Monday, April 16, 2007

Human Rights advocates and civil liberarians should push for removal of Bert Gonzales from office

Tuesday March 20, 2007

Human Rights advocates and civil liberarians should push for removal of Bert Gonzales from office

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said that civil libertarians and human rights advocates – including leaders in the Catholic Church and other religious formations -- should push for the immediate removal from office of National Security adviser Norberto Gonzales. He said that it was high time that Gonzales' record and advocacies, campaigns and justifications for them be subjected to scrutiny because Gonzales is 'a dangerous man and should not be allowed to be in government.'

"The man is incapable of objectivity and his judgment is severely impaired by his hatred of the progressive party-lists and their advocacies. He is a modern day Rasputin in the Macapagal-Arroyo cabinet, and his solutions to political crises serve to exacerbate the problems. He has become a powerful man in the Arroyo government, and his advice to the president having been accepted and implemented has resulted to the over 838 extrajudicial killings and the continuing harassment against progressive party-lists, their supporters and their very representatives in congress," he said.

"Even as Pres. Arroyo herself stands to be the highest official most accountable for the continuously worsening human rights situation in the country, the likes of Norberto Gonzales should also not be allowed to escape accountability. Gonzales works insiduously and maliciously, spreading lies against the progressive party-lists and goading the Armed Forces of the Philippines to escalate their attacks against political activists and human rights advocates," he said.

News reports confirm that Gonzales and other members of the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP) were the most adamant in pushing for Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo's transfer to Leyte. Gonzales is also the strongest advocate for the persecution of the other progressive lawmakers and their disqualification from the May 2007 polls.

"Gonzales is pushing for the persecution of progressives and he advocates the manipulation and twisting of laws in the implementation of this agenda. He's a vicious anti-human rights advocate, but he cannot substantiate his charges against the progressive party-lists against whom he carries a personal vendetta. He is a dangerous man who has the ear of the president, and so long as he occupies a position in government, the extrajudicial killings will continue and remain a national policy. Working in a killer triumvirate with Armed Forces chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon and Defense secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Gonzales is hell-bent on initiating a full-scale pogrom against progressives and their supporters," he said.

Senatorial candidates challenged to explain stands on problems of hunger and widespread joblessness

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today said that despite Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's assertions that the economy has made an effective turnaround and is on the way to progress, latest statistics on humger incidence insist otherwise. According to the latest Pulse Asia Survey, hunger remains at a record-high 19 percent, with 3.4 million households saying they experienced starvation at least once in the past three months.In Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, hunger incidence worsened.

"Senatorial candidates should be prodded to give their economic platforms to address hunger and joblessness because these are among two of the biggest problems affecting a large majority of Filipinos. It's a higly unsound employment policy that the Arroyo govenrment is implementing now because it mostly relies of finding overseas jobs for Filipinos instead of local job generation. Joblessness means hunger and poverty," he said.

"Hunger incidence is still pegged at two-digit percentages because joblessness is still on the rise. The Arroyo government has been unable to create more jobs for Filipinos, but pushed thousands more outside the country to work abroad. Wages also remain pegged at P350 in the NCR, but figures from the National Wages and Productivity Commission state that a family of six members in the NCR needs at least P721 a day to meet its food and non-food needs," he said.

Citing stats from IBON Foundation, Beltran said that employment and underemployent are still at critical levels. Underemployment still remains high at 21.5% or some 7.2 million Filipinos still looking for additional work.

"Add this to the 2.8 million unemployed Filipinos and we have 10 million workers, or close to a third of the labor force, who are either jobless or if employed, still looking for more work," he said. As of January 2007, there were 309,000 domestic household help jobs created, as against only 74,000 manufacturing job," he concluded.#


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