There is still a month before the Balikatan exercises begin in Bicol, but already, preparations for these have claimed the life of a one-year-old girl and brought about US military intervention – with US troops manning checkpoints that have been set up across the region, most notably those in Pili, Camarines Sur and Matnog, Sorsogon.
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A woman doing multiple odd jobs, another managing a small variety store and selling newspapers, the poorest, a scavenger – these three women from poor families are finding it increasingly difficult to make both ends meet. Family survival is a daily struggle for them, and yet, they never lose hope and they always find time to fight for genuine change.
An independent research institute said that Filipino women are most affected by the economic crisis.
Amid snowballing calls for the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Malacañang through one of its spokespersons has argued that the said pact cannot be abrogated since doing so would affect the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the US. But lawyer Neri Javier Colmenares, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), disagrees.
In the midst of the global financial crisis and the resulting job losses in the Philippines, a new labor group is expected to be launched before this month ends. At the same time, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) has declared that it will continue to push for a P125 across-the-board, nationwide wage increase.
A multisectoral consumers’ group was recently formed to assert the people’s access to safe, affordable, quality, and effective medicines. Its first move was to criticize the loopholes in the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008 or RA 9502.
“The seriousness of this crisis is such that we cannot expect any solution within the system and certainly not from the US administration, certainly not from the G-20 because within that group, except for a couple of exceptions, is the dominant Washington consensus of the neoliberal agenda, ” said Michel Chossudovsky, a progressive economist and academician.
“In the Philippines, this crisis will be extremely severe because it is imposed upon an existing situation…of dependency, lack of sovereignty, crisis of the real economy, and poverty of the large majority of the population.”
For Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) executive vice chairman Lito Ustarez, free skills training programs for workers and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may seem helpful, but are not what the country needs to enable those who are losing their jobs to cope with the global financial crisis.
Members of the House Committee on Economic Affairs grilled National Economic Development Agency (NEDA) Director General Ralph Recto over the P330-billion economic stimulus package at a hearing, February 4. The stimulus package, which is much touted by the Arroyo administration, turned out to be a mere repackaging of old programs. Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño called it a “simulation package”.
With the US dominating the world economy, the effects of this crunch have spread to other countries including the Philippines – affecting multitudes of workers who are now struggling to simply live through the difficult times.
Local supply of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) remains tight. Even retailers complain of the lack of supply. The Arroyo government could not explain why nor would it do anything about it because of the deregulation of the downstream oil industry.