Women and children – the most vulnerable sectors in society especially among the exploited classes – feel the worsening economic and social conditions most acutely.
The indigenous peoples’ survival as distinct peoples is under threat and there are constant attacks on their rights to ancestral domain, to practice and develop their indigenous socio-political systems, and to exercise self-determination.
Due to prioritization of foreign corporate and domestic elite profits, the Arroyo regime has shirked from acting on (or has tolerated) the adverse environmental consequences of industrial, agricultural and resource-extractive operations. Large-scale mining by multinational and transnational corporations, to which the Arroyo regime has given free rein, is also tantamount to the sheer plunder of the national patrimony.
The domestic ruling elites have benefited not only from their position as junior partners of foreign monopoly capital, but also from large-scale graft and corruption.
Bureaucratic corruption has been endemic to all regimes, but has been particularly brazen under the Arroyo regime. The First Family and their political allies and sycophants have figured in no less than 10 large-scale corruption scandals since 2001 – not least of which was the astoundingly overpriced National Broadband Network contract with China’s ZTE Corporation.
In all these, Arroyo has played a key role as a major agent of US neocolonial interests. Research by the socio-economic think-tank Ibon Foundation shows that Arroyo played a prominent historical part in pushing for the major laws and policies that fully integrated the Philippines into the neoliberal framework imposed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, which are US-dominated institutions.
It is not only the Arroyo regime that is accountable for violating the rights of the Filipino people. The US government supports the Arroyo regime through foreign aid.
The US government has also been involved in “counter-insurgency” operations in the Philippines. This has been possible through its role in the Philippines as policy architect, and through military assistance and training as well as direct military intervention. There was US government involvement in the campaign against the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (the Huks or the People’s Liberation Army) in the 1950s, the series of suppression campaigns unleashed against the people by the Marcos dictatorship, “total war” and “low-intensity conflict” under the Aquino regime, the formulation of the patently lopsided Visiting Forces Agreement that commenced under the Ramos regime, and the Estrada regime’s all-out war in Mindanao.
The crimes and other atrocities stemming from the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya are directly instigated by the so-called “war on terror,” which the Bush regime exported to and imposed on the Philippines. The Obama government is faced with the challenge of stopping the war begun by its predecessor – a war that has caused countless human-rights violations in the Philippines and its other “fronts.” (Bulatlat.com)
*This article is a slightly modified version of a talk the author delivered in a symposium organized by the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church on June 19 in Sacramento, California.