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Philippine News Digest 80

September 8, 2006 · 

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(Mabuhay, Sunday Examiner, September , 2006)
Contents:
1. Shadow of death stalks land reform but proponents remain confident of success.

2. Water cannons do not dampen anti-mining protesters.

3. Are the real heroes working overseas or at home?

Shadow of death stalks land reform but proponents remain confident of success.
Jose Noel Olano and Armando Jarilla, two community organisers said that the violence surrounding the land claim issues escalated suddenly when Arroyo came to power, as that was about the time the concentration of claims shifted from government land to privately owned. Olano said that the land lords “will do anything to stop that. They will use the courts, file spurious and trumped-up charges, harass and terrify farmers, hire goons to go into their homes and interrogate them, have them terminated (murdered), even if they have just put their name on a land claim, and cut off any means of livelihood they may have.”

Jarilla added that the government does not have the political will to enforce its own legislation, “And this is from the top down,” he said “beginning with the president.” He pointed out that some government-appointed officials actually work to block the successful administration of their own offices.

They explained that land lords use the local courts illegally to delay implementation of CARP, despite provisions in the agrarian reform law, which state that “no regular courts can intervene in agrarian-related cases.” They said that this decision is affirmed by a July 2004 ruling of the Supreme Court that the DAR “has exclusive jurisdiction over agrarian matters and the lower courts cannot issue restraining orders against CARP.” The decision was duly recorded in September of the same year so is “final and executory” and enshrined in law.

The lawlessness of The Philippines is clearly demonstrated in the blatant manner in which local courts spurn the authority of the Supreme Court, and despite having no authority to deal with such matters, 76 cases have successfully been filed against 787 land claimants in 49 cases to date.

Water cannons do not dampen anti-mining protesters.

TUBAY (UCAN) : Southern Philippine residents, fearful of losing their livelihood, are protesting against mining operations, which are just starting in their town.

Three mining and construction firms—San Roque Metals Inc., Galeo Equipment and San-R Construction—have reportedly begun operations in three communities along the coast of Tubay, in Agusan del Norte province.

In March, local authorities granted the three companies permits to mine for gold, copper and nickel, in the communities of La Fraternidad, Tinigbasan and Binuangan. Each company was allotted a 20-hectare area and, according to residents, mining operations commenced in April.

On August 6, a team of police and fire officers from the province, turned water cannons on 200 protesters, who were picketing in La Fraternidad. Police reports said the people
blocked a road leading to the mining site.

Apart from concerns about mine-tailing spills, Tubay residents have also complained to the municipal council that the companies are operating in unauthorised areas.

Are the real heroes working overseas or at home?

There is constant dispersion of Filipinos. Every day, embassies are full of workers seeking visa, many arrive as early as midnight to secure a slot in the application process. So many Filipinos are leaving because they are not and cannot be productive in their own country.

The millions of Filipinos working abroad are simply earning a living, they are surviving. However, OFWs are no longer biting the title “hero”. They are no more heroic than the workers, who inhale toxic fumes and dust along EDSA while sweeping up litter every day.

More crucial is the given undeniable fact of a visible and overwhelming presence of thousands of migrant workers announcing to all and sundry, “We are here, we have left our homes, our countries, we are here!” Fr. Robert Reyes

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