MANILA – “There’s one thing in common between this year’s Sona and wang-wang, its favorite object: they both send out too much noise.” This was the reaction of labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) this year, as they found the speech a failure in presenting the real situation of Filipino workers and the people and in pushing for much-needed reforms.
“Like a wang-wang, the 2011 Sona is a display of the president’s privilege to inflict upon the public a blown-up accomplishment report and too much feel-good but empty rhetoric. We were transported to fantasy-land again,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairman. “This year’s Sona failed to address the concerns of the country’s farmers and workers, who compose the majority of the population. Pressing demands for a significant wage hike, for an end to contractualization, for lower prices of oil and other basic necessities, and for genuine land reform – all of these were left out of a speech describing the state of the nation,” Labog explained.
He said Aquino’s Sona also missed “a strategic vision for development, a plan to develop industries and implement land reform. Without such a vision, the so-called good news reported by the president appears isolated and coincidental,” Labog added.
Selective data, hype on employment
KMU criticized Aquino for being “highly selective” in presenting data and being “overblown in his rhetoric,” citing the Sona’s section on employment as example. President Aquino presented data on the reduction of unemployed from 8 percent in April 2010 to 7.2 percent in April 2011. But “Aquino failed to cite data from the same National Statistics Office survey showing an increase in the underemployment rate from 17.8 percent last April 2010 to 19.4 percent this April. That means the number of Filipinos who are not earning enough from their jobs and are seeking additional work has increased by more than half a million,” Labog pointed out. “These data,” Labog said, show that “the available jobs in the country remain low-paying and of poor-quality.” As such, Labog concludes that it is “simply a lie to say, on the basis of these data, that Filipinos now have a choice to not leave the country to find decent work.”
“In fact, the number of Filipinos leaving the country to find jobs abroad increased during Aquino’s first year. We cannot even bring home our OFWs from crisis-torn countries,” Labog noted.
The number of Filipinos going abroad to seek employment has increased from 3,500 everyday in 2009 to 4,413 in 2010.