The True State of the Nation

The True State of the Nation
By Jojo Binay
President, United Opposition

Ayon sa mga taga-Malacanang, ang State of the Nation Address (SONA) ni Mrs. Arroyo ay hinggil sa kanyang mga nagawa para sa ekonomiya, at kung paano natulungan ng kanyang administrasyon ang mga mamamayan sa gitna ng krisis pang-mundo.

But economic figures alone do not give the true state of the nation under Mrs. Arroyo.

The economic numbers may look good on the charts of the National Economic Development Authority, but it has failed to translate into marked improvements in the lives of the people.

And if the amount of food on our tables shrink every time the numbers on NEDA’s charts grow, the economy is not working at all. It means the economy is being kept afloat by the suffering of our people.

Poverty and hunger remain widespread, and is expected to worsen. There are few job opportunities at home and people are falling in line to work abroad, despite government’s claim that unemployment is going down.

And why would Mrs. Arroyo claim credit for any economic miracle when the economy has been largely sustained by the remittances of the 10 million overseas Filipino workers?
The irony is that this administration is heavily dependent on the remittances of Filipinos who were forced to work abroad because of Mrs. Arroyo’s failure to provide them decent jobs in the Philippines.  These are the same Filipinos who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuses because the administration has failed to match its aggressive policy of deploying OFWs with aggressive welfare protection. Some would not call it irony, but rather a cruel joke on our OFWs.

Distrust

Haharap sa bayan si Mrs. Arroyo –  bago harinawa ay bumaba siya ng matiwasay sa kanyang poder – sa gitna ng labis na pagkadismaya sa kanya ang sambayanan.

Ayon sa mga survey, 48 porsiyento ang hindi umaayon sa kanyang pamumuno, at 53 porsiyento naman ang may maliit o walang tiwala sa kanya.

At ang pagkadismaya ay laganap sa lahat ng antas pang ekonomiya – mahirap at mayaman,  at sa lahat ng lugar – taga Metro Manila, Luzon at ang dati ay pinagmamalaking balwarte ng administrasyon sa Visayas at Mindanao.

Ang bansang muling ipipinta ni Mrs. Arroyo sa kanyang SONA ay isang paraiso para sa mga Pilipino.

Ngunit ano ang tunay na kalagayan ng bansa?

Ramdam na ramdam ang gutom. Marami ang walang trabaho o kaya ay kulang ang kinikita sa araw-araw.

Bukod dito, kabi-kabila ang eskandalong sangkot mismo ang mga namumuno, ginagamit ang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno upang supilin ang karapatan, at nagbabanta ang muling pagbabalik ng batas militar.

Iyan ang tunay na kalagayan ng Pilipinas.

Poverty

Despite government’s claim that it is winning the war against poverty, 47 percent or about 8.7 million of Filipino families consider themselves as poor, while  27 per cent put themselves on the borderline, according to the Social Weather Station in a survey conducted in February 2009.

The same survey also found that 36 per cent or an estimated 6.7 million families consider themselves as “food-poor,” while 34 per cent said they were “food-borderline.”

Hunger

Hunger is felt severely by families of the unemployed, especially those laid off from their jobs.

According to SWS, 16.9 per cent of families of the unemployed experienced “total hunger” at least once in the past three months. Among the families of the employed, 13.9 percent said they experienced “total hunger.”

It also said 12.5 per cent of families of the unemployed experienced “moderate hunger,” in the lat three months, which means they went hungry once or a few times in the last three months.  “Severe hunger,” referring to those who went hungry often or always in the last three months, was 4.4 percent for the unemployed.

The SWS said “severe hunger” was a high 16.7 percent of those who were laid off.

How bad is the hunger situation in the Philippines? In a survey conducted by Gallup International, the Philippines ranks 5th among 56 countries where hunger is prevalent.

Misuse of taxpayers’ money

Under Mrs. Arroyo, our national agencies have become notoriously injudicious in undertaking projects and implementing programs.

This year, some P190 Billion will be spent by the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation and Communication on infrastructure projects. Some P200 Billion has been allocated to the Department of Education and Department of Health; P55 Billion to the Departments of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform. That’s a P450 Billion investment in infrastructure and human resources – almost twice as much as the Internal Revenue Allotment for all local governments combined. Almost ten times the Development Fund that local governments will get from their share of national taxes.

