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Abad should irrevocably resign now; promptly convict Napoles and all her cohorts, including top gov’t officials; full auditing of DAP; abolish all pork barrels

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BUDGET Secretary Florencio Abad must irrevocably resign now to ensure an impartial investigation and full audit of the illegal presidential Disbursement Acceleration Program, which should pave the way for abolishing all forms of pork barrel and prosecuting all those who plundered and misused the public funds, including Janet Lim-Napoles and her cohorts who looted both the DAP and its congressional counterpart, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

This was reiterated by the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa while President Aquino expectedly reaffirms his intransigence in defending Abad and the DAP during today’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) overshadowing his usual economic “growth” reports – despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that essentially declared DAP as unconstitutional.

“There must be full, honest and independent accounting of the DAP, which requires a complete and untainted list and description of DAP projects to be scrutinized, as well as who requested or received or managed the funds that were released,” Frank Mero, Sentro chair, emphasized.

Sentro also expressed its suspicion on the belated and piecemeal approach of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in issuing lists of DAP projects both on its website and press releases, and more so why it continues to withhold disclosing all the DAP project proponents, especially Aquino’s partymates and other political allies.

Reports said that this enormous and potent presidential discretionary fund allegedly reached close to P353 billion “illegally” sourced from state savings and unprogrammed funds in two years only or from 2011, when the DAP was started, to 2012.

The DBM countered that the available fund in that period was P136.75 billion “only” and a total of P114.57 billion was actually used. However, revealing its inconsistency, the DBM later reported that it released DAP funds amounting to P75.1 billion in 2011 and P53.2 billion in 2012 – or a total of P128.3 billion – aside from P16 billion in 2013.

Josua Mata, Sentro secretary general, retorted that whatever the amount and legally aside, “the DAP and all other ‘pork’ for that matter are primarily if not exclusively geared towards political patronage, and not really to pump-prime the economy but to curry favor with the senators, congressmen and other politicians to achieve vested personal or political interests.”

Sentro earlier posted on its website a more detailed statement analyzing the DAP issue – SENTRO STATEMENT ON P-NOY’S ‘PORK’

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition Demand Aquino to Fulfill Promises to Workers and Account for Workers’ Money Utilized in DAP

A coalition of 49 labor centers, federations and workers’ organizations to promote workers’ interest, the Nagkaisa today issued a statement to give labor groups’ perspective on the fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III tomorrow, Monday, July 28th. Below is the coalition’s pre-SONA statement:

“Millions of Filipino workers and their families remains deprived of the benefits of the inclusive growth they deserve from the so-called high Philippine economic growth they helped built since 2010. It is shameful that the President in Benigno Simeon Aquino III they elected in power four years ago, has tactfully failed them.

With around 700 days left in office, there are bold indications that the man in Pnoythey thought could lead them out of vicious pit of poverty and help them cope with the rising prices of commodities caused by a liberalizing economy is, in fact, slowly abandoning the hope of the working people.

Siding with employers’ interest, President Aquino deliberately refused to break the cycle of poverty by freeing up a large segment of 25 million contractual workers when he turned down outright the Nagkaisa plead to certify the pending Security of Tenure (SOT) bill designed to responsibly eliminate the very backward contractualization work scheme imposed by the business elites.

Aquino is just staring at workers being mangled by a very exorbitant and world class electricity rates controlled by a monopsony cartel of a very few families despite persistent advice from Nagkaisa to act, form and lead a multi-agency, multi-sectoral task force that will figure out within two-year period a secure power supply and a competitive electricity rate.

The stakes just get higher with the ominous crisis in power supply.The hiatus is so real that it would reckon businesses to make significant retrenchments of workers and render the country uncompetitive and unattractive to investments that are necessary to create more new jobs.

The absence of a national strategic plan on power will surely force the state to make knee-jerk but expensive fixes that, in the end, workers, especially minimum wage earners, would have to pay more from their take home pay—reminiscent of the same blunder committed by his mother the late President Cory Aquino.

Aquino is doing nothing while watching workers profusely bleed from the day-to-day stab of recent man-made and phenomenal sudden price increase of rice, garlic and ginger.

Without any significant increase in wages amid hikes in prices and costs of other basic commodities and services during his tenure, he has, in fact,coldly insulted the workers by issuing an executive order that would raise by P10,000 the disability and burial benefits of workers the moment concerned government agencies accrue excess funds.

He has reneged on his promise to “get back” a month later with presidential response on important laborpolicy issues raised by Nagkaisa labor leaders he invited to a pre-labor day breakfast dialogue inside Malacanang Palace on April 30th.

