On Aquino’s 2010 SONA

Statement of BAYAN Canada
On Aquino’s Philippine State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, 2010

BAYAN Canada, an alliance of progressive Filipino organizations in Canada is outraged and concerned about the direction the newly-elected Aquino administration is leading the country.  During his first State of the Nation Address, President Aquino cited the scandalous pilfering of the previous administration, which has left the country’s finances in peril.  The president then began to list the solutions needed to heal the country’s economy.  Streamlining investment, increasing privatization and developing infrastructure, according to Aquino, are the necessary actions to improve the depressed Philippine economy.

“What was said in the address to the nation was at the least, lacking and a step in the wrong direction” Joey Calugay, Secretary General of BAYAN Canada said. “Despite the fact that the neoliberal policies of the past have ruined the economy and has favoured foreign corporations, Aquino is still insistent on further destroying the nation’s finances by implementing and repeating the tested and failed policies of the past.” Calugay added.

BAYAN members in the Philippines, U.S., Canada, Australia and Hong Kong have laid out their own demands for the Philippine government to address, which tackle the real issues facing the country’s citizens and the millions of Filipino migrants around the globe.  The demands and issues of the people are based on the four K’s: Katurungan, Kalayaan, Karapatan, and Kabuhayan.

Katurungan (Justice)
During the previous administration, there were approximately 1200 cases of extrajudicial killings and over 200 cases of enforced disappearances.  BAYAN Canada Chairperson, Chandu Claver stated, “Nowhere in his address did Aquino acknowledge the extrajudicial killings that plagued the country during the last decade…. his silence on the killings does very little to comfort the families of the victims who are still hoping and demanding for justice.” The United Nations, U.S. State Department and countless people’s organizations have accused the state security forces of the Philippines and for carrying out the extrajudicial killings.

We demand that former President Arroyo and all perpetrators be investigated for human rights violations.

Kalayaan (Sovereignty)
VFA: There are currently 5000 U.S. soldiers in the Philippines permitted under the Visiting Forces Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines.  Although the presence and actions of the U.S. forces are embroiled in secrecy and controversy, the soldiers remain on Philippine soil—free to engage in combat and harass Filipino citizens.

Mining Act of 1995: The Philippines is one of the top producers of chromium and gold. Unfortunately the resources and profit of the country’s vast mineral wealth are not shared with its citizens. Multinational corporations are able to extract minerals, destroy the environment while displacing indigenous populations and above all they are permitted to repatriate all profit!

We demand the repeal of this unconstitutional agreement and legislation, which debase our national sovereignty.

Karapatan (Rights)
The International Federation of Journalists declared the Philippines as the most dangerous country for journalists for the past two years.  Death squads have targeted and killed workers, unionists, journalists, politicians and students.

We demand that the Aquino administration dismantle the military program “Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL)” or “Operation Plan Freedom Watch”, which targets mainly civilians critical of ggovernment and people’s organizations suspected as communist fronts for “neutralization”.

Kabuhayan (Livelihood)
Over one million Filipinos leave the country every year to find work. Despite its rich resource base and educated population, the Philippines economy cannot employ its own workforce. The majority of Filipinos work as landless tenant farmers. The economy is based on the export of its physical and human resources. There are no heavy industries that employ a significant portion of the population.

We demand that the Aquino administration implement genuine agrarian land reform.   We demand that the Aquino administration create jobs in the Philippines instead of promoting the Labour Export Policy, which was instituted by the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

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