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SONA FEATURE: Is Noynoy up to the Challenge?

July 24, 2010

Contents:

  • FAQ kung bakit may rally sa unang SONA ni Noynoy Aquino by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
  • People’s Demands on Aquino’s first SONA byAnne Marxze D. Umil/Bulatlat.com

FAQ kung bakit may rallly sa unang SONA ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III

1. Bakit may rally sa unang SONA ni Aquino? Di ba’t masyadong maaga pa para mag-rally?

May rally sa unang SONA ni P-Noy upang ipaalaala at ipabatid sa kanya ang iba’t ibang problema ng mamamayan, lalo’t yaong iniwan ng nagdaang rehimen ni GMA, at upang hamunin siyang tugunan ang mga problemang ito. Malalaki ang problemang iniwan ng nagdaang gobyerno: malawakang korapsiyon, paglabag sa karapatang pantao, pagkawasak ng kabuhayan ng mamamayan at pagyurak sa pambansang soberanya. Ito rin ang mga isyung kakaharapin ng bagong gobyernong Aquino.

Ang rally sa SONA ay nananawagan ng “Katarungan, Karapatan, Kabuhayan at Kalayaan.” Ang lalamnin ay mga isyu’t karaingan ng mamamayan. Mahaba na ang kasaysayan ng mga problemang ito, at di naman natugunan ng mga nagdaang administrasyon.

Mahalagang maipabatid ang mga isyung ito sa bagong administrasyong Aquino at itulak itong kagyat na tugunan ang mga kahilingan ng mamamayan.

Sa kasaysayan natin, kahit sa mga gobyernong nailuklok matapos ang Edsa 1 (Corazon Aquino) at Edsa 2 (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), hindi naman kusang ibinigay ang mga repormang hiniling ng mamamayan. Kinailangan pa ring ipaglaban ang mga ito sa kalsada.

May mga kagyat na isyung dapat harapin ang bagong administrasyon, kabilang ang panawagan para papanagutin si Arroyo at ang mga alipures nya, pagpigil sa mga pagpatay ng mga aktibista at mamamahayag, pagsagot sa krisis sa tubig at pagpigil sa mga bagong buwis. Dapat ding tugunan ng bagong administrasyon ang nagbabagang mga isyu ng ito.

Kamakailan ay tinipon ng iba’t ibang sektor ang mga isyu’t panawagan sa bagong administrasyon. Tinawag itong “Peoples’ Challenge: Katarungan, Karapatan, Kabuhayan at Kalayaan.”

2. Bakit hindi na lang suportahan si Aquino sa kanyang unang SONA?

Pinakikitunguhan natin si Aquino batay sa mga tindig nito sa mga isyu ng mamamayan. Sa ngayon ay tanging sa usapin pa lang ng pagpapanagot kay Arroyo nagkakaroon ng panimulang tindig ang administrasyon. Naging mainit ang pagtanggap natin halimbawa sa appointment ni Leila de Lima bilang Secretary of Justice. Sinusuportahan natin ang mga hakbang na panagutin si Arroyo at mga opisyal niyang nagkasala ng kurapsyon at mga paglabag a karapatang pantao. Subalit may mga indikasyonng ipagpapatuloy ng bagong administrasyon ang ilang patakaran ng nagdaang administrasyon. Halimbawa ay ang pagpataw ng VAT sa toll fee na lubhang magpapahirap sa mamamayan. May mga kuwestiyon na rin sa mga tipo ng appointments sa gabinete na maaaring magresulta sa tinatawag na mga “conflicts of interests.” Di rin kinokontra ng administrasyon ang mga di-pantay na kasunduan tulad ng VFA. Kapos din ang naging pahayag ni Aquino sa magkakasunod na pagpatay sa mga aktibista dahil tila sinusuyo pa niya ang suporta ng militar.

Gayunpaman, sa rally sa SONA ay makikinig ang mamamayan sa magiging talumpati ni Aquino. Nais nating malaman ang kanyang magiging tugon sa mga isyu ng bayan, di lamang sa usapin ng korapsiyon, kundi pati na rin sa usapin ng ekonomiya, karapatang pantao, at patakarang panlabas.

