>> Thursday, February 26, 2009

Legaspi City, Albay

Dios maray na aldaw sa indo gabos.

I add my voice to the call of the many fearless Bicolanos in opposing the RP-US Balikatan military exercise. We must push the Arroyo administration to protect our people from further foreign military intrusion. The rest of the country must emulate your example.

Let me be clear and straight: the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement must be abrogated. It is a one-sided agreement filled with duplicity. It is an agreement that only serves America's hegemony. These Balikatan exercises, born from the VFA, have no place in the present time as the world moves towards peaceful conflict resolution and negotiations, and not provocation and bellicosity which these war games essentially encourage. The presence of US troops only puts our country in peril.

Moreover, the Balikatan is an exercise in sheer futility; inutile and irrelevant at a time of global economic recession. The money spent for these war games could better be spent on the indigent Bicolanos' needs. Bombs and bullets should be converted into books and paper for school children. Tanks should be transformed into ploughs. Marching soldiers replaced with farmers' subsidies.

Pending the outcome of the Senate's review of the Visiting Forces Agreement, I call for the suspension of all Balikatan exercises to prevent additional injury to our country and people. Our local governments, too, must be well advised not to extend servile hospitality to those who continue to defile our country's sovereignty.

Rizal said that there are no slaves where there are no tyrants. We are presently held captive by two tyrants - our own government and the United States. The latter extends hegemony worldwide to protect its interests while the former acts as its ever willing and loyal lackey.

The task is simple: let us cut the chain that has bound us for more than a century! Let us cut the chain that strangles our sovereignty!



>> Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Senator Jamby Madrigal welcomed the members of the militant fisher folk alliance, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) as they docked at the breakwater near the Philippine Senate grounds this morning.

PAMALAKAYA held a 10-boat fluvial parade from Bacoor, Cavite to the Philippine Senate to present to Senator Madrigal, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, the fisher folk legislative agenda that include their call to stop the dismantling of fish pens, fish traps and mussels aquaculture structures in Manila Bay.

The fisher folks accuse the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and local government officials of misinterpreting the December 18, 2008 Supreme Court Ruling ordering concerned government agencies to coordinate the clean-up, restoration, and preservation of the water quality of the Manila Bay. It was, according to the group, a "cloak to justify the intention of the DENR to get rid of the structures in order to give way to the construction of R-1 Expressway Extension Project of the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

The 7-km R-1 Expressway Extension will involve the reclamation of 7,500 hectares of submerged public lands and mangrove areas.

"I personally went to Bacoor and Binakayan towns in Cavite two weeks ago to inspect the supposed implementation of the Supreme Court Order to clean up Manila Bay. I was appalled at how the involved government agencies are exploiting the Manila bay clean up order to destroy the livelihood of the fishermen living along the coast of the bay!" exclaimed Madrigal.

Sen. Madrigal went to Bacoor Cavite on board Philippine Coast Guard boat from the ferry terminal at the Mall of Asia. She witnessed the "clean-up operation" of the DENR and the dredging of sea sand in Cavite.

In a dialogue with the residents of Bacoor, she was told of the P4.3 billion R-1 Road Extension Project that, the residents claimed, resulted to the diminished fish catch and destruction of remaining corals and mangroves in Bacoor Bay (part of Manila bay in Bacoor town). The road project is also being blamed for the flooding in Bacoor and nearby coastal towns in the province.


Madrigal lauds Enrile for approval of Magna Carta of Women bill

>> Monday, February 2, 2009

Madrigal lauds Enrile for approval of Magna Carta of Women bill

Sen. Jamby Madrigal, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations, today paid tribute to "the decisive leadership" of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for the approval on second reading of the proposed Magna Carta of Women Wednesday night.

"The proposed Magna Carta of Women Law has been languishing in the Senate since the 12th Congress and I attribute the approval of this bill to the decisive leadership of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who is not afraid to reckon with the various pressure groups opposing this bill," Madrigal said.

Madrigal said various groups which she described as "right-wing Catholic forces" have succeeded in blocking the passage of the bill in Congress for the past seven years.

"This is a very important bill because it guarantees the basic rights of women and provide them with necessary protection against discrimination and abuse," Madrigal said. "This is milestone legislation in defending the human rights of the poor women who have no access to proper healthcare, who are marginalized and victims of discrimination and abuse."

During its session Wednesday, the Senate approved on second reading Senate Bill No.1701 also known as the "Magna Carta for Women" which aims to protect Filipino women from all forms of gender discrimination and abuse.

The bill was sponsored on the floor by Madrigal's committee. The bill was authored by Senators Pia Cayetano, Edgardo Angara, Panfilo Lacson, Ramon Revilla Jr., Richard Gordon, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Manny Villar, Loren Legarda, and Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Madrigal lauded Enrile for presiding over the Senate sessions "with dispatch, efficiency and a statesmanlike conduct" which she said enabled the chamber "to approve vital legislation, such as the proposed Magna Carta of Women, that will benefit the majority of the Filipino people."

Enrile said the approval of the proposed Magna Carta of Women was part of Congress' effort to revise the discriminatory provisions against women in various laws existing in the country.

"These include some provisions of the Family Code that pertains to a husband's decision prevailing over the wife's disagreements involving conjugal property, and in cases of parental authority and legal guardianship over the person and property of a common child," he explained.

"There are also provisions in the Labor Code and the Revised Penal Code that will be amended, such as the provision covering night work prohibition for women workers, and the Anti-Rape Law which defines marital rape and its penalties. The Revised Penal Code's articles on concubinage and adultery, where women can be easily charged with adultery, will likewise be amended.

The provisions allowing for polygamy, early and arranged marriages, and unequal inheritance for women in the Code of Muslim Personal Laws will also be amended," Enrile added.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, principal sponsor of the measure, said that "the bill seeks to boost the government's commitment to uphold the human rights of women especially, small farmers and rural workers, fisher folks, urban poor, women in the military, migrant workers, indigenous people, Muslim women, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and solo parents."

The proposed Magna Carta of Women enumerates the rights of marginalized women such as the right to food security and productive resources, housing, decent work, employment, livelihood, credit, capital and technology, education and training, and right to information and social participation. It also provides that the Commission on Human Rights can now oversee and hear complaints of discrimination against women.

Madrigal pointed out that the most important aspect of the bill was that it will define in the law the meaning of "discrimination," thus making unlawful all forms of discrimination against women. "Many Filipino women continue to suffer discrimination despite the enactment of pro-women laws, like the International Bill of Rights laid down by the UN in its general assembly on the Convention on the Elimination on all Forms of Discrimination Against Women", Cayetano said.

Legarda, a co-sponsor of the bill said the measure will lay down the policies that will enable women to actively participate and contribute to our national development.

Zubiri, on the other hand, said gender equality is always on top of the international agenda. "The approval of this bill will strengthen gender equality and empowerment of women in the Philippines," Zubiri said.


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