punished with the full extent of US law and are not allowed to be extradited but instead imprisoned in the US, and the Philippine government and its embassy in the US are more often than not helpless. It's an outrage that it's been almost two weeks and the US servicemen have not been turned over to Philippine authorities much less charged with rape. Given the recent statements of Malacanang which dove-tail with those of the US embassy, it's evident that this rape case will be dismissed and the perpetrators will not be punished. This is almost like a second rape against the poor victim - this time with the approval of the Philippine government." #

Friday, November 11, 2005

NR1111:Macapagal-Arroyo's criticism against media ignorant, insulting and self-serving

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 11, 2005

Macapagal-Arroyo's criticism against media ignorant, insulting and self-serving - Rep. Beltran

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that presiden of dubious legitimacy Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has some gall accusing the media for the worsening economic and political situation in the country and for saying that media should refrain from covering events that attack or criticize the government and its corruption.

"Macapagal-Arroyo is the biggest loser of them all. What right has she to accuse and exhort the media of destabilizing the country when it she, herself who is the main reason why the country remains in economic free fall. The media is just doing its duty to report the new-worthy events that take place, and without doubt, it's also doing its role as the Fourth Estate -- mainly being the watchdog of the government," he said. "It's actually pathetic that she's taken to accusing the media for the mess she's in. It's the media who write about and report the events-- not make them. Macapagal-Arroyo's crookedness is no fault but her own."

"Macapagal-Arroyo wants to muzzle and gag the media into silence, toke it a mute witness to the swift and critical twists and turns in the country's political developments. What Macapagal-Aroyo wants is a brainless media who will only report fluff pieces and the lies masquerading as progress reports as concocted by her spin doctors. This is an outrageous insult against journalists and their respective institutions who seek to perform their duties and responsiblities to the public as best as they can. Macapagal-Arroyo should be roundly condemned for even making such statements against the media. The media is not Malacanang's right arm and should never be. If Macapagal-Arroyo wants good coverage about herself, she should do the right thing and resign," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned activist said that there is no justifying Macapagal-Arroyo and her spokespersons' attempts to criminalize the Citizens Congress for Truth and Accountability (CCTA) and to make it appear that the organizers and leaders of the same are guilty of sedition.

"The truth is, everyone who speaks out against the corruption, intensifying political repression and burgeoning dictatorship of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is automatically an enemy. Macapagal-Arroyo is already and justifiably insecure in the post she has illegally occupied, and the strong words she continues all the more expose her desperation," he said.

"She has no moral or legal ascendancy to chastise or criticize the media much less the leaders of the opposition. She has lied, cheated and stolen her way to office, and the country continues to sink deep intp penury because of her corruption. Media should ignore her rants and not be dissuaded, pressured or threatened into stopping their reportage about the CCTA or other events and activities of various groups that seek to expose the truth about this corrupt admnistration."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

NR1109:Non-wage benefits not enough to help tide workers over

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 9, 2005

Non-wage benefits are not the same as a wage hike: you can't pay for rice, meat or fish with non-age benefits –Anakpawis Solon

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today said that
Malacanang's was trying to get itself out of the
scrape it got itself into after president of dubious
legitimacy Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo backtracked on her
call for a legislated wage increase.

“Macapagal-Arroyo and her spokesperson know full
well that the impact of completely backtracking on the
wage hike issue, so now Malacanang is saying that
instead of wage increases, it's mulling over non-wage
benefits and transportation allowances for workers.
This is a cop-out, pure and simple. Macapagal-Arroyo
has received flak from big business and employers
groups so she was pressed to swiftly backpedal and
take back her call for a wage increase. Non-wage
benefits and transportation allowances are not enough
and they're certainly not on the same level as an
across-the-board wage hike,” he said.

“The supposed tripartite dialogues between labor
groups, the Labor department and employers' groups
will nothing be but a moro-moro. They will all be for
sure. Show me a worker who will choose non-non wage
benefits instead of a wage increase and I'll show you
an elephant that flies. Unless the non-wage benefits
include 2 sacks of rice a month, stipend for
electricity and water bills , Malacanang's offer of
non-wage benefits will doubtless be mere crumbs,” he

Beltran said that non-wage benefits will not pay for
the increases in electricity rates as well as
transportation fares. “Can you pay for rice, fish,
meat and vegetables with non-wage benefits when you go
to market? You can't use non-wage benefits to pay for
medicine or health care, both of which are highly
unaffordable and beyond the reach of most workers
receiving the current minimum wage,” he said.

