Monday, November 15, 2004


November 11, 20041

  1. The fiscal crisis under Arroyo is the worst ever in the history of the Philippines. The country's external debt as of September 2003 stood at P1.5trillion, of which 51 percent is direct government debt to international financial institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank. The foreign debt eats up some 31% of the national budget. By January, 2004, total outstanding debts of the government already exceeded P3 trillion. Arroyo has borrowed the most among all Philippine presidents. The majority of the borrowing is from the United States. From 2001 to 2003 she borrowed more money in 3 years than Presidents Ramos and Estrada did for eight years, 1992 to 2000. Foreign credit analysts have started downgrading the Philippines as an investment destination. The purchasing power of the peso has steadily declined and is at its worst in 2004, from 1.49 in 1990 to .56 in 2004, (calculated at a 1994 value of 1.00).
  2. Her policies have increased poverty and now 88% of Filipinos today are poor. The Philippines slid from 77th to 85th place among countries in the world where people live under extreme poverty. In the National Capital Region, the P280 minimum wage is way below the needed P545.73 minimum wage for a family of six. Nationwide, a P125 minimum wage increase is needed to begin to get Filipino workers out of poverty. Some 481,000 peasants and fisher folks lost their livelihood within just one year, from April last year to April this year.
  3. She has made the wealthiest 10% of the population 80% richer in comparison to the poorest 10% of the population. In 1994, the top 10 percent income bracket earned 19 times greater than the income of the bottom10 percent of the population. Today in 2003 the top 10 percent income bracket earns 24 times greater than the bottom 10 percent. Her policies have proved to widen the income gap, inequalities and disparities, and further marginalize the poor and underprivileged.
  4. 10 Party-list representatives were murdered during the NationalPresidential Elections of 2004, all of whom were part of organizations who openly campaigned against her re-election. 6 campaigners of Bayan Muna were killed, 3 members of Anakpawis and 1 from Gabriela Women's Party had deaths. Many of these killings are allegedly under the auspices of the Armed Forcesof the Philippines, of which she is Commander-in-Chief. The 2004 elections were the bloodiest elections in the history of the Philippines since the Marcos dictatorship.
  5. There have been more Human Rights Workers killed under the Arroyo Administration than under Marcos. The killings of 14 human rights workers, those persons who investigate human rights abuses, are unprecedented under the Arroyo administration. Known alleged perpetrators, such as Col. Jovito Palparan, Jr. (a.k.a.-the Butcher of Mindanao), have been promoted to General under her administration.
  6. Attacks on Filipino journalists have reached crisis proportion, a substantial number under the Arroyo administration. Since 1986, 54 journalists have been murdered. 6 of them occurred in August of 2004. The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) are demanding justice, as none of the perpetrators since 1986 have been brought to justice. The journalists who are targeted are those who are exposing corruption in the government and those exposing scams and scandals by the Philippine landlords and wealthiest families. The first casualty of democracy is the truth.
  7. Her track record and attention to matters of human rights violations is one of the worst since Marcos. In May of 2003, Amnesty International, released a report that practically condemned the Arroyo administration for the increasing number of violations in 2002. The number of human rights violation (HRV) cases nationwide between January and May 2003 was 2,010 cases, representing 163,023 individual victims, 16,348 families and 70 communities. Most common human rights violations are harassment (i.e.-threats, surveillance, etc.) at 668 cases; unjustified arrest (230cases); killings (i.e.-summary executions, political assassination, massacre) at 140 cases; and forced evacuation (127 cases).
  8. Contractualization and job lay-offs under Arroyo are widespread, increasing up to 85 percent nationwide in 2001, since 1992. The practice of hiring workers on contractual basis has deprived workers of their right to job security, benefits, right to organization and grievance. For example, magnate Henry Sy, who owns ShoeMart, employs 20,000 contractual employees in 15 malls nationwide, and only around 4,000 of his workers are regular employees. Contracts last for 3 to 5 months.
  9. She extended the national Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to 2008, which is notorious for being a bogus land reform policy. After 16 years, CARP has had inconsequential impact on the peasant population. CARP is estimated to have benefited less than 5% of an estimated 10 million farmers nationwide. CARP is notorious for its loopholes which have allowed large landlords to re-cover, retain or be exempted from land re-distribution to peasant farmers (such as the Aquino family in Tarlac or the Cojuanco family's monopoly of land for coconut production).
  10. Indigenous groups are decrying 7 years of the IPRA Law and the violations of indigenous peoples rights under the Arroyo administration. Indigenous peoples have exposed the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) as "toothless" in protecting their rights. The Mangyans of the Bigkis at Lakas ng mga Katutubo sa Timog Katagalugan) said foreign-owned development projects like mining and mega-dams violate their rights and place the ills of liberalization on the lands of indigenous peoples. They said the IPRA empowers the state to control and supervise exploration, development and utilization of natural resources, it disempowers the indigenous peoples from using the resources in their ancestral lands. They said the government titling and certification of ancestral land is a violation of their rights.
  11. Arroyo has allowed the education budget to be slashed, impoverishing Filipino children and youth. According to the Wallace Report, there are 1.7million children in the Philippines aged 7 to 12 who are not in school because of poverty. Education spending has dropped from 19.3 percent of total government expenditures in 1997 to 15.5 percent in 2004. The average government spending on education per student is $170. This pales incomparison to Thailand ($550) and Malaysia ($930). There is a 73% drop-out rate in tertiary education. Based on the Wallace Report last June, of 100 who enter primary school, only seven shall be able to finish college.
