Fair Trade Needed in Buying Products and Services

Preda News

The one thing that customers want is FairTrade. They have a right to get value for the money they spend to buy a product or service. Fairness and trade justice are important values in our world today because there is so much injustice and unfair trade. Not only are the poor cheated and exploited by the traders and commercial buyers of their farm produce and the farmers are paid a pittance, the traders mark up the cost of the products by hundreds  of percentage points. They make unjust and unfair profit at the expense of the customer. There is a serious failure to have Fair Trade in everyday life when we go to the market or buy manufactured products.

That’s why there is a saying “Buyer Beware.” That tells us that the seller is likely to charge an unfair high price. They are prone to over-charge the customer, to cheat and commit fraud. That is why Fair Trade based on honesty, transparency and a sense of justice is the important value we need in society today.

There are laws that protect the customer but implementing it, like most laws, is very difficult so, “buyer beware.” The advise is to be skeptical of the offers and the sales talk of vendors and to bargain for a lower price and get a discount as much as. Also it is important to carefully read the warranty on the product and the terms and see that you agree to the terms before you buy. The Warranty Law is the law that protects the customer but it too has provisions that can cancel the rights of the customer.

It’s the same challenge for the buyer of consumer products. The workers and assemblers get paid low wages and the sellers and distributers in the retail shops make the huge profits by adding on  profit margins. In Fair Trade, there is the guarantee that any manufactured product certified Fair Trade they buy is of quality, durable and comes with after sales service. These genuine services and durable products are becoming scarcer. More and more it seems that companies are building appliances with what is known as “planned obeisance,” a product is built with a short life span and after perhaps two to three years it stops working. The one-year warranty is then useless and the customer has to pay huge expense for repair or buy a new appliance or product. That’s what the manufacturer wants us to do- buy a new appliance and throw  away the old.

Many a warranty is only for service and does not include the parts needed and if they do offer to repair it, retailers take months to have it done and the customer loses the use of the product without compensation. The customer has no redress and may have to pay for parts. Companies ought to state their warranty terms and conditions clearly and transparently beside the products.

Appliance repairs for washing machines, for example, are very expensive and parts are always needed as many products are now electronic. Customers have to avoid products and brands that have a short life span. Don’t believe the advertisements, sales talk and empty promises. Ask your friends for advice based on their experience with their brands. Do not believe the promises on the stickers on the appliance promising guarantees and warranties unless the warranty is in writing and says it is for parts and service, most do not.  The one year or more warranty ought be signed by a senior manager of the sales company pledging parts and service.

But the guarantee, according to Philippine law, will not be for more than one year in most cases. The warranty or guarantee is mostly just for repair service, the customer has to buy the expensive parts. In SM, they offer an extended guarantee for one year on an appliance for an extra payment that depends on the value  of the product. It is for part and services.

Samsung has a washing machine with a sticker that says 11 years warranty. When you ask what is guaranteed, they say the motor. Ask if that guarantee is in writing and includes parts and service and the salesperson says no, it is not given in writing and does not include parts. Are promises just smart manipulation of a customer with promises and to make a sale and earn a commission? After that there is no real service and care. If you have a repair done under warranty it has to be proven by the customer that it did not happen through neglect or the fault of the customer.  The company can deny you a repair or replacement. You have no recourse. It is not Fair Trade.

What can a disappointed or cheated customer do? Go to court and sue the company for not honoring a guarantee for a broken appliance? Yes, it’s a good idea if it is an expensive item. The customer that feels cheated can file a small claim case and the company will then cave in and honor the warranty as it does not want the bad publicity. In most cases of broken products, it is not financially feasible so we customers are victims of the selling corporations when their appliances break down.

One example is our washing machine, Whirlpool, (model 122491, serial No.C311 40001), bought in Abensons, Olongapo. It costs Php 35,000 pesos in US dollars at today’s rate that is equivalent to $685. It was bought 2 years and 7 months ago and broke down. The Abensons manager assigned a repair man to inspect it from a small shop in Subic Municipality and diagnose the problem for a fee of 500 peso. His bill to repair the Whirlpool Washing machine is Php 18,900 equivalent to  US $370.12, enough to buy another model machine. That is the point- they want you to buy more.

