[28 Sep 2015 | Comments Off on KABATAAN, TAYO ANG PAG-ASA: Youth party pushes for 8-point ‘Youth and People’s Agenda’ for 2016 national polls | 721 views]

Kabataan presents new set of nominees for party-list elections, endorses Neri Colmenares’ bid for Senate

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[25 Nov 2015 | No Comment | 322 views]

Kabataan Partylist today filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Supreme Court to assail the constitutionality of the “No Bio, No Boto” policy of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), which is set to deprive more than three million registered voters without biometrics of their right to participate in the upcoming 2016 national and local elections. (Click this link to see full text of petition)

In a 32-page petition, Kabataan Partylist sought for the exercise of judicial review to assail the constitutionality of the deactivation of registration of voters without biometrics and enjoin the implementation of provisions of the Republic Act No. 10367 or “An Act Providing for Mandatory Biometrics Voter Registration.”

Kabataan Partylist also sought for the nullification of COMELEC Resolution No. 9721, dated June 26, 2013, Resolution No. 9863, dated April 1, 2014, and Resolution No. 10013, all related to deactivation of voter registration records in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections, as directed by the assailed Republic Act No. 10367.

Assisted by legal counsel Atty. Krissy Conti, petitioners include Cong. Terry Ridon and Kabataan Partylist President Marjohara Tucay, who are suing for and in behalf of the youth party, along with Sarah Elago, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines; Vencer Crisostomo, chairperson of Anakbayan; Marc Lino Abila, national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines; Einstein Recedes, deputy secretary-general of Anakbayan; Charisse Bañez, chairperson of the League of Filipino Students; and aggrieved parties Arlene Clarisse Julve and Sining Marfori, both of whom stand to lose their right to vote due to the assailed law and implementing regulations.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon (center), flanked by Kabataan National President Marjohara Tucay (left) and counsel Atty. Krissy Conti

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon (center), flanked by Kabataan National President Marjohara Tucay (left) and counsel Atty. Krissy Conti

“Republic Act No. 10367 and its implementing regulations are unconstitutional as these impose an unconstitutional, additional substantive requirement imposed on the exercise of suffrage, thus violating Section 1, Article V of the 1987 Constitution,” the petitioners said, noting that the 1987 Constitution explicitly states that “[n]o literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage,” the petitioners explained.

“In contravention of the above-stated constitutional provision, Republic Act No. 10367 and its implementing regulations imposed an additional substantive requirement for all voters, both old and new registrants, to submit for mandatory biometrics validation or risk being deactivated or removed precinct book of voters, thus effectively barring them from the exercise of their right to vote,” they added.

“Further egregious is the fact that voters with active records according to Republic Act No. 8189, the antecedent Voters Registration Law of 1996, comprise bulk of those who will be deactivated. The deactivation of registered voters qualified under Republic Act No. 8189 is incompatible with the tenet that laws with penal sanctions should apply prospectively and not retrospectively.

“Secondly, the biometrics validation gravely violates due process as it an unreasonable deprivation of the constitutional right to vote for millions of Filipinos who have failed to register their biometric information despite existing and active registration – in effect a voter’s re-registration – for various reasons whether personal or institutional,” they added.

Petitioners noted that despite COMELEC’s “No Bio, No Boto” campaign, official data from the poll body showed that only three million five hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred six (3,599,906) registered voters have undergone the mandatory biometrics validation procedure, as of September 30, 2015.

COMELEC also revealed that a total of three million fifty-nine thousand six hundred one (3,059,601) registered voters remain without biometrics data as of September 30, 2015. According to COMELEC, this figure is equivalent to 5.86 percent of the total fifty-two million two hundred thirty-nine thousand four hundred eighty-eight (52,239,488) registered voters for the 2016 national and local elections.

“It is thus apparent that over three million registered voters stand to illegally lose their right of suffrage in the May 9, 2016 national and local elections without the benefit of due process due to the implementation of an additional requirement that is patently unconstitutional,” the petitioners argued.

Just last month, Kabataan Partylist and several youth groups also filed a petition before the SC to question the October 31 deadline for voters’ registration set by COMELEC.

The SC has already ordered COMELEC to comment on the said petition.

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[19 Nov 2015 | No Comment | 230 views]

A progressive Philippine lawmaker representing the youth said on Thursday that US President Barack Obama is engaging in “mere rhetoric and doublespeak” when the world leader addressed the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea after a bilateral meeting with President Benigno Aquino III at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit last Wednesday.

“Mr. Obama is engaging in doublespeak when he talked about lowering tensions and halting Chinese reclamation efforts. Behind those seemingly comforting words, Mr. Obama is only cementing Washington’s interest in the lucrative shipping routes passing through the disputed waters,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said.

After a bilateral meeting with Aquino on Tuesday, Obama told reporters that while the US remains neutral on the territorial claims in the disputed waters, there is a need for “bold steps to lower tensions, including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea.”

