ARROYO’S SONA PRESCRIPTION: Development for a few, illusory aid for the toiling majority, and an iron fist for proponents of social change
In her State of the Nation Address, Mrs.Arroyo painted an image of a caring president. But as expected, her prescriptions are simply aimed at helping the Filipinos “ride out the crisis”, not in providing real and lasting solutions to the problems at hand. In fact, they spell continued hardships in the years to come.
The fact that Filipinos are suffering is already too obvious. In these times of economic crisis, Mrs. Arroyo’s statement of concern for the farmers, workers, students and the ordinary housewife only proves her isolation from the conditions of the masses. While the people are toiling for survival, she has secured a comfortable lifestyle shielded from hardships through the billions of pesos she amasses yearly.
Mrs. Arroyo’s insistence on the Oil Deregulation Law and VAT as the necessary, although unpopular, means of helping out the poor manifests her scant knowledge of the people’s needs. For a minimum wage earner, the sacrifices made with every LPG tank, with every commodity being bought are not commensurate to what is being given back.
And with the regime’s track record of corruption, the more than P80 billion VAT revenues being mouthed by Arroyo will surely go straight into someone else’s pockets. So too will the new allocations for farm-to-market roads to be built, and the billions more for subsidies
By pointing out that the VAT is meant for foreign debt servicing and enticement for investments by trans-national and multi-national companies, Mrs. Arroyo has exposed where her interests lie—with her foreign allies and their big comprador counterparts locally. This is where the supposed development ends up in.
As for the rest of the Filipinos, Mrs. Arroyo will still rely on her subsidy program, expanded loans, a new Consumer Bill of Rights and other minute mechanisms to provide relief.
Yet, what relief can the people derive from a P10 school feeding program? Or from the increased housing loans which current wages are insufficient to pay back later? Or maybe the changing of light bulbs to fluorescent is the solution to the Filipinos’ woes? What use is a Consumer Bill of Rights when Juan dela Cruz has no money to buy at all? Perhaps, her proposal of more scholarships while tuition increases are rampant may be the boost that the education sector needs.
The government has fooled itself into thinking that people would rather text each other than eat. Texting is, as Mrs. Arroyo declaimed, the way of life. The regime has the political will to seek the reduction of texting costs, but not the oil and food prices.
These relief programs are all illusions. Diversions meant to propagate the notion that the betterment of the few is tantamount to the betterment of all.
The reality is that Mrs. Arroyo’s skewed framework for the delivery of basic services such as food, housing, health and education will benefit only a small percentage of the population. In the coming year, she is hell-bent on distorting the idea of social services from being a right of the general population, to becoming a privilege of those she can parade around as beneficiaries of the regime’s efforts.
Instead of curbing unemployment and stronger industries to provide job opportunities, she boasted of the Pulis Oyster Program and more call centers. Instead of resolving the farmers’ landlessness, she declared the CARP extension; thus sealing the coffins of many Filipinos.
Should any be brave enough to challenge Arroyo’s prescriptions, she and her cabal are ready to use an iron fist. She has proven in the past how much force she is willing to use. And her concluding statement echoed the same thing.
But the people’s desire to improve their plight cannot be deterred. With every repressive policy Mrs. Arroyo will employ, the people will retaliate. The people’s unity will be forged; it will be strengthened. And we will take away the political power from Mrs. Arroyo. With our own hands, we will shape the nation to comply with the people’s rights and needs.
Only when the government is run “from the people, by the people, for the people” can we experience development. Only then will we hear the true State of the People Address. ###
Ken Ramos, National Chairperson