2011 May Day Statement
We at MIGRANTE Austria honor and march with the working people of the world as we denounce a whole year of betrayal by President Benigno Aquino III.
Armed with a most welcome promise of change, Aquino was mandated by the people to drag the country out of the quagmire left behind by the 10-year rule of his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He made sweet promises on his 10-point agenda declaring that we, the people, are his „boss“. But instead of delivering on his promises, he has outrightly neglected the Filipino people’s issues and legitimate demands in his first year of his term.
As a candidate for President, Aquino talked big about prosecuting and holding Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo accountable for plunder and gross human rights violations. Now in office, Aquino continues many of the policies of Arroyo’s and other previous governments as the socio-economic and human rights situation in the country further deteriorates.
Facts and figures are available to prove this. But when a third of the country's 94 million people remain in deep poverty and their numbers continue to grow by the day, statistics are hardly necessary. We know and experience it in our daily lives.
The costs of basic commodities and services in the country continue to rise and 4.1 million families -- have gone hungry at least once in the past three months (SocialWeatherStation poll, March 2011).
According to the National Statistics Office (NSO) there are about 2.86 million unemployed and 6.76 million Filipinos underemployed as of 2010. The daily minimum wage of Php404 is just 2/5 of the estimated average family living wage (FLW) of Php988 in the National Capital Region (NCR) as of March 2011. Despite of this, Aquino refused to legislate a P125 (USD 2.71) daily wage increase across the board and is instead leaving up the matter to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board – a cheap way to shirk responsibility.
Owing to the Labor Export Policy implemented by previous governments in the last four decades, more than 20% of the 36-million Philippine work force is deployed abroad at a high social cost (including family separations, various forms of maltreatment in host countries). The so-called Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who remit the dollars that fuel the Philippines' economy are hailed as the country’s present-day heroes but the government hardly pays more than lip service to their rights and welfare. The government does not have a system for the repatriation of OFWs in crisis-struck countries and has neither the will nor the capacity to reabsorb them into the local work force.
Rep. Rafael Mariano of Party-list, Anakpawis stressed "If only the government will protect the local industries from smuggling, global competition and trade liberalization policy, then unemployment and underemployment will not be a cause of concern."
Indeed, Aquino has chosen to pursue a policy of subservience to foreign dictates. In fact, thousands of urban poor families have been displaced through violent demolition of their homes, public transportation fares have been hiked, and value added tax has been imposed on expressways -- all in the name of the public-private partnership program pushed by the World Bank. Large scale foreign mining projects that give foreign companies a high return on their investments cause environmental destruction and damage to human lives and human rights violations. It is also to meet the conditionality of the World Bank that Aquino stopped rice subsidies via the National Food Authority and created the Conditional Cash Transfer, a dole-out program prone to corruption by government officials at all levels.
Not surprisingly, the dictates of imperial power go beyond socio-economic policy. The Visiting Forces Agreement with the USA continues to be in force. Aquino has reneged on its promise to review said Agreement containing provisions that compromise the country’ s sovereignty. Only several days ago, on the occasion of the visit of 2 US senators to the country, he started sounding off to the nation the possibility of the return of US forces in the country’s "former" US bases.
Furthermore, in accordance with the US Counter-Insurgency Strategy for the Philippines, Aquino implements measures that violate the human rights of our already-suffering people. He extended Arroyo’s military campaign upon taking office in June 2010 and launched at the beginning of 2011 his own Oplan Bayanihan which likewise seeks to silence voices of dissent specially in the countryside where peasants and farmers fighting for their basic rights to the soil they till. Harassment, abductions, illegal arrests, trumped-up charges torture and other forms of human rights violations continue unabated throughout the country and the human rights watchdog KARAPATAN documented more than 40 cases of extrajudicial killings during Aquino’s first year in power.
We can fill a book, we can fill a lot of books, to show that Aquino, in his first year, was not eager to make the government work on behalf of the laborer, the farmer and the urban poor, the small businessman and has waisted a good part of his time mismanaging the crises that came his way. He has not proven that he can be trusted to look out for the interests of the Filipino people. And there is no indication that the situation will change for the better within his term. He is not into the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to achieve peace based on social justice. He is not for the implementation of genuine land reform, as one can see from his handling of the dispute over his family’s Hacienda Luisita. He must have the willingness to assert national independence and adopt an economic development program based on national industrialization and enlightened social policies.
We believe that only the united action of all working people will bring the much-needed change in the key areas of our lives. Your solidarity and support give us enormous strength to press on in our struggle
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