[1 May 2015 | No Comment | 141 views]

Based on conservative official figures from the Philippine Statistical Authority’s (PSA) January 2015 Labor Force Survey released last March 12, about 4.1 million Filipinos are unemployed as of January 2015. Of the total unemployed, the age group 15 to 24 years comprised 47.3 percent or about 2 million, while the age group 25 to 34, 31.6 percent or about 1.3 million.

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[4 May 2015 | No Comment | 153 views]

About 25,000 teaching and non-teaching personnel are set to be displaced by the full implementation of the K to 12 program, a report from the government’s education cluster stated Monday.

In the report submitted by DepEd, CHED, TESDA, and DOLE to the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) this morning, it was revealed that a total of 13,634 teaching personnel (2,794 permanent and 10,840 non-permanent) and 11,456 non-teaching personnel (5,702 permanent and 5,754 non-permanent) will lose their jobs come 2016 due to the “reduction in college enrollment” that “may adversely affect the operational viability of various higher education institutions.”

The new displacement estimates are lower than the 78,000 displacement assumption initially released by CHED last March.

However, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said that the loss of employment of over 25,000 college personnel still constitutes a “significant figure.”

“We’re talking about 25,000 employees suddenly losing their jobs due to the ambitious K to 12 program,” Ridon said.

To mitigate the impact of K to 12 in higher education, Congress is now deliberating a bill that seeks to establish a “tertiary education transition fund” that will provide financial assistance to affected academic and non-academic personnel in universities and colleges during the so-called transition period.

The bill initially proposes a P12-billion budget for the said transition fund.

“The Tertiary Education Transition Fund is nothing but a last-minute stop-gap measure which aims to fool affected personnel into accepting the imminent mass lay-off. The bill now being tackled by the CHTE also fails to address the transgression of fundamental labor rights of teaching and non-teaching personnel that the full implementation of K to 12 harbors,” Ridon explained.

Meanwhile, DepEd also disclosed that they are planning to rehire displaced college teaching staff as basic education teachers to further mitigate the effects of K to 12.

“However, we must note that even DepEd admits that the teachers they will rehire under their mitigation program will experience a diminution in their salaries,” Ridon said.

“Even with all the last-minute band-aid solutions offered by the Aquino government, we still remain steadfast in our call to stop the K to 12 program,” he ended.KPL logo clean version

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[30 Apr 2015 | No Comment | 91 views]

Countering calls from Indonesian lawmakers, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said Thursday that the Philippine government should not only work to commute Mary Jane Veloso’s sentence but also exhaust all means to let her return to the country.

Ridon called on the Indonesian government to respect the legal processes of the Philippines and let Veloso return to the Philippines for questioning as a witness against alleged human trafficker Maria Kristina Sergio, who voluntarily surrendered to Philippine authorities Tuesday.

This call came after Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle lawmaker Masinton Pasaribu urged the Indonesian government to keep Veloso under Indonesian custody and eventually carry on with her execution. Masinton even told Jakarta Post that Philippine authorities should resort to a teleconference for Veloso’s testimony against Sergio.

“Contrary to what some Indonesian lawmakers assert, we believe that Mary Jane should be returned home to efficiently serve as witness against alleged human traffickers. We believe that there are existing inter-country mechanisms that would allow the transfer of Veloso’s custody to the Philippines,” Ridon explained. “The Philippine government should exhaust all means to return Mary Jane home safe and sound,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ridon also took a shot against the Aquino government for “patting itself on the back” over Veloso’s 11th-hour reprieve.

“The Philippine government should not pride itself for the reprieve granted to Mary Jane. First of all, it acted too late in the process, at a time when national and international pressure was already high. Secondly, as the Indonesian attorney general likes to emphasize, Mary Jane’s execution was only postponed, yet it could happen any time soon. In other words, the fight for her life is far from over,” Ridon said.

“Mary Jane has been granted reprieve due to immense national and international pressure. It is a victory for all Filipinos who mobilized and expressed concern over her case. Aquino should not claim credit for the reprieve granted to her,” he added.

“The fight to save Mary Jane is far from over. A temporary reprieve may have been granted, but her life is still on the line. Let us all work together as a nation not just to save her from execution but also to bring her back home safely,” Ridon concluded.KPL logo clean version

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[8 Apr 2015 | Comments Off | 230 views]

As the House hearing on the botched Mamasapano operation continues Wednesday, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon slammed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for “serving as a mouthpiece of the United States.”

Earlier in the hearing today, De Lima read a statement of the Justice Department explaining that US involvement in the Mamasapano operation is covered by existing bilateral agreements and does not transgress Philippine sovereignty.

De Lima explained that the Philippines retained “absolute control” over the whole operation despite the presence of US agents during the operation. She emphasized that Philippine sovereignty was “not transgressed.”

“Secretary De Lima is serving as Washington’s mouthpiece. She is saying that there are not enough established facts to say that the Americans were actually involved in combat operations, which the Constitution prohibits. However, let me remind the good secretary that the reason we don’t have enough details about the actual role of the US in the whole operation is that the Philippine government is refusing to fully cooperate in all of the investigations, up to the extent that it is even covering up vital details that various investigators in the Senate and in the House are asking for,” Ridon said.

