ADMU Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral’s Stand on HR 1109 and Salient Points

10 06 2009

First Posted:

June 09, 2009 at 11:05am Facebook

House Resolution No. 1109 Salient Points:

A RESOLUTION CALLING UPON THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO CONVENE FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSIDERING PROPOSALS TO AMEND OR REVISE THE CONSTITUTION, UPON A VOTE OF THREE-FOURTHS OF ALL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

1. Convening the members of congress in order to amend or revise the 1987 constitution being used by the country today

a. It is provided that the Members of Congress have the constitutionally ordained powers to amend or revise the constitution given the exercise of their constituent power as recognized in Article XVII, section 1 of the Constitution.

2. The method to which this provision is enacted upon came from distinction evoked from the constitutional change that occurred in the 1935, 1973, and 1987 constitutions.

a. Evident difference with the 1935 and 1987 Constitutions have led this house resolution to be so. Changes that are of crucial value are:

i. The deletion of the phrase “in joint session assembled” as found in the 1935 constitution

ii. The deletion of the phrase, “all members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately” as found in the 1935 constitution, there by obscuring the distinction as to which institution of Congress a representative is part of when it comes to the voting requiring three-fourths of all the members

b. Proposals to amend or revise the 1987 constitution can only be provided only when there is already a call to convene the Members of Congress.

i. The proponents of this resolution then pledged that any form of change may be presented at the appropriate times given that other constitutional issues involving the construction and interpretation of the 1987 Constitution is conducted by the Honorable Supreme Court.

ii. Controversies that may be related to this resolution may be resolved with finality that:

1. The terms of office of the incumbent President and Vice-President, as well as the Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, and other elected officials whose term of office shall expire in 2010 shall not be extended;

2. The terms of office of the twelve (12) senators whose term shall expire in 2013 shall not be shortened;

3. That there shall be elections in 2010.

4. The economic provisions making the Philippines an internationally competitive country attracting foreign investments and technology transfers is also mentioned, but can only be presented and acted upon when there is already a convention to amend or revise the constitution and will be made operational through the application of Article XVII of the present Constitution.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, THAT THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS BE CONVENED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROPOSING AMENDMENTS TO, OR REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION UPON A VOTE OF THREE-FOURTHS OF ALL ITS MEMBERS AND THAT UPON ITS BEING CONVENED SHALL ADOPT ITS RULES OF PROCEDURES THAT SHALL GOVERN ITS PROCEEDINGS

Last Tuesday, June 2, 2009, the Philippine House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1109 which calls for the convening of Congress into a Constitutional Assembly. The decision, voted by means of acclimation, was reached after four (4) hours of interpolation and to much debate by both Administration and Opposition congressmen.

House Resolution 1109 provides the House of Representatives with powers to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution given their right to exercise their constituent power as stipulated in Article XVII, Section 1 of the said constitution. The method adopted in the writing of this resolution was enacted upon with respect to the changes in the 1935, 1973, and 1987 constitutions. This resolution then entails the Members of the Congress (i.e. the Senators and Congressmen) to vote jointly – not separately – on any amendment or revision to be made with the 1987 Constitution.

In matters of constitutional issues involving the construction and interpretation of the 1987 Constitution, it is the Honorable Supreme Court that shall decide on all affairs.H.R. 1109 has provisions for the prohibition of the extension of terms of the incumbent President and Vice-President, as well as the Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, and other elected officials whose term of office shall expire in 2010, the office of the twelve (12) senators whose term shall expire in 2013 shall not be shortened, and that there shall be elections in 2010.

The Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral, as an institution founded on the principle of Democracy – with its values of participation, responsible representation, and forwarding national interest, stands firm in positing that H.R. 1109:

1. has clearly not been, and is still not at the best interest of the Filipino people at the moment

2. has not undergone the proper process of consultation by seemingly railroading the resolution into approval without proper regard for objection and queries from various individuals and groups.

