Posted on 26 July 2011 by admin
July 26, 2011
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today said that the President Benigno Aquino III’s second State of the Nation Address was “underwhelming in its litany of so-called achievements, and disturbing in its glaring omissions”. The group described the speech as more of a “state of the wang-wang address than an honest appraisal of the problems besetting the nation.”
Bayan said that the picture of the economy depicted by Aquino was very far from the reality faced by ordinary Filipinos. “An increase in the stock market index or an improvement in the credit ratings is not something that translates to any benefits for the poor. These are indicators from the point of view of big business and the banks, not from the people,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“The speech ended without any mention of how government will generate new jobs, increase wages, create housing for the poor, implement land reform or even assuage the impact of price increases. It is still the same ‘pantawid’ programs that will be implemented,” he added.
Bayan said that Aquino’s claim that Filipinos can now choose between domestic and foreign jobs is “patently untrue”.
“Dati, nakapako sa pangingibang-bansa ang ambisyon ng mga Pilipino. Ngayon, may pagpipilian na siyang trabaho, at hangga’t tinatapatan niya ng sipag at determinasyon ang kanyang pangangarap, tiyak na maaabot niya ito,” Aquino said in his SONA.
“His claim that Pinoys can now choose between jobs here or abroad because of improved employment opportunities has no basis in fact. More than a million Filipinos leave country each year to look for work abroad. Overseas deployment of Filipino workers in 2010 reached 1.47 million, still higher than the 2009 figure of 1.42 million,” Reyes said.
Citing the study of Ibon Databank and the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, Bayan said that the so-called increase in rice output cannot be attributed to the national government since the gains were due mainly to improved weather and an increase in the hectarage of land that was used for rice farming.
False assertion of sovereignty
Bayan observed that Aquino seemed to talk tough when it came to the issue of sovereignty, particularly the Spratlys dispute. However, the group said that Aquino was silent on sovereignty issues in relation to the United States, especially involving foreign troops.
“It seems the President can talk tough against China because he has the backing of the US. However, we’ve yet to see Mr. Aquino stand up for national sovereignty in relation to the Visiting Forces Agreement and the permanent presence of US troops in our country. That’s a violation of our sovereignty as well,” Reyes said.
The group also questioned the claim that the AFP will be modernized with the addition of a new Hamilton Class Cutter from the US Navy. “The boat Mr. Aquino was referring to is a Vietnam War-era boat commissioned in 1967 and decommissioned in March 2011 by the US Coast Guard,” Reyes said.
During his presidential campaign, Aquino promised a review of the VFA, particularly provisions on custody of erring US troops. No review results have been released.
Leave human rights to DOJ
While Aquino did certify as urgent the compensation bill for Marcos victims, Bayan noted that he only had a passing mention of human rights issues.
“The Commander-in-Chief of the AFP is leaving it to the Department of Justice to solve the problems of extrajudicial killings. It means that the president is not really interested to take on human rights issues such as the enforced disappearances of Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, or the plight of the more than 300 political prisoners still languishing in jail, or the rising numbers of victims of extrajudicial killings under his watch,” Reyes said.
“It is irresponsible, insensitive and wrong to let these issues just fall on the desk of DOJ Secretary de Lima, especially when the situation demands a strong response from the president himself. It is clear Mr. Aquino does not have a human rights platform, thus he is passing on the problem to his subordinates,’ he added. ###
Posted on 25 July 2011 by admin
Posted on 25 July 2011 by admin
Posted on 24 July 2011 by admin
July 25, 2011
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN-USA, email: email@example.com
Filipino-Americans, under the banner of BAYAN-USA, are taking part in actions across the US and in Manila during the scheduled State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the Philippines to register strong condemnation and disappointment over the failure of the administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “P-Noy” Aquino III to facilitate significant changes to improve the lives of the burdened Filipino people after one year in office.
Citing continuing subservience to foreign dictates and a worsened economic situation as measures of the Aquino’s failure to deliver upon promises made during the election and during last year’s SONA, BAYAN-USA and its allies in the US remain adamantly unconvinced that the administration is genuinely for change.
Shameless US Puppetry
At the heart of Aquino’s failure is unrelenting loyalty and puppetry to US foreign policy.
Within his first year, Aquino has willingly allowed the US to use the Philippines as its puppet state to take advantage of the regional territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands and provoke profit-making military aggression in Asia, and particularly against China.
As war and arms production has become the most profitable industry for the US ruling elite, the US government has in turn been able to rely strongly on the compliant Aquino administration to continue with a sugar-coated version of Arroyo’s deadly Operation Plan Bantay Laya by implementing Operation Plan Bayanihan, per the US State Department’s Counter-Insurgency Guide (US COIN). The objective of this counterinsurgency program is the same as it was for Arroyo’s administration and as utilized by repressive regimes worldwide: to suppress dissent and eliminate opposition using a combination of deceptive and increasingly violent tactics. The end result is the protection of imperialist economic and political interests at the expense of human lives.
