Aquino’s First SONA is His Last Chance to Speak on People’s Demands – KMU (PR)

Press Release
July 22, 201

Observing that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has not carried out major reforms so far, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said today that the upcoming State of the Nation Address will be a “big test” for the new government since it will be Aquino’s last chance to speak on people’s demands.

“In the past 21 days, President Aquino has addressed concerns of big businessmen and military officials but none of the concerns of the workers and people. Promises ARE too vague and too big but no big actions that are favorable to us,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson. 

”This is the reason why we are holding rallies on the day of his SONA. We will present our version of the state of the nation and assert the demands of the Filipino workers and people.We will be comparing his version of the state of the nation with our version and his promises with our demands. From where we stand, his SONA is his last chance to utter the change the people needs,” he added.

KMU criticized what so far are the biggest steps of the Aquino administration, noting that it has not gone far enough in making changes that are “pro-worker and pro-people.”

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”Noynoy’s electoral victory and trust ratings are often depicted as emanating from the people’s clamor for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be made accountable for her numerous grave crimes. Yet Noynoy’s only move on this issue is to form a Truth Commission with someone indebted to Gloria at the helm. That is not what the workers and people want,” said Labog.

“Noynoy has pledged to make the country more conducive to business, but what about helping Filipino workers to at least survive by raising wages? We have been waiting to hear him speak on our long unheeded call for a substantial wage hike after he left it out of his inaugural speech.

”The ban on wang-wang is fine, but only highlights the distance that the government still has to traverse to implement bigger reforms. The overwhelming majority of Noynoy’s appointments leaves much to be desired, having been drawn from big business groups and old regimes. 

”His government was put on the spot by the bang-bangs, the extrajudicial killings of activists in the country. Regarding this issue, we say to him: Tinimbang ka ngunit kulang (You were tested but found wanting). He still has to do something decisive to stop the killings,” Labog added.

The labor leader said Aquino should announce “decisive moves” to implement “meaningful reforms” in the SONA lest the president be seen as “wasting away” what his supporters say is his mandate for change. 

”Noynoy’s supporters often claim that he was given by the workers and people a mandate for change. So far, the president has not given justice to this ‘mandate.’ He should do so in his first SONA. Otherwise, the Filipino workers and people will feel, as some already do, that he is just wasting it all away,” Labog concluded. 

Elmer Labog, KMU Chairperson

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