Thursday, 31 July 2014

"All is but a repetition of the past"

"All is but a repetition of the past"

(Or all after listening to President Benigno Aquino III's 
State of the Nation Address, featuring his tear jerking statements 
and his half-baked actions that made people expressed ridicule)

In this video, it seems that most people protesting are in a festive mood despite water cannons and near-scuffle.

Based on a first hand account as well as articles related to the protest and at the session hall, this writer had seen an organized defiance that is, different from last year's sudden burst of feelings amongst activists that brought beatings from the side of the filth; still defiant though regardless of the pain given, but last Monday's event as all but joy than blood, raising fists and chanting slogans aside from cutting every razor wire and bringing down the barrier trying to test the so-called "maximum tolerance" of these truncheon-held policemen (only to be fired by water cannons with one of the hoses had it coloured red). Knowing that the system, with all its hollow rhetorics and half-finished programs alongside corruption and intentional ignorance over reality had brought failure in Its path called "righteous" and "just."

Teary-eyed President Aquino during SoNA 2014
(source: GMA News)
Citizen Aquino? NoyNoy Egalite? Don't think so!

As people near Ever Gotesco continued protesting, the halls of Batasang Pambansa remained just like before: congressmen, senators, foreign dignitaries, trying hard bourgeois and nobility had converged as the president opened his speech.

But instead of what this person and others had expected,  what everyone had rather seen is a teary-eyed one whom afford to use the legacy of his parents and the so-called aspirations of the people in his attempt to consolidate his rule. He had even used phrases like "the Filipino is worth fighting for" that mimics those of his father that "the Filipino is worth dying for". Fighting for whom? The system whom raped terms such as Freedom and Democracy? Perhaps, he's trying to assume himself as Citizen Aquino, or NoyNoy Egalite trying to appease the people and its growing mood of discontent like the first few years of his administration.

Reminiscent of Louis Philippe, President Aquino tried and tried to act as "one of the people", a "first amongst equals" whom promised new roads, bridges, low prices and anti-corruption decrees, and at the same time representing the gentries whom benefits on the sweat of the common man such as a farmworker from Hacienda Luisita, a factory worker from an export processing zone in Laguna; working, tilling, forging yet felt being dispossessed despite "being helped" those whom assuming to be paternalistic in its doing.

Sorry to compare him to the late king of the French, but the two did somewhat share similarities like what this writer had stated; that according to Wikipedia, it stated how Louis Philippe had ruled in an unpretentious fashion, avoiding the pomp and lavish spending of his predecessors. And despite this outward appearance of simplicity, his support came from the wealthy bourgeoisie. At first, he was much loved and called the "Citizen King" and the "bourgeois monarch", but his popularity suffered as his government was perceived as increasingly conservative and monarchical, regardless of his decision of having Napoleon's remains returned to France. And under his management, the conditions of the working classes deteriorated, and the income gap widened considerably. 
So is President Aquino: he tried to act simple, he tried to be like one of the common people through his anti-corruption policies, that his cabinet secretaries were once radicals turned opportunists; that he chose to ate a New York hotdog from a nearby stand just to counter Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's spending of government money at Le Cirque restaurant, that he even continued Conditional Cash Transfer programs despite its initial opposition in pursuit of alleviating poverty in the urban areas, but his popularity suffered as his government as all but a rehash of past administrations: neoliberal in its orientation, a stooge of the imperialist and feudal order all despite promises such as a righteous rule and to end all corrupt practises. And in spite of so-called reforms and rising GNP and GDP rates, still the conditions of the working classes rather deteriorated, and the income gap widened as evidenced by rising costs of commodities and services, yet no strong Peso to lean upon. Much more that the budget supposedly allocated to those in need end up rather as 'savings' and to the corrupt practises, programs made to keep the status quo firm like those of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Speaking of DAP, most government employees rather felt betrayed, fooled by their superiors, especially after their allowances, benefits had been rechanneled to the controversial program. As according to Ferdinand Gaite of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), the large chunk of DAP, which is 98 out of 198 million pesos are mostly out of their benefits and allowances; that 4000 employees of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority had felt dispossessed by their superiors with their 201 billion peso 'promised' benefits, had rather declared as 'savings' and rechanneled to DAP. Isn't it an unwise decision for these authorities to rechannel what is supposed to be directly allocated especially those of benefits and allowances of the government employee? For sure other than the allowances and benefits, projects such as roads and bridges are being discontinued and the money that is supposedly used for these had been declared 'savings' and rechanneled to DAP as well.

