JULY 27, 2009

Mrs. Arroyo did not categorically say that she will step down voluntarily in 2010. This means she plans to be around beyond 2010.

Mrs. Arroyo did not tell her allies to abandon Charter Change through Constituent Assembly. This means Con-Ass is still on.

Mrs. Arroyo spent a better part of her SONA diverting the issues against her administration – misuse of government resources, failure of governance, scandals and corruptions. Her tirades at her critics sounded more like veiled threats than well-thought out reasoning.

A national leader who is supposed to be delivering her final address to the nation should have posterity in mind. But Mrs Arroyo was interested in getting even with her critics than speaking to history.

Mrs. Arroyo says in her eight years in office, there are more jobs, the economy is strong, and the economy is more fair to the poor than ever before, and she is building a sound base for the next generation.

The truth is that 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.

The period 2001-2008 under Mrs. Arroyo saw one of the longest periods of sustained high unemployment in the country – the true unemployment rate averaged 11.2 percent, according to the NSO.

Both the NSO and Ibon estimate that the combined unemployment and underemployment increased by 2.5 million between January 2001 and April 2009, for a total of 10.8 million.

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.

The NSCB recorded an increase of 530,642 in the number of poor families to 4.7 million between 2000 and 2006. The number of poor Filipinos increased by 2.1-million to 27.6 million between 2000 and 2006.

This is the real state of the nation which Mrs. Arroyo did not acknowledge.


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