3. is seemingly and potentially a product of dubious intention by powers that have significant influence in Congress

The Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral, as an institution founded on the principle of National Dignity and Social Justice, firmly believes that H.R. 1109 is a mere distraction to more pressing legislative matters such as the pending Student Rights and Welfare Bill, efforts to protect our economy from the effects of the global recession and other legislative agenda championing the interests of the poor and marginalized in society.

The Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral questions the timing at which the members of the House have chosen to push for this arguably unconstitutional first step in attempting to amend the constitution. The realities of the upcoming elections include the logistical difficulties of preparing for a plebiscite in case amendments are forwarded by an assembly and the suspicions over the real motive behind this effort.

The Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral, is an institution that partakes in the endeavors of the youth, which it sees as the primary stakeholder of the nation. The implications of H.R. 1109 are clearly not in line with the interests of the youth today. The Sanggunian firmly supports the desire of the youth to exercise its democratic right to vote in the 2010 national elections.

Therefore, the Sanggunian ng mgaMag-aaral stands firmly against moves to amend the constitution via a Constituent Assembly. It believes that NOW is NOT the time to amend the constitution.

The Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral, as an institution that represents, integrates, and provides services to the student body calls on the student body to

(1) participate in discourses and forums to be set-up by the Sanggunian and other groups to be properly educated on the political situations;

(2) continue to participate in voters’ registration which will be important whether an election or a plebiscite happens in 2010;

(3) be vigilant of the poll automation process that is happening in COMELEC. If a plebiscite will occur or the 2010 election pushes through, we shall rely heavily on those machines that are being set-up in determining our future leaders.

(4) create political space in cyberspace by discussing this issue with your friends;

(5) write what your stand is to your congressmen and senators;

(6) write to the Supreme Court that we trust them to uphold what is true, unbiased and just in their decision regarding HR 1109;
(7) participate in the major protest concert on June 10, 2009 in Makati, Tondo, or Katipunan as well as the regular noise barrages that will happen on seven consecutive Fridays starting June 12 until the July 27 SONA of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Scincerely,
Gregorio Ramon A. Tingson

President
Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila





Statement of Prof. Walden Bello

29 07 2008

President of Freedom from Debt Coalition
On the Occasion of the State of the Nation Address
28 July 2008

Today is Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s eighth State of the Nation Address. Again, she will be reviewing her performance in the past year and set the policy agenda for the next year. According to her staff, will tackle the issues of a national social welfare program addressing the crisis, value added tax, family planning and other policy statements.

After eight years in power you would think she would have been able to set the conditions for economic growth. Being an economist, you would expect her to have come up with an integrated and strategic development plan that would support the different economic sectors. Instead Arroyo has been more concerned about dodging political controversies, covering up for anomalies in government transactions and sometimes even resorting to theatrics to save her own skin from the issue of electoral fraud. Meanwhile, the lack of attention and investments in important economic sectors such as energy and agriculture has made the country vulnerable to crises.

Mrs. Arroyo would have us believe that the current crisis is not of her making, that external factors like the rise in the international prices of rice and oil are to blame, that before early this year, the country’s economic fundamentals were good.

The administration claims that in 2007 the recorded growth rate of the GDP was a high 7.3%. But that figure has been discredited by business consultant Peter Wallace and even the World Bank as a statistical fluke that masks a 5.4% decrease in imports. Instead, the real picture as painfully experienced by Filipinos every day does not look good at all.

The reality is indicated by the same brutal numbers: more poor people in 2007 than in 2000, more people without jobs, a real decline in average family income, the shrinking of the middle class as more people jump ship and swim to other shores.

The World Bank chimes in, with data illustrating an increase in poverty incidence between 2003 and 2006 with the level of poverty incidence very closely approximating the year 2000 levels. In 2006, 27.6 million out of 84 million Filipinos have fallen below the poverty line. So after eight long years, what has this administration really achieved?

