I know and feel the problems of ordinary citizens. We all know what it is like to have a government that plays deaf and dumb. We know what it is like to be denied justice, to be ignored by those in whom we placed our trust and tasked to become our advocates.
Have you ever been ignored by the very government you helped put in power?
Have you had to endure being rudely shoved aside by the siren-blaring escorts of those who love to display their position and power over you?
Have you experienced exasperation and anger at a government that instead of serving you, needs to be endured by you?
These are the very own words of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III at his inauguration address in 2010.
These are also the very own words of someone who clearly doesn’t understand what those words mean.
Today is the 23rd of July 2012 in the Philippines. Today he will deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA). And today he will again spout words from mouth without any clear link to reality.
The Philippine government today speaks proudly of the ‘record breaking performances’ of its stock market and GDP growth rate. It is here that we should pause. Because it doesn’t require any fancy economics degrees to realize that the true economy, the economy of the everyday, the economy that reflects the true ability of everyday people to eat well, have access to healthcare and education, to decent and fulfilling work, and most of all, to a good quality of life—well that economy very clearly is getting worse, much worse.
What is the state of the economy?
Unemployment has peaked. One report puts unemployment at 13.8 million in the 1st quarter of 2012.
The minimum wage remains unable to meet the cost of living needs of working families (P446/day to P1017/day for a family of six).
And all the while the 40 richest Filipinos net worth increased from $23B to $47B during his term.
The everyday Filipino suffers. This suffering is what drives the exodus of over 4500 to leave the country everyday to become OFWs. And it is this export of people through the Labour Export Policy that is the true backbone of the Philippine economy. Even CNN reports that remittances are “the key fuel behind [its economy]. To the Philippine government people are a commodity to be exploited for economic gain.
Here in Canada, Filipinos have become the number one source of migrants (mostly in the temporary foreign worker and live-in caregiver class).
And for those that remain in the Philippines President Noynoy (PNoy) will speak of justice and human rights. We ask, justice for whom, and to which humans do these rights refer?
Over 90 extrajudicial killings have taken place under his watch – approximately 1300 since 2001.
Of the 385 political prisoners still incarcerated for their belief that the Philippine government should serve the Philippine people, 107 were arrested under PNoy.
His Oplan Bayanihan, the sequel to President Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya, merely dresses up the same strategy of targeted human rights violations to human rights defenders in the clothes of ‘community partnership’ and so-called ‘development.’
Instead of helping people with a national industrialization strategy, decent education, and healthcare he intimidates, jails, “disappears,” or even kills those who speak the truth. All the while, giving benefit to capitalist expropriation of Philippine national wealth.
For example, in October of last year PNoy allowed mining companies (including Canadian companies) to create and operate private militias putting human rights defenders in even greater risk. This also disproportionately affects indigenous peoples, a sector of society already suffering, as most mining companies operate on their ancestral domains. And his new mining policy (EO79) does nothing to stop the imperialist ravaging of Philippine national patrimony.
And to add insult to injury he has welcomed the return of the American military and has all but opened the door to the return of official American bases on Philippine soil. By 2020 60% of the US military will be stationed in the Asia-Pacific region.
PNoy asked if the people had ever felt ignored by their own government we remind him today that this has always been the case, and continues to be the case as long as the government does not truly have the interests of the people in mind.
As a member of the political and economic elite (who are one and the same) what interest does he really have in our well being? When justice means justice for him and his friends, when the economy means how well the pockets of the rich are stuffed—both clearly demonstrated by his own families’ continued abuse of the peasant farmers of their own Hacienda Luisita, despite a Supreme Court order to redistribute lands—what can we expect for everyday people?
BAYAN-Canada denounces today’s SONA. The true State of the Nation is that we remain a nation for the benefit of local elites and their foreign masters. This is a State that we cannot stand with. This is a Nation without the people’s interest heart. And as it is a nation whose claims to an independent and sovereign people are not, and have never been true.
We demand a Philippines for Filipinos. We demand an end to imperialist rule. And we demand that PNoy stop playing rhetorical games with the truth.
Stop the Killings!
Release All Political Prisoners!
End Foreign Exploitation!
National Industrialization Now!
Uphold Genuine Philippine Independence!
Reference: Alex Felipe, Bayan Canada National Organizing Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org