The Aquino regime is catastrophic to the Filipino people

Ang Bayan
August 21, 2012

A major disaster struck Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog, Central and Northern Luzon in early August. More than ten days of torrential monsoon rains precipitated massive floods that swept away and destroyed the homes and properties of up to two million people, causing loss of lives and the ruination of agricultural land, fishing grounds and other sources of livelihood.

This calamity brought back painful memories of typhoon Ondoy in 2009 that inundated wide swaths of Metro Manila, typhoon Sendong in 2011 that flooded vast areas of Northern Mindanao and the Visayas and other storms and floods that struck the country in the past. Typhoons have been causing ever worsening loss of lives and property due to severe environmental destruction and the deterioration of the necessary infrastructure to control flooding and ensure the people’s protection.

This grave disaster demonstrated the stark divisions among classes in Philippine society. The floods mainly wrought havoc on the lives of workers, the unemployed, farmers, fisherfolk, rank and file employees and small professionals and other ordinary folk.

In cities and town centers, they are the ones who live along the esteros, riverbanks, lakesides and other areas where the infrastructure for sanitation, garbage disposal and flood control are inadequate or totally absent. In the countryside, they are the ones who are most in danger of being swallowed by the waters of swollen rivers or buried under tons of mud.

They are the ones who strive to eke out a living in the face of deepgoing crisis and widespread poverty. They belong to the most oppressed and exploited classes whose protection and safety lie at the bottom rung of the state and ruling classes’ priorities.

Whenever typhoons and other disasters strike, the lives and safety of the toiling masses are always in peril, while big capitalists, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists remain in the comfort of their luxurious homes in exclusive subdivisions far from the floods. While the ordinary folk are in danger of losing their lives, the wealthy classes’ biggest headaches are temporary power outages or the loss of cellphone service.

The Aquino regime manifested its real class character in the face of this major disaster that affected millions of people. The landlord Aquino bared his contempt for the poor when he slammed the victims for their “hard-headedness” and blamed them for the tragedy that had befallen them, even as hundreds of thousands of families were still mired in the mud left behind by receding flood waters. Aquino even execrably exploited the tragedy to parade his favored senatorial candidates before several evacuation centers.

But whatever gimmickry Aquino resorts to, he cannot cover his multitude of sins. He has failed to institute measures against flooding and disaster preparedness. He must answer for banning the use of calamity funds to prepare for disaster.

This August, Aquino did nothing in the facing of rising dam water levels, despite the fact that the people have for years been demanding that dam waters should not be allowed to reach dangerous levels. For three years, he has been in power, but he has yet to undertake a major overhaul of the system of garbage collection and waste disposal, the cleanup of waterways, the desilting of lakes and rivers and the rehabilitation of forests and watersheds. Instead, he has occupied himself with enticing foreign companies to invest in mining operations in the country’s denuded mountain areas.

A far greater catastrophe awaits the poor with the Aquino regime’s plan to effect the widespread demolition of urban poor communities. Aquino even has the gall to use the recent calamity as a pretext to call the planned evictions of the urban poor as measures to ensure their safety. It is the height of irony for Aquino to claim that destroying (and even blasting) people’s homes and livelihoods are acts that are meant to “protect” them. In fact, they will be torn away from their sources of livelihood and exiled to farflung areas that are just as prone to flooding, landslides and other disasters.

Aquino’s real objective in evicting the urban poor is to turn over the land where their houses are, for the use of his big businessman friends and their foreign capitalist partners. This has been his intention since he came to power -- to launch widespread demolitions, in accordance with plans to construct structures under his Public-Private Partnership program.

The far greater catastrophe afflicting the Filipino people is the catastrophe of unemployment, slave wages, landlessness, upwardly spiralling prices of food and other commodities, unaffordable education and health care, intensifying militarization, repression and human rights violations.

Aquino’s insistence on serving the interests of foreign big capitalists and the exploiting and oppressive classes is the worst debacle that will bring untold harm to the Filipino people. The criminal neglect and the oppression and suffering inflicted on the victims of calamities and the toiling masses are rousing them to tread the path of struggle and revolution. It may be fraught with danger and hardship, but it is the path that will surely lead the people to a bright, prosperous, just and democratic future.

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