Thursday, July 24, 2008

SONA: Illusion and Reality

It took eight years of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to unmask the illusions the Edsa Dos backers, the media and the “civil society” crowd created about her. On her eight State-of-the-Nation Address only a quarter of the Filipino people, four out of five already find her disgusting. Empress Gloria has been disrobed and what’s beneath is a power grabbing president that is most unsympathetic to the country and its people’s pleas. But to the IMF-WB Gloria is certainly most popular, for her unflinching obedience to its exploitative diktats on the economy and national debt payments, and the continuous expansion of the VAT. Likewise, Gloria is now most popular with the MILF secessionists for doubling the land area for their privileged exploitation: the enemies of the nation are invariably happy with Gloria.

Gloria is the darling of the oil companies with the unprecedented profits they are enjoying under her regime. Gloria’s feinted alarm over the latest sudden three peso increase in local oil pump prices while world market prices plunge in a seventeen year two day nosedive cannot hide her uncaring attitude towards the suffering of the people. Gloria has not taken a single measure against the massive oil price speculative manipulation. On the contrary, Gloria has steadfastly defended the oil companies, as well the speculator’s price manipulation and the IMF-WB’s VAT impositions. All these in direct denial of the growing groans and pleadings from the people for relief and rescue from this relentless oppression of skyrocketing oil prices.

The recent ten US dollar fall of world oil prices proves that the inordinate increases are not based on demand and supply realities but on speculative manipulation. Having this incontrovertible proof should compel government now to take countermeasures against such manipulation, and that countermeasure is the restoration of regulation and control over oil prices and when possible its supply. The reality is, the whole country must rally to demand action from the legislature and the executive branch to junk the oil deregulation law and start withdrawing the licentious oil price setting abuse of the oil companies. The reality is, we must restore the oil price stabilization mechanism that limits increases to the average of the low and peak price periods.

Gloria’s eight years have been unmitigated illusions about liberalization, deregulation and privatization of the national economy. The very bitter and devastating experience all Filipinos now have of the deregulation of the Philippine oil industry and the privatization of Petron and PNOC, should demolish all those illusions. The people must move to regulate and control the oil sector through a government of, for and by the people; that is, not one controlled by the money masters and ensconced in government by “people power” funded by foreign and local oligarchs like Shell and Mirant and its agents in the Makati Business Club in cahoots with corrupted military, police, “civil society” and the prostituted Supreme Court in 2001 and the famous “Hello Garci” Comelec in 2004.

The illusion of an honest and principled Supreme Court was blasted last week when the majority of its members, not unexpectedly, put executive privilege above the people’s right to information. Deciding against the petition of several legislators for the release of the full text of the JPEPA to them that there may be a fully informed discussion of the trade and economic matters that directly affects the people, the Supreme Court which is now almost all Gloria appointees showed its unashamed enslavement to the wishes to Gloria and her foreign cohorts interests. Given this experience, do we still entertain any illusion that this Supreme Court and its Electoral Tribunal can and shall uphold the people’s weal and will in the next presidential election in 2010?

We cannot expect a truly democratic exercise in 2010, and any hope of changing the destructive liberalization, deregulation and privatization policies through the electoral process can only be illusory. The simple fact must be accepted – there is no hope of survival and recovery for this country and its people without radical steps in changing the political and social leadership of this nation. There can be no illusion about this: the country needs a radical revolution, peaceful or otherwise, to save it from the doom that awaits it in its present direction. And we must not be under any illusion that Gloria is the only destructive element in this society, the Philippine oligarchs are in the same league with Gloria as evils in this society eating away at its foundations.

The greed of this oligarchy is amazing: My wife who suffers from glaucoma brought a similarly afflicted cousin to the Lopez’s “altruistic” Asian Eye Center (AEC) for a check up to try an alternative to her eye doctor at Manila Doctors Hospital (MDH). Days later over breakfast my wife pointed to a pair of protective eye glasses given free to her at the MDH doctor’s office and commented, “They’re selling this same pair for P 700.00 at the Asian Eye Center.” This is the kind of altruism of Philippine oligarchs who get their pounds of the Filipino people’s too: Ayalas in telecoms and water, Alcantaras in oil, Aboitizes siphoning GSIS funds to Union Bank and grabbing hydroelectric resources, Razon’s highest port rates in the world and grabbing the Transco for a pittance, Lopezes overpricing power and toll roads, ad nausea.

There are more illusions to expose, such as government worrying about inflation and its impact on the people, hence the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas saying it must raise interest rates. The reality: higher interest rates kill medium and small business enterprises which leads to greater unemployment and misery, as well a contraction of production and further real inflation. Only banks and financial mafias are helped by the rise in interest rates, but that’s another reality – our society and economic system is a system only for the benefit of the money master. Lament not Filipinos, even the American people face the same illusion – while the US government bails out the banks in the US subprime mortgage disaster, they are bailing out the banks that caused it in the first place.

The final reality is: unless all able and willing forces of Philippine society launch one great effort for radical change of national and social leadership our chances for survival as a nation and society will be nil. (Tune to 1098AM, Mon. to Fri. 8:30to 9am; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tues. 8:45 to 9:30 “Talk News TV” with this week’s guest GSIS union president Albert Velasco; our blog

Daily Tribune July 21, 2008