Aquino is quintessentially antipoor

Communist Party of the Philippines
March 28, 2012

Benigno Aquino III is quintessentially antipoor. The other day, he announced the vetoing of the Magna Carta for the Poor, claiming his government has no funds for housing, education and health services which the proposed law would have required the government to allocate.

Not that the signing of the Magna Carta for the Poor would have made a difference. But by claiming to have no money in vetoing the bill that professes to uphold the interests of the poor, Aquino has once again demonstrated his regime's deep prejudice against the majority of the Filipino people who have long been suffering from acute unemployment, spiralling prices, low wages, subhuman living conditions and deteriorating public health and education services.

Aquino's rejection of the proposed Magna Carta for the Poor further highlights his regime's ruthlessness in carrying out programs and policies that oppress and exploit the workers, peasants and middle class sectors such as small professionals and rank-and-file employees, all in the interest of serving the big capitalists, big landlords and foreign plunderers.

For the past three years, Aquino has refused to appropriate enough funds for much-needed public services such as health, education and housing and has instead gone full-throttle on privatization programs and helping finance the investments of profit-hungry capitalist investors.

Public health services have become more and more inaccessible as the Aquino regime pushes through with the privatization efforts at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute and the Philippine Orthopedic Center as well as the commercialized operations being carried out in different public hospitals and health centers. The provision of health services is reduced to enrolling people in the so-called Philhealth system, a private health insurance program that is nothing but a scheme to allow financing companies to milk their subscribers and in the process cover up the reactionary state's policy of abandoning public health.

The commercialized system of education has further worsened under the Aquino regime as it continues to fail to sufficiently subsidize the operations of public schools. This has resulted in the deterioration of public elementary, secondary and tertiary schools and compelling these to engage in commercial operations, impose various fees and raise matriculation. Private capitalist operators of private schools are given full rein to increase their profits by raising tuition and fleecing their students with fees.

The Aquino regime's antipoor policies is starkest in the relentless drive of the regime to demolish urban poor communities to pave the way for infrastructure projects for building high-end condominiums and office spaces to accomodate foreign business operations in the country. Aquino has the blood of the urban poor in his hands in having carried out several violent demolition operations over the past three years.

Aquino has allowed foreign oil companies, water concessionaires and power distributors to raise their prices and rates with zero consideration for the daily plight of the poorest sectors of society. Aquino has time and again invoked the policy of deregulation to insist that his regime can do nothing in the face of the price and rate increases. Yet, even in the case of the Metro Manila light rail system which is under government regulation, Aquino is bent on raising train fares, asserting that government is losing money in what is supposed to be a public service, if only to make it more attractive to prospective capitalist buyers.

Workers' wages are further being pulled down by the Aquino regime. In furtherance of the policy of cheap labor, not only has Aquino's labor department opposed substantial wage increases, it is furthermore cutting daily wages by supplanting the minimum wage with the system of so-called floor wages (which bring down wages to bottomless levels) and productivity bonuses (to wring the workers of their last ounce of value-producing labor). These subject workers to even more oppressive and exploitative conditions of employment.

Hunger and grave poverty continue to rise among the rural poor as the Aquino regime hinders the demand of the peasantry for genuine land reform. The Aquino and Cojuangco families continue to lord it over Hacienda Luisita despite court victories by the peasants demanding the distribution of the land.

Aquino's so-called agrarian reform program consists solely of organizing pseudo-cooperatives in order to allow foreign agribusiness corporations to engage in contract-growing, transforming small private farm lots into vast plantations of banana, pineapple, oil palm, rubber trees and other export crops. Aquino has campaigned hard to attract foreign mining companies in outright contempt of ancestral land rights and environmental concerns.

Aquino's so-called antipoverty efforts is limited only to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). This World Bank-designed program that has no other aim than to dupe the people into believing that government is addressing poverty without actually doing anything to resolve its roots. Funding for the 4Ps is set to end by 2016, in time for the completion of the United Nations' 15-year Millennium Development showcase program.

The Aquino regime has no program to develop the capacity of the local economy to produce value and create jobs. It has perpetuated the same old export-oriented, import- and debt-dependent economic program advocated by the technocrats trained by the US and IMF-WB in the neoliberal mode of thinking. To resolve the acute problem of unemployment, Aquino further promotes the export of labor, subjecting migrant Filipino workers to grave exploitation and oppression overseas.

Aquino's economic policy-makers are busy devising ways to attract foreign investments in an effort to compete with other backward semicolonies in terms of cheaper labor and more liberal economic policies to allow foreign capitalists to plunder and exploit domestic resources, dump surplus goods and remit their profits.

The Aquino regime's so-called "righteous path" and "anti-corruption" drive have been thoroughly exposed as a sham and nothing but slogans to push for policies being sought by foreign big capitalists. The ruling regime is all set to amend the 1987 Philippine constitution to heed the demands of foreign chambers of commerce and their local big bourgeois compradors for "political stability" and a "more liberal environment" which are nothing but catchphrases to justify the removal of the prohibition against the reelection of an incumbent president and restrictions against foreign ownership of land and local enterprises.

Over the past three years, Aquino has proved himself indubitably antipoor, antiworker, antipeasant and against all working people. His regime rules on deception and suppression. He relies on the support of the US government, the IMF and WB that fund his regime, endorse his programs and arm his security forces.

The Filipino people suffer gravely under the Aquino regime's antipoor programs and policies. Their socio-economic conditions are bound to become ever more intolerable in the next three years. They have no other recourse but to rise up on all fronts and advance their national and democratic aspirations through mass struggles and armed resistance.