So you are advised to consider this experience when you are  purchasing a washing machine but never a  Whirlpool washing machine as it  only works for  about two to three years.

Apple Mac is also another company selling expensive computers with what appears to be planned obeisance or declaration that the model is obsolete after a number of years. For Apple, it is seven years after the end of production. The Apple website has a long list of obsolete products. Even top of the line models have a shelf-life and after five years or six years, they inevitably breakdown. Continue reading

Stop the Promotion of Palm Oil and Biofuels for Aviation

Photo credit: Wikipedia

More Palm Oil Is Likely To Fuel The Aviation Industry With Great Consequences On The Environment And Local Communities

If your organization feels that this trend should be stopped, please sign the attached letter, by sending your name, the name of your organisation and the country to biofuelwatch@gmail.com by 1st October 2017.

Dear ATM members and partners,

The ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) – a “specialized UN organization” will hold a high-level “Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels”, in Mexico City from 11th to 13th October 2017.

ICAO supports the aviation industry’s quest for unending rapid growth, a quest which is incompatible with keeping global warming to 1.5oC or even 2oC per (a goal endorsed by the Paris Agreement). Greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation alone grew by 87% between 1990 and 2014 and are rising faster than those from almost any other sector.

It is likely that more planes will start using hydrocarbon fuels in the near future. In fact, the aviation industry has promised “carbon neutral growth” from 2020, which it claims it can achieve largely through a combination of carbon offsetting and biofuels. ICAO’s carbon offsetting plans were denounced by over 100 civil society organizations in 2016.

Ahead of the conference in Mexico, the ICAO Secretariat has published a proposal for vast-scale use of biofuels in aircraft: it wants to see 128 million tonnes of biofuels a year being burned in plane engines by 2040, going up to 285 million tonnes (half of all aviation fuel) by 2050. By comparison, some 82 million tonnes of biofuels a year are currently used in transport worldwide. Even if the figures proposed by the ICAO Secretariat are unrealistic, creating any new market for biofuels will compound the harm caused by existing policies promoting biofuels for road transport in the EU, US and elsewhere.

Monoculture plantations of crops and trees for biofuel covered at least 30 million hectares of land worldwide, but the indirect impacts of the steep growth in biofuels for road transport (mainly cars) since 2010 have gone far beyond the direct impacts. The harm done by existing biofuel policies and subsidies includes increased land-grabbing in the global South; greater food price volatility, which undermines food security as well as food sovereignty; more deforestation and destruction of other biodiverse ecosystems as demand for vegetable oils, sugar cane and cereals increases; more synthetic fertilizer, pesticide and other agrochemical use; depletion and contamination of waterways; and overall climate impacts which are no lesser than those of fossil fuel oil (per tonne of fuel).  Continue reading

Church watchdog welcomes fresh Philippine election delay

Village polls postponed again amid Duterte claims that drug money is funding local politicians’ campaigns

Volunteers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting attend Mass during a break in the canvass of votes during the 2016 Philippine national elections. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

Joe Torres, ManilaPhilippines                October 4, 2017

A church-backed Philippine poll watchdog has welcomed another postponement of village and youth leader elections scheduled for later this month.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed a decree on Oct. 3 postponing the local elections to the second Monday in May in 2018.

The decree, signed less than three weeks before the scheduled elections on Oct. 23, allows incumbent officials to remain in office.

The elections were originally scheduled for Oct. 31, 2016, but these were moved to Oct. 23, 2017, after Duterte said he wanted the elections deferred because of possible drug money funding the local politicians’ campaigns.

Of the 42,000 villages in the country, about 20,000 are considered tainted by illegal drugs, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Duterte also said in December that dozens of village officials were on what he called a “narco-list” containing the names of personalities allegedly connected to the illegal drug trade.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, a church-backed poll watchdog, welcomed the president’s decision to delay the elections, despite criticizing the initial delay in 2016.

