Progressive professors of the University of the Philippines and sectoral groups gave President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd a failing grade a few days before his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Professor Gerardo Lanuza, chairperson of the Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (Contend) said in a forum that Aquino, in his entire presidency, has only been a puppet that exploit and oppress the masses in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society.
The farmers remain the poorest of the poor, education serves the interest of multinational companies, Lanuza said.
“His kabarilan, kaklase, kaibigan and kainuman (shooting buddy, classmates, friends and drinking buddies), have partaken of this government.”
Lanuza said there is no equivalent grade that can summarize the Aquino presidency with the “cruelty and suffering” that the people have endured under his administration. He said, Aquino can only be deemed as passed or failed.
“He gets a failed mark,” said Lanuza.
Members of the different sectors shared their situation at the forum that was jampacked with students.
Celia Veloso, the mother of Mary Jane, the Filipina in death row in Indonesia, cried when she recalled how her daughter’s case was neglected by the government and how they were given the runaround by the Department of Foreign Affairs. She said they were maltreated and maligned.
“This Patricia Macam, the case officer who handled Mary Jane’s case, lied to us from the very beginning. She told us that they will do everything and would not let Mary Jane be sentenced to death. But whenever we called her cellphone to ask for an update, she could not be contacted,” she said.
She said it was the Filipino people who really helped her daughter. Without the help of Migrante-International, there would be no international call to save Mary Jane. “We almost lost hope. We already went to the people in the government that we thought could help us. But all our efforts were in vain,” she said.
Dodong Tubien, Tanggulan Ugnayan Dulugang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers, Inc. (Tudla) spokesman, meanwhile said that they are still on strike even if the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Region IV-A has released a regularization order for the 103 workers.
Tubien said among the more than 400 workers of Tanduay, 397 are contractual workers and only 44 are regular. Some of these contractual workers, he said, have been working for Tanduay for more than a decade. He said they are only demanding regular jobs, higher wages and a safe working place.
He said the situation of the Tanduay workers shows that the lives of the oppressed have not changed. He said if they did not resist the contractualization policy, more people will be trapped in poverty and more workers exploited.
“We do this also for the future generation. Sooner or later, you might also see yourself or your children in the same situation,” he said addressing the students.
Eberto Peña, president of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan-San Jose Del Monte, narrated how they remained landless in spite of cultivating the same land for years. He said there is no genuine land reform under Aquino and land grabbing is still prevalent.
Now they are threatened to be evicted from their community in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan by the MRT 7 project of the Aranetas, the clan of Aquino’s Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. The MRT 7 is among the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) programs of the Aquino regime.
“They said it is for the development, but development for whom?” he asked.
Indigenous children also suffer under the Aquino regime, said Raymond Basilio of the Save our Schools Network, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to sow terror in the hinterlands of Mindanao. He said different schemes to close down alternative schools that were built with the help of non-government organizations are unabated.
“From falsely labeling the schools as schools of the New People’s Army, military encampment, harassing the teachers and students up to withholding the schools’ permits to operate — the government is hell-bent in shutting down these schools,” said Basilio.
Lanuza said the list of Aquino’s sins to the Filipino people is long. He said there are now more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row. Unemployment is prevalent and the homeless are increasing as urban poor houses are being demolished. The K to 12 program was implemented without preparation, and has been a burden not only to students but to teachers as well.
Contend said the Aquino administration has an “incurable ineptitude.” The group said “it has been evident since day one of the Aquino presidency, when eight hostages were killed during the tragic Rizal Park hostage-taking incident on August 23, 2010.”
The group said they cannot allow their children to inherit a society “that has been ravaged by the corrupt and anti-people policies of the Aquino administration.”
On Monday, when Aquino delivers his last SONA, Lanuza said they will join the big rally along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Campus journalists on Saturday lashed out on President Aquino for his “incompetence.”
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) pointed out the supposed “failures” of the Aquino administration in addressing the issues of the education sector.
The campus editors group said the most glaring evidence of the administration’s incompetence is the continued deregulation and commercialization of Philippine education, and the K-to-12 program.
“In Aquino’s five years as president, the Filipino youth witnessed how tuition and other school fees skyrocketed through deregulation, how Aquino slashed the budget for state-owned schools to forward commercialization, how Aquino and Education Secretary Armin Luistro stubbornly implemented the colonial K-to-12 program, and how the state violated the right of the Filipino people to quality and accessible education at all levels,” CEGP National President Marc Lino Abila said in a statement.
The CEGP said President Aquino is an “utter failure”.
At the Saturday media forum, former senator and Times columnist Francisco Tatad said there is nothing to expect from the President’s speech but achievements that has’ no significance and value’.
He said the nation should be told about how the President handles the different aspects of governance like the state of the rule of law, poverty, basic services of the government and the state of morality in public life.
“His tagline ‘Kung walang kurap, walang mahirap’ (if there’s no corruption, there’s no poverty) is absolutely insane kasi hindi iyon totoo.” Tatad said.
In the same forum, the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) said a survey they conducted in Metro Manila, Bulacan and Batangas from July 17 to 24 shows that 73 percent of the respondents gave the Aquino administration a failing mark while 21 percent gave him a thumbs up.
The survey also showed that 71 percent of the 1,200 respondents said their lives did not prosper under the Aquino administration while 18 percent said they experienced an improvement.
Former National Treasurer Leonor Briones of Social Watch Philippines said the Aquino government failed to fix the country’s social development as poverty level remains high.