That kind of procedure, such as rechanneling funds from really important ones mimics those of the past such as French noblemen had used taxes to satisfy their personal appetites despite taking pride in its projects such as roads and bridges, while the latter, using corvee labour didn't even pay those whom had actually created it with the funds used for building those of importance; the "National Workshops" had end failed in its moves despite alleged government support, hence making the commoner felt disgust over their corrupt practises and blame to the one whom assumed to be paternalistic such as the king.
Even in China, history had stated how government funds used for creating a modern navy were rather being used to build a "marble boat" that adorned a lake near the summer palace that somehow made Chinese people blame corrupt bureaucrats and the empress dowager in having China defeated by the Japanese during the Sino Japanese war! 
So were the Philippines itself during the "New Society" era, that former President Ferdinand Marcos had squandered people's money despite he afford to create massive infrastructure in the name of "National Development" (pork barrel was also involved with another name). Funds, such as those coming from National Sugar Trading Administration (NASUTRA) was used to buy shoes and other luxuries for former First Lady Imelda Marcos like those of Salvatorre Ferragamo (even closed Rustans department store duing Imelda's 'special visits' that also meant buying unnecessary things using government funds), and despite anti-corruption campaigns, illegal practises thrive that also became factor to the downfall of the regime. 

So with history and actual events involving misuse and abuse if government funds as its basis, is Citizen Aquino, or NoyNoy Egalite did really make things on behalf of the people? Nope, like any other ruler desperate for keeping its own rulership he's using populism to support his class interest by giving crumbs in the form of services. But from rechanneling important funds, merely crumbs for a certain project to other projects (if not rebranded as 'savings') to paying landlords with the government money it had mocked the call of the people, particularly those whom had worked hard for those benefits. He may take pride time and again his achievements, but those achievements are all but a rehash of past ones, not his as the head of state and government; he may shed tears, but those tears aren't as genuine as the tears of the common man still suffering from hunger because of an endless crisis. 

Growth and development still unfelt by many

As the President continues his hodge-podge of personal pride and his so-called 'contributions', people  felt mixed reactions about it with most can't even felt, or ridicule his works (especially those out of DAP funds) while criticizing his corrupt practises and inaction in certain events such as those of calamities. Some just accept altogether his works regardless of its controversial backgrounds, such as those of scholarships from TESDA, not knowing that some, if not most would be ghost scholars or employees 'benefited' from that DAP-funded bullshit.

So is the distribution of relief and rehabilitation in disaster affected areas such as in Easten Visayas and in Zamboanga. Relief was actually done by foreign aid agencies, mutual aid and charitable institutions rather than the national government despite taking pride in its action. The bunkhouses commissioned by the rehabilitation czar isn't as homely as the subdivisions made by real estate companies like those of Manny Villar's; the Department of Social Welfare and Development failed to distribute most of the relief as most were left rotting in the warehouses, including those being donated by other countries like Spain and Algeria; and Old clothes supposedly meant for distribution were end being sold at Divisoria 'for personal profit' rather than having its proceeds be directly allocated for distribution of relief and rehabilitation of affected areas.
Speaking of Zamboanga, there were houses whom promised by the president to the victims of the conflict have-not been built. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, there are residents whom expressed criticism and even described Aquino's statement as 'wrong info'. Lilia Fuentebella, a resident of Zamboanga, was promised by the president that they could return to their new housing units only to find instead a pile of hollow blocks, and a hill of sand and gravel in the place her house once stood; "It would be August next year" according to Mrs. Fuentebella, or worse, "Maybe he (the president) was provided with wrong data by the NHA" according to Jimmy Villaflores of Barangay Sta. Catalina in Zamboanga. 

These issues, whether in a form of insufficient distribution for relief, personal profit over social service, as well as providing wrong data alongside half-baked promises, made victims, both from the calamity and of the battlefield expressed disgust no matter what the system did in providing crumbs such as relief and rehabilitation. And the system, through President Aquino rather thinks heavily on trying to curry foreign investment and letting 'development' be at the hands of the few at the expense of every resource to be exploited: especially with Eastern Visayas and Mindanao also bountiful with natural resources and manpower.

Well, from a development perspective, as according to IBON databank, it stated that the President's SONA affirms that the administration is not reformist when it comes to the economy. The SONArather  affirmed its reliance on short-term measures like any other predecessor "to boost growth for the illusion of economic progress" – primarily public infrastructure spending – and its avoidance of addressing the structural bottlenecks that cause underdevelopment. There are mainly three inter-related bottlenecks: low agricultural production and productivity, stunted domestic industry, and record joblessness and wide poverty. Most of the infrastructures being made, again are supported by DAP funds in also a form of corruption.

