Oppose emergency powers and Aquino’s push for a second or extended term

Ang Bayan
September 22, 2014

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The Filipino people oppose Benigno Aquino’s proposals for an extended term. They oppose, as well, plans to grant Aquino special powers to enter into contracts to increase domestic power supply, resurrecting the Ramos IPP contracts which led to power rate hikes.

In putting forward proposals for a second term, Aquino is demonstrating an exaggerated sense of self-worth and engaging in megalomaniac fantasies of infallibility and purity. He is conjuring the illusion of deep-going support and widespread clamor for his perpetuation in power. Like all dictators, he portrays term extension as self-sacrifice.

He endlessly weaves a fantasy of economic growth and of his regime’s incorruptibility. He is obviously a firm believer in the fascist maxim that a lie repeated often enough will be accepted as truth.

The reality of the socio-economic crisis, however, is extremely stark to be dressed-up otherwise. There is no way of fooling the unprecedented number of jobless people and migrant workers that the domestic economy presents them with opportunities for employment and upliftment. Nor can the toiling masses of workers and peasants be made to think that the economy is improving when daily they suffer from spiralling prices of food, medicine and medical care, transportation and other basic costs of living.

No one is being fooled by Aquino when he claims that there is widespread demand for him to extend his current term or seek another one. For months now, Aquino’s yellow army of specialists in public opinion manipulation has been trying to generate “public clamor” for “one more term” but could only afford to come up with a poorly “liked” Facebook page and scantily attended public activities.

There is an objective self-serving basis for Aquino’s desire to perpetuate himself in power. He is utterly terrified of the possibility of ending up behind bars like his predecessor Gloria Arroyo, especially amid intensifying demands for his accountability in the anomalous and graft-ridden Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Beneath the false veneer of “good governance,” the Aquino regime has, in fact, brought the old bureaucrat capitalist system to new heights. The biggest beneficiaries of Aquino’s “economic growth” are a handful of close big business supporters including the Ayalas, the Pangilinan group, the Cojuangcos and the Consunjis, as well as the economic empires of Henry Sy and Lucio Tan. Aquino has openly usurped powers in order to redirect public funds to projects and programs that invariably serve the interests of big business and aggrandize his political supporters.

Aquino counts among his political supporters the biggest DAP-fed senators, congressmen and local government officials. These are the people who are ever-willing to support Aquino’s presidential dictatorship as long as their pockets are lined up with funds whether from the DAP, the PDAF or the Bottom-Up Budgeting System aka the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process.

Last week, the ruling Aquino clique rallied these political supporters in a gathering at the Malacañang Palace described as a “show of force.” Indeed, this displayed the force of Aquino’s patronage politics, where hundreds of politicians lined up in a show of political fealty to the ruling pork barrel regime. It was Aquino’s celebration of the rout of the triple impeachment complaint filed against him in Congress. In return, they expect Aquino to continue lining their pockets.

Aquino’s vicious cycle of patronage politics is about to spiral up in the run-up to the 2016 elections. The Aquino regime is building up its political kitty in order to ensure its perpetuation in power. The 2015 budget is honeycombed with pork barrel and corruption—the Special Purpose Funds, the conspicuous increase in the irrigation and agriculture funds, large funds allocated to “various projects” of local governments, the further bloating of the doleout CCT program from P63 billion to P78-100 billion and so on—in a bid to accumulate funds for upcoming political battles. Billions, as well, will be allocated to the “extension” of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program which has long served as a milking cow for big bureaucrats.

Aquino is further seeking a redefinition of budget laws in order to continue and expand the practice of reallocating “savings” to whatever program he wants to fund.

He is also seeking “emergency powers” in order to allocate and spend billions of pesos from the Malampaya funds and elsewhere without accountability. Over the past four years, the Aquino regime has deliberately allowed the deterioration of the power industry by refusing to rehabilitate and improve the hydropower plants in Mindanao and other state-owned power plants in Luzon and elsewhere. The projected shortage of electricity next year has been artificially created by the Aquino regime to serve as blackmail in his bid for special powers. In seeking to enter contracts to purchase electricity at the last minute, the Filipino people are bound to be shortchanged anew. These special presidential purchases of power (without benefit of public bidding) will lead to large amounts of funds ending up in Aquino’s political kitty.

Behind the pompous speeches, declarations of seeking another term, display of strength and breast-beating, Aquino is leading a fractious party and coalition that is set to implode as the 2016 election approaches. Aquino hopes to tame intra-coalition antagonisms by putting himsef in the middle and portraying himself as a viable option for term extension or reelection.

Aquino, however, is succeeding only in further driving a wedge within the ruling coalition. Eager to gain dominance, the Binay group has no plans of backing down in 2016. It appears that only the Roxas-led Liberal Party is willing to ride along with the scenario of an extended term for Aquino, although even a number of its stalwarts have already expressed disagreement with a “political cha-cha.” Whatever the option, neither camp is willing to trust the other that a post-Aquino scenario will have them in the favor of the other camp.

The crisis of the ruling political clique will continue to worsen amid the reality of deteriorating socio-economic conditions and mounting demands for Aquino’s ouster. The Aquino regime is becoming increasingly isolated from the people.


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