“The impact of the worsening economic crisis
further exacerbated by the new EVAT is so destructive
on the economic welfare of workers that not the P125
wage hike demand is even far from being enough to
help tide workers over,” he said. “Workers are not
demanding anything that's unjust or unreasonable –
they need and deserve a substantial wage increase.” #

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NR1108:Solon distrusts US military investigations of rape of Filipina by 6 Marines

NR1108:GMA should give up her salary - she doesn't have a legal nor moral right to it

Nov.11 Privileged speech on P125 and EVAT

The wage increase issue is already a matter or life, survival and death for Filipino workers in the wake of the EVAT implementation

A privileged speech delivered by Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran

November 7, 2005

This representation rises on a matter of personal and collective privilege. This lawmaker wishes to call attention to the impact of the newly-imposed expanded value-added tax on the steadily decreasing real wages of workers.

Mr. Speaker, honorable colleagues, the EVAT's implementation further widens the already yawning gap between the incomes of ordinary Filipino households and the prices of basic goods and services. As it stands, the prevailing minimum wage in Metro Manila (where it is highest) is just 48% of the estimated P681 daily cost of living for a family of six according to the National Wages and Productivity Commission.

The EVAT will add another P600-900 pesos to the monthly expenditure of households earning less than P15,000 monthly. More families would have to reduce spending even on basic necessities such as food and health care.

Mr. Speaker, this representation is firm in the stand that EVAT is regressive. This is because the rich and poor pay the same tax for a particular product, but the rich actually pay less relative to his or her income. Moreover, billions of VAT payments are lost annually due to corruption. According to the National Tax Research Center , the government is losing an average 30 percent of the expected annual collections from the present VAT Law due to leakage. This translates to annual losses amounting to PhP41 Billion or PhP208 Billion from 1998-2002.

Likewise, the various fiscal incentives laws enacted by Congress have allowed firms engaged in exports and those under investment priority areas to avail of various VAT exemptions and zero-rated privileges that amounted to P195.5 billion in 2003 alone. This is more than the P194-billion budget deficit in 2004.

These exemptions cornered the biggest share of tax and duty exemptions granted by the government in that year which amounted to P299.42 billion. The EVAT will not end the present economic crisis as the Macapagal-Arroyo government claims. On the contrary, it will exacerbate it. It only aims to temporarily alleviate the financial mess, which in the first place was generated by the government’s promotion of foreign capital and local big business interests at the expense of the Filipino people.

The very generous tax incentives given to foreign investors, the reduction of tariffs to levels even lower than what the World Trade Organization presently demands, the annual debt payments and massive corruption generated the financial crisis. The EVAT is more of the same. It is imposed by the International Monetary Fund to ensure that the government can generate additional revenues to finance the burgeoning debt payments estimated at 70 percent of next year's budget.

Ano ngayon Mr. Speaker, ang kuneksyon ng EVAT sa sahod ng manggagawa at sa kanilang kapakanan? Napakalaki! Mr. Speaker. Dahil sa EVAT, lalong tumitibay at lalong nagiging kagyat ang pangangailangan na itaas ang sahod ng mga manggagawa. Dahil sa traydor na EVAT, lalong lumiliit ang halaga ng kakarampot na sahod ng manggagawa. Dahil sa EVAT, wala na halos mabibili ang sobrang babang sahod na sa NCR ay pumapatak ang tunay na halaga sa mas mababa pa sa P150 kada araw. Dahil sa EVAT, lalong lalampas sa kakayanan ng ordinaryong manggagawa ang presyo ng mga batayang produkto at serbisyong panlipunan.

Hindi lingid sa kaalaman ng mga miyembro ng kapulungang ito na 1999 pa nang isampa sa Kongreso ang panukala para sa pagtataas ng sahod ng P125 na legislated at across-the-board. Taong 2005 na ngayon, pero wala pa ring nangyayari sa napakamakatarungan at mahalagang panawagang ito.

Kamakailan lumabas sa mga pahayagan na nais ng gobyernong Arroyo na magkaroon ng pagtataas ng sahod. Magandang balita na sana ito, ngunit kaagad ding nalantad na peke.

