Archive for akbayan

My Top Seven Favorite Quotes from RISA HONTIVEROS

For inspiration, introspection, or provocation, on the last few days before May 10:

–          On LGBT rights and discrimination:

“This is a human rights issue…This is the real clash of civilization, this idea that one group of people is inferior to another. What we need to counter this is also fundamental. We have to change the way we live as families, the way we raise our children, the way we befriend each other, or enter into relationships with each other. Dapat din yung mga institusyon ng lipunan natin ay maabot ng ganitong uri ng pagbabago and that’s what the Anti-Discrimination bill wants to be a part of – a change of consciousness and a change of systems as well.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ6r1ri8gNw&feature=related

–          On Reproductive Health (debating Kit Tatad):

“Kabuuan po ang katawan naming mga babae pati kayong mga lalaki. Bahagi ng kalusugan ang reproductive health… Kailangan laman pong malaman na kasinungalinan sabihin na may aborsyon sa RH bill… Definitely hindi sakit ang pagbubuntis; kailangan iwasan yung unintended pregnancies para mabawasan yung pagkamatay at pagkasira ng pamilya…. Ang ininusulong po ng RH bill ay yung access sa impormasyon, sa serbisyo, at kung pipiliin,modern family planning methods para sa bawat babae o kanyang asawa o ka-partner para ma-plano ang kanilang pamilya at mabuhay sila sa isang makataong antas ng pamumuhay. ” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehwkV-GHqkg

–          On jobs and the economy:

“I think there are a lot of spaces yet in our economy where we can and should find places where people can get a job or make a living… (Increasing productivity) will have to be (a focus of our platform) para buksan pa yung space for further social reforms including asset reform and greater economy in the economy. We do have to make the pie bigger and more meaty so there’s more substance to be distributed for all the citizens to share. If we generate more and quality employment with a degree of security to it for the employees, that should be an incentive for greater productivity across all sectors of the economy… “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnVflc0sd2w

–          On parenthood:

“I have to be there for my kids’ happenings. If it means waking up early and sleeping late, I will do that. To do stuff for them and with them – ngayon lang ‘yan eh. When they have their own lives, we can take back ours.” (Interview with HIPP magazine.)

–          What she tells her kids, and young people:

“Follow your bliss, find the thing you love most that you’re good at doing, that will make you happy. ‘Yan na rin ang magiging serbisyo nyo.” (Interview with HIPP Magazine.)

“In this time of hate and violence, find the thing you’re happy with because happiness transforms you.” (Interview with 100 magazine)

–          On her passion for public service:

“Knowing what’s happening, understanding what’s happening and forming an opinion and based on that opinion, trying to find out what can be done – that’s what I’m passionate about…. Let’s get involved and let’s get it right this time. This is the rest of our lives.” (Interview with 100 magazine)

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Own the BNPP? Why not?!? ;p

So I guess most everybody by now knows about the efforts to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Now, regardless of how you feel about nuclear energy, and all the economic, social and environmental issues that come with it, consider this: The proposed bill by Rep. Mark Cojuanco (Pangasinan) wants to fund the project in two ways: 1) for the government to enter into foreign and domestic loan agreements to publicly fund the project; and 2) to impose a SURCHARGE UPON ALL ELECTRICITY CONSUMERS OF TEN CENTAVOS PER KILOWATTHOUR, for the next five years, even before the plant becomes operational. There is a conditon too that three years or so after the plant becomes operational, consumers will be reimbursed for the surcharges they have paid. (There are no further details as to how this reimbursement will actually be done.)

To my mind, what this is is a loan from electricity consumers to the government, to be paid at a future time through reimbursement. In effect, papautangin natin ang gobyerno (in installment for the next five years and at the rate of ten centavos per kilowatthour we consume) para ma-operate nito ang BNPP. Babayaran nila tayo thru reimbursement. (In which case, then shouldn’t we be reimbursed PLUS INTEREST?)

Anyway, Mr. Cojuanco wants it this way, so that, he says, the FILIPINO PEOPLE CAN OWN THE PLANT. He justifies the surcharge by citing the big savings that he expects the Filipino people to enjoy once the plant is running and supplying “clean and cheap” power to everybody. Hmmm…. how benevolent, no?

What do you think? For as little as 30 pesos per month (depende na lang sa iyong lifestyle), you, my dear Filipino, can own your little slice of nuclear heaven that is BNPP!!!!!!! What an amazing prospect!!!!!! Game ka ba????? 🙂

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Who needs big-name celeb endorsements?

Narito ang mga tunay na kwento ng mga tunay na tao para sa TUNAY NA PARTIDO!

Here is Akbayan’s campaign video showing its achievements and advocacies. Special feature: the music video of “Ihahatid Kita” – a Gary Granada composition for Akbayan, performed by progressive Filipino artists Noel Cabangon, Bayang Barrios, Cooky Chua, and Gary Granada.


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Office of the Propagandist?

There are several indicators that we’re on the homestretch to election day. One of these is the increase, in quantity and audacity, of the black propaganda being hurled at us by other groups. Akbayan has long been on the receiving end of such propaganda so we’ve pretty much seen and heard it all. But some of what we’ve been hearing lately are proving to be quite interesting.

Take for instance, this text message forwarded to me by a friend. Let’s call her Nene:

“From 2004 to present, the 3 Akbayan congressmen authored a total of 49 bills or 16 bills each ave or 5 bills each per year. Walang naipasang batas! Nakakahiya!”

According to Nene, the text came from someone who currently works for Mike Defensor, a some-time assistant secretary at one of the offices under the Office of the President (OP) with the lofty ambition of occupying a top post in the Department of Agriculture post-May.

