July 23, 2012
Despite threats of rain, thousands of protesters are expected to turn out today for the State of the Nation Address of Philippine president Benigno Aquino III. They will come mainly from the ranks of workers, farmers, urban poor, youth and students, government employees and women. The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan will spearhead the nationwide protest actions as well as international solidarity actions abroad.
“On this day, ordinary people will gather in the streets to speak out on the true state of the nation and to tell the Aquino administration that the people will not be fooled by empty rhetoric. The people have borne the brunt of the crisis the past two years, as the regime continues its assault on people’s livelihood, human rights and national sovereignty. The rains outside we can handle. It’s the downpour of lies and half-truths during the SONA which is the problem,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“As with the previous Arroyo regime, the people are once again pushed as far away from Batasan Pambansa as possible. This is a continuing reminder that the Aquino regime is not truly for the people. The regime thinks highly of itself but fears the people. It fears the truth. It simply wants to ignore and suppress the people’s legitimate demands for social justice,” he added.
Bayan and its counsels from the National Union of Peoples Lawyers have argued that the police blockade along Commonwealth Avenue violates the constitutional rights of the people as well as Batas Pambansa 880 which sets the guidelines for the application of rally permits.
“This government boasts of a ‘daang matuwid’ but it can’t even follow the Constitution and its own Public Assembly Act,” the group said.
Bayan said that people will not be duped by Aquino’s flashy visuals and speeches because at the end of the day, “the basic issues of land, jobs, health, human rights and sovereignty are not addressed.”
Due to the accumulated impact of privatization, deregulation and other anti-poor policies, hunger has averaged 20% of families (an estimated 4 million families) during Aquino’s two years; while poverty has averaged more than 50% (an estimated 10 million families), based on data from the Social Weather Stations (SWS) regular surveys according to Bayan.
“Aquino has succeeded in blocking any meaningful wage increase; selling out PH patrimony to big mining firms; preventing genuine land reform; and privatizing basic social services. It has succeeded in catering to the interests of big business, foreign and local. The increase in the number of Conditional Cash Transfer beneficiaries only underscores the worsening situation of the poor, as they more and more have to makes use of government dole-outs,” Reyes said.
“Many of the so-called achievements of this government, such as the S&P credit upgrade, the rise in the stock market index, record gross international reserves, and the loan extended to the IMF, are all quite meaningless to the ordinary Filipino facing high prices, landlessness and low wages,” he added.
Bayan also said that the Aquino regime has succeeded in allowing more US troops to enter the country as part of the rebalancing strategy of the US military. The group warned that the Aquino government will single-handedly reverse the gains from the eviction of US military bases in 1991, by allowing the permanent presence of US troops in the guise of “helping the Philippines against China”.