In the light of the controversial discovery of the Disbursement Allocation Program DAP), Mr. Aquino and cohorts should account for every single centavo in the billions of pesos of workers’ money in the scheme.The Nagkaisa demand Mr. Aquino to prove that the people’s money was not siphoned off to ghost projects and illusory expenditures as payoff for political patronage.

Mr. Aquino has squandered all opportunities to make a difference in the lives of workers especially those of the rank-and-file. He has failed to commiserate with the warm bodies that broke their back in earning a living while building the economy. The Nagkaisa has performed its critical part in bringing the case to the table. Now, it cannot entirely put the blame on workers who will claim their piece of social justice on the streets.

UNITY STATEMENT OF THE 6.12.14 Protest Coalition

 

6.12.14 Protest Coalition

“The Philippines is a democratic and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” – Article II, Section 1, The Philippine Constitution.

The painfully slow progress in the investigation and prosecution of the pork scandals involving Janet Lim-Napoles’ network, among others, robs the nation blind in the realms of justice and transparency, and steals energy that could otherwise be focused on development tasks.

The expanse and breadth of the corruption linked to pork shakes the very foundation of Filipino society. The delays and theatrics, whether by the current crop of suspects or the incumbent administration, make a mockery of the basic tenets of Philippine democracy.

The Filipino people have been given the run-around. Several reports and lists — from the Commission on Audit, to those collated by Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers, to the various Napoles lists — show a vast number of legislators and executive department officials involved in pork-related corruption.

All these sectors seemingly use and discard lists or delete names according to their interests. Until now, we have yet to see a hint of resolution of this controversy. From the camps of those already named in plunder cases, all the way to President Aquino, what we see are efforts to tar enemies but coddle allies.

TAMA NA! The Filipino people demand full transparency and accountability from all branches of the government.

From now on, ZERO TOLERANCE for any aspect of the culture of corruption. We demand that the government probe, prosecute and JAIL ALL found guilty of stealing and misusing the people’s money and abusing the people’s trust. No one must be spared.

We call on each and every Filipino to come out and join this UNIFIED EXPRESSION OF OUTRAGE AND DISGUST. TOGETHER, LET US ALL DEMAND OUR FREEDOM FROM CORRUPTION – 6.12.14

There is nothing hard to understand about “ALL.” If you refuse to even start an investigation, then you are coddling the corrupt. We address this to you, President Aquino: Start acting like the President of the nation, not just of your friends. Let the wheels of justice turn and give much-needed closure to this travesty.

We are counting on you, Mr. President. Are you with us? Or against us?

Hindi Tuwid, Hindi Tama, Hindi Makatuwiran Kapag Pag-unlad ay Para sa Iilan Lamang!

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Labor Coalition Nagkaisa Chides PNoy:

Labor coalition Nagkaisa chided President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for continuing to dishonor workers on Labor day by failing to respond to important issues raised by labor representatives during the non-ceremonial pre-labor day dialogue in Malacanang the other day.

“President Aquino continues to ignore for four years the issues which we believe would help impact the plight of the working people. Workers are feeling deprived of the benefits due them despite of their great contribution to improving economy,” the Nagkaisa said in a statement.

“Since assuming presidency in 2010, Mr. Aquino is always being remembered by workers in every Labor day memorial as a leader who has abandoned and failed them at the critical moment when they needed his leadership in view of growing joblessness, rising cost of living, rampant and unfettered precarious work arrangement, high cost of electricity rate and by conceding social protection services to greedy capitalists,” they added.

“Hindi tuwid, hindi tama, hindi makatuwiran kung pag-unlad ay para sa iilan lamang (it is not straight, it is not right, it is unjust if growth is shared only by a few),” the group stressed as they plan to muster 30,000 of their members march from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola in today’s Labor day commemoration. The group will assemble along Espana at around 8a.m.

Aside from chastising Aquino, labor groups belonging to Nagkaisa also lambasted Energy (DOE) Secretary Jericho Petilla and (BIR) Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares for failing to offer government solutions to pressing long-standing workers’ issues raised by Nagkaisa (United) during the yearly Labor day dialogue with President Benigno Simeon Aquino III held the other day.

The group also tagged the duo as “the weak link that help makes Aquino appear out-of-touch, out-of-tune and widely disconnected with workers’ issues raised by Nagkaisa in the past four years.”

“Out of the several cabinet secretaries who responded to the issues that Nagkaisa raised, it was Ms. Henares and Mr. Petilla who appears to be badly serving the president by refusing to offer solutions to the high cost of electricity and tax issues as a way and means of non-wage economic relief to workers in view of not benefitting from despite of significant contribution to make the economy performed excellently in the past years,” the Nagkaisa said in a statement.

