30 July 2015
Benigno Aquino III’s sixth and last SONA created the illusion that Filipinos are now much better off than ever before. But in truth, behind the applause and rattle of statistics lie the intensified exploitation and oppression of the masses, perpetuated by the reactionary government’s imposition of neoliberal policies to protect and promote the interests of big landlords and big bourgeois comprador and their US imperialist master.
Aquino III once again exaggerated the crimes of Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo to deflect culpability for his own despicable crimes, such as treason for surrendering national sovereignty and the sell-out of patrimony in the name of imperialist globalization, blocking genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, the brutality of OPlan Bayanihan (OPB) military campaign, the unconstitutionality of the P150 billion DAP, and the Mamasapano attack.
He is no different from his predecessors in serving the economic and political interests of the ruling classes and their US imperialist master. In fact, in the succession of puppet regimes, Aquino III is the latest upgrade in the implementation of neoliberal policies in the country that mired the people in dire poverty.
In trying to paint a rosy picture of the state of the nation, Aquino III used statistics that hardly spoke of the real plight of the Filipino people. He boasted of having attained in the last five years an average GDP of 6.2%, which is chiefly based on the growth of the service sector, but agriculture and industries steeply declined.
Real economic growth is impossible under Aquino III’s reign because he refuses to implement land reform and establish national industrialization, which should be the main pillars of our national economy, and our country remains a neocolony of US imperialism. As a big landlord himself, he is a staunch protector of the big landlords’ land monopoly, which, through the bogus CARPer, 9 out 10 supposed CARP beneficiaries are deprived of land to own and till. Moreover, giant agribusiness companies, such as DOLE, Del Monte and Sumifru, have further expanded their plantations in Mindanao, grabbing more land from peasants, including the Moro and Lumad peoples, and exploiting agri-workers.
The Aquino III government is not also interested in establishing national industrialization. It has instead encouraged businesses engaged in raw material extraction, such as large-scale mining, semi-processed manufactures, and the provision of skilled but cheap manpower, which are all raking in super profit. Thus, the country is without industries that can provide real jobs, absorb the nation’s entire work force, and contribute to agricultural development.
His 6.8% unemployment data is deceptive because it did not include the underemployed, which, when combined with the unemployed, according to a research institution study, stands at 27% or 11.1 million of the labor force. Despite the devaluation of the peso and the rise in the prices of commodities, Aquino III stands opposed to any proposed across-the board wage increase, and nailed Filipino workers to a minimum wage way below the actual cost of living.
Aquino III bragged that the number of labor strikes decreased, indicating that Filipino workers were deceived and their rights tremendously repressed. The reactionary government’s anti-labor policies aim to completely destroy the only weapon of the workers using the most repressive and deceptive policies and schemes, such as contractualization, the assumption of jurisdiction, “no strike, no union policy”, union busting, extra-judicial killings of labor leaders, and other vile forms of labor suppression.
An underdeveloped agriculture and industry and the intensifying exploitation breed extreme poverty. Despite of Aquino III’s much-vaunted “inclusive growth,” poverty levels remain high, with 67.2% or 7 out of 10 Filipinos living in destitution. More than half of the Philippine populace live on less than P100 a day, which make it extremely hard for millions of Filipino families to eke out a decent life. Many go hungry on a daily basis, while the ruling class and the US imperialist satiate themselves from people’s labor. As of 2014, the Philippines ranked as the 3rd poorest country in Southeast Asia.
One of Aquino III’s major solutions to poverty alleviation is the Php 64.7 billion 4Ps, an artificial, counter-productive, and inflationary method that only encourages overdependence. He claimed that there was “no leakage” in the program during his term, but he only fools himself because in reality, the program is plagued by corruption and patronage in politics, and has been used as an instrument for suppression of people’s resistance.
Under Aquino III, basic social services are aligned with the anti-people design of neoliberal policies. The K-12 basic education program, which emphasizes on vocational and technical training, is primarily designed to train technically-skilled but docile and cheap labor force that will suit the labor requirements of imperialist companies. On the other hand, the government has abdicated its responsibility of providing free health services to the people by privatizing and commercializing health institutions and services, thus, majority of Filipinos are deprived of proper health care in spite of the promise of PhilHealth.
He bragged of having collected more than a trillion pesos in taxes, which indicates his aggressiveness in squeezing out excessive taxes from the majority poor, including such measures as VAT and EVAT, while easing up on the richest families in the country who are also notorious tax evaders.
He also reiterated his reforms in the judiciary by placing his allies in the Supreme Court and the office of the Ombudsman. This reform was a maneuver to ensure that the Judiciary will not run counter with the abuse of power of the Executive branch and imprison some of his leading political enemies.
His stress on AFP and PNP modernization, highlighting the procurement of new vehicles, aircrafts, sea crafts and military hardware and weaponry, means the intensification of the OPB military suppression campaign. However, he intentionally skipped mentioning his administration’s human rights violations, such as extra-judicial killings, which claimed 229 lives from 2010 to 2014, 85 in Mindanao alone, forced evacuations, filing of trumped-up cases, forcible closure of some community schools and many others.
Aquino III’s peace effort is a farce. His so-called peace effort with the Bangsamoro has resulted in the further division of the Moro populace, and the resurgence of armed struggle for genuine self-determination. His refusal to honor the previous signed agreements in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations, particularly the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, resulted in the continued suspension of formal talks, in spite of the positive efforts on the part of the NDFP, like the unconditional release of prisoners of war.
In his last SONA, Aquino III, not even in one instance, admitted any accountability for his other crimes, such as the infamous Mamasapano raid, the multi-billion unconstitutional DAP, negligence in delivering justice to the Maguindanao massacre victims, and negligence of the welfare of the victims of typhoons Sendong, Pablo, Agaton, Yolanda, the Bohol quake and other calamities.
The people must not allow itself to be duped by the lies fed by Benigno Aquino III. In his remaining less than one year in Malacañang, the people must continue to expose and hold him accountable for his duplicity and puppetry to US imperialism.#