For the past 25 years the record of the Philippines in terms of economic growth has been terrible, the worst in Southeast Asia. Second-tier ASEAN states such as Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar are faring much better with average GDP per capita growth rates ranging from 3.8 to 6.6 % in the past fifteen years or so. Compare that with the measly 1.6% for the Philippines.

So what has ailed the Philippine economy for so long? The usual culprits international financial institutions point to are protectionism and high wages. However as we will go to show, these are not the things weighing the economy down but the chronic inability to invest on economic infrastructure with annual budgets eaten away by debt service payments and the negative impacts of trade liberalization and debt conditionalities.

One scapegoat is the alleged protectionist policies and high wages. Contrary to the usual; claims, the Philippines, to its detriment, has pursued a more profound liberalization program compared to its Asian neighbors beginning in the 1980s. As for the high wages argument, High wages also benefit the Philippine economy because it stimulates consumption. In a situation where there is a dearth of capital investments, an increase in wages will lead to a higher level of aggregate demand that will result in a utilization of current excess capacity in industry, leading to faster growth and more employment.

So if those identified are not the culprits of the stagnation we are currently experiencing, then what are? Bad economic decision-making since the mid 1980s. Why do we focus on key policy decisions? The reason is that these decisions—in particular the fateful decision to channel government financial resources to debt repayment instead of capital expenditures—go a long way towards explaining why our neighbors leaped forward as we stagnated.

Owing to pressure from international creditors, the fledgling democratic government of President Corazon Aquino adopted the so-called “model debtor strategy” in the hope of continuing to have access to international capital markets. This approach was cast in iron by Executive Order 292, which affirmed the “automatic appropriation” from the annual government budget of the full amount needed to service the foreign debt. What this has achieved is channeling of government revenue to debt servicing. In 1986-1993 around $30 billion went to paying off interests to creditors, money which should have gone into public investments on infrastructure and social services that would eventually lead to attracting higher levels of private investments. Succeeding administrations have, including the current one, have followed the model debtor strategy.

As of December 2007, Philippines has an accumulated external debt of $61.83 billion, which amounts to 55.8% of the GDP. Apart from Marcos administration, Arroyo’s has incurred the highest levels of borrowing. Debt incurred by her administration between 2001-2005 totaled P2.44 trillion compared to the combined borrowings of the Aquino, Ramos and Estrada administrations which stood at P1.46 trillion.

After making the decision to religiously service our debts at the expense of public investments, beginning 1994 our economic managers decided to pursue a radical program to unilaterally reduce all tariffs to zero to five percent by 2004. If the hemorrhage of payments on the foreign debt blew a hole on the expenditure side, trade liberalization, by reducing a very critical source of government revenues, blew a hole on the revenue side. Aside from crippling local industries owing to the entry of cheap foreign products, trade liberalization resulted in a radical decrease in customs collection. The overall result of this double punch was a state that could not invest because it had so little to invest—a government that could not act as an agent of development. As with the model debtor strategy, the Arroyo administration has not broken with the policies of trade and financial liberalization.

The Philippine experience has shown how important economic decision-making is in determining economic success and failure. When coupled with massive corruption, such as that which pervades Malacanang today, wrong policies can condemn a country to permanent stagnation. This corrupt and unimaginative administration that is compliant with foreign financial interests is one that most Filipinos would like to put behind them.

 





GMA, eight years hence…

26 07 2008

As Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recites her litany of superficial achievements and elusive promises on Monday, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines will certainly watch her with a critical eye.

The Past is the Present

SCAP believes that GMA has been merely placing band-aid solutions on the real problems of the society, much more she has failed, time and again to address problems that concern her very office.

The past is the present. Poverty, corruption, electoral fraud, diminishing democracy, traditional politics, betrayal of public’s trust, etc; the past is the present. What we saw eight years ago is the same thing that we are seeing here today. There is nothing new and we expect nothing new from Ms. Arroyo.