Sa halip na itulak ng Malacanang ang Konggreso na gawing priority bill na ang HB 345 o ang panukalang nagtataas ng sahod ng P125 para sa lahat ng manggagawa, pinagtatabuyan na naman ng gobyerno ang mga manggagawa na pumunta na lang daw ulit sa regional wage boards at doon humingi ng pagtataas ng sahod.

At gaya ng inaasahan, ganito rin ang mga argumento ng Department of Labor and Employment sa ilalim ng kaaway ng manggagawang si Patricia Sto. Tomas at mga samahan ng mga ganid at swapang na kapitalista at employer sa pamumuno ng Employers Confederation of the Philippines o ECOP.

Mr. Speaker, namaos na ang Kinatawang ito sa kakapaliwanag kaisa ng mga manggagawa tungkol sa pagiging walang-hiya at inutil ng mga regional wage boards. Mula nang itayo ang mga taksil na wage boards na yan noong 1989, wala na silang ginawa kundi ipako ang sahod sa sahig, at tiyaking hindi ito itaas, ayun na rin sa kagustuhan ng malalaking negosyante at kapitalista.

Kung gaano katagal nang iginigiit ng mga manggagawa ang pagtataas ng sahod, gayundin katagal nila ipinapanawagang ibasura na ang mga regional wage boards. Sadyang kontra-managgagawa at maka-kapitalista ang mga wage boards at ang misyon sa buhay ng mga naka-upo sa mga ahensyang iyan ay tiyaking palaging mumo at latak ang ililimos sa mga manggagawa kapalit ng kanilang pagpapagal sa mga pagawaan.

Mr. Speaker, talagang mali na tumanggi ang Konggreso sa tungkulin nitong pakialaman at pangunahan ang usaping pagtataas ng sahod at itaboy ang mga manggagawa sa wage boards. Una, minimum wage lang ang ginagalaw nito, hindi across the board at nationwide ang pakinabang. Madalas iilang wage boards lang sa mga rehiyon ang nagkokonsidera ng pagtaas ng sahod. Ang iba ay hindi aaksyon kung walang petisyon.

Ikalawa, ang wage boards ay pabor sa mga kapitalista. Batay sa karanasan, ang nakukuha lang sa wage boards ay kung magkano ang papayagan ng mga kapitalista. Isinabatas ang RA 6727 o batas na lumikha sa wage boards noong 1989. Kung titignan ang sahod ng mga manggagagawa mula 1989, lumaki lang ito kumpara sa cost of living hanggang 1991 pero tuloy-tuloy na ang bagsak nya mula noon. Sa madaling salita, papalaki ng papalaki ang agwat ng sahod ng mga manggagawa at cost of living sa loob ng nakaraang 10 taon sa ilalim ng RA 6727

Hindi nakakagulat dahil ang nakakaupo lang sa wage boards ay kinatawan ng mga kapitalista, gobyerno at dilawang lider manggagawa. Isa isahin natin sila: ang gusto ng kapitalista ay mas mataas na tubo. Anuman ang paglaki ng sahod ay kabawasan sa tubo nila. Ang gobyerno naman ay may patakaran na panatilihing mababa ang sahod sa bansa upang maakit ang mga dayuhang kapitalista. Ang mga huwad na lider manggagawa naman na nasa wage boards ay naniniwalang maaaring pag-isahin ang interes ng manggagawa at kapitalista na alam nating imposible. Sa ganyang balanse, di kataka-taka na pabor ang wage boards sa mga kapitalista at kontra manggagawa at kontra sahod.

Mr. Speaker, naghihimagsik ang puso at diwa ng mga manggagawa sa mga argumentong patuloy na hinahambalang sa harap ng panawagang itaas ang sahod. Lagi na lang kontra sa kapakanan at kagalingan ng mga manggagawa ang posisyon ng mga opisyales ng gobyerno pagdating sa isyung ito. Kesyo magsasara daw ang mga kumpanya, kesyo marami daw ang matatanggal sa trabaho, etcetera etcetera etcetera.

Mr. Speaker, mga kagalang-galang na kapwa kinatawan, bakit pagdating sa EVAT at iba pang mga panukala at programa na dikta o utos ng malalaking kapitalista at negosyante, nagkakandarapa ang gobyerno na ang mga ito’y ipatupad? Mga panukala ito tulad ng EVAT na nagdadala ng sobrang pasakit at pabigat sa kabuhayan ng mahihirap at manggagawa. Mga patakaran ito tulad ng tax holidays, tax exemptions, at kung ano-ano pang pabuya sa mga negosyante at kanilang mga dayuhang partner na sa kabilang banda naman ay may epektong pagpapahina sa lokal na ekonomya?

