June 2, 2016

 

The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) called on the incoming Duterte administration to undertake a review of all government issued sovereign guarantees following recent reports that the Department of Finance (DoF) was preparing to pay Maynilad and Manila Water P82.4 billion in compensation for supposed losses they incurred due to the postponement of the increase in their basic charges.

“One of the first things the Duterte government should do once it assumes office is to look into all sovereign guarantees issued in the past in order to determine how much risk the public sector has taken on and whether these guarantees were really necessary,” FDC Secretary General Sammy Gamboa said. “In issuing sovereign guarantees government could potentially set itself up for large, unexpected future expenses for which it has made not made enough provisions. There is also the fundamental question of whether it is right for government to take on virtually all the risks in multi-billion peso projects while the private investor reaps all the profits.”

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22 April 2016

 

The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) again raised the alarm over the continuing crisis spawned by El Nino expressing concern that once the furor over the bloody Kidapawan dispersal subsides, the desperate plight of thousands in El Nino affected areas will be in danger of being forgotten once again.

“Certainly the Kidapawan dispersal brought the issue to national consciousness. It focused attention on the worsening situation in many areas in Mindanao including South Cotabato and put much-needed pressure on the government’s sluggish El Nino effort. But with media and public attention increasingly being pulled towards the elections, there is a risk of the crisis getting drowned out,” Sammy Gamboa, FDC Secretary-General said.

FDC stressed that the hunger and desperation resulting from the worst El Nino episode since 1997-1998 continues and is in fact worsening in some places.

“Three weeks after Kidapawan, we continue to receive reports from our members and partners in affected areas that the situation has not improved and delivery of support remains limited. By the Department of Agriculture’s own estimates, production losses have already reached P4.5 billion for rice and P4.53 billion for corn between February 2015 and March 2016. A total of 373,494 hectares of farmlands have already been affected,” Gamboa said.

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April 5, 2016

 

Activists gathered at the foot of Chino Roces bridge three days after the bloody dispersal of a farmer’s protests in Cotabato to demand justice for the victims and hold the government accountable for its failed El Niño response.

“It is understandable that the people were starving and pushed to the edge. Government’s failure to act pro-actively and decisively address the drought and hunger brought by El Niño forced them to take to the streets to demand urgently needed aid, braving the blazing summer sun and later, the high caliber guns of the police,” Prof. Ed Tadem, FDC President said.

“The barricade set up by farmers and lumad from several towns in Cotabato was the people’s direct exercise of their rights, against government’s neglect and intransigence. They demanded the immediate distribution of 15,000 sacks of rice as an immediate relief from starvation and drought that had ravaged the province since November last year. Shooting unarmed protesters and killing 3 and wounding scores others, including those fleeing for their lives, was the height of state brutality and gross transgression of human rights and deserves the highest form of outrage from all sectors of society,” former FDC President and Senatorial Candidate Walden Bello charged.

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March 22, 2016

As the world marks World Water Day, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) criticized the Aquino government’s failure to adequately respond to the El Niño crisis which the group claims has significantly compromised water and food security in many parts of the country.

“This year while the world celebrates World Water Day, many parts of the country, particularly in Mindanao, are suffering from drought and dry spells. Based on forecasts from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the 34 provinces likely to experience drought this month will climb to 68 provinces by the end of April. The Department of Agriculture (DA) estimates that damage to agriculture from March 2015 is at P3.6 billion. We are already one year into an urgent crisis which should have elicited a more vigorous and comprehensive response from government, but what we have been seeing is the complete opposite” Gamboa said.

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Water consumers and anti-water privatization advocates led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition warned Pres. Aquino and Sec. Cesar Purisima of the Department of Finance (DoF) not to process the P82.44 billion compensation claim that water companies are demanding from the government on the basis of sovereign guarantees issued in connection with the privatization.

“The demand for almost P83 billion to cover the water companies projected losses is outrageous and unjust and should be rejected. Why should we pay money out of the national coffers to ensure the profits of wealthy corporations when we don’t even have enough for basic social services?” Samuel Gamboa, FDC Secretary General asked.

Following the resolution of their separate arbitration cases stemming from a 2013 rate-setting dispute, Maynilad had demanded P3.44 billion while Manila Water asked for P79 billion in compensation to recover losses arising from the arbitration controversy.

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