Compare this with the press statement of Babae Ka! Party-list, one of the dubious party-list groups that we have exposed as a Malacanang-backed front:

‘”Anim na taon na sila sa Kongreso. Nitong nakaraang tatlong taon ay tatlo pa ang kanilang kinatawan pero kahit isang batas ay walang naipasa ang grupong ito. Ngayon sila daldal ng daldal samantalang noong may sesyon ang Kongreso ay hindi sila nagpasa ng batas na magtatakda sa paglabas ng pangalan ng mga nominado,” Dagami said.

“Sa loob ng tatlong taon, yung isang kinatawan nila ay pitong panukalang batas lang ang nagawa. Yung isa naman ay labing-tatlo, at yung isa dalawampu’t siyam nga pero puro kinopya lang naman sa mga panukala ng ibang mambabatas,” Dagami added.’ (Full article)

Sounds familiar, no? Rosalinda “Sally” Dagami is Babae Ka’s Chair and First Nominee who has admitted to media that many members of Babae Ka are employees of the OEA (Office of External Affairs, under the OP). Whilst Dagami and Babae Ka continue to vehemently deny being backed by or receiving funding from Malacanang, the PCIJ has recently released a report on a confidential official OEA memorandum requesting GMA for funding for a campaign to install a “pro-administration party-list bloc” in Congress. Babae Ka, according to that report, is one of these groups.

Now, let’s go to a Letter to the Editor published in PDI on April 21 entitled Akbayan’s Zoo. Here are some juicy quotes:

‘Oh yes, the accreditation of new party-list groups has made Akbayan skeptical, bordering on being panicky. Its leaders are now going berserk for fear of losing precious votes and one or even two seats in the House of Representatives; thus, seeing their perks, in the form of multimillion-pesos in pork barrel, reduced.

These so-called leaders have a tendency to believe that they are the only people on earth who have the skills to organize and educate the people. Certainly they can organize, mobilize and even arouse the masses. However, instead of serving the welfare of the people, they function only to protect the interest of their organizations and ideology. That’s their secret plot.

Akbayan has turned the House of Representatives into a zoo. The “zookeeper” must do something about this.’

The letter sent via email was by one Leonardo Kirk Galanza. A quick Google search of that name will lead you to three sites. One is the online version of the above L2E; another is a webpage listing the officers of a certain fraternity where Mr. Galanza is identified as the National Adviser; and another links to an old, May 5, 2005 news item by Sunstar.com on an unpaid overdue loan undertaken by the Baguio City Government. Mr. Galanza was quoted therein as he spoke in his capacity as “secretariat officer-in-charge” of no other than the Office of External Affairs.

Hmmm… My inner Sherlock smells something fishy! So, I send a text message to Nene: “By any chance, Ne, is the person texting you the anti-Akbayan propaganda named Leonardo Kirk Galanza?”

I’ll give you one guess what her reply is. Clue: It isn’t a “No.”

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. As for me, I only have one question for Mr. Galanza: By “the zookeeper,” who is it that you mean? Kasi kung si Gloria yun, I have to say, bagay sa kanya… 🙂

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Pharma and Karma

As with most of the progressive policy reform bills that we try to push in Congress, we did not expect that passing the Affordable Medicines Bill (House Bill 6035) would be easy. When deliberations on the bill actually began, we had mixed feelings about what was to come. On one hand, the bill was certified as urgent by GMA (for once she did something right), which meant that we could theoretically depend on the support of JDV and the majority bloc. It has also been passed on third reading by the Senate, which we hoped would somewhat strengthen the impetus for the Thirteenth Congress to add something important to its less-than-impressive list of laws made.

On the other hand, we heard through the grapevine that the lawyers of PHAP, the umbrella org of pharmaceutical companies operating in the Philippines (whom I personally think of as an evil bunch, subject maybe to a few exceptions), were directed “to spare no expense” in making sure that the bill would not see the light of the day.

This, of course, was far from surprising. For years, multinational pharmaceutical companies have dominated the sale and distribution of medicines in the country, and they could not be expected to give up their huge profit margins without a fight. Imagine, on the anti-hypertensive drug Norvasc alone, Pfizer earns more than a billion pesos a year. That’s right. Not millions, but BILLIONS. That’s on ONE drug alone, for ONE company, in ONE country.

Here are more facts to digest: The price of medicines in the Philippines is said to be second highest (if not the highest) in Asia. The difference in prices across the region is astounding. For instance, Ponstan, a popular pain reliever produced by drug giant Pfizer, costs around P21 in the Philippines but only P2.61 in India and P1.38 in Pakistan. A 10-mg tablet of Norvasc costs about P70 in the Philippines. In India, Pfizer sells the exact same product for only P9. Ventolin, a drug for persons suffering from asthma, sells for P315 here while Glaxo sells it for P123 in India and only P62 in Pakistan. Outrageous, noh?

Big bad pharma will say that the high price of medicines in the country is due to their investments for research and development. This is simply misleading. What pharma will not admit is that the costs for R&D are considered to be “sunk costs” which are not really factored in pricing. The fact of the matter is that MNCs price drugs according to market forces or “what the market can bear.” The problem here is that the only markets they consider when they formulate prices are the A & B markets! I guess they think that the A-B crowd are the only people who matter since they are the ones who can afford to buy medicines in the first place, in effect placing often life-saving medicines further beyond the reach of the ordinary Juan and Juana dela Cruz. (Makes me angry, really. I’d buy me some Norvasc, only I couldn’t afford it.) In a country like ours, where only a tiny fraction of the population has decent access to healthcare, this is simply unacceptable. Health should not be a matter of privilege. It should be a matter of right.

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