PRESIDENT AQUINO'S SONA
MASK THE TRUTH
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay on Monday, August 3, 2015 said the figures on economic growth that President Benigno C. Aquino III presented during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week masked the “painful truth” that only a few, which includes rich Filipinos and those close to the President benefitted from the much-vaunted economic growth, while majority of Filipinos are still poor, hungry, and unemployed.
In his true state of the nation address at the Cavite State University in Indang, Cavite, Binay paid tribute to 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force who died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
“[Sila ang] mga taong tumupad sa kanilang sinumpaang tungkulin, mga taong nag-alay ng kanilang buhay, mga taong tunay at tapat na Pilipino,” Binay said, as he called one by one the names of the SAF 44.
After five years of the Aquino administration, the economic growth it flaunted failed to benefit millions of workers, farmers and the urban poor, Binay said.
Instead, the rewards of said growth remain "exclusive" to those already rich and those close to the President like his friends, classmates and members of his political party.
Binay said, referring to Aquino’s last SONA, “it is so easy to throw numbers around, numbers that, at first glance, seem brilliant and desirable”.
He said, “but the glaring truth cannot be suppressed, the truth that has been hidden from and denied the Filipino people in the last five years: majority are still poor, hungry and unemployed”.
While the country’s economic indicators have gone up, the numbers “conceal the painful truth” that growth has benefitted only a handful, Binay said. Among them are the rich who have become even richer, including our President’s friends, classmates and colleagues in the Liberal Party, he added. The workers, the farmers, the poor city dwellers, the government employees and the millions of Filipinos did not benefit from the developments.
Binay noted that while the country’s foreign direct investments (FDIs) exceeded P6 billion in 2014, Aquino did not say this is the lowest FDI among countries in Southeast Asia. Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia had higher FDIs compared to the Philippines.
He said, “even if the 2014 foreign direct investments are indeed record-breaking, they did not result in employment for the majority”.
The bulk or 21 percent of the FDIs went to financial and insurance activities, which did not generate enough jobs.The labor-intensive sectors like manufacturing and mining got only six per cent of the FDIs, he said. In what we call labor intensive sectors like manufacturing and mining, the FDIs amounted to only 6 per cent.
Moreover, while the country’s upgraded credit ratings helped attract the interest of foreign investors, they did not translate into actual investment. They remained just that: an interest to invest and nothing else, he said.
He asked, “why? Because the administration’s refusal to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution that prohibits the entry of FDIs stop foreign investors from coming in”. If the economic provisions of the Constitution are amended, the primary sectors of the country would be opened to foreign investors, resulting in increased jobs and employment opportunities for Filipinos. Once these economic provisions are amended, public utilities will open up and will speed up formation of public-private partnerships and much-improved services and facilities for everyone, Binay added.
Meanwhile, Binay questioned figures flaunted by the President in last week's SONA allegedly showing a decrease in the number of poor Filipinos.What the administration failed to tell us is that they used a very low poverty threshold. For them, a person who has P58 to spend in a day is no longer considered poor.
According to a survey by the Social Weather Station, five in every 10 Filipinos said they are poor. That is more than 11 million people saying that until today, after five years of traversing the “right path,” they remain stuck in poverty.
Binay, recalling Aquino's claim in his SONA that third year college students are already being recruited for work, noted: “The question asked by thousands of fresh graduates that stand in line, whose feet have grown calloused from going to job fairs, is, “Where and to whom do we apply?” If these were only true for the majority, we would not be the country with the most number of poor and unemployed in the ASEAN region.
He went on to question the President’s claim that there are fewer overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) now because there are a lot of job opportunities in the country.According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration itself, there has been an increase in the number of Filipinos wanting to leave the Philippines to find work in other countries.
From 2,500 average daily deployment before Aquino became president, the number rose to 6,092 during the first quarter of this year, Binay said.
The Vice President said that while it was true many OFWs were returning to the country, the administration refused to admit the real reason why they returned.
There is the policy in Saudi Arabia where citizens are given priority over overseas workers. There is also the financial crisis in Europe, which led to the closure of businesses and massive lay-off of workers. This happened almost at the same as the Middle East and African crises that affected numerous OFWs.
4 Places Of Insensitivity, 3 Acronyms Of Incompetence
In the same true state of the nation address, Vice President Binay gave seven examples of what he said reflected the Aquino administration’s insensitivity and incompetence.
He cited four places in the country that emphasize the administration’s insensitivity—Luneta, Tacloban, Zamboanga and Mamasapano—while three acronyms symbolized its incompetence.
