Top 10 issues we should watch out for in 2011

Posted: December 28, 2010 in Socio-Political
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As always, this is just a personal list of issues we should watch out for. Feel free to make your own list of what you believe are crucial issues we should all closely study. 2011 doesn’t promise to be any easier. There will be huge challenges ahead.

  1. The implementation of the new Internal Security Plan Oplan Bayanihan – We have only gotten a sneak peek into the new ISP that was announced during the AFP’s anniversary last December 21. Oplan Bayanihan promises a “whole-nation” and “people-centered” approach to ending the armed insurgency. Critics of the past counter-insurgency programs have viewed Bayanihan as a grand psy-war scheme. Underneath the rhetoric of “development” is still the use of fascist brute force against the people. Bayanihan takes effect January 1. I’ve yet to see a copy as of posting time.
  2. The resumption of the peace process between the GRP and the NDFP – After the holiday ceasefire will be the resumption of formal talks between the GRP and NDFP. The next round of talks is supposed to focus on socio-economic reforms. The release of political prisoners has also been seen as a confidence building measure for the talks. The talks have been stalled since the time of GMA. Meanwhile, ceasefire violations, especially by the AFP, continue to be monitored and reported in the news.
  3. Rising oil prices – Oil prices have risen to their highest level since the crisis of 2008. A DOE monitor says that it can reach $100/barrel in 2011 and $110/barrel in 2012. The deregulation law will again be under scrutiny, as well as the VAT on petroleum products. The last quarter of 2009 has seen some of the biggest increases in pump prices recently.
  4. The global financial and economic crisis – 2009 saw the economic meltdown of Greece and massive social cutbacks in France, UK and Spain. Despite some overly optimistic forecasts of economic recovery, the worst crisis since the Great Depression does not appear to have any end in sight as wages worldwide continue to be depressed and job cutbacks continue to be enforced. As such, massive protests and strikes have occurred over the past months in many industrialized countries. Collective action and resistance has become the peoples best hope in this time of severe crisis.
  5. The end of the 1-year ban on appointing losing candidates and the likely cabinet reshuffle – It would be interesting which losing candidates of the ruling coalition will get appointments in 2011. There has been a lot of talk about a looming cabinet reshuffle. Several department secretaries are only on an “acting capacity”, and the permanent appointees are not expected until after May 2011. Expect heightened in-fighting among the various factions of the Aquino regime.
  6. Implementation of the Private Public Partnership programs – Some P200 billion in “seed fund” has been allotted for the PPP scheme of the new administration. The concept is not really new. It is a rehash of previous privatization schemes, this time with “new” guarantees to attract foreign investor. Government is now willing to provide a regulatory risk guarantee if ever a private investor is barred or prevented from increasing tariffs/rates by court orders, regulatory bodies or even congress. How far will the government try to push for this guarantee remains to be seen of course. What is also interesting is the legal challenge that can be mounted against such a guarantee. Needless to say, the people’s opposition to such onerous terms will again prove decisive in this issue.
  7. 10th year anniversary of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) – Ten years after the signing of the EPIRA, have power rates gone down? And just how many firms control the majority of the power sector in the country now since privatization took place? San Miguel Corp. of Danding Cojuangco and Ramon Ang are now the most dominant player in the power sector, even bigger than the Lopez and Aboitiz firms.
  8. The VFA review – The Aquino administration has promised a review of the VFA, particularly the provisions on custody of erring US troops. However, there are other important provisions that need to be examined if there is to be an honest to goodness review of the VFA. The provisions on the number, duration of stay and activities of US troops under the VFA need to be discussed and assessed. These broad provisions have been abused so that US troops could have virtual basing rights in Mindanao. The VFA cannot simply be fine-tuned. The benefits are also unimpressive and at most, just for show. It’s time to junk the VFA.
  9. A resolution of the Hacienda Luisita land dispute – The Luisita dispute has been billed as a major test of the social justice platform of the current administration. Land reform has not ranked among the top priorities of the new government. President Aquino’s hands-off attitude towards Luisita further affirms criticisms of the pro-landlord character of the present government. The case is now pending before the SC. It should be resolved immediately towards the junking of the deceptive Stock Distribution Option.
  10. Moves to make GMA accountable along with the impeachment of the Ombudsman – With the SC declaring EO1 unconstitutional, and with still no case filed against GMA and her cohorts, people will be questioning the Aquino administration’s resolve in really stamping out corruption. So far no major case related to massive corruption, electoral fraud and human rights violations have been filed against the former president. Many have asked why the administration has not used other instruments such as the DOJ in going after GMA. Meanwhile, we are waiting for the SC decision on the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Guiterrez. Will the impeachment move forward, or will it go the way of the GMA impeach raps?

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