Benigno S. Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address today is quite remarkable for its deafening silence on key issue of the ordinary citizens and the working class: the non-inclusive growth of the country’s vaunted GDP; the pervasive poverty of the majority; failure to pass the bills on security of tenure (SOT) and Freedom of Information (FOI).
His fantastic claims about improved relations between workers and employers as indicated by the dramatic decrease in strike incidences are illusory. On the contrary, workers are much more repressed and exploited nowadays because the labor movement is severely constrained in using work stoppages due to the prevalence of contractual labor. After all, most enterprises today have more precarious workers than regular workers.
Without knowing it, he managed to highlight the inequality in resolving crimes in the country after he extolled the rapid resolution of the murders of politicians, employers and celebrities without mentioning that killings of trade unionists and journalists remain unsolved!
He proudly announced that 1.6 million jobs were created, but he failed to mention that many of these jobs are vulnerable or precarious jobs – with low pay and devoid of social protection and security! By lending a deaf ear on workers’ demand for the passage of security of tenure (SOT) bill, P-Noy is actually consigning most of the workers to a life revolving around short-term contacts, which are prone to many forms of abuse and exploitation.
Thus, when he said, “ngayon umaarangkada na ang Pilipinas,” we can’t help but wonder, which Philippines was he referring to? Perhaps he was referring to the Penthouse Philippines, where elites like him live – and not the Basement Philippines where the working people are toiling.
Of course, P-Noy also boasted of:
The delivery of new modern weapons and equipment for the armed forces. But are we joining the arms race in Asia or gearing for war?
The confiscation of loose firearms, but how about the unrestrained private armies and guns-for-hire responsible for the culture of impunity in our country?
The trust to the government was restored. Really? The last time we heard both from the country’s two leading pollsters (SWS and Pulse Asia) revealed that from March to June, Aquino’s much ballyhooed approval and trust ratings plummeted to a record double-digit fall.
The modest achievement in agrarian reform, adding that this lackluster performance was due to the lack of cadastral survey – OMG!
The timely response to the rice supply problem by importing enough supplies to bring down the price of rice. But how about its impact to our peasants?
Of course, the great stride in the fight against corruption guided by the hallowed “tuwid na daan” – Tell that to Janet Lim-Napoles and her coterie of looters inside and outside the government.