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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

‘State of Noynoy’s Accountability’

It is expected that rosy statistics and data will again be touted in Monday’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) to highlight the supposed accomplishments of the Aquino administration in the past two years. Like the previous Sonas—President Aquino’s and those of his predecessors’—this one will be no different: It will be full of “buladas” (empty talk), it will not report on the true state of our country, it will not speak truly of the ever-worsening lot of most Filipinos.

President Aquino will surely brag that the nation’s economy grew by 6.4 percent during the first quarter of this year, if only to “cover up” its lethargic 3.7-percent record in 2011, which was way below the government target of 4.5-5.5 percent.

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Already, the administration labeled the first quarter’s economic performance as “inclusive growth” that supposedly benefited most Filipinos by creating more jobs and putting enough food on the table. But it is a premature, even misleading, claim. In reality, most Filipinos face the constant threat of unregulated spikes in the prices of oil products and basic commodities, as well as in water and electricity rates.

It is readily obvious that economic growth is more driven by income derived mainly from the service industry, like business process outsourcing or call centers, and export-oriented light manufacturing.

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In reality, in the first quarter of 2012, the number of unemployed Filipinos went up to 34.4 percent, which is equivalent to 13.8 million people, according to the Social Weather Stations (SWS), a public opinion pollster. Also, during the second quarter, the unemployment mark was 26.6 percent (10.9 million people), still much higher compared to the 24 percent (or some 9.7 million unemployed Filipinos) in December 2011.

Thus, for the first two years of the Aquino administration, the SWS had the average unemployment rate at 26.8 percent—a record-high compared to the average unemployment rates during its predecessors: 19.6 percent under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; 9.2 percent under Joseph Estrada, and 10.3 percent under Fidel Ramos.

Before P-Noy occupied Malacañang, the country’s poverty incidence was 43 percent. Yet, despite the billions and billions of pesos poured into the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program, in the first quarter of 2012, 55 percent of Filipino families said that they were poor, compared to 45 percent in December 2011. Some 11.1 million families see themselves poorer in 2012 compared to 9.1 million in 2011. This only shows that temporary relief measures, including doles, cannot stamp out poverty and hunger.

The incidence of hunger is also becoming grimmer: In the same first quarter of 2012, 23.8 percent or 4.8 million families said they experienced hunger (highest in history, the SWS noted) while 5.8 percent or 1.2 million families suffered severe hunger.

Meanwhile, in the past two years, the number of Filipinos leaving the country to seek employment abroad—even in highly dangerous territories like Syria—rose to an annual average of 1.4 million, again, higher than in previous administrations: Arroyo at 1 million; Estrada at 0.84 million; Ramos at 0.69 million and Cory Aquino at 0.47 million.

Thus, with nearly 5,000 Filipinos leaving for employment abroad, the country’s economic survival is, expectedly, becoming even more dependent on OFW remittances, plus tourism, foreign investments (especially in destructive industries like mining) and more borrowings.

Ironically, while poverty and hunger continue to harshly beleaguer most Filipinos, the government’s so-called centerpiece program—Public-Private Partnership—is apparently only benefiting mostly close business associates of the present administration. In 2012, according to Forbes Magazine, the fortune of the top 40 richest Filipinos went up to $44.7 billion, an increase of $10.7 billion from $34 billion in 2011. Among these richest Filipinos are Henry Sy, Eduardo Cojuangco, Enrique Razon, David Consunji and Ramon Aboitiz—the same businessmen who cornered most of the PPP projects.

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Meanwhile, P-Noy may claim that his “wang-wang” campaign is gaining ground, but, the “bang bang” state of impunity that has abetted countless extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances goes on. Already, at least 76 victims of extrajudicial killings—including Italian priest Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio and Dutch aid worker Wilhelmus Geertman—and 10 enforced disappearances have been recorded under the present administration.

While charges of electoral sabotage and—only recently—plunder have been filed against former President Arroyo, we have yet to see proof that the present Aquino administration is also serious in making the former president, together with her military and police allies, accountable for grave human rights violations. For example, until now, despite a warrant for his arrest—this, thanks mainly through the efforts and initiative of the victims’ relatives—fugitive Jovito Palparan has yet to be placed behind bars by the Aquino administration for his heinous crimes.

Alas, even the anticorruption campaign of the administration has been proven to be lacking in resolve and turning out to be all buladas. Since the removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona, no word has been heard anymore from P-Noy and his allies, especially on the issue of the waiver on the “confidentiality” of their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Thus, in Monday’s Sona, we expect to hear more and more buladas inside the session hall of the House of Representatives.

But the real state of the nation will be delivered—by P-Noy’s “butihing mga boss” outside the House, where his administration will be made to account for its failed promises.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino, Government, politics, SONA 2012
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