“Sec. De Lima, there are clear signs that the Americans not only participated but also headed this operation. You’re saying that the fact that the government can easily cancel the operation is proof that our sovereignty is intact. Yet here we have Oplan Exodus, a flawed operation plan that was still greenlighted. Why did Aquino push through with this operation? There are signs that point to heavy US influence in this particular decision,” Ridon added.

“Washington’s involvement and consequent transgression of Philippine sovereignty through Oplan Exodus is a probability that several facts now support. Yet here we have the Secretary of Justice rationalizing America’s every move.

“By rabidly defending foreign intervention that possibly led to the death of our countrymen, you are acting like a traitorous apologist for the US, Madame Secretary. And that’s a lot to say for the head of our nation’s Justice Department,” Ridon ended.KPL logo clean version

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[8 Apr 2015 | Comments Off | 181 views]

As the House of Representatives continue with its investigation on the botched Mamasapano operation Wednesday, a party-list lawmaker raised the question of whether past diplomatic visits of top-level US officials to the Philippines, including the state visit of US President Barack Obama last year, were connected with the counterterrorism operations against Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman.

“Both the BOI and Senate reports have given us essential clues on the involvement of US forces in Oplan Exodus, including the revelation that six US operatives were present in the tactical command post during the conduct of the operation, and the submission of Marwan’s finger directly to the FBI. But what we have yet to see is how this arrangement – of Washington being heavily involved in a local police operation – has been brokered at the top level,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said, saying that his interpellation in today’s hearing will center on the said issue.

Ridon said that he will ask resigned PNP Chief Alan Purisima and former PNP SAF Director Getulio Napeñas if they have any knowledge on how the “US-Philippines joint operation” was brokered by the Aquino administration with top level US officials.

“In particular, we will ask if Oplan Exodus and the related counterterrorism operations before it has anything to do with the separate visits to the Philippines of US Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel back in 2013, President Obama’s state visit in 2014, and even the recent visit of known US operatives and former US ambassadors John Negroponte and John Maisto just this January,” Ridon said.

Carter and Hagel visited the Philippines in March and August of 2013, respectively, a time when the counterterrorism operations against Marwan, Usman, and other “high-profile targets” may have already been “at the drawing boards or even at the final phase,” Ridon noted. “Part of their agenda in their separate visits may have been to fine-tune the counterterrorism operations in Mindanao and how the US and Philippines forces will jointly conduct said operations.”

Ridon added that the operation might have also been discussed, albeit briefly, during President Obama’s state visit last year.

“What’s more intriguing is the emergency visit of former US ambassadors John Negroponte and John Maisto to the Philippines just a few days after the Mamasapano clash. Is there a connection? I think yes.”

Negroponte and Maisto, along with other US officials were in the Philippines last January 29 to 31 purportedly to attend a board meeting of the US-Philippines Society.

“To determine the extent of US involvement and intervention in the botched Mamasapano operation, we have to explore all possible links, including how top US executives may have brokered a deal with Aquino and his cabinet to arrange these covert counterterrorism operations.

“By exploring – and eventually exposing these possible links – we will be able to know more about the operation and the extent of Aquino’s corroboration with the Americans for this bloody mission. This information is pivotal for us to answer the question of whether Aquino knowingly and willingly heeded Washington’s plan to get Marwan, despite the clear and present danger of sacrificing innocent lives,” Ridon ended.KPL logo clean version

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[26 Mar 2015 | Comments Off | 230 views]

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon described President Benigno Aquino III’s remarks on the Mamasapano clash during today’s 36th Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) graduation as a “non-apology apology.”

In his speech during the commencement exercise, Aquino asked for “understanding.”“Bilang pangulo, pasan ko ang responsibilidad…Ikinalulungkot kong may mga pamilyang nawalan ng ama, anak, asawa…Buong pagpapakumbaba kong hinihiling ang inyong pag-unawa,” Aquino said.

“Opo, ako ang pangulo, pero tao rin ako,” Aquino added.

Rep. Ridon fumed over Aquino’s latest pronouncements, saying that the whole speech is nothing but a “tongue-in-cheek explanation.”

“Note how the president didn’t even ask for the public’s forgiveness. He asked for understanding. Mr. President, the public understands – we the people understand that it is you at fault in this botched operation,” Ridon said.

The youth lawmaker said that Aquino’s PNPA speech is a classic “non-apology apology” wherein the president asked for understanding yet admitted nothing.

“The president has purposefully and willfully missed the point in this speech. The point is to admit that he broke the chain of command, that he used the PNP SAF as cannon fodder, that he is ultimately responsible for the bloodshed in Mamasapano. Yet here is Aquino at his worst: showing not even an ounce of remorse for his criminal actions that led to the death of almost 70 Filipinos,” Ridon said.

“Today, you have not fooled anyone Mr. President. Your passive-evasive remarks has just fanned the flames of the growing call for your resignation,” Ridon ended.KPL logo clean version