Pero siyempre pa, wala tayong ilusyong matutugunan nang buo ang mga problemang inilatag natin. Natutuo na din tayo sa karanasan natin matapos ang mga gobyerno ng Edsa 1 at 2. Maraming limitasyon ng kasalukuyang pamahalaan, bunga ng class interests na nangingibabaw dito at bunga ng pagsandal nito sa US at sa AFP.

Ayon sa pinakahuling SWS survey, mataas ang approval rating ng pangulo, umabot sa 88%, pero 14% lang ang naniniwalang matutupad niya ang lahat ng kanyang pangako nung eleksyon. Nasa 53% ang nagsasabing ilan lamang sa mga pangako ang kaya niyang matupad. Tunay ngang walang ilusyon ng makabuluhang pagbabago ang karamihan ng mamamayan pagdating sa bagong administrasyon.

Samantala, ginagalang natin ang opinyon at inisyatiba ng ibang grupong magpapakilos din sa SONA para magpahayag ng kanilang suporta kay Aquino.

3. Bakit may effigy pa ngayong SONA? Susunguin din ba ito gaya ng mga nagdaang effigy?

Ang effigy ay isang komentaryong biswal sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon. Bahagi ito ng paghamon sa administrasyon na tugunan ang mga isyu ng mamamayan. Ang effigy ngayong taon ay may temang “Harry Potter” o isang madyikero. Ang tanong at hamon ng mga visual artist: “Magkakaroon ba ng tunay na pagbabago, o ilusyon lamang ng pagbabago? Masasagot ba ng Noynoy ‘magic’ o popularidad ang mga hinaing ng mamamayan?”

Hindi susunugin ang effigy na ito.

4. Bakit gustong makalapit ng mga rallyista sa Batasan? Di ba puwedeng sa Quezon Memorial Circle na lang?

Taon-taon ginagawa ang rally sa SONA, at naging tradisyon nang sa kalsada ito idaos. Laging hangad ng mga grupong makalapit sa Batasan para makita ng mga mambabatas at iba pang matataas na opisyal ng gobyerno ang mga isyung dala ng mamamayan.

Sa unang SONA ni Arroyo, pinayagan ang rally sa kanto ng Sandiganbayan at Batasan Road. Pero sa mga sumunod na taon, itinaboy papalayo ang mga rallyista. Naging simboliko ito ng napakalaking agwat sa pagitan ng gobyerno at ng mamamayan.

Sa kanyang talumpati sa inagurasyon, sinabi ni Aquino na “tapos na ang gobyernong manhid sa daing ng taumbayan.” Ito dapat ang maging batayan para maging mas bukas ang bagong administrasyon sa pakikinig sa mga isyu’t hinaing ng mamamayan. Lalo namang hindi uubrang gawin sa loob ng Quezon Memorial Circle ang rally (tulad sa mungkahi ni Aquino), dahil bukod sa malayo sa Batasan, tagung-tago pa ito sa madla.

Maging mapayapa at organisado ang darating na rally sa SONA. Pagpapahayag ito ng damdamin ng mamamayan sa iba’t ibang isyung kinakaharap nila.

Kahit ang Commission on Human Rights-NCR ay in-endorso sa panawagan ng Bayan para magdaos ng pagtitipon sa pinakamalapit na pwesto sa Batasan. ###

People’s Demands on Aquino’s First State of the Nation Address

As President Benigno S. Aquino III prepares for his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), representatives of cause-oriented and sectoral groups gathered to put together their concrete demands, which they dubbed as the people’s “Agenda for National Survival.”

Led by Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance) and Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change, the groups presented their agenda to Aquino and to the media, with the agenda grouped into issues concerning national sovereignty, social justice, economic development, human rights, protection of the environment and forging of a just and lasting peace.

The consolidated people’s demands were presented at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila last July 20. These, they said, would also be the core demands that the different sectors would bring out on Aquino’s first SONA on July 26, and which they would bring to the proper government agencies. Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary general of Bayan, said addressing these challenges is necessary for the nation’s survival.

The Arroyo regime left the Philippines mired in an economic and political crisis of unparalleled proportions. Our sovereignty is in tatters, the broad masses of the people have been subjected to some of the worst forms of oppression in history, the economy is in shambles, the environment is severely degraded, and the country is torn by intensifying strife. If the policies of the previous government remain, the country would sink deeper into crisis,” Reyes said.