“The uncertainty [over the polls] among incumbent village officials, among possible candidates, among [non-government groups] electoral groups will end,” said lawyer Rene Sarmiento, chairman of the watchdog.

The church group, a citizen’s arm of the Commission on Elections, has been helping the poll body in the verification of the official list of voters.

The group earlier said the government’s plan to postpone the polls “is no substitute to periodic elections in a democracy to check the accountability of elected officials.”

Sarmiento, however, said that now that the president has signed a decree postponing the polls “time, effort and expense can be channeled to other constructive nation-building concerns.”

Andres Bautista, chairman of the Commission on Elections, also welcomed the postponement and advised all deputized agencies “to immediately begin ramping down their election-related activities and await more detailed instructions.”

Cracks are appearing in Duterte’s armor

Deadly war on drugs, failure to deliver on election promises is starting to see support for Philippine strongman falter

A group of urban poor dwellers put up barricades after occupying a government housing project north of Manila. (Photo by Mark Saludes)
Inday Espina-Varona, Manila 
September 28, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spin doctors like to hype a monolithic power base. It is a noisy base, raucous and all too ready to fight dirty for their hero. But Duterte’s steady backtracking from his biggest social and economic promises have eroded the foundations of his autocratic rule.

His biggest challenges, analysts say, will come from the poor that swept him into power.

Most reportage and social media noise in the Philippines focuses on the death toll of Duterte’s drug war. In a country where the average family has six members, the 12,000 deaths recorded in the last year represent a humanitarian crisis.

There is no support for widows and orphans of the drug war. The government has just slashed the budget for drug rehabilitation centers by US$40 million.

There is no transparency in the killings police acknowledge.

The head of the national police says he needs a green light from the president to make reports public. The rest of the killings are waved off as the handiwork of vigilantes, and the implied message is, they help police keep city streets “safe.”

The president has also used the drugs issue as a pretext for his planned overhaul of he country’s political system.

Already, his allies have set the wheels in motion for the suspension of local elections in barangay or villages.

Duterte, with little concern for legalities, warns that he will strip incumbents of power, based only on flimsy and often inaccurate, intelligence reports on drug ties.

He plans to install his allies as officials in charge, in preparation for a planned push toward federalism.

Duterte has used the drug issue to keep critics on the defensive.

A series of assassinations of people he had tagged as drug lords increased intimidation levels.

The president has also reinstated police officers charged with the murders of high profile suspects.

His politics of fear and his passionate adherents have created an aura of invincibility.

“I think we must acknowledge that Duterte is popular and that this stems from a widespread sense that what the country needs is a strong hand to ‘fix the mess’,” says former legislator Walden Bello.

When will the sheen wear off?

Given the attacks, should critics just lie low and wait it out?

Bello believes the best defense is not to moderate criticism but to sharpen it and to continue to stress that democracy, human rights, and due process are among the cornerstones of Philippine political culture, and are non-negotiable values.

There are signs that Duterte’s momentum may be faltering.

While he remains popular, Filipinos have consistently warned him in surveys that they do not agree with drug war killings.

Impunity also breeds careless and cocky ways.

A series of brazen killings in Manila appears to have snapped the patience of many, including some of Duterte’s supporters.

On Sept. 15, the national police command sacked an entire city force — only days after Duterte made a fantastic claim, that all the killings were a conspiracy to tarnish his image.

Months back, you would have seen hundreds of thousands of followers echoing the president.

Last week saw Duterte’s social media followers distancing themselves from the ridiculous claim.

The police announcement of the sacking of the police force in one city elicited sighs of relief from Duterte supporters.

Police backtracked on random drug testing in communities after a lawyer’s group filed a legal challenge.

Also recently, police officials blinked, retreating from a previous order barring the release of crime scene reports.

Bello has no illusions about any immediate major defeat for Duterte.

