News At A Glance

‘Butcher of Mindoro’ terrifies Visayas human rights groups

The regional peasant alliance, Samahan han Gudti nga mga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (Sagupa-SB or Regional Peasant Alliance in Eastern Visayas) denounced Jan. 4 the possible appointment of Brig. Gen. Jovito Palparan as chief of the army’s 8th Infantry Division assigned in the region. Palparan would replace Maj. Gen. Glen Rabonza who will retire on Jan. 12.

Lito Gacusana, Sagupa-SB secretary general, said that with Palparan’s deployment to Eastern Visayas, the region will become a “howling wilderness” with human rights violations against peasants and legitimate organizations increasing.

Palparan, called by militant groups as the “Butcher of Mindoro,” was held responsible by activists for the spate of killings in Mindoro and Rizal where he served as commanding officer of 204th Infantry Brigade and 2nd Infantry Division, respectively. Among the cases being blamed on Palparan is the April 2003 double murder of human rights activist Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy.

“Our farmers have been continuously victimized by militarization brought about by the government’s iron fist,” Gacusana said. “We do not want another thorn (Palparan) to prick us to death.”

Despite the cases and complaints filed against him, Palparan was promoted brigadier general in February 2003 and appointed head of the Philippine humanitarian contingent to Iraq.

“Palparan has unpaid blood debts among farmers and from the struggling masses as a whole. We must not let that go unpaid,” Gacusana said.

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‘Makabayan bonds’ for OFWs: A swindle?

Migrante International, an alliance of overseas Filipino groups, said Jan. 7 that the Office of External Affairs (OEA) plans to sell government bonds to overseas Filipinos sounds like “a swindle.”

OEA Undersecretary Danny Consumido said OEA aims to raise US$100 million (P5.6 billion) by selling five-year Makabayan Investment Certificates to overseas Filipinos in the United States, Canada and Europe. The investments will then be used to finance small enterprises like piggeries or sari-sari stores.

Maita Santiago, Migrante International secretary general, said the OEA officials could not explain the plan’s safeguards and how much “investors” will earn on their “investment.”

“This ‘Makabayan Bond’ scheme proves what we have said from the onset – that the OEA and its OFW component is all about raking in funds from overseas Filipinos,” she said.

“This plan is likely nothing more than attempt to shore up funds for the administration’s own political use,” she added. “We will strongly expose and oppose this most recent scheme to again exploit OFWs.”

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Militant solon vows to block Jalosjos’ pardon

Gabriela Women’s Party-list Rep. Liza Maza vowed Jan. 4 to oppose any move in the House of Representatives that would support giving pardon to former congressman and convicted rapist Romeo Jalosjos. The statement was in response to the report that at least 50 congressmen have already signed a resolution in favor of the pardon.

Maza, however, said that if this resolution pushes through, “Congress will be committing a grave injustice not only to Jalosjos’ child-victim but to all women victims of violence and sexual abuse.” Congress should not take part in this injustice even if the Department of Justice and Malacañang would grant the pardon, she said.

“To grant Jalosjos his pardon will strengthen Congress’ reputation as an ‘old boys club’ which look out for each member’s interest,” she said.

Maza also said that Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales should serve justice to victims and not favors to old friends, like in the case of his former colleague Jalosjos.

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GMA’s ouster is the only bright thing in 2005 — KMP

Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, secretary general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), berated Jan. 3 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye for lying when they said that there are brighter prospects for the country this year.

Their statements, Ramos said, “is geared to fool the people on the real situation of our country.”

“As can be seen by her first move of the year Gloria is trying to rob small coconut farmers of their hard-earned coco levy funds worth more than P130 billion,” he said. “Besides water rates jacked up on the first day of the year, with oil and power rates sure to follow. What is bright in that?”

Meanwhile, KMP spokesperson Willy Marbella said Macapagal-Arroyo’s possible ouster would be the only bright thing that may happen this year.

He said that in this year of the rooster, people’s existence would become more of “tatlong kahig isang tuka” (literally, three scratches, one peck; figuratively, worse than a hand-to-mouth existence) citing the worsening economic crisis.

“The contradictions between the ruling class and the people will become more acute as well as with the contradictions among the ruling cliques. In other words there would be an all-out ‘sabong’ (cockfight) this year in our country, Marbella said.

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NDFP: AFP broke its own truce

In a statement Jan. 4, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)-Mindanao spokesperson George “Ka Oris” Madlos denounced the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of violating the government’s own 22-day unilateral ceasefire that started Dec. 16 and ended Jan. 5.

Madlos said that while the New People’s Army (NPA) units in Mindanao honored the 10-day unilateral ceasefire declared by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, a 5th Scout Ranger unit conducted an operation in Sitio Palompon, San Isidro, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur.

He added that NPA snipers were forced to fire at the Scout Rangers for defense. Two of the Scout Rangers died.

He also said that from Dec. 16-18, three army infantry battalions held war games in Simbalan, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. Moreover, he said that a certain Teofilo Laguada was shot on Christmas day by a Leviboy Edul, believed to be a military intelligence agent, in Kalabat, Josefina, Zamboanga del Sur.

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