Statement of BAYAN Canada
On Arroyo’s Philippine State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, 2009
BAYAN Canada, an alliance of Filipino progressive and nationalist organizations in Canada, will conduct its opposition through various protest actions and activities across Canada on the eve of the ninth (9th) SONA of President Arroyo. Described as the “People’s SONA,” these protests will be a vivid contrast to the traditional annual report to the nation by the Philippine President on the current social, economic, and political conditions of the country.
As in her past SONA, Arroyo is expected to paint a rosy picture of the Philippines under her regime. She will make bogus claims of stabilizing the region through economic growth, job creation and her counter-insurgency.
The real state of the nation, however, is that the Philippine national debt has soared higher than ever; there is a record 15.6 million Filipinos unemployed, while a whopping one million Filipinos leave the country each year to work abroad. With the vast majority of the people still engaged in backward agricultural production, the problem of land monopoly continues to persist with seven out of ten peasant farmers lacking ownership of their own land, subject to usury and feudal land rent. The Arroyo regime’s human rights record surpasses that of previous Presidents, including that of Ferdinand Marcos, with more than 1,000 extra-judicial killings, over 200 abductions and disappearances and about 1,000 cases of torture reported since Arroyo assumed power in 2001.
Further dogging Mrs. Arroyo are charges of corruption, power-mongering, and subservience to U.S. imperialism, with pay-offs totaling over US $130 million which have gone to her and her family, proof once again that the top political position in the country is still the most lucrative business. While this is supposed to be Arroyo’s last SONA, because her official term ends in 2010, Arroyo has managed to buy off her friends in the Legislature to pass House Resolution 1109 that will pave the way for a Constitutional Assemby (ConAss) which will make it easier to make constitutional amendments (Charter Change or Cha-Cha) to ensure Arroyo’s indefinite stay in power well beyond her term limits and also to shield her from prosecution while she continues to amass wealth.
The option of a change to a Parliamentary form of government is a serious possibility. So is the declaration of martial law, if everything fails. What Arroyo fails to tell the nation that any charter change will more than likely diminish whatever national sovereignty the nation has. Arroyo’s Cha-Cha will remove all barriers to 100% foreign ownership of land, utilities and industries. It is no wonder that representatives of U.S. big business are one of the strongest proponents of charter change in the Philippines since they stand to gain so much from the all-out sale of Philippine resources and sovereignty.
Just days after her SONA, Arroyo plans to travel to Washington D.C. to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama. This is the much anticipated photo opportunity Arroyo hopes will boost her failing regime and help her stay in power. The U.S. needs Arroyo, as the most reliable U.S. lap-dog in the region, to ensure that American economic, political and military interests in Southeast Asia are maintained. Arroyo’s puppetry-like dance has its historical roots in the first colonization of the Philippines over 100 years ago by the U.S. To continue its control over Philippine resources, its possession of markets and dumping grounds for its overproduction and finance capital investment, the U.S. will employ all means — political means through treaties and agreements as well as brutal force through occupation and military aid and training for the puppet forces.
Canadian mining corporations and investors in the Philippines also wait anxiously in the background for charter change as they too stand to profit from this. We can predict more displacement by open-pit mining practices, joblessness as more of the local economy is destroyed, and continuing heavy militarization. Large scale exploitation will especially continue in the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples in the Philippines as their right to self-determination, along with that of the whole country, is trampled upon to extract the rich natural resources for the profit of imperialist nations. The thousands of Filipinos working and living in Canada as immigrants, citizens and temporary workers have nothing to gain from the continuation of the Arroyo regime. The lack of protection for Filipino migrant workers in Canada by both the Ottawa and the Manila governments are well documented. The Arroyo regime continues to peddle Filipino workers as the most docile and hard working in the world with the objective of exporting more “human resources” for the billions in remittances they send back. Filipinos anxious about the future of their families in the Philippines will find that there are no plans in Arroyo’s SONA to build national industries that will provide real jobs for the people and no political will to implement genuine land reform.
BAYAN Canada calls on all Filipinos and democratic and peace loving people to come out and join the SONA activities on Sunday, July 26.
No to an Arroyo dictatorship in the Philippines!
Never again to Martial Law!
Onward with the struggle for national freedom and democracy!