The Real State of the Youth

Ms. Arroyo will definitely embrace the youth sector once more as she delivers her eight State of the Nation address. She will be bragging about the millions of pesos that her government has placed on different scholarship programs, about the additional budget that was allotted to the sector.

Apparently, the Alliance sees these as desperate attempts to pacify the unyielding youth.

CHED stated that the standing growth rate of college enrollees in A.Y. 2004-2005 in both the Private and Public sector is a disturbing -0.8 %.

The percentages of grade school and high school dropouts have increased dramatically from 7.67 % and 8.5 % respectively in A.Y. 2000-2001 to 10.57 % and 15.81 % correspondingly in A.Y. 2005-2006. Less and less of our students make it to the finish line. Additional figures show that only 56.76 % of elementary students and 54.14 % of high school students are able to graduate from their particular courses, a great decrease from the 66.13 % and 70.62 % completion rates of grade school and high school students in A.Y. 2000-2001. [i]

As of 2004, only 27% of Filipinos aged 25-64 years old are able to attain a college diploma.[ii]

The Philippine Higher Education has also lagged behind our neighboring countries in terms of its quality. It ranked no. 62 within 2007-2008, a notch lower from that of 2006, according to the World Economic Forum.[iii]

If Ms. Arroyo is saying that her government has been spending more for the education sector than any other past administration, well, SCAP evidently believes that no government has spent enough. At least, no Philippine administration has met the international standards for education spending which is supposedly pegged at 6% of our Gross National Product as prescribed by the Delors Commission of the UNESCO.[iv]

In addition to all these, the education sector remains to be deregulated and commercialized. Educational institutions are mere idle bodies which cannot address the real problems of the sector.

The Quest for Truth, Accountability and Reform Continues…

SCAP joins the civil society and the progressive bloc in calling for truth, accountability and reform in all the democratic processes in our country.

Demanding for Truth…

If Ms. Arroyo is sincere with her war against corruption and fraud, she should begin by coming out clean and by commanding all officials who were involved in the controversial ZTE-NBN deal to speak out instead of circumventing constitutional provisions such as the “Executive Privilege” to protect political interests.

This is not the first illegitimate debt that our country has incurred. Moreover, Ms. Arroyo should recount all our country’s illegitimate debts and pressure the legislators to push for a congressional debt audit.

This, time and again, shows that while majority of our people are suffering from price hikes in all forms of commodities, some people have the knack at getting billions from government procured contracts at the expense of the greater poor.

This should rattle if not enrage the conscience of our government knowing fully well, that corruption is happening beneath Ms. Arroyo’s nose, if we even consider giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Exacting Accountability…

Ms. Arroyo, above all else, should stop blocking the impeachment process in Congress. Her administration is too immersed in scandal and controversy that coming out from an impeachment trial is the only constitutional mechanism that could vindicate her, if she’s not proven guilty that is.

This SONA, once again, will be a venue to exact accountability from Ms. Arroyo and her government.

Sustainable Reforms…

SCAP unites with all those who are pushing for the extension and reform of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Millions of farmers are at the brink of losing their lands once more while others would never have the chance of owning their own lands. The odds are great when we talk about Agrarian Reform; the elements of warlords threaten this progressive bill. SCAP therefore renews its challenge to Ms. Arroyo to urge congress to pass CARPER and to subject their (Arroyo’s) lands to the program, which she should have done years ago.

Aside from AR, SCAP also challenges the Arroyo administration to seriously engage a transparent electoral reform agenda to redeem the already degraded Commission on Elections which Ms. Arroyo herself has damaged. As the national polls near, SCAP is again wary of confronting a disenfranchised youth sector. The COMELEC, more than anything else, should be at the forefront of pursuing a conscientious voter’s education program. The government should revive the people’s trust in democratic institutions such as the COMELEC; otherwise, our country will certainly go to the dogs.

Above everything else, the government should focus on creating more equitable economic policies/solutions to resolve our country’s economic problems instead of incurring more unfair trade deals and illegitimate loans from foreign powers.