“Filipinos should not rejoice over Obama’s pronouncement. For one, we need to analyze why a world superpower from the other side of the Pacific is interested in meddling with the territorial dispute in Asian waters. The keywords here are oil and shipping routes,” Ridon said.

Lucrative shipping routes

Ridon said that Washington is intensifying military relations with nations contesting Beijing’s claims over the West Philippine Sea because it is eyeing domination over the lucrative shipping routes passing through this body of water, which geopolitical analysts call the “throat of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.”

Citing data from the US Energy Information Administration, Ridon emphasized that the oil transported through the shipping routes in the South China Sea is triple the volume that passes through the Suez Canal.

“The South China Sea, and the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea, is at the heart of the most important energy trade route in the world. It connects the Strait of Malacca to the rest of Asia, serving as the shortest sea route between African and Persian Gulf oil suppliers. In other words, whoever controls this sea route will control energy trade in the region – and most probably the world,” Ridon explained.

US government data show that about a third of all seaborne oil passes through the South China Sea route, with an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil and petroleum products passing here enroute to Asian markets every day. Large quantities of liquefied natural gas and coal also pass through this route.

“Under this context, we can understand why Washington wants to play a major role in the West Philippine Sea dispute. It’s not about securing the Philippines or our sovereignty, it’s not about taunting China – it’s all about oil and profits,” Ridon said.

The youth legislator pointed out that even under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Aquino wants the Philippines to be part of, is designed to contest Beijing’s dominance in the busy shipping routes in the South China Sea.

“The threat that Beijing poses for our national security is real and significant, yet it does not necessarily mean that we should rely on one bully to defend our national sovereignty from another bully,” Ridon added, saying that the Philippines remains to be one of the most vulnerable nation in the region if ever tensions intensify over the disputed waters.

“President Aquino is an idiot if he thinks Washington will defend us from Beijing because of our existing military relations. The Aquino administration is even a greater fool for practically begging Obama just to be part of the TPP. It’s all about oil and sea trade, stupid,” Ridon stressed.

Protests against the ongoing APEC Leaders Summit, where discussions on the TPP are highly anticipated, continue today.###

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[18 Nov 2015 | No Comment | 191 views]

Legislator warns Aquino: Don’t join TPP bandwagon

As the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Summit begins today, a progressive Philippine lawmaker representing the youth called out US President Barack Obama’s attempt to make the Philippines look like a “powerless ragged mendicant” before the world, by offering to hand over two ships to the Philippine Navy yesterday.

“Instead of bending our knees in gleeful adulation, we believe that what Obama has unwittingly done was to show the world how powerless the Philippines is when it comes to maritime defense. His offer for old, hand-me-down US warships highlights the fact that our nation remains vastly reliant on the US even for maritime equipment – a ragged mendicant of a nation in other words,” Ridon said.

During his speech in front of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar on Tuesday, Obama said that Washington’s offer of two US warships to the country is part of a broader US plan to assist naval forces in Southeast Asia.

“One should analyze how Obama actually chose his words carefully yesterday. Never did he mention China in his speech – for his nation will dare not openly confront the Chinese government. We believe this is part and parcel of a greater power struggle between these two powerful nations – and we believe that the tense situation will only do more harm than good on part of the Philippines,” Ridon said.

The legislator explained that while the US has recently stepped up presence in the disputed waters, it is unclear whether Pentagon will assist the Philippines when the situation gets tougher.

“We believe that Washington is only prodding Beijing to retaliate – not against the US but against the Philippines. The US show of force in recent weeks may only be a way to exacerbate the crisis in the West Philippine Sea. Our fear is that at the end of the day, our nation will become the ultimate casualty in this conflict,” Ridon explained.

“The question that lingers in our minds: Given the strong economic ties between Washington and Beijing, what will happen to the Philippines when push comes to shove in the West Philippine Sea?”

‘Be wary of US prodding for TPP’

Meanwhile, Ridon said that Philippine officials should not rush in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement that is highly-expected to be peddled by the US in the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders Meeting.

“We must not rush into joining a new economic agreement that poses a great threat to our own economic interests. Our economic leaders must not be swayed by Obama’s sweet talk,” Ridon said.

In recent months, the US-backed TPP free trade deal has already been agreed between the United States and representatives of Japan, Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific nations.

Ridon warned that there are several provisions in the current TPP deal that requires the Philippines to lift economic restrictions in the 1987 Constitution.

“If we lift the current restrictions in the Constitution just to be able to join the TPP, local enterprises and businesses would suffer due to the unrestrained dominance of foreign investors. Lifting the economic limits would also open the floodgates for further exploitation of our country’s scarce natural resources, including forests and mineral reserves,” Ridon explained.

