QUEZON City, July 27, 2015—In the light of President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy)’s “State of the Nation Address” (SONA), an interfaith alliance has compared the plight of Filipinos with Metro Manila’s dilapidated light rail system, pointing out to the chief executive that they are his bosses and not cattle, and that the “daang matuwid” he brags about is no different from the claims of past administrations.
“If there is an image that reflects the state of our nation in 2015, it is the daily commute of the people of Manila on our dilapidated light rail system. People are treated like cattle, herded into cramped spaces, forced to wait in the heat and rain, subjected to deteriorating infrastructure that is in the hands of private profit seeking companies who have little regard for the welfare of the people,” laments the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) in a recent statement.
According to the group, the light rail system is only one element of the national infrastructure under privatization which “no longer serves the needs of the people.”
“If the administration cannot maintain the MRT and LRT which are in the heart of the national capital, what quality of development can we expect in our more remote and impoverished communities?” it asks.
NCCP goes on to remind PNoy that since his 2010 inauguration speech when he told the public they are his bosses, the so-called economic miracle he claims he has brought about has not benefited most Filipinos, but rather the already wealthy.
“The majority of our people continue to struggle to eke out a living amidst inadequate jobs and unjust wages. They are the ones evicted from their homes to make way for commercial developments and offered miserly relocation alternatives,” the faith coalition explains.
Moreover, the group expresses disappointment that country still remains “overly dependent” on the hardship of Filipinos abroad, with a lack of timely and effective government support when things go bad, as in its “leave it to the last minute” response to Mary Jane Veloso, where she had to reach her execution cell before it decided to act.
NCCP likewise bemoans how the Aquino administration insists on passing “untied and poorly defined funds” into the national budget, that continue to be freely used by allies of the administration to feed political patronage.
“The administration has engaged in selective prosecutions of its enemies for corruption but conveniently overlooked the transgressions of its friends,” it notes, citing as example the Mamasapano tragedy which resulted in unnecessary loss of life and threatened Mindanao’s fragile and is “symptomatic” of the overall lack of competent governance.
NCCP also hits the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which it believes offers no certainty of peace in Mindanao.
“There has been a total failure to approach the peace negotiation with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) with any real commitment, and rather than move towards peace, the government has actively undermined such prospects by a failure to recognize the agreements made by past administrations and failed to engage in any substantial confidence building measures,” it says.
Noting the “culture of impunity” under his administration, NCCP blasts PNoy for his alleged failure to honor his promise to probe past and present human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings.
Culture of impunity
“Sadly, those who seek to defend the interests of the poor are increasingly subject to harassment. The current harassment against government workers and their union, Courage, in their pursuit of a living wage and responsible government, is an appalling indictment of the government,” it says.
The “red-tagging” and trumped-up charges that are presently being conducted against religious and community organizations calling for the demilitarization of Lumad schools is a travesty,” it adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)