By Communist Party of the Philippines
Benigno Aquino III attempted to paint a picture of hope by churning out half-truths while completely ignoring the fundamental and most pressing issues of the people in his state of the nation address (SONA) last Monday. He succeeded only in further discrediting his increasingly isolated regime and reinforcing the Filipino people’s lack of trust and loss of hope in the ruling reactionary ststem.
Aquino employed old and worn-out tactics of political deception to create the illusion of progress and change. However, such claims failed to strike a chord among the people who daily are confronted with spiralling prices of oil products, food and other basic commodities, widespread unemployment, low wages, deteriorating health and education services, worsening housing conditions, disease, environmental destruction and other social and economic problems.
By reprising his anti-corruption rhetoric against the past regime, Aquino sought to win the people’s trust and make them cling to hopes of change under his regime. Even after a year in power, however, he has failed to charge, prosecute and punish Gloria Arroyo or any of her big-time cohorts for numerous cases of plunder and corruption. Worse, his regime is increasingly being dominated by the “Kamag-anak, Kaklase, Kabarkada, Kabarilan Inc.,” underscoring the perpetuation of cronyism and political patronage under the ruling system.
Aquino tried to paint a rosy economic picture by citing positive reviews by foreign credit rating agencies and the US government. But he was conspicuously silent about the wretched socio-economic conditions of the vast majority of workers, peasants, ordinary employees, government workers and the unemployed. Aquino beats his chest at how credit rating agencies grade his regime but plugs his ears when confronted with the grievances of his own people.
Aquino claimed that more than a million jobs were generated last year but failed to mention how and where these jobs were generated. He glossed over the fact that more than a million peoeple joined the labor force last year and nearly a million became underemployed. The reality is that people are being kicked out of their jobs on a daily basis after the expiration of their three-month employment contracts and that the only option for the majority is to sign up for other short-term work. Aquino continues to fail to lay out an economic blueprint to generate mass employment. Furthermore, Aquino failed to mention the growing disparity between workers’ wages and the spiralling cost of living.
Aquino’s IMF-trained economic managers refuse to heed demands to develop local industry and manufacturing to address the needs of the people and reduce reliance on imported commodities. Instead, they insist on the economic policies set more than twenty years ago promoting liberalization of trade and investments, the privatization of state assets and the deregulation of the operations of private investors to allow them to satiate their hunger for profits. In the past two decades, all measures in the 1987 constitution that sought to protect the national patrimony have all but been torn down, with charter amendments as the only other step needed to complete the process of economic colonization and enshrine the regime’s imperialist-dictated framework for economic ruin.
Aquino boasted of increased palay production although this has in fact been caused only by a recovery of hectarage from previous droughts and not by any increase in productivity which has remained unchanged for the past years. He bragged about reducing rice importation but failed to direct the NFA to raise its local palay procurement to break down the rice trading monopoly of big comprador businesses who are in cahoots with big bureaucrats. On the other hand, he continues to ignore the demand for land reform in the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita and in other vast estates.
The closest thing Aquino has to a poverty alleviation program is the World Bank-designed doleout scheme called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). By doling out a few thousand pesos a month to families belonging to the “poorest of the poor,” Aquino deceives the people into believing that he could lift them from their poverty even without resolving their basic problems of landlessness, mass unemployment and the other roots of their impoverishment.
Aquino likewise failed to address the most fundamental and pressing issues being put forth by the people. They demand jobs, higher wages, land reform and respect for human rights. They demand a stop to oil price hikes and the nationalization of the oil industry. They want a stop to the demolition of urban poor communities. They demand an end to US military intervention in the Philippines and US interference in the multi-nation conflict over the Spratly Islands.
Aquino’s seriousness in achieving a peaceful settlement through negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been put into question after failing to cite it as one of his government priorities. The commitment to expedite the release of all NDF peace consultants remains unfulfilled as 13 of them remain incarcerated in various prisons. While the Aquino regime drags its feet in the peace negotiations, its fascist troops continue to stomp their boots and trample on human rights in so-called “peace and development” operations in the countryside.
Aquino’s state of the nation address is a reactionary, pro-imperialist and anti-people speech characterized by endless lies and deception. It is a desperate entreaty to the Filipino people to continue trusting the rotten and crisis-ridden semi-colonial and semifeudal system. However, Aquino and his American spinmasters are completely wrong to assume that they could lead the people away from the path of national and democratic mass resistance through their empty declarations and political gimmickry.
In the face of the worsening conditions of poverty and oppression, the Filipino people are becoming acutely aware of the need to wage revolutionary struggle as the only straight path to social and national liberation. This is evidenced by the continuing growth of the New People’s Army under the Aquino regime and the intensifying mass struggles of the past few months.