Isang hamon – Mr. Speaker. Lumapag tayo sa lupa at alamin ang tunay na kalagayan ng mga manggagawa. Sagad sa buto ang dusa ng mga manggagawa sa mga pagawaan. Patuloy na pinagsasamantalahan at binabarat ang halaga ng kanilang lakas paggawa, habang lumalamon at nagpapasasa sa luho ang malalaking kapitalistang nang-aalipin.

Napakaraming anak ng manggagawa ang malnourished at hindi na nag-aaral dahil di na sila kayang pag-aralin ng kanilang mga inaliping magulang.

Pinatay ang mga lider manggagawa tulad nina Ric Ramos ng Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU), Fedie de Leon ng PISTON-KMU, at Diosdado Fortuna ng union ng Nestle Philippines habang kailang ibinabandila ang pagtaas ng sahod para sa kanilang mga kauri kasabay ng kanilang pakikibaka para sa pampulitika at demokratikong karapatan ng mamamayan.

Walang matanaw na pag-asa o kaalwanan ang mga manggagawa sa harap na patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente na kapwa naming humahatak pataas sa presyo ng mga batayang produkto at singil sa mga serbisyong medikal, transportasyon, pabahay at edukasyon.

Bukod sa pagkondena ng mga manggagawa sa pangulong nagsinungaling, nanloko at nagnakaw, malakas ang panawagan ng mga obrero na bumaba sa poder si Pangulong Arroyo dahil sa matinding kahirapang kanilang dinaranas sa ilalim ng kanyang panunungkulan. Kahirapang hindi na lang dapat itangis kundi dapat ikondena at labanan dahil dala ito ng korapsyon sa pamahalaan at pagmamatigas ng gobyerno sa mga hinaing ng mamamayan.

Mr. Speaker, honorable colleagues, we are now being given a chance to correct a grievous wrong which continues to be committed against Filipino workers. We are all being given a shining opportunity to help give even a measure of relief to the long-suffering lives of millions of Filipinos. This representation strongly urges, sincerely asks the members of this honorable body to not turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to the worsening poverty of the Filipino workers.

The wage hike issue, apart from being a matter of life, survival or death for workers, is also an issue of social justice. Congress must not turn away from its duty to address social grievances, and these grievances of the one of the most impoverished sectors of Philippine society must be given redress urgently. Please support HB 345 and have this august chamber approve a P125 across-the-board wage increase for all workers nationwide.

Thank you very much.#

Nr1107:Heads in PNP must roll over mistaken identity snafu

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. BeltranNews Release November 7, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602

931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff


Celphone number 09213907362 Visit

Heads in the PNP must roll over case of mistaken identity; Gara extremely lucky reporter Arlyn de la Cruz knows the real Radulan Sahiron

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration major blunder in accusing and arresting a civilian on the charges of being an Abu Sayyaf commander and terrorist was not surprising but is still, however, a cause for alarm. He said that even without the anti-terrorism bill to give the armed authorities the legal basis to make arrests, the civil and democratic – as well as human- rights of countless civilians have already been undermined.

“Since the Macapagal-Arroyo administration began its so-called campaign against terrorism in obedience to the US government’s directives, countless civilians in Mindanao have been arrested and illegally detained in the various jails. The civil and democratic rights of civilians have been thrown out the window as the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) go their rabid way implementing the anti-terrorism directives of the Arroyo government. None of the unjust arrested civilians have been given a fair trial, much less allowed to defend themselves in a public legal venue,” he pointed out.

“For the most part, the evidence the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other authorities can provide against the suspects are highly circumstantial. It’s not also an outrage that police authorities have also taken to making all Filipino Muslims targets of suspicion -- our Muslim brothers and sisters libeled and labeled terrorist supporters or even actual terrorists on the mere grounds that they’re Muslims.”

Beltran demanded that PNP Director Arturo Lomibao and the officers of the arresting unit that took charge of the case of mistaken identity should be sacked. The PNP arrested a civilian, 43-year old Arturo Gara after having mistaken him for being Abu Sayyaf chief of staff Radulan Sahiron. Beltran said that the PNP and the Macapagal-Arroyo should pay indemnification to Gara and his family for psychological trauma. “They arrested a civilian and kept him in custody for two days. A simple public apology will not suffice.”    