The Poor Get Poorer Under Aquino
Under the thumb of US foreign dictates, Aquino has further pushed a neoliberal economic framework that has made life more miserable for the majority of the Filipino people. Landlord families, such as Aquino’s, remain in control of the country’s natural resources and push for privatization. Liberalization continues to hike up the prices of basic commodities such as food, gas, and water out of the reach of Filipino families. Contractualization hurts workers by decreasing wages, sowing job insecurity, and busting unions. Under Aquino, there are over 11 million unemployed Filipinos in the country with virtually zero job growth.
Privatization schemes such as the so-called Public-Private Partnership (PPP) not only serve to bulk up the pockets of wealthy and powerful multi-national corporate investors at the expense of ordinary Filipino citizens and workers. They also widen the gap between the few Filipino families that control the majority of the country’s wealth and political power and the burdened majority who must pay from their own pockets for the risks of private investors. It is the impoverished majority who suffer the most from the Philippine state’s abandonment of its public responsibilities.
Filipinos are left with no choice but to seek opportunities abroad, like in the United States. But in these desperate economic times, many Filipino workers fall prey to human trafficking schemes to the US.
Philippine Government: #1 Human Trafficker
The cases of the Sentosa 27 healthworkers, the Florida 15 hotel workers, and hundreds more similar cases of Filipinos duped into coming to the US under the auspices that they would have contract work waiting for them only to have their money taken, passports confiscated, and be left by their recruiters to fend for themselves as undocumented migrants are another clear measure of the Philippine government’s failure to address the country’s economic woes.
In addition, the Aquino government continues Arroyo’s non-accountability to overseas Filipino workers in distress by not providing adequate social services and protection from abuse, maltreatment, and exploitation abroad.
Last Names Do Not a Great Leader Make
Though he was able to capitalize on his last name and the dirty record of his predecessor to win the election, it is clear that none of these things actually translated into making Aquino a great leader or any improvement to the state of the Philippine nation.
Like Obama, Aquino has proven that he is not much different than his predecessor, particularly with his human rights record. In one year of the Aquino presidency, 45 activists have been slain in politically-motivated killings, 5 have been victims of forced disappearance and over 300 political prisoners remain behind bars. The perpetrators of the 1,206 extra-judicial killings, more than 300 forced disappearances, and over 1,000 cases of torture committed under the previous administration of President Gloria Arroyo remain at-large, including those guilty of abducting and torturing renowned Filipina American poet, artist, and BAYAN USA member Melissa Roxas.
As Aquino delivers his formal State of the Nation Address (SONA) to the Philippine Congress today, Filipino-Americans will be amongst those who refused to be deceived and who understand that real change can only come from ordinary people in collective struggle, not from individual politicians with famous last names. ###
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 14 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org
Posted on 24 July 2011 by admin
Bayan statement on the occasion of Aquino’s SONA
July 25 ,2011
In so many words, the Aquino administration and its allies have been telling the public that it should not be expecting too much from the new government in its first year. After all, they said, what Aquino is trying to undo is nine years of the corrupt and anti-people legacy of the hated Gloria Arroyo administration. Change is not an overnight process, according to them. To be sure, no one is asking the President to change the country in one year. The political and economic crises we face are too deep to be resolved during the entire term of Aquino, much less in his first year. However, based on his track record as Chief Executive thus far, Aquino has demonstrated a grave incapacity not only to initiate long-term progressive reforms but even to implement urgent policy measures that will protect and uphold the interest of the people.
A year into his presidency, Aquino saw his public satisfaction ratings dip continuously as an increasing number of Filipinos get disenchanted with the government. Such disenchantment is being fed by the soaring prices of fuel, food, and utilities that continue to oppress the people as a result of Aquino’s perpetuation of the same neoliberal economic policies of privatization and deregulation. He allowed rates to skyrocket in toll roads and LRT/MRT to promote his public-private partnership (PPP). He refused to scrap or even suspend the onerous 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) to mitigate the price hikes because it will turn off creditors. Aquino has prioritized creditors over the people with more than half of public spending going to debt servicing in the past year leaving practically nothing for social services like education, health, and housing.
Public disenchantment is also being fed by the incompetence of Aquino in dealing with people’s issues that require urgent action. As the representative of landlord and big business interest, Aquino, unsurprisingly, not taken the side of the farmers and farm workers in the Hacienda Luisita dispute or with the workers in the struggle for a legislated substantial wage hike. Instead of laying the groundwork for long-term and sustainable programs that can generate jobs and reduce hunger and poverty, all Aquino has offered are Pantawid measures – Pantawid Pamilya (conditional cash transfer), Pantawid Pasada (fuel subsidy), and Pantawid trabaho (Community-Based Employment Program) – that given the magnitude of the crisis are grossly inadequate even as relief measures.