“For the last time, the Filipino youth calls on our economic leaders, especially President Aquino, to not let Washington write trade rules for our nation and Asia. If we just stand by and play our role as a gracious host to foreign plunders, the Philippines will only confirm our image of being a mendicant nation with no patriotic and independent spine to speak of,” the legislator ended.

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[17 Nov 2015 | No Comment | 160 views]

Youth and student groups from all over the nation gathered in Manila on Tuesday to commemorate the International Students Day through a series of protests related to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

Today’s protests kicked off with a lightning rally at around 9 a.m. at the US Embassy along Roxas Boulevard.

Youth groups also organized an International Students Day Summit at the National Press Club in Intramuros, where several speakers expounded on the effects of globalization on education.

By 5 p.m., the students marched from Intramuros back to the US Embassy in Roxas Boulevard to denounce Washington’s primary role in intensifying neoliberal attacks on education and basic services.

“Through the years, we have witnessed how the twin policies of commercialization and deregulation transmogrified our education system into an insidious system of money-making. Globalization, and the implementation of neoliberal policies promoted by APEC, has done nothing but exacerbate the situation,” said RISE FOR EDUCATION National Convenor and National Union of Students of the Philippines President Sarah Elago.

“As we commemorate International Students Day, we must stand united in fighting against tuition increases and other school fees, the concrete manifestation of neoliberal attacks against students both here in the Philippines and abroad. We must march out of our classrooms and into the streets to demand that the national government backpedal on its policy of deregulation and not kowtow to the global push for profit-oriented education. We must drumbeat to the nation and to the world our demand for accessible and affordable education,” Elago explained.

First celebrated worldwide in 1941, November 17 is commemorated as International Students Day as it marks the anniversary of the 1939 Nazi takeover of the University of Prague, which led to the execution and incarceration of thousands of student leaders, and the occupation of the then Czechoslovakia.

APEC to worsen education crisis

For his part, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon reiterated that the APEC Leaders Summit happening this week will result in a renewed push for neoliberal policies that will “bring further destitution to the ordinary Filipino.”

“For the Filipino student, this directly translates to a future with higher tuition rates, with education being one of the sectors viewed by APEC leaders as an area for ‘business growth,’” Ridon said.

“On part of the youth, we gravely fear the results of intensified neoliberal policies on the Philippine education system. In the past two decades, said policies resulted to the intensified enforcement of commercialization and deregulation, the twin-headed monsters that made education in the country vastly unaffordable and inaccessible for many,” Ridon said.

Participants in the International Students Day activities will also hold a “Youth Camp vs APEC” and will camp out at the Iglesia Filipina Independiente later this evening, in preparation for an early morning march to the APEC venue in the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).###

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[13 Nov 2015 | Comments Off on Students walk out of classes to protest against APEC-backed neoliberal policies on education | 278 views]

Thousands of youth and students from various schools and universities converged in España Boulevard in Manila on Friday afternoon and marched to Mendiola to protest against the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit next week, saying that the policies effected by the said group of nations in the past two decades have exacerbated the education crisis in the country.

In Mendiola, students and youth groups led by Kabataan Partylist, Anakbayan, and the League of Filipino Students burned the APEC logo and portraits of President Benigno Aquino III, US President Barack Obama, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“It is not coincidental that the Philippines is hosting the 2015 APEC Summit. We believe that this summit will be a battleground between US and Chinese domination in the region – and the Philippines is left stuck in the crossfire, with its territorial interests sidelined by the encroaching economic expansionism of these two powerful nations,” said Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon, a lawmaker representing the youth in the Philippine Congress.

“The APEC summit has a very large implication, not just in regional politics and relations, but even to our economy. We have reason to believe that this meeting will result in a renewed push for neoliberal policies that will bring further destitution to the ordinary Filipino,” Ridon said. “For the Filipino student, this directly translates to a future with higher tuition and school rates, a future where education is designed not for learning but to feed the need of big business, with education being one of the sectors viewed by APEC leaders as an area for ‘business growth,’” he added.

By late afternoon, the protesters marched from Mendiola to the US Embassy, where they burned mock US flags to protest against Washington’s push for economic domination in the Asia-Pacific Region through peddling new trade liberalization deals.

The youth lawmaker explained that while the theme of the APEC Summit is “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World,” it is apparent that the US is using the said forum to push its own economic agenda.

“On part of the youth, we gravely fear the results of intensified neoliberal policies on the Philippine education system. In the past two decades, said policies resulted to the enforcement of commercialization and deregulation, two monsters that made education in the country vastly unaffordable and inaccessible for many,” Ridon said.

“We believe that even the new K-12 program is also in line with the policies being pushed by APEC, what with its push to create a bigger source of cheap labor for the global market. Indeed, the welfare of the youth in the line in these talks,” the legislator added.

Youth groups announced that the protests will even intensify in time for the APEC Leaders Summit next week. “We will defy all odds to ensure that the youth’s voice of opposition is heard in the upcoming APEC Leaders Summit,” Ridon vowed.