Anakbayan caps off four straight days of protests, gives Noynoy’s 1st 100 ‘epic fail’ mark
Youth group Anakbayan held a protest for the fourth straight day today, and announced it is giving the Aquino administration a ‘failing grade’ for its 1st 100 days in powers.
Members of the group stormed the gates of the House of Representatives last Tuesday to call on lawmakers to oppose massive budget cuts to the education sector. On Wednesday, they splashed pig’s blood on the seal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo’s Gate 2 to dramatize the continuation of military-instigated human rights violations under Aquino.
Yesterday, a member of Anakbayan’s chapter in the University of the Philippines Manila joined other student leaders in heckling a stage-managed public report by the president on his 1st 100 days. Other members of Anakbayan joined protesting farmers who were manhandled by cops at Mendiola Bridge. Today, the group joined a march organized by the umbrella group BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) to Mendiola.
“Not just a ‘fail’, but an ‘epic fail’ in terms of upholding youth rights and interests” said Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Bañez.
According to her, the youth group ‘flunked’ the president based on the following criterion: 1) Education 2) MRT-LRT fare hikes 3) Human rights violations
On education, Bañez criticized the P1.1 billion reduction to the maintenance and operating budget of State Colleges and Universities (SCUs), the P0 budget allocation for the construction of new buildings and facilities in SCUs, and the slashing of the student financial assistance fund of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
The youth leader maintained that SCU budget cuts have historically led to tuition and other fee increases. An example is the University of the Philippines which hiked its tuition from P300 to P1000 per unit in 2006 after a P300 million slash in funding.
On the MRT-LRT fare hikes, Bañez said it would have severe effects on the 1.2 million daily users of the three transportation lines, including minimum-wage earners.
“Even the so-called ‘minimum’ increase of P20 results in a daily expenditure of P40. It’s 10% of a minimum wage-earner’s pay, which is highly unacceptable given that they are not granting workers a meaningful salary hike” said the youth leader.
“Workers are not robots who only need a little oil or a few batteries to keep on operating. But should the MRT-LRT fare hikes and tuition and other fee increases continue, working parents will be reduced to eating just that” she added.
On human rights, Bañez cited the 16 cases of political killings which have occurred in Aquino’s 1st 100 days in power.
“Noynoy has inherited the bloody iron-fist of his predecessor and is obviously enjoying using it” said Bañez, in reference to the 16 cases of extra-judicial killings which are already under the belt of the 100-day old regime, 2 less than the number of killings in the last 6 months under former president Gloria Arroyo.
“His refusal to scrap a military policy which spells out the targeting of legal activists for assassination makes him no different from Gloria” added the youth leader, referring to the AFP’s Oplan Bantay Laya.
More, bigger protests
“Almost every day for the past few weeks, many youths are out in the streets against Noynoy’s anti-youth and anti-people policies. Even in his own PR stunt, he was heckled and booed by students. That shows the depth of his unpopularity with the Filipino youth” said Bañez.
Finally, the youth leader called on her fellow youths to launch more and bigger protests against the administration in the remaining months of the year.
“It’s time to make Noynoy treat us as his boss, instead of just using it as a cheap PR gimmick. If a ‘Last Quarter Storm’ is needed to do so, then so be it” she said.