Aquino is incompetent even on his promise to make Mrs. Gloria Arroyo accountable for her many crimes, reducing the matter to never-ending barbs and exposés, while no cases have been filed. His promise to review the lopsided Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US has merely ended in further legitimizing and justifying American presence and intervention using the Spratlys dispute as pretext, even to the point of irresponsibly stoking the tension with China. Meanwhile, under Aquino’s US-supported counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, and arrests have continued. The peace talks are being derailed by government’s refusal to honor previous agreements with the NDFP.
Aquino cannot blame Arroyo for his own blunders and failures. He cannot plead for more time to implement his supposed reform agenda. One year is more than enough to see which direction the so-called Daang Matuwid is heading to. Alas, it’s not in the direction of respecting and fulfilling the people’s social, economic, and political rights, but in the same crooked path of flawed neoliberal economic policies, patronage politics, landlord and big business domination, and subservience to foreign dictates especially of US imperialism. Thus, the most important lesson from the first year of the Aquino presidency is that the best prospect for genuine change that will serve the people lies not in Aquino’s hands but in the hands of the poor, oppressed, and exploited. Hope for genuine change is indeed dim under Aquino but it is ever brightest in the unwavering struggle of the people for national democracy and freedom. (End)
Posted on 24 July 2011 by admin
June 24, 2011
Reference: Joey Calugay
After one year in office, President Benigno Aquino III has not improved the lives of the Filipino people. His promise of “Tuwid na Daan” (straight path) is nothing but the crooked and edgy path for the Filipino people to tread on. His campaign promises during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) have become illusions for the majority of the people.
Misguided by the illusion of popularity, the Aquino administration refuses to address the chronic problems of the country. These are the rampant unemployment and poverty, inadequate social services, continuing human rights violations committed with impunity, landlessness, continuing rise in the prices of basic commodities, uncontrollable prices of gasoline and petroleum products, and destruction of the environment.
These problems, further encouraged by the government’s labour export policy, continue to drive many Filipinos to leave the country to work abroad. At least 4000 men and women leave the airports everyday to work overseas; there are 10 million Filipinos working in 196 countries and territories.
If President Aquino is sincere in keeping his promises, he needs to concretely act on these. In the socio-economic front, instead of taking the neoliberal economic path, he and his economic managers must take the path to national industrialization and genuine land reform. Instead of dole-outs and short-term socio-economic programs like “Pantawid Pasada” (gas subsidy to drivers) and conditional cash transfer (CCT), the Aquino administration must undertake long-term socio-economic measures that will bring lasting, not temporary, relief to the people’s suffering. The Aquino administration needs to look beyond economic rhetoric and failed policies of the past regimes.
Like his predecessor the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, President “Noynoy” Aquino has opened the country to foreign capital and investments. President Aquino has aggressively attracted foreign investors and has placed little or no restrictions to their operations. In particular, we refer to Canadian mining companies that operate in the Philippines which have not complied with genuine, free, prior and informed consent from the indigenous peoples and which have put profits before environmental destruction and displacement of peasant and indigenous communities.
Fighting corruption is empty rhetoric when President Noynoy Aquino has shown no urgency in prosecuting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts for their graft and corruption, as well as the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of those who advocate for social change. Declaring that the Filipino People is the President’s “Boss” carries no weight when the same President also wages an all out war against the people with the US-inspired state counterinsurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan.President “Noynoy” Aquino cannot profess to be for peace until he orders the general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty of all political prisoners.
The first year of President Aquino has therefore been found wanting. The state of the nation, the state of the people has only gone from bad to worse.
Posted on 24 July 2011 by admin
On Benigno Aquino III’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA), a giant rotten egg will be rolling along Commonwealth Avenue.
Parodying the president’s nickname PNoy, artists and people’s organizations created a ‘penoy’-inspired effigy for the July 25 SONA. Penoy is a premature duck egg which is considered an exotic Filipino delicacy.
UGATLahi Artist Collective, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and select contributing artists including UP Diliman students and artists from abroad crafted this year’s effigy.
The effigy reflects Aquino’s performance during his first year, said Crisanto de Leon, chair of UGATLahi Artist Collective. “Papet, inutil at pahirap ang unang taon ni Aquino,” he added.
The effigy is comprised of the egg with Aquino’s face and a US-made Hummer jeep. The “penoy” is mounted on the camouflage-painted jeep. The egg appears to break or crack to let out the issues that have hounded the administration in the past year, such as rampant oil price hikes, public-private partnerships, unemployment and demolition of communities.
