“Anak daw po ‘yon ni Presidente Diosdado Macapagal” (That girl is said to be the daughter of President Diosdado Macapagal), Ofracio said. “Pero ang batang ‘yon ay Presidente na ng Pilipinas” (But that girl is now President of the Philippines.)
Danilo Ramos, chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines), talked about the peasantry’s worsening poverty and hunger under the Arroyo administration, and reminded the audience about the Fertilizer Funds scam of 2004. “Y’ong pondo para sa abono, iniabono sa kampanya” (Funds meant for fertilizers to fatten the soil were used for fattening campaign funds), he said.
Josie Lichauco, convener of the Concerned Citizens Group and former Transportation and Communication Secretary, discussed the various corruption scandals under the Arroyo regime.
Vergel Santos, editor of Business World and a board member of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), talked about the Arroyo regime’s repressive measures: the “Strong Republic” policy, Presidential Proclamation No. 1017, and the Human Security Act.
When Arroyo was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2001 she promised, among other things, “government by example.”
But early on in her continuation of Estrada’s term (2001-2004), Arroyo had come under fire from people’s organizations for her government’s refusal to address long-standing economic demands such as a P125 legislated wage increase for private-sector workers; and for inaction amid relentless increases in the prices of basic commodities like water, power, and petroleum products due to the policies of privatization and liberalization imposed by the Bretton Woods Twins. Human rights violations especially extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances also started to escalate early on.