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Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
Ten thousand activists from the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Kilusang Kontra Pork (KonTRAPOrk), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) will march to the House of Representatives tomorrow to assail the Aquino government for four years of misleading and betraying the people.
According to the group, the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III will only reflect the administration’s false and merely propaganda-driven “Tuwid na Daan” (straight path) good governance platform.
“Tuwid na Daan is fake and rotten. There are no meaningful reforms under PNoy’s administration just like in previous administrations. Now more than ever, the Filipino people must advance their struggle for human rights, new politics, new economy and a new system,” said the group in a joint statement released today.
The joint statement pointed out the widespread and deepening underdevelopment of the country despite claims to economic growth. It stressed the prevalence of hunger and poverty, joblessness and loss of livelihoods, glaring neglect of the agriculture and industry sectors, deepening inequality, intensified imperialist incursion into the country, continuing human rights violations, failure of Aquino’s land reform program, and scandalous plunder of public coffers and widespread corruption at all levels of the government.
FDC scored Aquino for continuing to victimize the people with the vicious cycle of continuous heavy borrowings to pay for illegitimate debts and deprioritizing social and economic services.
“From 2010-2013, the Philippine debt ballooned by 20.14% and has now reached Php 7.5 trillion. Money borrowed by the government was used to plug perennial revenue shortfall for the national expenditure program. But the budget has been plundered and misused by government officials and politicians and has, for decades, prioritized servicing of debts including fraudulent loans that hardly benefited the people,” said Mae Buenaventura, FDC Vice-President.
“Instead of calling for debt cancellation or moratorium of debt servicing in the light of the devastation by Yolanda, Aquino incurred US$ 2 billion new loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank ,” Buenaventura added.
The group’s joint statement further asserted that the recent Supreme court decision which declared Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional has unmasked the true face of the regime as just another rotten, abusive, elitist and “trapo” government.
SANLAKAS, a political bloc and FDC member, in its impeachment complaint against President Aquino, said that the president committed ”fiscal dictatorship”and betrayed public trust “through tyrannical abuse of power and gross exercise of discretionary powers” when he treated public funds as “savings to be expended at his pleasure.”
FDC President and Land Reform policy expert, Professor Eduardo Tadem stressed that a major source of disenchantment with the Aquino administration is its lack of attention and commitment to agrarian reform, the hallmark of the Constitution’s social justice provision.
“An incompetent Department of Agrarian Reform bureaucracy allowed the agrarian reform program to lapse without completing the land distribution component, misrepresented its achievements, and turned a blind eye to reversals that have taken place in the form of massive land conversions and cancellations of land awards,” Tadem said.
He added that the Aquino government is also oblivious to the human rights violations taking place in the countryside such as the harassment and killing of farmers who assert and defend their land rights under the land reform program. Land reform advocates estimate that around 1 million hectares, mostly from big landholdings such as the Aquino family’s own Hacienda Luisita, have evaded land reform up to now.
Labor groups under FDC asserted that 2 out of 10 households or 30 million Filipinos are considered poor based on the government’s poverty threshold of P16,841 monthly income. Four (4) out of ten (10) Filipino workers are out of job and over 7 million Filipino labor are underemployed. Around 2.2 million Filipinos left the country to work abroad, with 157,681 new Overseas Filipino Workers(OFW), joining them, from January to March this year.
The FDC also blasted the government’s claims for economic growth that does not benefit the majority poor. “Inequality persists in our society. The 60% from the economic growth in 2013 only went to a few rich and powerful families, belonging to the 15%, while the rest of the 40% gains were being shared by 85% of our people. These rich families earned not less than 10 times the monthly pay of an ordinary Filipino worker”, FDC asserts.
Lidy Nacpil, FDC Vice President and Coordinator of Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD) laments the Aquino government’s lip service and lackluster efforts in addressing the climate crisis in the country. “It is ironic that the Philippines is widely perceived as having one of the advanced and progressive positions in the international climate fora, but domestically, the government fails to match its rhetorics with adequate policies and actions. It is found wanting in adequately preparing our people to the impacts of climate crisis. It fails to shift to more sustainable systems that will build and develop our country’s resilience. The President himself, as head of the Philippine Climate Change Commission (PCCC) has failed to convene it for four (4) years now”. Ms. Nacpil laments.
Max de Mesa, of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) deplores the lack of political will and interests of the Aquino government to protect, respect and fulfill its human rights obligations to the people. “Impunity persists. For instance, while the Anti-enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Law was passed in 2012, 27 cases of desaparecidos ocurred during PNoy’s term. Perpetrators of torture are not being punished, such as the cases of 41 prisoners in Binan, Laguna, who were reportedly subjected to the “wheels of torture” by the police. Human rights groups worked hard for three years to help the government draft its own national Human Rights Action Plan, only to be trashed by the Executive and by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights,” de Mesa complains.
KILUSAN and other anti-bases groups, assail the government’s Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US government. “EDCA secretly hatched both by the US and the Philippine governments, behind the Filipino people, and at the expense of the Philippine Constitutional provisions against US war and nuclear weapons on Philippine soil, is an act of betrayal of the Philippine sovereignty and national interests,” says Prof. Fidel Fababier of KILUSAN.
The FDC Women’s Committee gives the Aquino government’s a “bagsak” (failing mark) as it assails the continuing burdens on women of the government’s policies and programs.
The FDC and its partners call on the people to cast away all illusions about the Aquino government, and instead rely on their own strength and collective actions to ultimately attain the people’s long –standing aspirations for justice, freedom and a dignified life not only for a few, but for every Filipino.
FDC, PAHRA, KIlusang KonTRAPOrk