During the span of the two-year Nagkaisa dialogue with the executive government, the alliance have demanded for Henares to provide tax breaks to workers by way of taxing only the incremental amount of the negotiated minimum wage of regular workers and expand the tax exempt de minimis fringe benefits enjoyed by employees from their employers as performance incentive.

“It is clear to us that Ms. Henares wants to meet her revenue quota by making workers bleed in the sand, clearly ignoring the fact that these workers are the backbone of the economy and were responsible for high economic growth that she, the employers, and this administration are flaunting about,” the group said.

On the issue of the high cost of electricity, Nagkaisa have demanded that to make the country attractive to investors that creates jobs a Presidential Commission on Power must be created immediately.

“We proffered that the Commission to be made up of a national multi-sectoral and multi-agency actors who will craft a 24-month national strategy response that will craft a 24-month roadmap aimed at lowering the cost and ensuring sufficiency of energy supply. That way, a reduced electricity cost will make workers spend more on their food and basic necessities at the same time invite foreign and local investors put up more shops, offices and factories creating jobs for the millions unemployed,” the alliance said.

“However, it was clear to all that Mr. Petilla downgraded the proposal to just create a task force under the auspices of the Department of Energy (DOE) rather than a presidential commission is a signal that he wants the Filipino people to be continued hostage by the monopsony of a few powerful elites that controls the entire energy sector. Nagkaisa condemns his arrogance and we will continue to hold him into account. Nagkaisa will insist on the establishment of a commission.”

On the issue of contractualization otherwise known as “555” or “endo”, a precarious scheme of employment arrangement, as the most important issue that Nagkaisa raised in the dialogue, the group welcomed Aquino’s announcing his middle-ground response to this issue on May 28th.

Aside from eliminating contractualization scheme, lowering electricity rates and providing tax breaks to workers, Nagkaisa welcomes the response of Trade and industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Yolanda Rehab and Reconstruction czar Secretary Panfilo Lacson for acceding to Nagkaisa demand for labor sector to be included in the crafting of a jobs-led agro-industrial plan, monitoring and evaluation of the prosecution of extra-judicial killings of union organizers and journalists, and inclusion of Nagkaisa representatives in the formulation and implementation of Yolanda-hit reconstruction and rehabilitation strategies.

Nagkaisa also welcomes the assurance of Aquino to immediately ratify the ILO convention 151— a convention concerning protection of the right to organize and procedures for determining conditions for employment in government service.

The group also awaits Aquino’s unequivocal policy statements in the next dialogue on the issue of revision in the EPIRA law, providing affordable in-city housing program, non-violent transfer of urban poor communities in danger zones, appointment of a workers’ sector representative in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and approve into law the Freedom of Information bill.

ABOUT NAGKAISA

Launched on April 2012, the Nagkaisa is the biggest alliance of labor groups and workers organizations in modern history of trade union movement in the country. It is composed by the Alliance of Free Workers (AFW) , All Filipino Workers Confederation (AFWC), Automobile Industry Workers Alliance (AIWA), Alab Katipunan, Association of Genuine Labor Organizations (AGLO), Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Associated Labor Unions- Association of Professional Supervisory Officers Technical Employees Union (ALU-APSOTEU), ALU-Metal, Associated Labor Unions-Philippine Seafarers’Union (ALU-PSU), ALU-Textile, ALU-Transport, Associated Labor Unions-Visayas Mindanao Confederation of Trade Unions (ALU-VIMCOMTU), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Association of Trade Unions (ATU), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Confederation of Independent Unions (CIU), Confederation of Labor and Allied Social Services (CLASS), Construction Workers Solidarity (CWS), Federation of Coca-Cola Unions (FCCU), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Kapisanan ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO), Katipunan, Pambansang Kilusan sa Paggawa (KILUSAN), Kapisanan ng mga Kawani sa Koreo sa Pilipinas (KKKP), Labor education and Research Network (LEARN), League of Independent Bank Organizations (LIBO), Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN), MARINO, National Association of Broadcast Unions (NABU), National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), National Mines and Allied Workers Union (NAMAWU), National Association of Trade Unions (NATU), National Confederation of Labor (NCL), National Confederation of Transport Union (NCTU), National Union of Portworkers in the Philippines (NUPP), National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN), Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), Pepsi Cola Employees Union of the Philippines (PEUP), Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA), Pinag-isang Tinig at Lakas ng Anakpawis (PIGLAS), Philippine Integrated Industries Labor Union (PILLU), Philippine Independent Public Sector Employees Association (PIPSEA), Partido Manggagawa (PM), Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA), Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), Philippine Transport and General Workers Organization (PTGWO), SALIGAN, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Workers Solidarity Network (WSN).