“They have been other documented instances wherein the PNP arrested civilians after wrongly tagging them as ASG members. Of the over 200 accused terrorists now languishing in jail, majority are Muslim civilians who come for the poor and working sectors. They have not been accorded legal assistance or allowed to post bail. It was sheer luck on the part of Gara that reported Arlyn de la Cruz was able to distinguish him from Sahiron. Otherwise, Gara most likely would’ve been thrown in jail without trial,” he said. Beltran said that a comprehensive review of the records of arrests the PNP has made connected to the anti-terror campaign should be immediately conduct. “Most likely, a review will reveal that majority if not all of the Filipinos and Muslims the PNP has arrested particularly in Mindanao are innocent.”

Go after the real terrorist-rapists

The activist lawmaker said that even as the PNP and the AFP go after civilians suspected of being terrorist, the Macapagal-Arroyo administration has been walking around eggs when it comes to the issue of the six Marines accused of raping a 22-year old Filipina last week.

“Where are Macapagal-Arroyo’s strong words now? She and her government have been pussy-footing around this rape case in the last few days, and the family of the victim has been given neither legal assistance nor moral support. If there’s anyone the PNP and the AFP should hasten to arrest, it’s these six Marines. "This act of brutality against a Filipina is really reflective of US-RP relations -- a relationship of abuse, exploitation and injustice. If nothing comes out of the criminal case the victim filed, there will be hell to pay. If this doesn't strain US-RP relations to the breaking point, then it's hard to see what else will. Six Marines raped a Filipina - the very sentence is enough to fuel mass protests against US military presence and interference in the Philippines," he said.

He said that there were more than enough grounds to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) and other military agreements with the US that allow US military presence in the Philippines. "The Balikatan exercises must be put to an end immediately," he said. "The six Marines must be surfaced and turned over to local police and military authorities. Philippine criminal laws must be upheld in this case, and the Marines should be investigated, tried and punished according to Philippine laws, and not those of the US," he said.#

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NR1106: two releases re: 6 Marines rapists; P125 wage hike


From the Office of Anakpawis rep. Crispin Beltran

News Release November 6, 2005

Malacanang's empty platitudes a further insult to Filipina raped by 6 Marines

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today demanded that the US embassy in the Philippines immediately surrender the six US marines accused of raping a Filipina late last week in Subic, Zambales. He said that the six Marines should not under any circumstances be allowed to leave the Philippines.

"This act of brutality against a Filipina is really reflective of US-RP relations -- a relationship of abuse, exploitation and injustice. If nothing comes out of the criminal case the victim filed, there will be hell to pay.If this doesn't strain US-RP relations to the the breaking point, then it's hard to see what else will. Six Marines raped a Filipina - the very sentence is enough to fuel mass protests against US military presence and interference in the Philippines," he said.

He said that there were more than enough grounds to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) and other military agreements with the US that allow US military presence in the Philippines. "The Balikatan exercises must be put to an end immediately," he said.

Beltran demanded that Foreign Affairs Officials and Malacanang issue a public statement demanding that the US Embassy stop protecting and tolerating the suspects and give full cooperation to local authorities investigating the case.

"The six Marines must be surfaced and turned over to local police and military authorities. Philippine criminal laws must be upheld in this case, and the Marines should be investigated, tried and punished according to Philippine laws, and not those of the US," he said.

The activist lawmaker said that it was also appalling that the president of dubious legitimacy Macapagal-Arroyo herself has not issued any official statement on the rape case. He said that Malacanang spokesperson Ignacio Bunye has issued nothing but empty platitudes.

"Bunye's rhetoric all the more reveals Malacanang's fears that this rape case will endanger its relations with the US Embassy and the US govenrment. It's more keen on protecting these infamous relations than securing justice for the rape victim."