The Present is OUR Future

With our present state, SCAP sees a bleak future for the youth. It is very appalling to learn that the youth will inherit a very damaged government. It is even more alarming that we are being honed in this kind of society.

As always, SCAP demands for truth, accountability and reform.

We demand to repeal the Education Deregulation Act 0f 1982.

We demand for the immediate passage of the Students Rights’ and Welfare Bill.

We join with Youth Against Debt in calling for an Automatic Appropriations law  on Education allotting 6% of our GNP to the Education Sector instead of diverting the large bulk of our budget to debt servicing.

We join People Against illegitimate Debt in demanding for a Congressional Debt Audit.

We support all mechanisms that will exact accountability from all the wrong doers in our government, including, Ms. Arroyo.

We stand hand in hand with the farmers in pushing for the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER).

We demand for a genuine electoral reform agenda.

MAKIBAHAGI, LUMAHOK SA PEOPLE’S SONA!

 

Venue: St. Peter’s Church 10 A.M.

Date: July 28, 2008; Monday

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines Official Statement on GMA’s SONA

Media Person: 09052403585 Alvin Quintans


[i] Benjamin Diokno, Real State of the Nation, 20 July 2007 , citing DepEd

[ii] UNESCO/UISWEI(www.uis.unesco.org/publications/wei2006); OECD countries: OECD 2006 (www.oecd.org/edu/eag2006).

[iii] …this (higher education and training) pillar measures secondary and tertiary enrolment rates as well as the quality of education as assessed by the business community. The importance of vocational and continuous on-the-job training, neglected in many economies, cannot be overstated, as it ensures a constant upgrading of workers’ skills to the changing needs of the production system.

[iv] Youth Against Debt Six Will Fix Campaign





Land to Till NOT Farmers Killed

24 04 2008

The government can very well prove their resolute stance on the land conversion ban now as the Calatagan farmers are nearing Metro Manila.

The march that the Sumilao farmers have started in Bukidnon has not yet ended. Amidst the rice crisis, we challenge Ms. Arroyo to hear the pleas of our Calatagan farmers who are marching their way to Manila to secure the lands that they till in Batangas. The farmers are protesting against the conversion of their agricultural lands to mining areas. Their 300-kilometer march symbolizes the unfaltering spirit of our people to fight for what is rightfully theirs. Their story is not an isolated case. This kind of story remains to be real for the majority of CARP beneficiaries.

The lands in Barangay Baha and Barangay Talibayog, Caltagan, Batangas were awarded to the farmers in 1990. However, the former landlord, Ceferino Ascue, sold the lands to Asturias Industries, a mining company, in 1995.

Contrary to the claims of AI that the lands have already mineralized, the farmers are still able to plant rice and corns in the area. The predicament that our Calatagan farmers are facing only further illustrates the worsening situation of our Agrarian Reform Law which was never implemented fully throughout the years. Millions of hectares remain to be undistributed and thousands more of applications for land conversions are pending in the Department of Agrarian Reform.

A few weeks from now, CARP will expire. Although, there have been victories for some farmers, like our Sumilao comrades, hundreds of others continue to hold onto a desolate hope. The rich land owners have found ways to elude the law by selling the farmers’ lands or by subdividing their haciendas or by any other means that their money can afford. Decades after the implementation of CARP, hundreds of farmers have already died in claiming their lands due to the armed resistance that the landlords are putting. We must give justice to all those who have sacrificed their very lives for this cause and let us continue to fight with those who still live to pursue this advocacy. Our farmers feed our nation. In the face of a food crisis, the government should, by all means, give the CARP beneficiaries what is due to them.

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines expresses its sincerest support to our comrades from Calatagan. “Lakbay Kalampag,” as the Calatagan farmers call their march, hopes to rattle the government once more to heed the call of its people. We further challenge Ms. Arroyo not only to call for the extension of CARP but also to set an example to the stubborn landlords, and place the Arroyo haciendas under CARP.