Binay began with Luneta, site of the bloody hostage-taking incident in 2010 that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.If you will recall, the Luneta tragedy happened in August of 2010. It appeared then that they just allowed innocent tourists to be taken hostage and be killed. They termed it as collateral damage, unintentional.
In Tacloban, in the midst of the damage brought by super typhoon Yolanda, while bodies lay scattered, people roamed hungry, thirsty, crying, pleading for relief. Did the administration not say, “Oh, but you are all still alive, aren’t you?”
While a comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan worth P170 billion was formed, the money and donations given by other countries appear to have also been swept away by the typhoon, he stressed.
The United Nations itself just recently presented its conclusion: the government was lacking. It did not do enough to alleviate the problems of the people affected by Yolanda.
In Zamboanga, 200 were killed and thousands of homes were reduced to ashes. But a greater tragedy awaited our people in the evacuation centers that our national government provided. What’s worse are the reports of women and children raped and forced into prostitution.
Binay also slammed Aquino’s failure to acknowledge the 44 SAF members who died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
In Mamasapano, 44 officers gave up their lives for the country. But their heroism was neither acknowledged nor mentioned in the SONA. They did not even get a "thank you."
The hair stylist and fashion designer were more fortunate, as they were dutifully included in the long "gratitude list."
The Vice President said, three acronyms, meanwhile, symbolized the administration’s incompetence: MRT (Metro Rail Transit), BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), and DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program). Each day, thousands of commuters suffer while taking the MRT. In 2010, 20 trains and 60 coaches were running. After five years, only seven trains and 21 coaches remained functional.
New trains have not arrived even though P4.5 billion was allocated, with the said amount released as early as four years ago. There was more than P5 billion budget for DOTC to overhaul the MRT-3 in 2014 but it has not been done until today. Despite the poor service, they raised the MRT fare. He said the administration has been in control of the MRT for five years, yet it continues to pass the blame to others for the bad service and poor maintenance.
Why has the government been incompetent and inefficient in their services? Because they switched maintenance providers. They replaced Sumitomo, who had extensive experience, with the fledgling PH Trams Company. And who is behind PH Trams? The allies and party-mates of the former and the current secretaries of the DOTC. The Palace's reply to the pleas of passengers to fix the services: If you do not want to ride in the MRT, then take the bus.
Binay also slammed the non-inclusion of the former and current secretaries of the Department of Transportation and Communication in the case filed by the Ombudsman in connection with irregularities in the bidding of the MRT contract. We had to wait a long time before a corruption case was filed. But the question of the MRT's former general manager was this: "Why is it that I am the only one charged with the accusations?" And the people also asked: "Yes, why is it he is the only one charged?" In this case, it is true that failure and theft by allies and party-mates go together in following the "right path."
Turning his attention to BBL, the Vice President blasted the administration’s view that those who oppose the BBL are automatically against peace. The administration has no monopoly in wanting peace. All of us have prayed and longed for a peaceful and well-developed Mindanao. However, he said there are certain conditions to ensure a successful and lasting peace agreement.
First, Binay said the agreement must be in accordance with the Constitution.
Second, different groups, sectors, and recognized representatives must be involved.
Third, Malacañang should not pressure Congress to pass the BBL into a law.
Congress should be respected as a co-equal branch of the government. It should not be threatened, be forced into anything, or be offered bribes so it can do what the Palace wants.
Let us think of what might happen if the administration's version of the BBL is thrown out by the Supreme Court. Is this not what will pave the way for turmoil and prevent peace in Mindanao from being achieved?
Moving on to DAP, Binay asked how many of the DAP’s 116 projects worth P114 billion actually benefited the economy? Calling the program “the brightest example of wasting government funds in our history.”According to experts who have reviewed the DAP, for every peso spent, only one centavo benefits the poor. I repeat, a measly centavo for the poor.
Where did they get funding for the DAP? From the funds that were supposed to go to infrastructure--- improvements for the airport, the MRT, for school buildings, roads and bridges.
If the DAP releases were made during the previous administration, the Aquino administration itself would have demanded that those responsible be held accountable. But since reports showed Aquino's men are involved, no real investigation into the matter has been conducted, and the mastermind remains untouched. But it is different in the "right path." Those they see as enemies are treated differently from their allies.
As a favorite blogger of the administration said, "I've got your back." Thus, the budget scam mastermind of the administration remains untouchable.
The Vice President further said the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and DAP, already declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, have been revived under different names including insertions, special purpose funds and Unified Accounts Code Structure./MP