Non-Abrogation of VFA, no longer a surprise — Bayan Muna

Maris Federez   •   July 30, 2021   •   481

MANILA, Philippines — House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Friday said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to recall the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is “no longer a surprise as it was already an expected move and part of the administration’s Janus-faced foreign policy.”

Zarate said the president was never serious with its decision to abrogate the VFA even from the start.

“We have said it before that he is not really bent on abrogating the VFA. If at all, the prior threat to abrogate is even one way also for Pres. Duterte to appease the United States government and court its favor behind his political plans and for his selected successor in the 2022 elections,” the Davao-based solon said.

“Pres. Duterte is appeasing the US, haggle for more war materiel in support of its US-dictated counter-insurgency campaign. At the same time, he continues to pursue vassal-like relations with China,” he added.

The Deputy Minority leader also emphasized that the government’s move will put the country in the middle of two superpowers.

“Namamangka sa dalawang imperyalistang mga ilog ang foreign policy ng Duterte administration. This is even gravely dangerous and disadvantageous to our country and people,” Zarate said.

“It puts our country between two opposing imperialist superpowers, using our country as a pawn in their race to militarize and dominate the South China Sea,” he added.

Militant groups hold protest action before Comelec on disqualification case vs Marcos

Maris Federez   •   November 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups on Friday held a protest action in front of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Manila as the preliminary conference on the disqualification case against presidential aspirant Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos in the 2022 national and local elections commenced.

The group, calling for the cancellation of Marcos’ certificate of candidacy (COC), said having another Marcos back in Malacañang is unacceptable.

The protesters are composed of the Anakpawis, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bayan Muna, and CARRMA which is also one of the petitioners in Marcos’ disqualification case.

“Nandito kami ngayon sa harapan ng Commission on Elections na iresolba na ang motion for early resolution ng petition for disqualification noong November 18,” CARRMA spokesperson Roneo Clamor said.

Francis Mariazeta of Anakpawis emphasized that Marcos’ violation of the Tax Code is enough reason for him not to be allowed to hold any government office.

“Wala siyang karapatan na tumakbo dahil ang dami niyang mga kasalanan,” he said.

The group urged Comelec to expedite the release of a resolution on the filed petitions against Marcos, and for the poll body to exercise fairness and implement its own rules. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Dante Amento)

Lawmakers want bill on oil pricing transparency to be certified as urgent

Maris Federez   •   October 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the proposed bill that seeks transparency in determining price increases of petroleum products in the country.

This was prompted by the eight consecutive increases in the price of oil products in recent weeks.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate said there is no transparency on the side of oil companies on the basis of the increase or how they determine the amount of the price hike.

Zarate also urged oil companies not to make moves that will hinder the approval of House Bill No. 10386 that seeks to specify in detail the process of price increases being adopted by oil companies.

The Bayan Muna Partylist lawmakers also appealed to the Department of Energy to support the said bill. /mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

DBM chief Avisado goes on medical leave; gets slammed by Bayan Muna amid ayuda concerns

Maris Federez   •   August 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel E. Avisado goes on medical leave from August 02 to 13, 2021.

A statement released on Sunday (August 1) read that this is following the DBM chief’s recent bout with COVID-19 where he was hospitalized for 8 days and quarantined for over a month.

The decision was also based upon the advice of his doctor to undertake a series of examinations as it has been 14 years, the statement said, since he had undergone a quadruple open heart bypass.

To ensure that services of the Department remain unhampered, Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie L. Canda will serve as Officer-in-Charge during this period, the statement further read.

The DBM assured that it will remain “steadfast and committed to its mandate of promoting the efficient and effective management of the national budget to support its budget priorities especially in the midst of the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate slammed Avisado for taking a medical leave amid a stricter lockdown as Metro Manila and several provinces and cities are placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starting Aug. 6.

“Just the other day Secretary Avisado said that he was still trying to find funds for the much-needed ayuda and awaited only a clear directive from President. Was such directive already given?” Zarate asked. “Was he able to find the budget to help our people before the ECQ is implemented?”

The lawmaker also asked the DBM for the 2022 budget proposal, stressing that the pandemic will very likely continue beyond 2021.

“Also, Congress still awaits the executive’s budget proposal for 2022 from the DBM. Is it done already? There is a need to immediately tackle the budget as we are still in the middle of a raging, surging pandemic; we must all act with urgency. This is also the reason why we are pushing for the fast-tracking of the Bayanihan 3 so that funds can be allotted for aid, ASAP,” he said.

“The Bayanihan 3 should be separate, supplemental budget this year. It should not be included in the 2022 budget proposal because our affected people need the ayuda now,” he added.

Zarate also proposed the sourcing of financial aid from the National Budget Circular 586 and the P4.5 billion presidential confidential and intelligence funds for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, in case there is still a lack of funds for financial assistance.

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