One year on: Aquino fares terribly in the fields of economy, governance, foreign policy and human rights

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized
In his first year as president, Benigno Aquino III miserably failed to live up to his own hype and “change” rhetoric. The first year of the Aquino government saw the continuation of many of Arroyo’s economic policies along with continued subservience to foreign dictates, lackluster performance in going after the plunderers and human rights violators of the past, and increasing factionalism within his administration.

The so-called  “daang matuwid” has been panned because of the poor performance of the Aquino regime in the areas that count most for ordinary Filipinos. Aquino’s “daang matuwid” has turned out to be one full of roadblocks, expensive toll gates, potholes, and wrong directions.

Despite Aquino’s anti-corruption rhetoric, no charges have been brought against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. All the charges against GMA were filed by persons or groups outside the administration: anti-corruption crusaders, human rights groups and a Protestant church seeking justice for its members.

Aquino has not gone after the human rights violators in the AFP in the same way he had against some corrupt members of the military. He has not spoken about any of the important human rights issues such as the killing of top botanist Leonard Co, the abduction of 2 missing UP students, and the policy of extrajudicial killings within the AFP. He could have gone after Gen. Jovito Palparan in the same way he went after fromer AFP comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia. Going after human rights violators does not appear to be a priority of the administration. His order to withdraw charges against the Morong 43 was brought about only by intense domestic and international pressure.

The regime’s inauguaration vow of “true and complete justice for all” has turned out to be selective and not thoroughgoing. The government has filed charges against some officials of the Arroyo regime but has not filed cases on many of the major scandals involving Arroyo herself, such as the NBN-ZTE scam, the election fraud of 2004, the fertilizer fund scam of 2004 and many others.

The first year of the Aquino government saw rising unemployment, poverty, hunger, inflation, and human rights violations. Job-generation relies mainly on foreign investments and foreign-funded infrastructure projects. The regime is nowhere near solving the unemployment problem faced by some 11.3 million Filipinos. Wage levels also remain very low, with Aquino categorically opposing any legislated wage hike.

May 2011 inflation reached 4.5%, higher than the last few months of the Arroyo regime. Aquino continues to resist calls for the scrapping of the VAT on oil even as pump prices have increased by P11/liter under his administration. Amid the worsening economic condition of the people, the government has only offered “pantawid” programs such as the Conditional Cash Transfer program and the “Pantawid Pasada”.  True to his haciendero background, Aquino has not mentioned land reform in any of his speeches or major policy pronouncements.

It must be stressed that the economic model being followed by Aquino today, no different from the model followed by almost all his predecessors, has failed to uplift the Philippine economy and its people. Aquino’s blind pursuit of economic liberalization, deregulation and privatization will only drive the country deeper in crisis.

Instead of adopting long-term pro-people solutions to the problems of the economy, the Aquino government has adopted a foreign-dependent economic framework, window-dressed with “pantawid” or stopgap social measures intended to pacify the public. Aquino, true to his landlord origins, has also not embarked on any meaningful land reform program, never even mentioning it in any of his major speeches.

What Aquino did was the repackaging of privatization programs of past regimes, now dubbed “Public-Private Partnership”.  As with past failed privatization projects, the public will be faced wih the prospect of higher rates and tariffs for services that will be operated by private investors. Instead of protecting consumers from the onslaught of high prices, the Aquino government has sought to guarantee private profits by implementing a regulatory-risk guarantee wherein private investors who are prevented by the courts from collecting tariff increases from conumers can instead collect from the government.

Aquino has adopted a foreign policy no different from the neo-colonial policy pursued by Arroyo. The regime continues to adhere to US dictates. There has been no official word on the outcome of the VFA review, despite an earlier campaign promise by the president. The termination of this one-sided agreement is now even more far-fetched as the regime desperately seeks US support and intervention in the Spratlys row. The Philippine government has hung on to the coat tails of Uncle Sam in the Spratlys dispute instead of adopting an independent policy and relying on diplomatic means.

The qualification for government appointments, by and large, depends on the association a nominee has with the president (kaklase, kabarkada, kabarilan), and not necessarily on competence and track record.

The slide in Aquino’s approval ratings has been as fast as his newly-acquired Porsche. His government’s dismissive attitude towards criticism and declining ratings shows that Aquino is just as capable of being insensitive as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The regime’s can-do-no-wrong attitude will be its own undoing.

As for Aquino’s human rights record, there have been 45 victims of extrajudicial killings under his regime. The internal security plan Oplan Bayanihan has not changed the policy of the AFP of targeting unarmed activists. If anything, Oplan Bayanihan merely sugarcoats the fascist counter-insurgency program started by Oplan Bantay Laya.

Aquino has given people reasons to protest and march for higher wages, decent jobs and housing, justice for rights victims, good governance and an independent foreign policy. On June 30, the first anniversary of the Aquino government, various groups will converge on Mendiola Bridge to press the regime for immediate economic relief and to protest Aquino’s anti-people and pro-imperialist policies. ###

Download Bayan’s powerpoint presentation via this link

http://www.bayan.ph/downloads/natsit-june2011.pptx

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