“Instead of three more years of lies and empty promises, the Filipino people deserve true change and their full due,” said Jessica Antonio, BAYAN-USA Secretary General. “In his annual State of the Nation Address, we expect Aquino to recycle the same old lies about economic growth, the straight path, and progress, but the truth is that the vast majority of people are getting poorer while Aquino, the other big landlords and compradors, and foreign powers are getting richer.”
In Aquino’s State of the Nation Address he is expected to make pronouncements about growth in the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, most of the so-called growth in the past quarter is based on temporary fixes that can be attributed to either the elections—with traditional politicians dumping millions into their campaigns—or industries like construction and real estate, which serve foreign companies building commercial spaces for processing and outsourcing businesses such as call centers. In reality, such ventures spell double-jeopardy: they undermine wages for workers in both the first world country where the corporation is based and the Philippines, as well as undercut development of local industry.
In addition, surveys by national polling agencies report that most people consider themselves poor and their situation worse than in previous years. According to the Social Weather Station’s statistics from 2010-12, unemployment in the Philippines increased by 2.7 million people, and the number of people experiencing hunger increased by half a million families (2.5 million people). Furthermore, the National Statistics Office reported underemployment at 7.2 million people, and unpaid family workers at 3.6 million people. The prices of basic commodities and services including water, electricity, oil, transportation fares and food have climbed consistently over the first three years of Aquino’s term, while real wages have stagnated or dropped for most Filipinos.
“How can Aquino claim to be on the path to prosperity, when the ability to live a decent life is out of reach for most families? It’s no wonder that 4,400 Filipinos migrate out of the country everyday,” said Antonio. “The fact that remittances climbed to a record-high $21.39 billion speaks to the desperation driving people to leave home to do dangerous and demeaning jobs around the world.”
Far from giving precedence to programs that alleviate the suffering of the poor, Aquino’s government has prioritized band-aid approaches and virtual scams that do little more than create the illusion of assistance. Aquino’s World Bank-funded Conditional Cash Transfer scheme—a discredited program with a history of failure in other third world countries–has had zero impact on poverty, even though more than three million people have received the paltry dole-outs. Even worse, Aquino’s massive demolitions of urban poor communities for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects have violently displaced and directly intensified the misery of tens of thousands of poor Filipinos, for the benefit of foreign corporations and the biggest businessmen and landlords who are reaping millions in profits from the privatization of public infrastructure and services such as water, energy, and transportation.
“After demolishing their homes and destroying their lives, moguls the likes of Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Enrique Razon Jr., John Gokongwei Jr., Jaime Zobel de Ayala, George Ty, Roberto Ongpin, and Danding Cojuangco rub salt in the wounds of the poor by jacking up prices of basic public services that people need to survive. Aquino will just be adding insult to injury if he announces plans to continue the PPP,” said Antonio.
With Aquino poised to sign the new Philippines-U.S. bases access accord with the U.S. BAYAN-USA also expects the President to ignore the longstanding affront of Philippine sovereignty by the Visiting Forces Agreement, and cite national security interests to rationalize signing the new agreement. This would allow the U.S. to again park its military vessels and troops on Philippine soil and in its waters in order to advance America’s military pivot to the Asia Pacific region. With 60 percent of U.S. armed forces set to shift from other parts of the world to the Philippines and other countries in the Asia Pacific, the new agreement will open the floodgates to further trampling of Philippine sovereignty, human rights violations committed by U.S. military personnel, and tens of billions of dollars in profits to giants of the military industry, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and McDonnell Douglas.
“The people aren’t sitting around waiting for scraps from the table of a President and his cronies who feast on the blood and sweat of the Filipino masses,” said Antonio. “BAYAN-USA joins the millions of Filipinos who will be protesting Aquino’s State of the Nation Address and calling for fundamental change—national industrialization, genuine land reform—to result in lasting improvements in the Philippines. We welcome everyone who believes in true peace and justice and addressing the root causes of the crisis in the Philippines to join us in actions across the U.S. this week.”
BAYAN-USA will be conducting the following activities to mark SONA 2013:
Wednesday, July 17
Educational Discussion @ Jefferson Park
New York City, NY
Sunday, July 21
3:00 PM – Discussion on the Current State of the Philippines
5:00 PM – People’s Action
@Bayanihan Community Center
40-21 69th St., Woodside, NY 11377
Los Angeles, California
Monday, July 22
5:30 PM – People’s Action
@ Philippine Consulate
3600 Wilshire Blvd.
San Francisco, California
Monday, July 22
5:30 PM- People’s Action
Union Square, downtown San Francisco