Hunger and Poverty, Dissatisfaction, and Absence of Justice Reveal the True State of the Nation

Despite having a proactive Chief Justice, the Arroyo government is able to use the loyalty of majority of Supreme Court justices in squeezing out decisions favorable to it when it matters most. The Supreme Court has upheld the right of the Arroyo government to invoke “executive privilege” twice: in the case of the president’s conversations with Neri in the graft-ridden National Broadband Network deal with ZTE of China, and recently with the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement. The High Court came out with these decisions despite the eloquent dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Reynato Puno. The Court of Appeals, on the other hand, has already dismissed three cases of writs of amparo: on the abduction of Jonas Burgos, on the enforced disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, and the abduction of the Gumanoy sisters. Worse, the Arroyo government has virtually bribed the bishops with projects and recently the “Katas ng VAT” dole outs.

With no institution to turn to seek redress and justice, the Filipino people has only themselves to assert their rights, pursue their interests, and address the crisis enveloping the nation. And much of this pertains to holding the Arroyo government accountable for intensifying the sufferings of the Filipino people. But to be able to do this, the organized sectors must be able to mobilize the millions who are dissatisfied with and are suffering from the policies of the current dispensation.

First, it must be able to explain effectively the accountability of the Arroyo government on the worsening crisis enveloping the nation. While it is true that the spike in oil and food prices are affecting the peoples of the world, it does not mean that the Arroyo government is not responsible for making the Filipino people suffer from it. It just means that the anti-people policies being implemented by the Arroyo government such as the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Law, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, among others, are in line with the policies being imposed by multilateral institutions such as the IMF-WB and the World Trade Organization, which are designed to enable big multinational corporations, such as the big oil companies of Exxon Mobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Chevron Texaco, and the financial investment houses and banks, to extract super profits from the suffering peoples of the world through monopoly pricing and speculative attacks. The Arroyo government continues to burden the people with regressive taxes such as the VAT not to provide for social services – as the real budgets for education and health has been decreasing – but to ensure its foreign creditors that it would be able to pay its loans. Likewise, the country’s agricultural backwardness and its dependence on rice imports are not merely sins of omission of the Arroyo government but also part of the design to be able to flood the country with cheap agricultural produce from the heavily-subsidized farms of economically powerful nations. It was also designed as such to focus the country’s export production to the needs of industrialized countries.

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