“Economic Relief and Development

All sectors are calling for immediate relief and long term measures to alleviate poverty and hunger. For the working people, these meant legislated wage increases for private sector workers and the implementation of the Salary Standardization Law III (SSL 3) for government employees.

The KMU (May First Movement) asked the Aquino administration to scrap the National Wage Board as well as the wage freeze policy, which only favor the interests of capitalists. They urged the Aquino administration to declare House Bill 375 as urgent. House Bill 375 provides for the creation of training, livelihood, and employment centers in cities and municipalities nationwide.

The Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), for its part, called on the Aquino administration to “completely implement SSL-3 to cover all government employees this year.

Migrante International asked the Aquino government to stop the government’s labor export policy, and instead provide local jobs with just and appropriate salaries. “This would put an end to the growing number of broken families because a parent, a son or daughter, a husband or a wife, has to go abroad and work to feed and provide for his or her family,” said Myrna Esguerra, secretary-general of Migrante International.

During Arroyo’s term, nine million Filipinos have been forced to leave the country to work abroad. Also, Ibon Foundation said under the previous Arroyo administration, the country registered the longest period of high unemployment rates in Philippine history. In January 2010, the unemployed reached 4.3 million, an increase of 730,000 from 2001. It was also during the nine years of the Arroyo government that the workers received a mere P5 ($0.107) real wage increase, the smallest increase granted by the government since the Marcos regime.

Bayan also dared President Benigno Aquino III to be true to his promise of taking the correct path for the welfare of the Filipino people, by removing the Reformed Value Added Tax (R-VAT) on oil and electricity. They also asked his government to bar new or additional impositions of taxes on basic necessities.

The drivers’ sector asked Aquino to stop the looming 250 percent increase in toll fees particularly in South Luzon Express Way (SLEX). “Aquino should reverse the privatization of public infrastructures such as the North Luzon Express Way (NLEX) and SLEX to stop the increases of toll fees as well as the eventual increases on commuters’ transportation fare,” said George San Mateo, secretary general of Piston.

The groups also called for an increase in state spending on education to six percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as prescribed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They also called on the government to immediately raise the national budget for health to at least P90 billion ($1.9 billion) or five percent of the Gross National Product.

The cause-oriented groups also pushed for the development of the national economy by promoting local industries and implementing a genuine agrarian reform program that will truly distribute land, including Hacienda Luisita, to the farmers for free. They asked Aquino to scrap the stock distribution option that has barred land reform in his family-owned Luisita. To improve agricultural production and help raise the standard of living of farmers, the progressive groups asked Aquino to support local farmers through low-interest loans especially during post-harvest production.

The groups asked the Aquino government to disregard the neo-liberal policies in the economy including the deregulation, privatization and liberalization of its substantial sectors. They also suggested repealing “anti-people laws such as the Mining Act of 1995, the Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira) and the oil deregulation law.” These laws have been blamed for the destructive mining coupled with dislocation of farmers, and the non-stop rise in prices of electricity and petroleum products.

Promote Human Rights for a Just and Lasting Peace

Under the Arroyo regime, some 1, 205 progressive activists died, 206 went missing, and hundreds became political prisoners charged with common crimes, which they said were fabricated. Karapatan together with other sectors are united in calling for justice for all victims of human rights violations during nine years of the Arroyo government.

They also urged the new Aquino administration to put a stop to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other forms of human rights violations and to immediately release the detained 43 health workers and all other political prisoners.

“Abandon Oplan Bantay Laya and do not implement a similar internal security plan,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairwoman of Karapatan, urged Aquino. She added that the Aquino government should implement the recommendation of Prof. Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings.

The human rights defenders also called for the indemnification of victims of human rights violations during martial law and during the Arroyo regime.

The Moro-Christian People’s Alliance, meanwhile, asked the Aquino government to stop the all-out war policy against their people. “We call on president Aquino to end the militarization in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and to abolish the paramilitary units that cause various human rights violations to the people of Mindanao,” Allan Rabbi of MCPA said. She asked for the release of the victims of crackdown in 2001 in Mindanao, saying that up to now innocent Muslims are in prison. She said there is a pressing need too to rehabilitate the communities that were destroyed in the course of the government’s all-out war in Mindanao.