The president did not even acknowledge the failure of agrarian reform in spite of promising farmers redistributed lands in this post-CARPER episode. Again, according to IBON, Nine out of ten supposed beneficiary farmers still do not own the land they till and three out of four are not even able to make the onerous payments demanded by the government's landlord-biased agrarian reform programs. He even just made excuses for his administration's poor performance in land distribution which is well below the historical program average – at 19,700 hectares per month compared to the 27,600 hectares per month historical average. 

Also, instead of defining a vision for building, Filipino industry, he repeated the bankrupt notion that foreign investors and being open for business to foreigners as the path to domestic development; like any other predecessor whom parrot words like 'development', Aquino disregard Industrialization if not keeping Industrialization limited to consumer goods, assembly line, and handicraft while emphasising massive imports that also cripple domestic produce and manufactures. 

"Not just the protesters, but also the crooks"

Criticism isn't entirely on the side of the protesters converged at Commonwealth Ave., but also on the side of the crooks as well. Basing much of the statements from congressmen and a former president, what they heard whilst watching the entire event is all but a rehash of statements rather than current ones in which the government has to face. But again, these statements given are also those coming from crooks whom benefit in their corrupt practises as bureaucrat capitalists, treating government administration as a business, whom had kept the pork as well as the feudal practises in which people opposed with.

Personally, such statements given by these bureaucrats are "moderate" than those of the protesters, trying to be like those of the late Mirabeau in saving the country by means of facing the realities and in need of attention as government officials, but these statements are, of course, criticisms in which the present administration has to face and not contenting in a rehash of statements, promises in which most are half-realized.

As according to TV5, Buhay partylist Representative Lito Atienza, who had earlier counseled pro-Aquino lawmakers to go slow in attacking the SC over the DAP ruling, said the SONA had some glaring omissions:

"Hindi natin narinig ang tama. Hindi na-report ang tama. Bigas, bilihin, peace and order, brownout ang dapat narinig. Ang tawag ng kabataan dyan ay BOOMPANES." (We didn't hear what is right. He didn't even reported what is right. Food, prices, peace and order, brownouts should be hearing about...)"

Former President Fidel Ramos sounded disappointed by the seeming loose structure of the SONA:

"If this was supposed to be a State of the Nation Address, there must be a vision of the future, and the future we're talking about there is not the two years to go or six years of the president's term, or three years of a time of a governor. No, it's one whole generation. That is what it takes you to stabilize your power system, that is what it takes you to put up your proper infrastructure, farm-to-market roads, seaports, airports."

And Iloilo Representative Jerry Trenas also expressed criticism by calling the President 'lameduck' in spite of his so-called achievements and contributions:

  "The President has exceeded the people's expectations in running the country. We should expect a fruitful leadership in the last two remaining years of the Aquino administration. We do not have a lameduck President."

These statements somehow quite nice yet still it comes from these people trying to keep firm by using people's aspirations. Atienza said that the state of the nation should based on realities, not just achievements, that the topics should be those of problems that has to be settled upon not just the projects in which DAP funds being allocated to. 
And by the way, since President Aquino said about the Philippines as the "sick man of Asia" and his government as "righteous" with its economy ready for a "take off", former President Ramos did said decades ago that the Philippines is "no longer the sick man of Asia" and even a "Tiger cub" becoming a "Tiger" in the year 2000, while former President Arroyo said about the Philippine economy under her administration was also ready for "take off" with her "Strong Republic"; so again, PNoy's speech is still a repetition of past administrations, its promises, projects anything trying to create an illusion of progress that serves as an icing for preserving the status quo.


There are more words to say in this kind of writeup, but no matter how the president tries to be one with the people, still he represents the gentries whom controlled and dictated the economy, culture, politics, and both foreign and domestic affairs. He had promised a path that is righteous, but with all the issues involving himself, or even his allies tainted with corruption and misuse of public funds prevailed, as well as justifying a program that is also heavily tainted with corruption, then he himself failed to make a path that according to him is both righteous in word and in deed. 

What he simply did is Machiavellian: he had the means no matter it is unlawful just to justify the ends. That somehow made people think all as but a repetition of the past. Rallies will continue as long as the status quo remains firm no matter how rotten to the core it is.