Noynoy, a year after
A year ago, Noynoy Aquino III took power and promised change.
Among other things, he promised that under his government, the corrupt Arroyo administration will be held accountable. He promised a government that will no longer be “manhid (insensitive)” to the needs of the people and that the people will be “boss.” He boasted of a government which will tread the “tuwid na daan (straight path)” and that because of all this, “pwede na ulit mangarap (we can dream again)”.
Have things changed? Things have remained pretty much the same: the Arroyos are still in government, tuwid na daan has led to nowhere, but has brought KKK (Kaklase, Kabarilan, Kakampi) to power and for the majority of the people who are as poor as ever, things have gone from bad to worse.
Worsening poverty and deepening crisis
Currently, around 80% of the population remains poor and is barely surviving with less than P104 income per day. These numbers are sure to rise as commodity prices skyrocket and the value of wages decline.
Instead of addressing poverty by providing jobs, decent wages and social services, government has modified its statistics to magically reduce the number of poor families. In its definition, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) has set the poverty threshold to P37 a day. For the government, only 30% of the people are poor and poverty has almost been eradicated in NCR.
Hunger rates are also on the rise, with 20.5% or 4.1 million families experiencing hunger in 1st Quarter of 2011, higher that 3.4 million during the 4thQuarter of 2010. Unemployment has also risen to 11.3 million or 27% of the labor force, higher than the 9.9 million last year. 4,500 Filipinos leave to findwork overseas everyday due to lack of decent jobs here.
Skyrocketing prices, decreasing value of wages
Due to rising prices, real value of wages have dropped under Aquino. The current P404 minimum wage daily in NCR is far from the more than P900 needed for a family to survive. According to research groups, despite nominal increase in wages, real wage levels have dropped by P18 compared to 2001. Under Aquino, real wage value has dropped by P7 compared to 2001.
Despite studies showing companies can actually afford a P125 increase in wages, Aquino has refused to grant the workers’ call for wage hike. Instead he insulted them with a barya-baryang (loose change) P22 COLA for Metro Manila.
Aquino has done nothing to stop the oil price hikes despite studies revealing overpricing and price manipulation. It has been revealed for instance, that oil companies overprice their products by P8 per liter, stealing more than P369 million per day from pockets of the poor. Robin hood for the rich?
Instead of putting a stop to the price hikes, Aquino has further pushed for the hike in MRT and LRT fares, along with the plan for the privatization of train services.
Scrimping on social services
Aquino slashed the budget of education and social services, pushing for further commercialization and privatization of government services. On the other hand, Aquino increased budget for pork barrel, military, foreign debt and dole-outs. Government spends only P6 per capita on education and less than P1 for health.
Aquino has tolerated tuition hikes this year and profiteering of private school owners, resulting to a rising number of drop-outs. More than 340 schools have increased their tuition fees, which CHED approved despite protests and questions from students and parents.
The government’s solution to the education crisis is the K+12 program which has successfully added burden to parents and the entire education sector this year. Public basic and secondary education sector lacks more than 100,000 classrooms, 150,000 teachers, 13M armchairs and 39M textbooks.
Government has also slashed the budget for public hospitals and health services.
Attacking the poor
A wave of demolition of urban poor informal settlers during the past few months affecting more than 20,000 families have led to street clashes and barricades. More are planned as Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects aim to make use of public lands for profit. Among those facing threats of demolition are families in San Roque and Quezon City Central Business District, Corazon De Jesus in San Juan, Laperal in Makati, Kadiwa in Navotas, Pangarap Village in Caloocan, Tenements in Manila, Intramuros, and many more. Phase-out of vendors, kuliglig and pedicab drivers have also been ordered to give way to projects.
According to DILG, more than 556,526 families in Metro Manila or 2.7 million people are “informal settlers.” This accounts for 25% of the entire NCR population and is the target for eviction or demolition. Meanwhile, government only has 32,762 housing units for relocation which mostly has no water and electricity, and are far from work and livelihood.
Aquino’s government has been called the “Haciendero Republic.” Aquino has refused to give Hacienda Luisita to the farmers despite rightful claims to it. Various schemes have been introduced to skirt land distribution. He also has maintained monopoly of land in the country. Currently, 70% of farmers have no land and are being exploited by a few landlords.
Worsening human rights situation
Under Aquino, there is still no justice for the more than 1,000 killed under Arroyo. Political killings and abductions continue. According to Karapatan, there are 45 cases of extra-judicial killings under Aquino and 5 cases of abduction.
Despite calls for their release, Aquino has said nothing regarding the more than 300 political prisoners under Aquino. The Aquino government, despite pretentions of working for peace, has failed to comply with agreements with NDFP regarding JASIG, causing the postponement of the talks.
Despite its promise to make the past government accountable, not a single case has been filed by the Aquino government against Arroyo. The botched truth commission and its lack of action against the Arroyos show its lack of sincerity in going after Arroyo.
Noynoy has no excuse not to be able to prosecute and jail Arroyo. Then president Estrada has been jailed less than 6 months after he was ousted. Aquino had one year in power, and he did nothing.
His “tuwid na daan” led to nowhere. Some note that he needed the road so he can drive his Porsche in top speed. The people see him as good for nothing playstation addict who wakes up late, a serial dater who likes to drink and dine with his Kaklase, Kabarilan and Kakampi, who among them are fighting over division of spoils of Aquino’s election victory.
Noynoy, just like his predecessors, is clearly a puppet of US and foreign interests. He is hell bent on getting foreign investments, loans, and military aid especially from the US. Because of this, he is playing US proxy in the Spratlys affair.
Aquino has promised to review the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), but has not released the results of the review. He intends to continue the lopsided agreement and permits the overstaying of troops in the country.
No change under Aquino
Clearly, there has been no change under Aquino. Instead, we see a government as determined as ever to retain the status quo. Judging from his first year, the people has nothing to expect from this government but deeper poverty and crisis.
No more rhetorics, no more showbiz papogi, no more lies and false promises. Through our collective strength, we must fight for the people’s rights and welfare against the puppet, inept and anti-people Aquino regime and continue the struggle for meaningful social change.
Photo from here: http://globalbalita.com/2010/an-open-letter-to-noynoy/