The coming year 2008 promises to be even more turbulent than its predecessor. That is because the national leadership – or what tries to pass itself off as one – is by now completely bereft of any shred of moral ascendancy, credibility and ergo popular support.
BY CAROL PAGADUAN-ARAULLO
Streetwise / Business World
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 47, January 6-12, 2007
No amount of Malacañang drumbeating can refute market vendors’ testimonies that they sold less this Christmas season than last year. For those Filipino families that can still afford a noche buena, that amounts to far less and simpler food on the table and less gifts or none at all under the Christmas tree, especially if they didn’t have the time, the energy nor the opportunity to go bargain hunting in Divisoria.
Food and drinks are not the only missing ingredients. More families are also missing family members to share the traditional Christmas meal with. Parents, siblings, sons and daughters are spending Christmas thousands of miles away as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). An unprecedented 9-10 million OFWs, or more than ten percent of the population, are in fact economic refugees scattered in 192 countries.
Three thousand four hundred Filipinos leave the country everyday constituting a strategic drain of professional and skilled labor but the country’s economic managers can only shortsightedly see the record remittances of migrant workers’ earnings. Unfortunately, almost their entire earnings end up covering family consumption expenses as well as loans payments while the social costs of motherless/fatherless families, broken homes and migrant workers who end up exploited and abused in foreign lands are incalculable.
OFW families are still more fortunate than those families with no hope of ever spending Christmas again with their loved ones who are victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Despite international condemnation of the spate of political killings and abductions ascribed to state security agents, justice remains elusive for the victims. The government, most especially the generals of the Armed Forces and the National Police and de facto President Arroyo’s National Security Adviser, continues to wallow in a ludicrous “state of denial,” as aptly described in the official report of United Nations (UN) Special Rappporteur Philip Alston.
Add to these the significant number of victims of the gruesome blasts at the Glorietta Mall and the House of Representatives; in both cases, the public continues to be skeptical regarding police theories about the reasons for the explosions and the subsequent claim of authorities that these cases have been solved. The public, inured to a constant stream of bad news, hardly even takes notice of the sporadic bomb blasts in the provinces that are routinely ascribed to “terrorists.” One even suspects these are deliberately being undertaken to provide macabre justification for the U.S.-backed and funded “counter-terrorism” campaigns.
Senator Mar Roxas’ most recent exposé of a new contract inked by Malacanang with a United States lobby firm known as Covington & Burling LLP is said to be worse than the Venable contract that got NSA Norberto Gonzales into hot water with the Senate. For one it is worth two billion pesos compared to the fifty million-peso price tag on the Venable contract. For another, while the Venable deal was a lobbying consultancy contract to “secure grants and (US) congressional earmarks” for Mrs. Arroyo’s Charter change initiative, the Covington contract seeks to lobby the US Congress to accept repressive “counterterrorist” measures of the Arroyo regime.