"Macapagal-Arroyo has not said anything on the matter -- not even to comfort the Filipina who was brutalized by the American military men. It is almost as if Macapagal-Arroyo is afraid of the repercussions of issuing a statement condemning the act. By remaining mum and refusing to denounce this act of brutality, Macapagal-Arroyo is exhibiting callousness and extreme insensitivity. She's also a woman -- and even as such she should speak up against this brutality perpetrated against her kabaro."#

Congress should put P125 wage hike bill on the agenda as session resumes tomorrow

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that Congress should include the wage hike bill among their first agenda for discussion during the resumption of session tomorrow, November 7. He said that House Speaker Jose De Venecia should not ignore the urgency of the issue and order the immediate deliberation of the P125 wage hike proposal contained in HB 345 which is up for interpellation by the congressional body.

"There is no way around it: Congress must step up to the bat and assume jurisdiction over the wage hike issue and the over-all determination of minimum wage levels all over the country. More than a decade's worth of experience under the authority of the regional wage boards has shown that it is really Congress that should determine wage hikes and minimum wages. The regional wage boards are institutions that actually kill wage hike demands from workers and take primary consideration of employer and big business' interests. "

Beltran has already filed a bill in Congress scrapping the rregional wage boards, saying that the RWBs were anti-worker and anti-wage hike. "Workers have nothing but strong contempt for these RWBs. These agencies are notoriously anti-wage hike. They always throw out proosals for just and substantial wage increases."

"The economic well-being and survival of workers in the midst of this continuously worsening crisis further exacerbated by the EVAT and the oil price hikes should take precedence over the charter change agenda and the Macapagal-Arroyo's ambitions to prolong her political career," he said.

The veteran labor leader in the meantimes said that wage increases and tax exemptions should also go together. "Workers should not be forced to haggle or choose between wage hikes and non-wage benefits and tax reprieve. Both are necessary for workers. They need these to survive. It's no exagerration to say that many Filipino workers have been reduced to hand-to-mouth subsistence because of low wages and high tax impositions."

Beltran also reiterated his condemnation for labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas and her continuing opposition to granting wage hikes to workers. "Sto. Tomas is no better than a hooded executioner. She has said and done nothing in defense of workers and their livelihood in the face of the EVAT and the relentless oil price hikes. All she ever does is thumb down and stand against the demands of workers for improved wages and benefits. Her statements are no different from those of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP). She should be booted out from the DOLE - she's the most anti-labor official in the entire department." #

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NR1104:GMA's fake wage hike call

NR1104:On US marines raping a Filipina in Olongapo

Thursday, November 03, 2005

NR1102:GMA to run in parliamentary polls in 2007?

From the Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release November 2, 2005

After cheating in the 2004 polls, it's ridiculous that GMA can still think that Filipinos would still vote for her in any other election, even parliamentary

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that illegitimate president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's agreement to proposals to hold a parliamentary election in 2007 should be taken as an affirmative sign that even Arroyo aknowledges how weakened her leadership is, and thus she's become willing to make compromises.

"But even as she admits indirectly that her beleaguered administration is severely affected by the relentless attacks against its credibility and legitimacy, Macapagal-Arroyo is still displaying characteristic stubborness. There will be no change in government if Arroyo is still in the running and insisting on her right to the highest office in the land. This political stalemate will extend on and on until the inevitable conclusion is reached- that of her removal from office," he said.

Beltran said that it's ridiculous that Mapacapagal-Arroyo even begins to think that she still has chances of winning any election. "After the mockery she has made of the 2004 polls when she cheated her way to victory, it's an outrage that Macapagal-Arroyo can still think that Filipinos would still want to consider her a candidate for anything."

"All this talk about charter change and shift to a parliamentary system are just the product of relentless and self-serving ambitions of politicians allied with Macapagal-Arroyo. The challenge to implement immediate economic and political reforms is already upon us, glaring at all of us in the face of the Filipino people's increasing poverty, but Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies ignore these calls for reforms and instead insist on their own ideas for charter change. Amending the constitution and parliamentary elections are under no circumstances priorities of the Filipino people.Macapagal-Arroyo is viewing possible parliamentary elections as a means to extricate and save herself from the raging political crisis which exploded because of the her; and at the same time her unsatiable greed for power pushes her to open up to compromises."

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that what Filipinos want is for Macapagal-Arroyo to resign. "This is the strongest public clamor. Macapagal-Arroyo's a politician totally discredited, and her credibility is down to zero. The massive fraud she perpetrated in May 2004 nullifies all her rights to run for any public office -- even running for barangay captain she should be held ineligible."

"At this point when she's so desperate, Macapagal-Arroyo is prepared to grasp even at loose straws just so she can remain in Malacanang. "#