Last October, President Noynoy Aquino proudly claimed to the foreign media that there are no human rights violations in the country. It is all “leftist propaganda,” said the President. Today, December 10, as we mark the 64th International Human Rights Day, thousands of workers, peasants, urban poor, women, church people, human rights advocates, and youth and students all over the nation are holding massive protest actions to denounce this blatant lie.
The pockets of students and their parents are weighed down by tuition and other fee hikes. The P37.1 billion budget for the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) for 2013, which is just awaiting the signature of President Aquino, is below the P54.6 billion proposal by the SUCs.
This meager amount is not enough for the actual needs of the SUCs and pushes them to implement more commercialization schemes like the Socialized Tuition Financial Assistance Program. The University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV), which is presently the most expensive university in the whole of the Visayas with its P1,000 per unit tuition, is now set to increase its graduation fee from the present P300 to a monstrous P1,200.
Education has become a commodity wherein for every 10 Grade 1 students, only 1 would graduate college. This is bound to worsen with the implementation of the K-12 under the conditions of soaring school fees and colossal classroom facilities and teacher shortages. The K-12 will also intensify the colonial orientation of the educational system by producing high school graduates that will cater to the need of the multinational corporations for more cheap semi-skilled and unskilled laborers.
The Aquino regime is clearly abandoning its financial responsibility to provide accessible education to the people. Allocating insufficient budget for the socials services allows it spend a gigantic amount for foreign debt servicing (P783 billion) and military spending (114.4 billion).
It will be spending more on the corrupt Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), which will increase to P44 billion from the present year’s P39 billion. It is shifting its responsibility to provide services like education, health, water, and electricity to private corporations that will be ironically funded by the government (P 8.9 billion) under the so-called Private-Public Partnership.
Instead of addressing the people’s just demands, the Aquino regime increasingly resorts to repression. Oppressive laws like the Cybercrime Law are being proposed to silence its critics. The counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan does not differentiate between legal activists and armed revolutionaries.
There are now 129 victims of extrajudicial killings, 2,481 cases of violent dispersals of rallies, 467 cases of illegal arrests and detention, and over 400 political prisoners under Aquino. Violations against the youth and students are on the rise, as in the case of the illegal arrest and detention of UP student Maricon Montajes and the death threat against UP Student Regent Cleve Arguelles, among others.
There is still no justice for the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre and the Hacienda Luisita Massacre. Violators like “the butcher” Major General Jovito Palparan kidnapped and tortured missing student activists Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006 is still at large.
Meanwhile, resource-rich peasant and indigenous peoples communities are being militarized and its residents forcibly driven away from their homes to make way for environmentally-destructive large-scale mining, logging, and other projects that benefit foreign corporations and their local business partners. The Tumandok indigenous people of Central Panay are threatened by the construction of the Jalaur Mega Dam which will submerge their ancestral lands in Calinog, Iloilo and surrounding areas.
A systematic “red-baiting” campaign is being launched to maliciously label the critics of the Aquino regime’s anti-people programs and policies as “communists” and “armed rebels.” This is used to justify human rights abuses against members and supporters of progressive groups that are engaged in legal and unarmed struggle and operate within the bounds of the law.
But the ongoing armed conflict between the government and revolutionary groups like the CPP-NPA-NDF has persisted for 44 years because of the government’s inability and unwillingness to address the root causes of the armed conflict, such as landlessness, social injustice, widespread poverty, backwardness and intense oppression.
Ultimately, a just and lasting peace can only be achieved by addressing the root causes of the armed conflict, that is through genuine land reform, national industrialization, a self-reliant economy, and genuine empowerment of the people.
Dare to Struggle
The bloody human rights record of “amalayer” Aquino refutes his lies. There is no “matuwid na daan” under a rotten social system that generates poverty, inequality, injustice, and crisis for the ordinary people.
The Aquino regime only serves the profit-driven interests of the ruling classes. Far from representing genuine change, Aquino is the foremost representative of hacienderos, big landlords and compradors in the government.
We have no choice but to face the Aquino regime’s repression and state terror with even larger militant mass actions and even more vocal assertion of our rights. Dare to struggle, dare to win. Only our collective action can guarantee the defense of our rights and interests.