June 30 marked the first year in office of President Benigno Aquino III. Basking in the glory of his popular parents, Aquino’ election into office a year ago created a euphoric atmosphere among the nation. Majority of the people went with and put faith in his “Daang Matuwid Tungo sa Pagbabago.” Today, a year after his election into office, it is opportune to assess the quality of service Aquino has rendered to the Filipino people.
The College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet gives the Aquino administration no better than a flunking grade in its first year. The Guild has noted no significant change in the national condition since Aquino assumed the presidency. So far, his vaunted policies such as the Public-Private partnerships (PPP) and the Kindergarten plus 12 are not directly resolving the roots of the worsening condition of every Filipino citizen. The PPP Program is only leading to the gradual privatization of basic services which the government must actually provide for its people. In the past year, the most glaring example of this is the LRT/MRT service which is a basic mode of transportation in Metro Manila. Early this year, MRT/LRT passengers were greeted by fare hikes in the rail transportation. On the other hand, the KPlus 12 program also does not address the main problem in the education sector; that is, the budget insufficiency. While Kplus 12 appears as a good program in theory, it is highly questionable how this can be actualized given the funds required for its implementation.
It is very notable characteristic of the Aquino administration to rely on “band-aid solutions” in answering the people’s plight. No better proof of this is its line of “Pantawid” programs” whose very name connotes a negative impermanence. One example is the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program which aims to shell out Cash Conditional Transfers worth P500 a month and P300 a month per children to poor families. More recently, with the searing price of oil products came the “Pantawid Pasada” program which will give fuel subsidy to tricycle and jeepney drivers. Although helpful in a certain level, these programs give nothing more than temporary relief to its beneficiaries and the Guild asserts that the Filipino people deserve more lasting aids from the government.
Another striking indication of this administration’s incompetence in serving the interest of the Filipino people is its inability to indict ex-President Gloria Arroyo who has committed numerous crimes against her constituents during her term, most glaring of which are the cases of corruption and the Hello Garci scandal. Already a year in his office, Aquino is yet to make Arroyo face the judgment of the people who were so enraged during Arroyo’s term. This scenario seems to imply that Aquino is not directly against its anti-people predecessor. In other words, that this present administration is no different from previous regime.
Lastly, Aquino’s term sees no punctuation to the Philippine’s subservience to US control. The Aquino regime has bragged about receiving $434M from the US, the highest in the long history of US-RP “partnership.” Also, the regime is keen at reviewing, instead of scrapping outright the Visiting Forces Agreement with the USA which only legitimizes the massive entry of US armed forces in the country. At present, the Spratly’s dispute with China where the US has expressed its support on the Philippines and which the Philippines has eagerly embraced is the latest exemplification of the unequal relation between the two countries. This intervention from USA is motivated by its interest in the oil resources in Spratlys which they can have access if the Philippines wins the dispute over China. In the worsening economic condition of the country under Aquino’s regime, it is an imperative that we continue raising our demands to the administration. What the Filipino people need are quality and affordable basic services, decent jobs and just wages and not a longer period of education, monthly 500-peso allowances or US military bases setting up in the country. While Pnoy declares that he will be an “education president” during his first SONA, what the people received is a huge education budget cut and a longer education that does not seem to answer the problem and hence, belie his statement. While Pnoy exclaims about the Filipino people being his “boss” during his first SONA, the people feel and see otherwise. A year after his election, Pnoy is not heeding his boss’s call for a better livelihood.
With such distress, marking Pnoy’s first year in office is not about celebrating his achievements for the country and its people, there being none. Marking his first year in office is stressing the need for the people to keep on pressuring the administration to abide by our demands and protesting against its anti-people policies and decisions. First year anniversaries are not always cheerful and happy, often they are more significant when they call for a people’s protest.
Ivan Emil Labayne, CEGP Media Officer 09268105915
*CEGP Cordillera proudly announces Allalim: Cordillera-wide Training and Workshop for Young Writers which will be held on July 16-17 2011 at Teacher’s Camp, Baguio City. The Guild will provide lectures and workshops on basic, intermediate and advanced journalism and writing skills. And as part of the Guild’s dedication to educating student journalists regarding the plight of the country, various socio-political discussions will also be featured.