“The egg rides on top of the US jeep, because that’s how PNoy—he relies on the support of the United States. He doesn’t have an independent foreign policy,” noted de Leon. He added that Aquino’s leadership is as bad as a rotten egg, as shown by the issues that he failed to address.
The egg or penoy is also the grade given by various groups to Aquino on different areas of governance. “Itlog ang grado sa kanya,” said the group when asked how Aquino fared in the economy, human rights and foreign policy.
The effigy is now nearing completion, and only needs finishing touches. Once finished, the assembled toy-like effigy will stand 14 feet tall.
The penoy effigy will be burned by protesters as part of the program of the mass demonstration on the day of the SONA. Last year, the magician-themed effigy that symbolized Aquino’s promise of change was not set on fire as progressive groups wanted to give Aquino a chance to make good on his promise.
Yet now, “Ramdam na natin na hindi kayang panindigan ni Noynoy ang pagbabagong sinasabi niya, at bagkus ay lalo pang naghirap ang mamamayan sa ilalim ng kanyang pamumuno,” said de Leon.
According to UGATLahi, effigies are “symbols of major political figures condoning anti-people policies and are ritually burned to express the people’s discontent.” The artist collective has been creating SONA effigies since 1999.
Posted on 23 July 2011 by admin
–Renato Reyes Jr., secretary-general of Bayan, on Aquino’s 2011 SONA
--QC Mayor Herbert Bautista on the contested rally permit issued by the local government to SONA protesters
Protesters cheered as a giant effigy of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino — 14 feet high, perched on a GI Joe military jeep, and shaped like a rotten “penoy,” or duck egg — was burned down during the People’s SONA to signal public dissatisfaction with the Aquino administration’s governance.
The depiction of Aquino as a rotten penoy is a commentary on the failure of his policies, which have led to a series of price hikes at the start of the year and the continuation of corruption and human rights violations, explained UGATLahi, the artist collective which created the effigy.
The top of the egg was designed to separate from the body, revealing it to contain placards condemning Aquino’s anti-people policies.
“Galit na galit ang mga mamamayan kay Noynoy Aquino!” said Charisse Banez of militant youth group Anakbayan as the effigy burned.
The flames leaping from the giant effigy forced protesters to back away amidst a cloud of smoke and falling ashes. But the demonstrators returned as soon as the fire burned lower, circling the burning effigy and waving the flags of their organizations: Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Migrante, and League of Filipino Students, among others.
It took at least ten minutes for the effigy to burn itself out.
–Lito Bais, President of the United Luisita Workers Union, on Aquino’s policies regarding land reform
–Datu’s Tribe after their performance, on the policemen at Commonwealth Ave who had fallen asleep while manning the barricade
–Elmer Labog, chair of Kilusang Mayo Uno, on the recent death of two residents in Pangarap Village, Caloocan City after security guards of an Araneta-owned company opened fire during a demolition
Thousands of protesters are gathered along Commonwealth Avenue, past St. Peter’s Church, launching a program for a “People’s SONA” despite the refusal this morning of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) against a ban on rallying near Batasan Road.
After the issuance by the local government of a notice advising protesters that any rally during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) could only be held at the football field in the Quezon City Hall, militant umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) filed a request for a TRO with the QC-RTC, asserting their legal right to “peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
Though the TRO was not granted, mass demonstrators continued the march until they were halted by a police barricade past St. Peter’s Church, near the intersection of Commonwealth Ave and Batasan Road.
“This is a peaceful march and we condemn the curtailment of our rights,” said Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr.
QC-RTC ruling judge Ma. Luisa Quijano-Padilla said in her ruling that the Court denied the TRO on the assumption that both parties had reached a concession, with the protesters and the QC local government agreeing to allow rallyists up to St. Peter’s Church.
No such agreement was reached, according to Bayan officials, who slammed the court order.
“The court did not actually rule on the merits of the case filed by Bayan, assuming that the two parties had reached an agreement already. We had not. For the record, while Bayan was open to compromise, the city officials, even at the last minute, did not want to give in and allow the protest [near Batasan Road],” Reyes said.
Still, “while it is unfortunate that the TRO was not granted, in reality we have been able to march beyond the original restrictions imposed by the police,” Reyes added.
The program of the People’s SONA is ongoing, with performances by progressive music artists and speakers from various militant organizations, including Kilusang Mayo Uno and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), among others.
Several hundred farmers under the banner of KMP, many of them from the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita, were the first to arrive at Commonwealth Ave this morning, to launch the day-long protest against President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. #
Visit this page on July 25 for live updates on the SONA protests.
Discussion and education materials:
English Powerpoint on the State of the Nation
Filipino resource materials