Privilege speech of Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin

January 14, 2019

 

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a personal and collective privilege.  

Last January 8, 2019, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines, a South Korean shipbuilding company based in Subic port, Zambales, filed for bankruptcy leaving some US$412-M in outstanding loans with local banks in limbo. This also places some 22,000 workers and their jobs in peril as well as loses to the local economy.

A report claimed that the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank), Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), and BDO Unibank, Inc. are now working together to cover their combined loan exposure to the Korean conglomerate. These banks are among the top 10 banks in the country and the biggest lenders to business.

Despite the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)’s pronouncement that its impact in the banking system is negligible, stock prices of three of the listed banks fell in the wake of the news. Shares at RCBC suffered the steepest blow as it dropped by 9.12% on Friday, while Metrobank and BPI stock prices went down by 4.82% and 4.76%, respectively. BDO shares, though steadied from the initial shock, have the least exposure among the Hanjin lenders.

The lenders are said to be working to take control of Hanjin’s property in Zambales, with assets estimated at $1.6 billion.

On Bonifacio Day, workers and Akbayan members raised their worn out umbrellas filled with holes symbolizing the dismal state of workers’ welfare in the Philippines plagued with low wages, no security of tenure, and a short maternity leave for working mothers.

“Each problem represents a hole in the protection of Filipino workers. Until these holes are patched up and fixed, our workers will remain highly vulnerable to economic risk,” said Machris Cabreros, President of Akbayan.

It can be recalled that Akbayan Partylist has pushed for the passage of three bills to shield workers from various health and economic risks, such as high inflation plaguing the whole country for months now, and is perceived to have caused additional burden to an already struggling working class.

These are the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill that is now awaiting the President’s signature; the Security of Tenure or Anti-ENDO Bill that was already passed in the lower House; and most recently the bill abolishing all 17 regional wage boards and replacing them with just one wage-fixing body to set a decent and acceptable minimum wage nationwide.

“All Filipino workers are getting impatient in waiting for these concerns to be resolved and for those bills to get passed. Unless the maternity leave is expanded, labor-only contracting is stopped, and decent wages are provided, our workers’ welfare will always be festered with holes,” Cabreros added. 

 

Justice prevailed for the drug war victims today. Akbayan Partylist is celebrating the guilty verdict handed to the three Caloocan policemen who murdered 17 year old Kian delos Santos in 2017. 

This is the first conviction of murderous cops under President Duterte's War on Drugs but this shouldn't be the last. We remember that President Duterte once took the side of these murderous cops and maligned Kian delos Santos in his death.The public needs to be watchful over other cases filed in court by victims of extrajudicial killings against the Philippine National Police. We fervently hope that this decision will fuel the momentum for justice for the victims.

There are more than 29,000 lives lost that have yet to be given justice. A lot of those killed are poor and young, like Kian. This decision should inspire a wave of systemic changes, including an end to the murderous War on Drugs, reparations to the families of those killed and a guilty verdict to the perpetrators, even to President Duterte.###

Members of Akbayan Partylist, indigenous peoples groups from Rizal and PAKISAMA, a fisherfolks and farmers alliance, protested Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit in the Philippines at the Chinese Consulate Office in Makati on Wednesday.

“Karamihan sa pinirmahang mga kontrata ng Presidente kahapon ay magpapalubog satin sa utang. Ang babayaran nating utang sa Tsina ay aagaw sa badyet na laan dapat sa mga maralitang sektor. Kailangan natin pigilan ang mga debt trap deals na ito,” Ka Maning, rural sector leader of Akbayan Partylist said.

The protest exposed the irreversible damages that will be brought by the "debt trap deals" between President Duterte and President Xi Jinping, including the construction of the controversial Kaliwa Dam. 

“Malubha ang epekto ng pagtatayo ng Kaliwa Dam. Hindi lang ito trahedya sa mga susunod na henerasyon na magbabayad sa malaking interes ng utang para sa dam, lalong malaking trahedya ito para sa mga katutubo na posibleng madisplace dahil sa Kaliwa Dam,” Ka Maning added.

“Nanawagan kami sa kongreso at mga lokal na yunit ng gobyerno: makinig sa mga ordinaryong Pilipino. Harangin ang mga proyekto ng Tsina na magpapabaon sa atin sa utang. Hindi development ang displacement at debt trap,” Ka Maning said.

Citizens and basic sector groups warn that the Kaliwa Dam will endanger the lives of 100,000 Filipinos as the site has two active tectonic zones. The groups also lamented that the deal is bound to put us in a billion peso debt trap for years. ###

Akbayan Partylist slammed the signing of "debt trap deals" between the Philippines and Chinese government as President Xi Jinping visits the country today.

"We demand a stop to the debt traps which have irreversible consequences. One of the debt trap deals of Xi Jinping, the Kaliwa dam, poses a lot of risks. It places 100,000 lives in danger as it is within two active tectonic zones. The risk include draining us of public funds to pay off debt, as the Duterte government continues to keep the wording of the deals from the public eye," Machris Cabreros, Akbayan President said.

Akbayan will be joining PAKISAMA, a farmer and fisherfolk alliance, at the Chinese consulate in Makati at 9:30 on November 20 to protest the debt trap deals.

"Konti lang ang alam ng taumbayan sa mga uutangin ni Duterte. Pero ang taumbayan na rin at ang mga susunod na henerasyon ang magbabayad nito," Cabreros added. (Only a few people know about the terms of Duterte's debt trap deals. But it will be the Filipino public and the generations after us who will pay off the debt with our own taxes.)

"It's like openly inviting a thief into your own home to steal more. The Chinese government has intruded on our seas, harassed our fisherfolks, intimidated us with bomber jets and missiles and now we accept deals that will trap us in debt for decades," Cabreros added.

"Duterte should be pressuring the Chinese government to end the intrusion of the West PH Sea, which majority of Filipinos are demanding. It seems Duterte is extending the Chinese intrusion straight into Malacañang," Cabreros added.###