June 24, 2011
After one year in office, President Benigno Aquino III has not improved the lives of the Filipino people. His promise of “Tuwid na Daan” (straight path) is nothing but the crooked and edgy path for the Filipino people to tread on. His campaign promises during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) have become illusions for the majority of the people.
Misguided by the illusion of popularity, the Aquino administration refuses to address the chronic problems of the country. These are the rampant unemployment and poverty, inadequate social services, continuing human rights violations committed with impunity, landlessness, continuing rise in the prices of basic commodities, uncontrollable prices of gasoline and petroleum products, and destruction of the environment.
These problems, further encouraged by the government’s labour export policy, continue to drive many Filipinos to leave the country to work abroad. At least 4000 men and women leave the airports everyday to work overseas; there are 10 million Filipinos working in 196 countries and territories.
If President Aquino is sincere in keeping his promises, he needs to concretely act on these. In the socio-economic front, instead of taking the neoliberal economic path, he and his economic managers must take the path to national industrialization and genuine land reform. Instead of dole-outs and short-term socio-economic programs like “Pantawid Pasada” (gas subsidy to drivers) and conditional cash transfer (CCT), the Aquino administration must undertake long-term socio-economic measures that will bring lasting, not temporary, relief to the people’s suffering. The Aquino administration needs to look beyond economic rhetoric and failed policies of the past regimes.
Like his predecessor the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, President “Noynoy” Aquino has opened the country to foreign capital and investments. President Aquino has aggressively attracted foreign investors and has placed little or no restrictions to their operations. In particular, we refer to Canadian mining companies that operate in the Philippines which have not complied with genuine, free, prior and informed consent from the indigenous peoples and which have put profits before environmental destruction and displacement of peasant and indigenous communities.
Fighting corruption is empty rhetoric when President Noynoy Aquino has shown no urgency in prosecuting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts for their graft and corruption, as well as the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of those who advocate for social change. Declaring that the Filipino People is the President’s “Boss” carries no weight when the same President also wages an all out war against the people with the US-inspired state counterinsurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan. President “Noynoy” Aquino cannot profess to be for peace until he orders the general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty of all political prisoners.
The first year of President Aquino has therefore been found wanting. The state of the nation, the state of the people has only gone from bad to worse.