The people’s anger over elite democracy politics is real and justified.

The main reason Duterte remains strong is people’s repudiation of the system and deep inequality that replaced the Marcos dictatorship, Bello adds.

The bolting by the radical of the left from its testy, rocky alliance with Duterte, is seen as major blow for the strongman though it has been predicted for months now.

Duterte is his own greatest weakness.

As his drug war faces increasing hostility, Duterte cannot afford to turn back on his progressive pledges. But that is exactly what has happened.

To keep his control of security forces, he has steadily backtracked from his biggest social and economic promises.

He has held back incentive pay for teachers. Soldiers have realized he cannot double their pay.

His war in Marawi has cost the country $60 million and counting. He doesn’t even have a major catch to show for it; just a city reduced to rubble and hostages still in rebel hands.

Rehabilitation will need at least $1 billion and restive Muslim communities warn they will resist if their lands are ceded to big investors.

Big business has also forced Duterte to go slow on the promised end to labor contractualization.

The government has just overturned a popular ban on open-pit mining. Public transports groups are demanding a fare hike.

Tax reform touted as pro-poor will actually increase what the poor pay in terms of sales and value added taxes.

His biggest challenges, analysts say, will come from the poor that swept him into power.

Inday Espina-Varona is an editor and commentator based in Manila.

Statement on the CHR Budget as Passed by the Lower House

The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (LAIKO), the umbrella organization of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines for Catholic Lay Organizations strongly condemns the appropriation of ₱1,000.00 for the 2018 budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) by the Lower House.

The importance of the CHR is underscored by its mandate in the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Art. XIII) which includes, among others:

  1. investigating, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights, [Sec. 18(1)];
  2. providing appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons within the Philippines, as well as Filipinos residing abroad, and providing preventive measures and legal aid services to the under-privileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection [Sec. 18(3)];
  3. exercising visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities [Sec. 18(4)]; and
  4. monitoring the Philippine Government’s compliance with international treaty obligations on human rights [Sec. 18(7)].

These functions have been crafted with the highest of morals and ideals in mind. The CHR is meant to serve ALL FILIPINOS regardless of political color.

In this regard LAIKO deplores the act of the Lower House in allotting ₱1,000.00 for the 2018 budget of the CHR;

LAIKO implores the Philippine Senate and Congress to appropriate a budget for the CHR which will enable it to effectively pursue its functions and uphold the human rights of ALL FILIPINOS.

For the Board of Directors of Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas,

National President

Noted by:

LAIKO National Director
Chairman, CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Laity
19 September 2017

New JPII Pontifical Institute for Matrimonial & Family Sciences releases statement

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Grand Chancellor of the newly-created John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Sciences – ANSA

(Vatican Radio) | 19/09/2017 17:04 The newly-created John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Sciences on Tuesday released a statement regarding Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Datae summa familiae cura.

The Motu Proprio was released on Tuesday, establishing the Institute to carry forward the work of the two recent Synods of Bishops and the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

The ‘media notes’ statement is signed by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Grand Chancellor of the Institute, and Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, its President.

It discusses the inspiration and sources behind the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio, as well as how the project is to be implemented.

Please find below the original statement:

Rome, September 19, 2017

Media Notes on the Motu Proprio of Pope Francis Summa Familiae Cura that Creates the John Paul II  Pontifical Theological Institute for Matrimonial and Family Sciences – September 19,2017
  1. The Apostolic Letter with which Pope Francis has created the new John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute reveals his desire to honor two sources that were his inspiration.

(a) The first is the new social and cultural vista in which matrimony and the family seek to be consistent with their original calling. The process of recognizing and reflection on these two institutions during the recent Synods has made evident the necessity of a “renewed awareness of the Gospel of the Family and of new pastoral challenges that the Christian community is called on to answer.”

(b) The second source is the “farseeing intuition of Saint John Paul II” who strongly supported the creation of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family as a key institution dedicated to research and to specialist formation at a university level and having a special connection with the Apostolic See.  This legacy, far from having lost its driving force, is to be “even more clearly recognized and valued for its fruitfulness and importance today.”

