By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
It is the 25th anniversary of People’s Power I, a historical event where Filipinos from various walks of life came together to end the dictatorial rule of then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. To end the dictatorship was the people’s thirst to achieve social change – economically, politically and socio-culturally.
Among the political issues that the people cried for included: justice to the victims of human rights violations and the restoration of democratic rights and institutions. On the economic aspect, the people urged for the non-payment of foreign debts and utilize the alloted budget for added social services instead; jobs for the jobless, land reform, and an end of foreign domination on the economy.
The change of the administration – from autocratic to liberal – brought hope to the people that these substantial issues would be addressed.
Twenty years passed but the resolution of these issues remained to be a dream for Filipinos. Democratic institutions were seemingly restored. Elections facilitated the entry of new faces to the political scene – albeit from the elite class, as money talks in this political exercise. Violations of human rights continued from post Marcos administration, as the practice during the martial rule was embedded in the state security system. It is no wonder that the precious right to life remains to be most violated as manifested to this day by the extra-judicial killings (EJK), that included journalists and lawyers, all those who disappeared and never to be heard from again. Political dynasties remain a reality, and notably dynasties were creations of the ruling administrations. Remember the Ampatuan dynasty, a noted creation and pet of ex-president GMA, a cost for the votes delivered in her favor.
Even the promises to address unemployment remain a lip service. While the Philippines produces enough professionals to serve its people, most of them end up unemployed. The nursing profession is a concrete example. Last year, data showed that there are 200,000 licensed nurses who were unemployed, and the number continues to grow every year.
But largely, the issue that pushes the Filipinos to suffer economically is the debt payment policy of the government. Nothing has changed since the Marcos time as to the issue on debt payment. Almost half of the budget is channeled to pay foreign debt while the budget for social services, like health, continously dips every year. Add the burden of taxes being imposed keeps growing, like the value added tax, and the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services. Yet there is no equivalent increase in wages or salaries.
Foreign domination of our economy is concretely manifested in the control of the oil industry. The ‘big three’ subsidiaries of foreign oil cartels benefit from the deregulated oil industry. And their interests are institutionalized in the state oil deregulation law.
Even our remaining natural resources are not spared from foreign exploitation. Foreign mining corporations almost freely rush in to exploit these resources. Like the oil industry, their corporate interests are assured and protected by the Mining Act of 1995. And, Of course it is done at the expense of the people, particularly the indigenous peoples who had nurtured these resources since time immemmorial.
In today’s speech, Pres. Noynoy Aquino, said: “Ngayong umaga, ipakita nating buhay ang People Power at hindi ito nagtapos sa apat na araw noong Peb. 1986. Sa tuwid na pamamahala, at sa pagsugpo natin sa kurapsyon, palayain natin ang bayan natin mula sa kahirapan. Mga minamahal kong kababayan, ang mas maliwanag na bukas ay ginagawa na natin sa ngayon. Sama-sama natin itong isakatuparan.”
This part of PNoy’s speech tried to portray that the spirit of People Power I is alive. For me though it echoes empty promises. If the president wanted to be different from the past adminstrations, he should address substantial issues like: justice for the victims of human rights violations, end corruption, stop foreign debt payments, implement land reform, create jobs for the unemployed, among others. His failure to adopt concrete measures to these issues would not make his administration different from the past. And the spirit of how the ‘EDSA revolution’ came into being would remain a figment of the imagination. # nordis.net