The amount, had it been given to LGUs, would have been put to better use addressing the real concerns of people at the basic level. Instead, infrastructure funds are being used by the national government to build bridges that lead to nowhere, and to tear up perfectly good roads and rebuild them. The education budget is used to purchase overpriced instant noodles, and medicine is left to rot in the stockrooms of government hospitals even as the poor can not even purchase paracetamol and antibiotics.

Worse, national funds are being treated and spent like it was personal money, like it was Mrs. Arroyo’s personal fortunes to dispense to her allies:

The p728 million that Joc-Joc Bolante diverted from the fertilizer fund. The $503 million for the Northrail project at p1 billion per kilometer. The $329 billion in the scandalously overpriced NBN-ZTE deal that NEDA approved. In all these cases, high-ranking officials of the national government have felt entitled to the funds – and acted as if they did not have to account for them to the Filipino people.

Despite all indication of large-scale fraud, the Ombudsman refuses to prosecute, and the former Secretary of Justice defends their notion that they do not have to explain to the Filipino people.

Kabi-kabila ang mga iskandalong kinasasangkutan ni Mrs. Arroyo, ng kanyang asawa at mga kaalyado sa pulitika, ngunit ni isa sa kanila ay walang naparusahan. Sa kabilang banda, kapag nasa oposisyon, nasa media, o nasa cause-oriented groups, kabi-kabila ang demanda, at walang tigil ang panggigipit.

Repression

Sa katunayan, mula nang maupo si Mrs. Arroyo noong 2001 hanggang Marso ng taong ito, umabot na sa 1,013 ang biktima ng summary execution, at 202 naman ang mga dinukot at hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa nakikita.

Itinuturing ang Pilipinas na isa sa mga pinaka-peligrosong lugar sa mundo para sa mga journalists, at sa United Nations, inilista ang Pilipinas bilang isa sa mga bansang lumalala ang human rights situation.

Eight years is enough

The last eight years under Mrs. Arroyo has been characterized by the administration’s abuse of power to subvert our democracy, to subvert our economy and to subvert our national patrimony.

Aside from record hunger and poverty, Mrs. Arroyo has for the past eight years eroded the people’s faith in the judiciary as our refuge from injustice, and the legislature has abandoned all pretensions of independence from the executive.

The Executive Department, on the other hand, has betrayed its mandate.

We have a Justice Department that prosecutes witnesses to protect perpetrators of graft; a Department of Interior and Local Government that persecutes local officials who dare denounce the abuses of her administration; a Defense Department that sends our soldiers to war with defective arms and ammunition; a Budget Department that disburses public funds as if they were the president’s personal kitty; and a Finance Department that loses three times as much to smugglers as it collects from the Value Added Tax.

The Department of Education has been eroded by corruption and politics, and keeps losing its best and brightest public schoolteachers, and its most dedicated officials, while the Department of Agriculture squanders productivity funds for our farms and relies on imports to feed our people.

This is the same administration that is plotting to keep its grip on power beyond 2010, either through a Constituent Assembly, or failing that, outright martial law.

Ito ang tunay na kalagayan ng bansa.

Harinawa, ito na ang huling SONA sa ilalim ni Mrs. Arroyo.

Buo ang aking loob na malapit nang magsimula ang bagong bukas para sa ating bansa. Kailangan nating mag-bigkis sa simulaing maitatag ang pamahalaan na magbabalik ng ating dangal, at titiyakin na ang biyaya ng pag-unlad ay madarama ng lahat.

Lagi nating tandaan na may pag-asa. May pag-ahon. May bukas pa.

4 Responses to “The True State of the Nation”

  1. dez valencia Says:

    i do hope that this would be her last sona…pres.arroyo pls dont us…utang na loob!

  2. lucena diaz demaala Says:

    with all the corruptions goin on in all levels of the government let us just do what we can do as public servants. Lets not curse the darkness but instead light a candle.. hopefully lets pray that an honest election will push thru on 2010.

  3. Gloria should step down next year. There are certain accomplishments that we cannot discredit from her administration but there are also big scandals of corruption in her term as well. Eight years is enough. We need a new leader like former President Ramos to boost the economy. And the best choice I think is you, Mayor Binay. If you could apply what you did in Makati, I think the Philippines will progress.

    But if ever you get the position, you should set example and punish those corrupt officials in your admin.

  4. hamsari a usman Says:

    get a life.
    not all Filipino can easily be fool by this stupid reaction.
    please learn to be open!
    I’m not a pro PGMA but I’m a major anti-erap.
    and please clean your mess first.
    to my dear brother please be fair. may we always be

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