May 12, 2010
With the presidential elections now over save for the official proclamation of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, we ask what is perhaps the same question in the mind of most Filipinos today: what can our forlorn people expect from an Aquino presidency?
The first 100 days of the Aquino administration will be crucial. This period will reveal and set the tone on the priorities of the new government as well as demonstrate the intent, if not ability, of Aquino to address the injustices that our people have long been suffering.
Thus, for the first 100 days of Aquino as President, we strongly believe that he must make considerable headway in resolving three of the gravest injustices that we face: the plunder perpetrated by Mrs. Gloria Arroyo and her cohorts; social injustice such as at the Hacienda Luisita; and the extrajudicial killings, abductions, and other human rights violations under the brutal Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) military campaign of the Arroyo administration.
By depicting himself as the bearer of genuine change, indeed as the anti-thesis of Arroyo, Aquino has raised people’s expectations of his administration. Invoking the legacy of his parents, the martyred Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory, it is reasonable to ask for tangible steps in his first three months – when and how will he investigate and prosecute Mrs. Arroyo and her cohorts in crime?
As president who claims to have the high moral ground compared to other presidentiables, how will he pro-actively ensure that the Cojuanco-Aquino clan will give up Hacienda Luisita in favor of the poor peasants and farm workers? What will he do with regard to the case of the Morong 43, Jonas Burgos, and many other victims of human rights violation under Arroyo? What will he do to make the likes of Gen. Jovito Palparan accountable for his bloody crimes against the people? Will he dismantle the oppressive Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) 2 or will he embark on an OBL 3 or similar “Internal Security Plan” that tramples on constitutionally-guaranteed rights in the name of so-called national security?
Aquino built his successful bid for the presidency on a strong advocacy against Arroyo and all that her administration represents, encapsulized in his political ads enticing Filipino voters to take the “daang matuwid” (righteous path) with him. Many Filipinos, disgruntled by nine years of grand scale corruption, abuses, and poverty under the despised Arroyo presidency, responded to his call and gave him a strong mandate to lead.
However, while corruption aggravates the people’s poverty and suffering, the basic premise of Aquino’s advocacy – that corruption is the root cause of poverty (“kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”) – must be challenged. This premise glosses over the fundamental truth that poverty is bred by age-old unjust social structures strengthened through the years by anti-people economic policies allowing a few to monopolize society’s wealth.
Such situation is clearly illustrated, for instance, at the Hacienda Luisita. Poverty will not be solved without substantial reforms in these structures and policies, e.g. genuine agrarian reform that will truly distribute vast landholdings like Hacienda Luisita to farmers and farm workers, as Pagbabago! articulated in our People’s Agenda.
The time for mere rhetoric about change and justice is now over. We who come from people’s organizations, sectoral formations and non-government organizations, who have long been fighting for genuine reforms in the country’s misshapen and undemocratic political and economic system, want to see whether Aquino’s “daang matuwid” will lead to redemption or greater perdition.
Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change