  1. These two sources led to have led to the special message of the Letter:

(a) On the one hand, there is the direct involvement of Pope Francis that reflects the two described sources.  He “signs on” to the subject and reveals his deep belief in (i)the crucial nature of the question, (ii) the new vitality of a reflection on the faith, and (iii) discernment of the human condition, all of which the Church is called on to bring to the world.

(b) As well, the Pope has entrusted the task of respecting both the continuity and the newness of this undertaking to the same persons who are now engaged in safeguarding a great legacy and making it bear fruit.  The academic officers of the predecessor institution (Grand Chancellor, President, Governing Council) are the ones called on to formulate the regulations, structures and operations of the new Theological Institute, at both the main campus and the various Sessions around the world, in the twofold context of continuity and renewal.

(c) This approach eliminates the possibility of an agenda-driven interpretation that sees the Pope’s action as a departure from the inspiration that moved Saint John Paul II, or even as a sign that the Pope has lost confidence in the existing institution, its leadership or its faculty.  Indeed, these are the very persons who are called to guide the new Institute on the necessary path of adaptation and restructuring that is called for by the Holy Father.

Continue reading

Invitation for the Celebration of International Day of Peace on September 21

Photo credit: dashinfoundation.org

Care for fellow Filipinos.
Dignity for All.

In the middle of the administration’s campaign against drugs and the war launched against the Maute in Marawi, hundreds of thousands of faceless and nameless people are forced to flee from their homes for their security and safety. In Marawi, many families have been uprooted from the land they toiled and culture that nurtured and molded them to become the people that they are. In the same way, many parents, siblings, wives, and children in urban areas have to leave their homes, livelihoods, relatives and friends for fear that they will be executed and suffer the same fate as their relatives allegedly involved in drugs.

As of 14 July 2017, the UNHCR released a report revealing 91,538 number of families displaced because of the Marawi bombing. And, while there is no official data on the continuous drug-related killings, civil society organization can estimate that around 10,000-13,000 families have been affected and we can surmise that they were displaced physically and economically from their homes.

Aside from Marawi incident and drug-related killings, in many areas in the country, evacuation have become a regular routine of people every time a military and armed groups from NPA or Muslim militants would clash. Others, like the IPs and farmers, have to seek other land after losing their ancestral lands and livelihoods because of the premium given by the government for business and profit. Still others, because of poverty and limited job opportunities in provinces, would choose to leave their homes for Metro Manila or other countries leaving their parents, siblings, wives, and children to fight their own battles of loneliness and a life with one parent-model lesser.

Thus, on September 21, the world will celebrate the International Day of Peace with theme: “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, Dignity for All”. This year’s theme “honours the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life.”

Let us join the international expression of solidarity for all refugees, displaced families and individuals for their plight. Let us specifically share with people affected by war on drugs and the war in Marawi that we, Filipinos, care for them and we will journey with them until their rights are respected, safety is ensured, and psychosocial and social services are provided to give them a life with dignity.


1 – Filipinos become aware of the struggles of their neighbors, their fellow Filipinos, because of displacement brought about by wars waged by government and development aggression by big companies.
2 – Partners come together to share their time and resources with their chosen community to express care and support for those internally displaced.
3 – Share and introduce to communities that there is a network of organizations that they can go to for support and services.
4 – Organize small groups which can support small struggles of internally displaced communities.

Suggested Menu of Activities:

Hold a sharing session with internally displaced
Adopt an evacuation center for a day.
Psychosocial intervention.
Put up a Soup Kitchen
Distribution of Relief Goods

We invite and encourage all partners to celebrate the International Day of Peace in their respective localities whenever possible. Please inform us of your plan so that we can include this in our Press Release highlighting a synchronized activity of PMPI members and clusters.
We also plan to enroll online our activities in the UN events for September 21 International Day of Peace celebration all over the world.