We also pose a challenge to our Congress people to reform CARP. Let us not wait for more of our farmers to die, award their lands.

#

Paula Bianca P. Lapuz

National Secretary-General

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines





Sharing With You ASAP-PUP’s Official Position on the Current National Crisis

12 03 2008

Truth. Accountability. Reform.

 

 

 

 

Lozada’s recent visit in Polytechnic University of the Philippines proved the unfaltering capacity of Student Power. Alliance of Students for Alternative Politics maintains its stand against corruption in governance. PUP is a bulwark of truth. It could not be and should not be used for the political ends of any force within or beyond the university.

PUP takes pride in its conscientious scholars, who continuously uphold the virtues of honesty and integrity. As an educational institution, PUP should ensure that the academe will provide a venue for free discourse on current national issues. It should be at the forefront of the campaign against dishonesty and fraud. Read the rest of this entry »





PGMA’S Glory:Anti-People Policies!

16 07 2007

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines wait in tremendous anticipation of Mrs. Arroyo‘s annual report on the State of the Nation, from experience, it has always been besetting.

Read the rest of this entry »





SCAP’s Official Position on GMA’s Charter Change

28 06 2007

The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, a national network of student councils and governments working for social and education reform, firmly affirms its opposition against GMA’s Charter Change and denounces all government initiatives that undermine citizen’s participation and due process.

The Alliance stands firm in opposing all government-initiated amendments and revisions in the constitution to allow further liberalization of our economy that compromises our own interest as a nation.

SCAP condemns in the strongest possible terms all proposals which are aimed at dismantling protective economic provisions in our constitution. The Alliance believe that the end view of changing our political system is to ensure the political survival of the beleaguered presidency of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo. Genuine pursuit of necessary and essential reforms in our political and electoral system could never take place under the present administration.

SCAP believes that changing the Constitution is not a compelling reform that will strengthen our system of governance under PGMA’s parlance. Genuine reform through Charter Change can only take place within the context of a full understanding of the real problems of the country and of a full involvement of the Filipino people in the process.

Moreover, SCAP reckons that the true measure of a matured and performing democracy lies in the capacity of the State to promote and uphold the freedom of its citizen to exercise and assert their civil and political rights.

The attempts of the State to override dissents and doubts on the government-initiated Charter Change by fabricating a public clamour through conducting deceptive signature campaigns is a mockery of democracy and an insult to the intelligence of its people.

Hence, the Alliance reiterates that the initiative for a genuine change must come from groups, institutions and individuals who have moral ascendancy, personal integrity and political acceptance to establish legitimacy in the process of Charter Changer.

As a stakeholder in the process, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines joins other youth organizations in criticizing the proponents and movers of GMA’s Charter Change by consciously and deliberately removing education and youth development provisions in our constitution as a matter of national policy, obligation and accountability of the government to its people. (see ConCom Abueva proposal)

It is unfortunate that the youth who is supposed to be in the forefront of the struggle in ensuring a just and humane society and for building the foundation for the next generation is further marginalized, excluded and dehumanized in the process of Charter Change.

As such, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines calls on all young leaders to strongly and willfully oppose the government-initiated Charter Change and assert our rights to a greater and broader democratic participation in the political discourse and processes of CHACHA.

We urge policy makers to seriously consider the impact of the proposed provisions of all GMA-led charter change.

We urge all citizens to hold Mrs. Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo accountable for pushing desperate mechanisms that compromise the rights and welfare of the citizens.

We challenge the proponents of Charter Change to a free and intellectual debate, discourse and discussion on the merits of the proposed provisions, the process of changing the constitution and the intent of the initiative to push for it.

Lastly, it is the duty of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines and the broader student movement to derail the efforts of the government to change the constitution, to defend democratic spaces that we have fought for, for so many years, to defy the continuing imposition of  the trapos’ will on the people and to ensure that the strength of any system lies in the flourishing of our democracy and in giving primary importance to our local economy.