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Aquino using impeachment trial to cover up ‘crimes’ of his own

Hundreds marched to Mendiola yesterday to call on the Aquino government to stop oil price hikes and impending tuition hikes amidst the resumption of the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The protest action was led by youth groups ANAKBAYAN, League of Filipino Students, National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines. The march kicked off a series of protests set in the coming months.

They brought with them a mockup of a “water dragon” symbolizing the people’s movement warding off “bad vibes” such as oil price hikes, tuition hikes, demolition of urban poor communities, and empty lies and promises of the Aquino government.

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The groups say the Aquino government is using the impeachment trial “carnival” to cover-up its own crimes against the people: its inability to stop incessant price hikes and failure to address widespread hunger and poverty.

They stressed that the impeachment “telenovela” won’t be able to fill the empty stomachs of the poor. Ika nga, hindi makakain ang impeachment.

Aquino and his allies want us to believe that they are against abuse and injustice. But what about the abuse and corruption being done by the big oil companies? What about the demolition of urban poor communities, the cuts in social spending?

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Government inaction regarding the more essential problems of the people proves that the real motive behind the impeachment campaign is not justice and accountability but Aquino self-interest: control of the Supreme Court to reverse the Hacienda Luisita ruling, media spin for papogi, among others.

It is outrageous that Aquino is doing nothing despite the clear abuse being done by the oil cartel. Aquino and his allies have proven in the impeachment campaign that when they want something passed in Congress, they can do it swiftly. Why not wield the same power to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law, scrap the VAT on oil and stop oil overpricing immediately?

Oil prices have risen four times this year for as much as P2.70, citing the hike in world market prices as reason. When the prices fell however, they only slashed their prices by P0.20 for gasoline and P0.80 for diesel. The current price of petroleum products is about P10 per liter higher compared to January of last year.

The government also benefits from the price hikes as it rakes billions in revenue from imposing the Value Added Tax (VAT) on oil. It could easily suspend the VAT on oil to provide immediate relief for the people and slash more than P6 per liter in oil prices.

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Amidst the increases in the prices of commodities, another round of tuition hikes is also impending this year. About 400 private tertiary institutions are expected to increase tuition again this year by as much as 15%, not including various hikes in miscellaneaous fees.

This is despite the promise last year to regulate tuition hikes and questionable fees. Like the other promises of the Aquino government, nothing has been actually done.

The Aquino government promised to release a new tuition “rationalization” policy last year amidst complaints of “exorbitant and redundant” fees. The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has failed to release such policy and in effect, maintained a 1998 memo allowing “unabated and skyrocketing” tuition hikes.

The deadline for tuition proposals and consultations is set on February 28.

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The youth and student groups, whick marked 2011 with nationwide strikes and a campout/occupy protest, and the people must gear up for more actions.

We must call on fellow Filipinos: in 2012 let’s unleash the “people power dragon” and develop the movement for genuine change.

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