rep tom villarinThe Philippines stands to lose over $12B dollars in trade benefits and over 200,000 jobs if Congress passes HB 4727 reimposing the death penalty, warned Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin in his interpellation during plenary debates on the controversial measure.

Villarin said the country, which enjoys zero tariffs for its exports to EU countries, for abolishing the death penalty and signing the 2nd Optional Protocol plus 26 other international agreements on human rights, labor and trade union covenants, among others, will lose such economic privileges.

"Why will we let go of such gains when the perceived benefits of reimposing the death penalty is non-existent?" said Villarin.

The GSP+ status gives zero tariffs to 6,274 Philippine products exported to EU countries. In 2013, the Philippines has already a total of $12.8-B worth of trade with EU. At least $1.6B of customs duties are saved because of our GSP+ status, according to data from World Bank.

Many of the country's exports to EU come from agriculture and manufacturing, mostly outside Metro Manila especially Mindanao where industries such as tuna, fruits, coconut oil, carrageenan, and other products abound.

"It will only worsen the peace and order situation in Mindanao, which will be greatly affected by such policy. Death penalty will kill industries, jobs, and livelihoods of the poorest people in our country--a tragic irony of unfathomed proportions," Villarin said.
 
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that in 2014, the year the Philippines signed the GSP+ trade agreement, tariff-free exports amounted to $6.73B.

It rose to $7.17B in 2015 and will eventually cover the total trade to EU which comprises around 12% of our country's exports. ##

liela de limaAkbayan denounces the filing of cases against Sen. Leila de Lima as a desperate attempt to stifle principled dissent, a sexist obsession to put down a vocal critic of government. Her impending arrest will make her a political prisoner, persecuted under false pretext of trumped up drug charges.

For being outspoken and critical, she is facing hasty, vindictive persecution while the likes of Jack Lam, Peter Lim and Janet Napoles are being accommodated and freed.

Akbayan calls on the public to remain vigilant and not allow due process and the rule of law to be sacrificed for the sake of political vendetta. Akbayan supports the call of the people for justice and fairness, and accountability from the malevolent forces behind the demonization of a human rights defender. 

There are people who belong behind bars but Leila de Lima is definitely not one of them.

vote for dignityAkbayan partylist today trooped to the House of Representatives to call on legislators to scrap the death penalty biĺl ahead of scheduled plenary voting this week.

“We all know the death penalty only hits the poor, and in 3 of every 4 cases, an innocent,” said Akbayan President Machris Cabreros. “Legislators have to remember that a vote for death penalty is therefore a vote against the poor.”

“We urge Congress to resist and scrap this priority administration bill for being anti-poor, whose utter cruelty only promises violence and not the certainty of justice,” added Cabreros.

Instead, Cabreros said, solons should vote for the dignity and the rule of law and justice for the poor by thumbing down the death penalty bill. “Strengthen our laws and let them apply to all, without exceptions to the likes of Peter Lim, Jack Lam and Janet Napoles.”

akbayan2014Ang paglingon sa pinanggalingang Edsa Revolution ay upang makarating tayo sa hustisyang pinaroroonan. This was the response of Akbayan party-list to Palace spokesperson Abella for justifying scaled down commemoration rites of the EDSA anniversary in order for the country to "move on".

"EDSA was a milestone of democracy, no matter how fragile or immature our contested democracy may be, it is better than the tyrrany and plunder of Marcos, and it is certainly better than the culture of death and impunity we have today," said Akbayan President Machris Cabreros.

"Nililingon natin ang EDSA hindi dahil tayo ay sentimental,kundi dahil ito ay paalala na hanggang ngayon hindi pa din nananagot sa hustisya ang pamilyang Marcos," added Cabreros, "and instead of holding the Marcoses accountable, this government is enabling their return to power."

"We commemorate EDSA 1986 for the promises of equality and democracy it heralded," added Cabreros. "Just because this promise has not been fully realized does not mean we should give up on the fight against inequality and poverty."

"Which is why Abella's insensitive comments about moving on grates, because this ignores the lessons of EDSA against dictatorship and plunder, given the context of widespread corruption at the highest levels of government today, such as the Bureau of Immigration scandal, and the SolGen's moves to free Pork Barrel Queen Janet Lim Napoles, aided by Duterte lawyers."

"Now more than ever we must uphold Edsa 1986 because the plunderers and the tyrants following in the footsteps of the elites deposed by EDSA 1986 are now lurking in the shadows attempting to bring us back to the dark days of massive thievery and abuse," explained Cabreros.

"It is our solemn duty to use the EDSA commemoration to educate, and ultimately resist."

DuterteAkbayan party-ist today called out President Duterte for describing former dictator Marcos as enterprising, saying "Duterte should not engage in dishing alternative facts about Marcos, he was not enterprising, he was a plundering dictator."

"There is no acceptable threshold to gloss over the plunder and murder that happened under Marcos, especially given how their family continues to evade justice," said Akbayan President Machris Cabreros. "As president, Duterte should know better and be able to separate his duty as leader of the country from his personal opinion regarding his patrons."

Cabreros added that it is erroneous to call Marcos's programs as enterprising, "because the dark side of these programs was a dictator who was pilfering funds into his pockets while at the same time deploying the state machinery to kill opponents."

"President Duterte is adding, whether wittingly or not, to the injustices perpetrated by the Marcoses by sanitizing their crimes and emphasizing their dubious achievements," added Cabreros.

"This continued drive to cleanse the Marcos name must not be allowed to become official history, especially with the People Power anniversary coming up," added Cabreros. "While some have given up on the spirit of EDSA, we remain committed to its original intent and spirit, which is empowerment and justice for all."

"We will continue to call for bringing the Marcoses to justice, by accounting for the truths behind the Marcos regime," said Cabreros, "which no president, no matter how short-sighted nor small-minded will be able to  sweep under the rug."