Category: Top Stories

There may be more to the Balikatan military exercises which are set to be held in the Bicol Region this coming April than the much-vaunted “humanitarian missions”. The participation of an overwhelmingly large number of US troops indicates a high likelihood of combat operations during the exercises, said the spokesperson of a Bicol-based anti-Balikatan alliance.

There is still a month before the Balikatan exercises begin in Bicol, but already, preparations for these have claimed the life of a one-year-old girl and brought about US military intervention – with US troops manning checkpoints that have been set up across the region, most notably those in Pili, Camarines Sur and Matnog, Sorsogon.

A woman doing multiple odd jobs, another managing a small variety store and selling newspapers, the poorest, a scavenger – these three women from poor families are finding it increasingly difficult to make both ends meet. Family survival is a daily struggle for them, and yet, they never lose hope and they always find time to fight for genuine change.

Amid snowballing calls for the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Malacañang through one of its spokespersons has argued that the said pact cannot be abrogated since doing so would affect the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the US. But lawyer Neri Javier Colmenares, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), disagrees.

In the midst of the global financial crisis and the resulting job losses in the Philippines, a new labor group is expected to be launched before this month ends. At the same time, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) has declared that it will continue to push for a P125 across-the-board, nationwide wage increase.

“The seriousness of this crisis is such that we cannot expect any solution within the system and certainly not from the US administration, certainly not from the G-20 because within that group, except for a couple of exceptions, is the dominant Washington consensus of the neoliberal agenda, ” said Michel Chossudovsky, a progressive economist and academician.

“In the Philippines, this crisis will be extremely severe because it is imposed upon an existing situation…of dependency, lack of sovereignty, crisis of the real economy, and poverty of the large majority of the population.”

Members of the House Committee on Economic Affairs grilled National Economic Development Agency (NEDA) Director General Ralph Recto over the P330-billion economic stimulus package at a hearing, February 4. The stimulus package, which is much touted by the Arroyo administration, turned out to be a mere repackaging of old programs. Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño called it a “simulation package”.