Thursday, January 26, 2012

Youth solon nixes compulsory ROTC training

ANTIPOLO City, January 26, 2012—The Kabataan partylist attempted to block the revival of the compulsory Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) among college students, saying that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is allegedly known for its bloody human rights records, should not “meddle” with the academic affairs of the young Juan and Maria de la Cruz.

“The ROTC has taught its cadets how to become blind and docile servants. With its grim and bloody human rights record, the AFP has no right to meddle with the academic affairs of our youth. A war-mongering and mercenary institution must not be allowed to infiltrate schools and teach students,” the lawmaker said.
Instead of a compulsory military training, Palatino filed House Bill No. 2355 or the expansion of the community-service component of the current National Service Training Program (NSTP), being implemented under NSTP Act of 2001.
The young partylist lawmaker said his bill aims to “inculcate the value of nationalism, social consciousness and responsibility in the youth, and for the youth to assist the government agencies in the delivery of basic social services to the people”, adding that the nation needs an army of volunteers and advocates to fight the threats of illiteracy, of political and social apathy, and the perpetuation of social inequities that continue to obstruct genuine national progress.”
Palatino also said that ROTC units in both public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) have been used for years as an instrument to tag organizations, deemed to be critical of the government, as “communist fronts.”
In 2001, the compulsory ROTC training had been eliminated and replaced by community service instead due to the case of Mark Welson Chua, a student from the Pontifical and Royal Catholic University of Sto. Tomas in Manila, who died in hazing. However, it was eventually found out his death was not the result of mere hazing, but murder.
Chua had spilled the beans about the corruption happening inside the UST-ROTC unit and had it published to one of the oldest student publications in the country, The Varsitarian.
The exposé resulted to the relief of the ROTC commandant, Major Demmy Tejares and some of his staff.
After the relief of the said ROTC commanding officers, Chua was advised by the new commandant to undergo security training at the Philippine Army camp, Fort Bonifacio in Makati City, where the murder allegedly happened. Prior the death of Chua, the young man has been receiving death threats. Chua disappeared on March 15, 2001.
Three days after his disappearance, his body was found floating in the murky Pasig River, wrapped in a carpet, with his face covered with cloth and sealed by a packaging tape, and his feet and hands tied up. According to reports, when the body was autopsied, the authorities said Chua was still alive when thrown to the river.
One of the four suspects, Arnulfo Appari, was sentenced to death by lethal injection on March 31, 2004 but the other three—Eduardo Tabrilla, Paul Joseph Tan, and Michael Von Rainard Manangbao are still at-large or also suspected to be missing. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Church, envi groups up in arms again vs mining in Mindoro

MANILA, January 25, 2012— Church and environmental groups are up in arms again over a foreign mining company’s relentless call for nickel mining project in Mindoro.

The list of grievances these groups is holding against the Intex Resources seems to be growing after it announced last Jan.18 in Oslo Stock Exchange that they had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the MCC8 Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese state-owned construction firm to impel the operation of the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP).
Andy Whitmore of the Philippines Indigenous People Links (PipLinks) is questioning the incessant campaigns of Intex for the MNP as both national and international investigations have raised serious concerns about the project.
“They shouldn’t be putting our releases seeking to boost investment in the project until they were able to provide answers in the investigation conducted by the Norwegian Contact Point,” Whitmore said.
Whitmore was referring to the investigation of the Norwegian National Contact Point disclosing that Intex violated certain provisions of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; from the questionable acquisition of Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) to the unconventional Environment Impact Assessment that they failed to present to the local authorities.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) said “both the OECD and the local investigation team have produced conclusive evidences that the Mindoro Nickel Project is unacceptable to the host communities. It is the height of corporate irresponsibility that Intex is rushing the sale of the project, and washing its hands of accountability.”
“The consortium that speaks of green mining concept is still far from reality thus will not impede in our call for Intex to pull out the project and just respect the local ordinance filed in 2002 prohibiting the entry of all large-scale mining in Oriental Mindoro,” he added.
Community rejection
For his part, Jon Sarmiento of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (Alamin) said: “This investment is on high risk!”
“The MNP does not have social acceptability; they are just wasting their time and resources campaigning for the project. Mindoreño will remain vigilant over this matter. We will protect our remaining forest and will not allow anyone, even big companies to extract the minerals underneath… the forest on itself is our wealth,” he said.
Alamin is a network of civil society organizations, Church and local government units in Oriental Mindoro established in 1999 to consolidate people’s opposition to the Mindoro Nickel Project.
In 2009, the Environmental Compliance Certificate for Intex had been revoked after local protest and a hunger strike was done against the project.
Commissioner Dionisia Banua of the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples ensured that despite the current partnership NCIP will ensure that the FPIC will be served and implemented with integrity.
Bigger call
Fr. Edu Gariguez of the CBCP Nassa reaffirmed its stand that the government mining policy is like selling our lands to foreign investors with liberal conditions while our people continue to grow in poverty.
“We stated that the adverse social impact on the affected communities far outweigh the gains promised by the trans-national corporations,” Gariguez explained.
He concluded, “We have a bigger call to this government, refrain from promoting the minerals industry, and promote the rights of the Filipino people, repeal the mining act of 1995, and pass the Alternative Minerals Management Bill that secures all these rights and prioritizes environmental protection and food security over mineral resources.”
The groups expressed their ire as they launched recently the book, the Mindoro Struggle: Protecting Island Ecology, Defending People’s Rights, a compilation of several studies on the Mindoro critical ecosystems, including mining threat to food security and the Final Statement of the Norwegian NCP on the violated OECD Guidelines. [CBCPNews]


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