  12. She introduced 8 new tax measures which focus on raising indirect taxes from the pockets of the poor, while corruption is rampant in her administration. The budget deficit reached P200 billion ($3.57 billion) in2003. As austerity measures, Arroyo introduced new taxes by: shifting to agross income tax system, implementing a P2 peso across-the-board increase on petroleum products, increasing the value-added tax on common goods from 10%to 14%, increasing taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, increasing government service fees and charges, and placing a tax on text messaging. Meanwhile, the purchasing power of the peso is falling, which means that the money left over for Filipinos after taxes buys less than before. Also,corruption cases such as that of General Garcia of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the prolonged justice against deposed "President" Estrada go without just resolution.
  13. Water remains unaffordable and inaccessible after she privatized public water. Since the privatization of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System(MWSS) in 1997, water rates in Metro Manila have increased by as much as 400 percent. Furthermore, only 57 percent of the population covered by the newly privatized company, Maynilad, have 24-hour water service. Privatization has increased foreign-ownership of Philippine water by multi-billions of dollars of investment, which has the impact of placing public water issues in the hands of foreign owners.
  14. Her policies on deregulation of the oil industry failed to bring down oil prices and instead increased oil prices to unprecedented levels. Arroyo ignored consumer groups and other cause-oriented organizations who called for the long-standing nationalization of the oil industry as the alternative to deregulation. In a recent report by IBON Foundation, oil companies were found to have over-priced their products by P0.16 per liter, and garnered extra profits amounting to P216 million ($3.86 million) for the period. The increase in oil prices makes the prices of basic commodities, such as transportation fares, gas for cooking, and other products.
  15. Arroyo's further privatization of the oil industry puts oil further into the hands of oil barrons, foreign ownership and monopoly pricing, with little public accountability. Arroyo plans to sell 3.75 million government shares in Petron to private corporations in order to raise money for the national deficit. This revenue generating scheme being prodded by the IMF/World Bank is in collaboration with the scheme to deregulate the downstream oil industry in the Philippines, and put the Philippines crucial oil needs under stronger foreign control. Petroeum prices have increased 7 times this year and 61 times since the oil industry was deregulated in 1996.
  16. Arroyo implemented new "unbundled power rates" and privatized the National Power Corporation of the Philippines. At the behest of theIMF/World Bank, Arroyo's privatization increased the prices of electricity and had the public foot the bill for stranded debts. The private company that benefited is MERALCO. Arroyo unfurled legislation featuring: the unjust and oppressive purchase power cost adjustment under four cost charges; a 16.7 centavos overcharge; a socialized pricing scheme that allows Meralco to get hundreds of millions of additional profit; and, stranded debts and contract costs of privatizing will be paid by consumers instead of by private companies.
  17. Arroyo was exposed and allegedly guilty of using government funds to finance her electoral bid. According to former Solicitor-General Frank Chavez, the government money used to finance Arroyo's presidential campaign could amount to as much as P15 billion ($267.9 million).
  18. Arroyo re-tooled the government's labor-export policy to support the United States' war of aggression and colonial occupation of Iraq. The policy can now be called labor-conscription which aims to recruit overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to render auxiliary services that the U.S. armed forces need in their wars of aggression today. Wanting to cash-in on the spoils of war, Arroyo in April 2003 sent Roberto Romulo as head of the newly-formed Philippine Public-Private Sector Partnership for the Reconstruction and Development of Iraq to Washington DC to promote the export of 100,000 overseas Filipino workers to the Middle East. Of 4,000 OFWs in Iraq, 80 percent are employed by Prime Projects International (PPI), a subcontractor of US Vice President Cheney's Halliburton KBR Engineering & Construction. Workers are exploited and are at great risk, not to mention the policy displaces thousands of potential Iraqi workers.
  19. Arroyo has been declared a war criminal by the International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI). Held on October 16, 2004 at the Camelot Hotel in Quezon City, the ICTI was joined by prominent international jurors and prosecutors. The ICTI said Arroyo made the Philippines an unwilling partner in the U.S. wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq. She stands guilty of violating the independence and sovereignty of these countries as well as the Philippines' 1987 Constitution, which mandates a peaceful foreign policy, its own commitment to the United Nations and to international law. The ICTI also held Arroyo accountable for making the entire Philippine territory a haven for American war criminals by granting them immunity from prosecution before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  20. GLORIA, RESIGN! On October 21, on National Peasant Day, a protest demonstration became an occasion to air the growing demand for the resignation of President GloriaArroyo. Peasant protesters held a "Street Conference" and launched a "Manila Declaration," a petition aiming to gather a million signatures for the resignation of Arroyo. Some 481,000 peasants and fisher folks lost their livelihood within just one year, from April last year to April this year. The declaration assailed the anti-peasant and anti-people policies of the Arroyo administration, including agricultural trade liberalization and the absence of a genuine agrarian reform program.###

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