State of our nation in 2015 | Inquirer Opinion
Commentary

State of our nation in 2015

IF THERE is an image that reflects the state of our nation in 2015, it is the hardships daily commuters go through in our dilapidated light rail system: People are herded like cattle into cramped spaces, forced to wait under the sun and rain, made to suffer deteriorating infrastructure in the hands of private profit-seeking companies that care little for the people’s welfare. If the administration cannot maintain the MRT and LRT which are in the heart of the national capital, what quality development can we expect in our more remote, impoverished communities?

President Aquino, in his inauguration speech in 2010 said “Kayo ang boss ko” and “we are here to serve and not to lord it over you… I accept your marching orders to transform our government from one that is self-serving to one that works for the welfare of the nation.” It’s 2015, barely a year before his term ends, and these words are still a far cry from reality.

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Except for the already wealthy, the so-called economic miracle P-Noy credits himself with has not benefited the majority of Filipinos who continue to eke out a living in the face of inadequate jobs and unjust wages. They are the ones evicted from their homes to make way for commercial “development” in exchange for miserly relocation alternatives.

The country remains overly dependent on the sacrifice of Filipinos abroad, working in often exploitative and dangerous conditions, without timely and effective support from government when things go bad. This has been so evident in Mary Jane Veloso’s case, where it intervened only in the “last minute” when she was already in her execution cell.

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The Aquino administration insists on the inclusion of untied and poorly defined funds in the national budget, to be freely used by its allies to perpetuate political patronage. It engages in the selective prosecution of its enemies but conveniently overlooks the transgressions of its friends.

The Mamasapano tragedy is not an isolated case; it is symptomatic of the generally incompetent governance of this administration, whose flagship peace project with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been significantly set back. And even if the Bangsamoro Basic Law is enacted into law, it is not certain it will pass constitutional scrutiny or bring the desired peace to Mindanao.

Absolutely, there has been no real commitment to a peace negotiation with the National Democratic Front. Rather than move toward peace, the administration undermined the peace prospect by not recognizing agreements entered into by past administrations and by failing to engage in any substantial confidence-building measures.

The government has failed to protect our national patrimony from plunder by multinational mining companies or to secure our national territory from the encroachment of foreign forces.

The Aquino administration came to power promising to investigate past human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings; however, those who committed these crimes during the previous administration continue to roam freely without fear of prosecution. This culture of impunity continues to be a reality, with many more cases of human rights violation and extrajudicial killing being added to the list. Sadly, those who seek to defend the interests of the poor are increasingly targeted with harassment.

The harassment of government workers and their union in their call for a living wage and responsible governance is an appalling indictment of the government. The red-tagging and trumped-up charges directed at religious and community organizations calling for the demilitarization of lumad schools are a travesty.

In the Holy Scriptures, the root of the word righteous means straight. It is this righteousness that we seek as churches; that there will be a government that seeks justice, defends the rights of the poor, and seeks to govern humbly before Almighty God.

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The Most Reverend Ephraim S. Fajutagana is Obispo Maximo XII of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and chair of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. Rev. Rex R.B. Reyes Jr. is general secretary of the NCCP.

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