Eleven years ago, I wrote on then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) for UPLB Perspective. And now, under a new President, as Sir Paul McCartney says, “here I go again.”
CHANTING slogans used in Edsa Dos and the administration that followed, leftist groups on Monday said things are the same more than a year into President Benigno Aquino III’s presidency.
Groups under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance, Bayan) held a rally on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to hold a “State of the Nation Address (Sona) of the People.”
Down the road at the Batasang Pambansa, lawmakers, government officials, and VIPs waited for the President to arrive and give his official Sona.
Aquino was expected to list the government’s accomplishments in the past year and lay down the legislative framework for the Second Regular Session of Congress.
But Kilusang Mayo Uno chairman Elmer Labog said there are no such accomplishments. He said that Aquino has yet to fulfill promises he made during the 2010 Presidential campaign and in last year’s Sona.
He said the government’s few remaining assets and resources are being privatized through “PPPs,” or “pagbebenta ng Pilipinas sa pinakamayaman (selling the Philippines to the highest bidder).”
He said government has been rushing to privatize to pay off debts to the United States of America and to international financial institutions.
In the crowd, representatives of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) carried placards against a government plan to put government hospitals under public-private partnerships (PPPs). Among the hospitals they said will be offered under PPPs are the National Center for Mental Health and the Philippine Health Center. A member of the group, who declined to identify herself, said that would mean less service and higher fees.
President Aquino has yet to hold former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo accountable for allegations of corruption in her nine-year presidency, Bayan said. Party-list members with seats at the House of Representatives were also at the Commonwealth rally.
Kabataan part-list Representative Raymond Palatino twitted the Aquino administration for coming out with “pasabog (shockers)” and exposes, but failing to send anybody to prison.
He said that Arroyo is still free more than a year into the Aquino presidency. In contrast, he said, Arroyo had had former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada arrested for plunder within months of Edsa Dos.
Palatino also scored Aquino for his lack of support for the Freedom of Information bill that will give the public more access to government documents and records.
Aquino promised passage of the FOI bill but did not certify it urgent.
Bills that are certified urgent are given priority by leaders of Congress. Without that certification, the FOI bill has remained a proposed law.
“Malacanang is blocking the passage of this bill,” he told the crowd of thousands.
“Nasaan ang tuwid na daan? (where is the straight path),” Bayan Muna party-list Representative Teodoro Casiño said.
“There is no change under this Aquino!,” the crowd chanted.
(Originally a story filed for Sunstar.com.ph)