The groups challenged Aquino to resume the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) without pre-conditions, same goes for the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

They also dared the Aquino administration to implement the previously signed agreements with the NDFP, for instance the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), and reconvene the Joint Monitoring Committee as well as implement the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). From there, they asked Aquino to proceed to the next agenda of the peace negotiations, the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

“We reiterate our call for a just and lasting peace. The Aquino government should address the root causes of armed conflict and resume peace talks,” said Sr. Mau Catabyan of Ecumenical Voice.

National Sovereignty and Protection of the Environment

Given the “total sell-out of the country’s patrimony under the Arroyo regime,” the progressive groups called for the review and abrogation of bilateral agreements signed by the previous administrations such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership (JPEPA). According to Reyes, it is now a big challenge for Aquino to review or abrogate these bilateral deals which he himself as a senator had rejected. Last year, the Senate also unanimously signed a resolution seeking to review or abrogate VFA.

“We call on the Aquino government to investigate the mysterious deaths of Gregan Cardeno and Capt. Javier Ignacio, who were probably killed by American soldiers deployed in Mindanao,” Reyes added.

Cardeno died allegedly due to suicide. His body was found inside Camp Ranao of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Marawi City. About two months later, Ignacio, a police and family friend who helped Cardeno get the job and later helped his relatives with the case, was himself gunned down.

To protect the environment, the progressive groups sought the cancellation of the Bio-fuels Act of 2007 and Mining Revitalization Program. They pressed the Aquino government to honor local government laws against large-scale mining like those in Rapu-Rapu in Albay and Oceana Golds in Nueva Ecija. “These projects greatly affect the environment as well as the people who live within the vicinity,” said Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (PNE) national coordinator Clemente Bautista, Jr.

He asked the government to nullify the midnight deals such as that covering the right to mine in Mt. Diwalwal in Davao Oriental and instead,develop and nationalize the country’s natural resources such as geothermal and hydro-energy. Bautista suggested having a comprehensive plan on climate change and on mitigating disasters brought about by natural calamities. Kalikasan-PNE pressed for justice for 27 environmental activists killed under the Arroyo regime.

The National Federation of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, meanwhile, asked Aquino to put a stop to the plunder of their ancestral lands, which has been causing the displacement of indigenous peoples. The group also asked Aquino to stop the constructions of mega-dams like Laiban dam and nullify the commercialization of ancestral lands.

Prosecute Arroyo

To promote justice, truth and accountability, the groups said it would help if Arroyo was prosecuted. Sr. Mary John Mananzan, co-chair of Pagbabago! (Change), said that the nine years of Arroyo’s presidency had been marked by massive corruption and plunder, and rampant human rights violations leading to social injustice.

She said Arroyo has been involved in at least 10 huge graft-and-corruption cases amounting to hundreds of billions of pesos. “She used the people’s money for self-indulgence, she bought off legislators to kill the impeachment complaints against her, and cheated in the elections. To cover up her crimes, she declared a state of emergency and barred government officials from testifying in Congress. She invoked the so-called executive privilege and used the military, the police and the paramilitary against unarmed civilians, resulting in widespread human rights violations.”

For these reasons, the progressive groups said Aquino must ensure that Arroyo would be prosecuted for:

– Corruption scandals during the Arroyo administration involving herself, her family, and her political allies. “She should be held accountable for her role in the NBN-ZTE deal, the fertilizer fund scam etc.”

– Electoral fraud in the 2004 elections. “Hold her accountable under the principle of command responsibility for corruption cases involving top-ranking military and police officials.”

– Conduct an independent audit of the May 10 elections, take the COMELEC officials to task, as well as Smartmatic and other members of the Arroyo government for violations of the automated electoral system law.

– Gross human rights violations during the Arroyo administration.

According to Terry Ridon, national president of the League of Filipino Student, they will give these concrete people’s demand to the Aquino administration. On July 26, he said the people would mobilize to show that they are serious about their agenda and that the people are longing for meaningful change. He warned that the people would launch mass actions if Aquino ignored these demands. ###

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