10/08/2010, LBG/VVP, GMANews.TV
Unimpressed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s report about his first 100 days in office, militants protested near Malacañang Palace on Friday to denounce the chief executive’s alleged failures.
Radio dzBB’s Carlo Mateo reported farmers from Southern Luzon were the first to reach Mendiola bridge near Malacañang Palace, where they burned an effigy of what they called the “Hacienda Republic.” “Hacienda” refers to the embattled “Hacienda Luisita,” the 6,435-hectare plantation estate of Aquino’s family.
As anti-riot police watched from a distance, the farmers burned the “Hacienda Republic” effigy hung on one of the rolls of barbed wire barrier. The previous night, some of the farmers were hurt in a clash with police.
On Thursday, a day before Aquino marked his first 100 days in office, he delivered at La Consolacion College near Malacañang, a 20-minute report about his first 100 days in office. Aquino boasted of strengthening the Philippine economy and ending certain anomalous government practices but remained silent on the controversial August 23 hostage incident.
He mentioned the strengthening of the Philippine peso and the record high levels of the Gross International Reserves ($52.3 billion on September 20) and the Philippine Stock Exchange index (4,196.73 points on October 6).
However, he did not mention the August 23 hostage incident. The Aquino government received criticism from the local and international community for its poor handling of the Manila hostage incident wherein eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza were killed.
The protest of the farmers was held just before the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) was to lead a multi-sectoral march to Mendiola to mark President Aquino’s first 100 days in office.
Bayan, in an article on its website Friday, protested Aquino’s alleged failure to address issues such as human rights violations, land reform, and pro-people economic development. They displayed a streamer with the question “100 araw: Nasaan ang pagbabago?” (100 days: Where is the change).”
They also had score cards on several basic issues which they said Aquino failed to address.
“Mr. Aquino says the Philippines is ready for take-off, but we’ve heard the same line before from almost all previous presidents. It’s been 100 days and we don’t see many achievements or results as far as genuine change is concerned. There’s plenty of rhetoric but little accomplishments that could be felt by the poor,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.
In his report last Thursday at the La Consolacion College in Manila (LCC), Aquino boasted of strengthening the Philippine economy and ending certain anomalous government practices.
“The so-called achievements in the stock market, foreign reserves and government spending were for the ears of the big businessmen. These things are hardly even felt by Juan dela Cruz. Malayo ang stock market at foreign reserves sa bituka ng ordinaryong mamamayan,” Reyes said.
“Again the president did not mention important issues such as human rights, land reform, the prosecution of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, migrants welfare, and the concerns of other marginalized sectors,” he added.
Bayan said even if there were savings from so-called anomalous government transactions, it remains to be seen if these will be allotted for basic social services.
Bayan cited the protests in the past few weeks over cuts in the budgets of public hospitals and state universities and colleges.
The group also cited that debt payments increased by P80.4 billion (interest and principal).
“Mr. Aquino cannot always pin the blame and make reference to the crimes of the past regime. His failure to address the current economic and political crisis is his own. He can’t blame on to the past administration,” Reyes said.
“For all the tough talk that the days of the corrupt are numbered, government has yet to file any case against (former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep.) Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for her crimes of plunder and human rights abuses,” he added.
Bayan also denounced alleged human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, harassment, torture, and dismantling of para-military groups.
“In his speech, Mr. Aquino talked about many things including his hairline, but no mention of human rights,” Reyes said.