“Save electricity, protest all day”

MANILA, Philippines – Having grown tired of an “annual litany of deceit,” members of the Youth Against Debt (YAD) today urged all Filipino youths to “disconnect from the lies” of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by shutting down all electronic devices that will directly receive her 8th State of the Nation Address (SONA) next Monday.

In a forum organized by YAD dubbed as “Youth SONA 2008” held at the University of the Philippines, youth and students from different schools and communities were urged to “see and hear no evil” on July 28.

“This is a direct form of protest against the illegitimate Arroyo government. Let us not allow our TVs, radios, Ipods, and computers be infected by Mrs. Arroyo’s lies this SONA,” YAD said.

In a statement, the youth group said they “have given Mrs. Arroyo her due and she failed miserably.”

“We asked for the truth and she gave us lies. We trusted due process and we have been betrayed. We hoped for prosperity and she gave us more poverty. We enjoin the TV and Ipod Generation to resist. Enough of the lies, enough of the evil,” YAD said.

It can be remembered that during the height of the Senate Investigation on the ZTE national broadband network Project, Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada alleged that former NEDA Secretary Romy Neri called Mrs. Arroyo “evil.” The project is supposed to be funded by a $329-million loan from Chinese EXIM Bank.

Heavily indebted, poorly educated

The anti-debt youth group said under the eight years of the Arroyo government, the National Government debt rose to record heights with the Arroyo administration distinguishing itself in keeping record of having borrowed and paid debts more than the post-Marcos administrations combined.

YAD also decried the continuous suffering of Philippine education. It asserted that under President Arroyo, education spending per Gross National Product (GNP) dropped from an already meager 3.8 per cent during the short-lived Estrada Administration to a record low of 2.2 per cent in 2006, a far-cry from a widely-accepted international standard as prescribed by UNESCO pegging education spending 6 per cent of GNP.

Conserve electricity, protest all day

The youth group’s call found an ally with the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).

FDC’s Power Advocacy Unit said that “in a time of a grueling economic crisis, watching and/or listening to Mrs. Arroyo is an awful waste of electricity and money.”

The debt watchdog asserted that by turning off televisions, radios, and computers throughout the entire coverage of the SONA, which is about 4 hours, “Each household will be saving an average of P10 - P14 if they are using a standard 50-watt radio, a TV, and a computer.”

Pegged on “11 million households nation-wide,” FDC said that switching off electronic equipments receiving the SONA amounts to as much as P150 million of household savings, or about 3 Gigawatts of electricity.

“Imagine, the Arroyo administration is calling on the people to waste that much money and electricity so we can watch and listen to its lies?” FDC said.

“Thus, instead of watching and hearing President Arroyo’s annual spectacle of fabricated truths, we urge the Filipino youth and the general public to conserve electricity and protest all day,” FDC said.

YAD is composed of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (UP KAISA), ISKOLAR Student Alliance- UP Manila, UP Alyansa ng Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP ALYANSA), Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP), Bukluran – Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), LINGAP – Adamson University, Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Kabataan (ALYANSA), UP Manila Paralegal Society. Alab Kabataan, Sanlakas Youth, Akbayan Youth, Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND), Filipino Democratic Student Union (FDSU), Malayang Kabataang Pilipino (MKP), Piglas Kabataan (PK), Liga ng Sosyalistang Kabataan (LSK), Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK), Padayon Youth, Youth for Change (Y4C), Kalayaan Youth, Pandayan Youth and United Antipolo (UA).

They will be joining the People’s SONA Protest Action this July 28 1:00PM together with the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Laban ng Masa (LnM). -30-

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