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Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III not only failed to curb the country’s poverty and debt burden. He turned out to be the biggest loan addict, and a total failure in addressing the Philippines’ entrapment in a cycle of debt dependence. The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), in a press conference with selected election candidates on Friday, said that President Aquino has even eclipsed former President Gloria Arroyo as the biggest borrower among Philippine leaders, over a full term, from 1986 to present.
FDC President Dr. Ed Tadem joins the panel of speakers during the 1 February 2016 press conference of BUHAY NA MAY DIGNIDAD PARA SA LAHAT (DIGNIDAD!) on the SSS pension increase. DIGNIDAD is a newly-established broad platform of citizens' groups advancing an agenda that will ensure a life of dignity for all Filipinos. The panel includes Independent Senatorial Candidate Dr. Walden Bello, Prof. Rene Ofreneo (DIGNIDAD spokesperson), Atty. Aaron Pedrosa (Sanlakas), Atty. Gen Du (Umalab Ka), Wilson Fortaleza (Partido Manggagawa), Aura Sevilla (COSE), Trining Domingo (KABAPA), Maria Flores (Kaisahan ng Maliliit na Magsasaka Partylist) and Salve Basiano (SSS Pensioner).
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) joins the aggrieved 2.15 million pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS) in urging the Philippine Congress to override President Aquino’s veto and proceed to enact the law granting a PhP2,000 across-the-board increase in monthly pension. Further, FDC recommends that our lawmakers take this issue a step higher and immediately review the SSS social insurance scheme because clearly, this fails to protect members at old age. Not even with the P2,000 hike.
Paying attention to the financial security of retirees is long overdue. Beyond question, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure this. Aquino should be shaken out of his habit of rejecting proposals entailing public subsidies even if these would improve the lot of millions of Filipinos. Take the individual income tax cuts bills languishing in Congress, for example. And now the SSS pension increase.
Militant groups paraded a jolly big fellow near Malacañang this morning and it’s not the one in a red suit. It’s SanTax Claws in a black jacket, a bagful of money, and with basic sectors tied up as his reindeers.
“This is a mockery of the skewed policies and priorities of the Aquino administration and the ones before it. What prevails is the interest of the elite, of the capitalists, and the people are the ones slaving away for them,” said James Miraflor, Vice-President of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).
Unlike its generous counterpart, FDC’s SanTax Claws does not reward good behavior and does not give gifts. Instead he takes away the people’s money and strength and denies them access to services.
“Aquino rejects lowering of taxes of compensation income earners because he says his government needs revenues for social and economic services. What services is he talking about, he and his predecessors have been privatizing everything—power, water, health, transportation. Instead of being public services, these sectors are now lucrative businesses for private investors,” Miraflor said.
FDC has been criticizing Aquino’s fiscal policies and just recently, his rejection of proposals to amend personal income tax rates and brackets which were determined 18 years ago. The group insists on a progressive taxation system in which those who earn more pay higher taxes.
Ayon sa pantas na si Mahatma Gandhi, kahirapan ang pinakamalalang tipo ng karahasan. Ang dating Pangkalahatang Kalihim ng United Nations na si Kofi Annan ay nagpahayag din na sa tuwing tayo ay may naiaahon sa kahirapan ay naipagtatanggol natin ang karapatang pantao; at kung magiging bigo tayo sa misyong ito, hindi natin tinutupad ang karapatang pantao.
Batid nating lahat ito. Sa katunayan, palagiang layunin ng mga pandaigdigang kasunduang tulad ng papatapos na Millenium Development Goals at magsisimulang Sustainable Development Goals na wakasan ang kahirapan at hindi pagkakapantay-pantay. Sa mga kasunduang ito at ano mang alinsunod na lokal at pambansang programa, sentral na usapin ang paglalaaan ng budget at paghahagilap ng pondo para rito. Kaya’t malimit nating binubisisi ang pagpapataw ng buwis, ang pambansang budget at paggasta nito sapagkat sinasalamin nito ang tunay na prayoridad ng gobyerno.
Matagal na nating iginigiit ang isang progresibong sistema sa pagbabayad ng buwis at makatarungang paggasta ng pamahalaan. Alinsunod sa laki ng kinikita ang halaga ng buwis na binabayaran at gagamitin ang malilikom na pondong ito upang tiyakin ang pampublikong serbisyo lalo na sa mga mahihirap.
Ngunit hanggang ngayon, sa likod ng matatamis na pangako, mapait ang katotohanang pilit na pinabubulaan ng mga nakaraan at kasalukuyang administrasyon. Paulit-ulit tayong binibigo ng mga humahawak sa kaban ng bayan. Sa halip na masugpo, umakyat pa ang bilang ng mga Pilipinong nabubuhay sa kahirapan mula 24.6 porsyento ng populasyon noong 2013 papuntang 25.8 porsyento nitong nakaraang taon. Ginagawang kontraktwal ang trabahong regular. Tinitipid ang pa-sweldo at benepisyo ng mga manggagawa at mas madalang pa sa pagbuo ng quorum sa Kongreso ang umento sa sahod.
Today, people from various parts of the globe will be holding dozens of actions on the eve of the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 climate talks in Paris to express the ever-growing consensus that a systemic shift through ambitious commitments to collective climate action is the only way to avert a looming global climate catastrophe.
These global people-led actions, including today’s March for Climate Justice Pilipinas and several others happening all over the country, have acquired an even greater importance following the banning of the civil society march in Paris during the climate negotiations. The big march and other related actions organized by civil society aim to ventillate the civil society’s and the global climate justice movements’ counter-narratives and demands to be heard during the Paris climate talks. That people’s massive protests will be severely curtailed in COP 21 means that it will be up to actions outside of Paris and before the start of the Conference to ensure that the alternative voices are not silenced in the name of security and other alibi.
This is all the more important given the critical nature of the coming climate negotiations, which many view as humanity’s last chance to prevent irreversible climate change and where decisions will be taken which could mean the life or death for the planet and humanity.
The polluters and the perpetrators, including the governments and leaders of the developed world, the bankers, heads of giant corporations who represent interests that bear the brunt of responsibility for the climate crisis, continue to deny their culpability. They obstruct just and durable solutions to the global crisis, as their insatiable drive for super-profits and greed continue to fuel the burning of our planet. We are here to expose their lies. For too long they have played deaf to the clamor for accountability. We are here to hold them accountable and force their hands to act, and with urgency--- not only in the name of climate justice, but for our very own survival.