Tomorrow, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will deliver her 8th State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Once more, as in previous annual reports by this illegitimate president, we anticipate to be treated to a distortion of the actual political and economic realities experienced by our people.
If we are to go by official pronouncements on GMA’s upcoming SONA, the claim is that our country is “on track”. How are we to interpret this statement? So far, these are the felt realities for the majority of us:
We can no longer afford the basic commodities. Inflation is at 11.4% and rising. The situation is expected to remain bad with the rising prices due to the tight global supply of rice and oil. And, we note with alarm the Asian Development Bank study that claims that for every 10% increase in food prices, about 2.3million more Filipinos fall into poverty.
More and more Filipinos are hungry and getting hungrier. In the Social Weather Station’s latest report, 16.3% of total population or 14.5 million Filipinos experienced “severe hunger”.
We continue to be jobless. The unemployment rate rose at 8% last June despite an emergency employment program for out-of-work youth.
Are we then “on track”? Spin can only take one so far. Government spin does not lower food prices and put food on our tables. And, Filipinos understand this. If we are to take the latest Pulse Asia survey as measure, only 14.1% of Filipinos have faith in what Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will say in her SONA tomorrow.
A Gaping Hole in Noah’s Ark
GMA’s administration hopes to appease the growing hungry crowd with an unsustainable, dole-out National Social Welfare Program under a Noah’s Ark framework, an allusion to the biblical boat that saved humanity from the great flood. This program hopes to make subsidy, relief and dole-out the strategic response to the ongoing crisis.
The problem with such band-aid, “pantawid gutom”, pa-pogi strategy is that hunger is a symptom and not the disease. It is not a strategic response to the chronic problem of joblessness, resource-draining corruption and the disparity in asset and resource distribution. It does not address the systemic root of the crisis, a morally-bankrupt economic model -- the elite-driven global capitalist framework of greed with its boom-and-bust cycle.
While we underline the continued relevance of the call for a socialist revolution as a respond to the global capitalist crisis, we realize the need for medium-term solutions to our present situation.
We echo the calls of our brothers and sisters in the mass movement for:
- Repeal the Oil Deregulation Law and scrap the regressive value-added tax.
- Extend and reform the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program to ensure the distribution of assets and wealth.
- Reorient development strategy towards job creation for full employment.
- Living wages, not minimum wages.
- Realign the national budget for debt payments to necessary social services. Scrap the automatic debt appropriations act.
BISIG-CEBU, AKBAYAN-CEBU, ALLIANCE OF PROGRESSIVE LABOR-CEBU, MOVEMENT FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF STUDENT POWER-CEBU, MAKALAYA-CEBU, FORGE, CPAG.