Last November 10, six Catholic bishops and the KME (Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomista) mustered one of the largest rallies of the past year in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral along Commonwealth Ave. What distinguished it was the active mobilization of thousands of Catholic school students by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP). With them too were thousands of farmers from various land reform advocates such as Unorca, the group of Bishop Labayen, and fellow Manila Pen veteran Ka Vangie.
On November 12, Friday, it was the turn of the political opposition -- from the Left to the Middle Forces – to gather up to 30,000 people at the juncture of Ayala Ave. and Paseo de Roxas. Though it was a very positive show of force, it didn’t match the 60,000-strong October 2003 march on Ayala that our own Edsa Tres groups organized -- the one where I was able to block a phalanx of at least half a dozen riot policemen with my outstretched body pressing against their riot shields until I collapsed from tear gas asphyxiation. Still, a significant thing about this recent gathering was the broad spectrum of forces represented in the rally -- except for the presence of tradpols and political opportunists like Frank Drilon and Butch Abad who, aside from spearheading Edsa Dos, continue to promote globalization and power privatization policies that are so discredited today. If only the rallies at St. Peter’s and Ayala were combined, we would have had one of the largest rallies ever assembled.
Few people know that the St. Peter’s rally was just a glimpse of the movement’s nationwide character. Bishop-led rallies in six other provinces were held simultaneously in Zamboanga, Samar, Naga, etc., with Bishop Navarra mustering 30,000 rallyists in Bacolod City alone.
I am sure there will soon be a convergence of those two opposition movements, provided that nationalist objectives form the basis of their anti-Gloria unity. These developments prove once and for all that the struggle started in May 2001 for a just cause will bring the nation to final victory. Already, President Estrada’s role in the anti-Gloria, anti-Cha-cha struggle has been accepted by all significant sectors of the opposition. He was not only welcomed but eagerly awaited in the march, which he unfortunately had to miss at the last minute due to his ailing mother’s condition.
On another front of our struggle, another victory is being won: The Senate is now working on the teleconferencing attendance of Sen. Trillanes in its sessions. This will be a sweet triumph for supporters of the Oakwood young officers and the Manila Pen protest, as they’ve kept faith in the peaceful struggle by Gen. Lim and Sen. Trillanes.
While we have no love lost for the likes of Juan Ponce Enrile, we have to acknowledge his act of making amends by helping in this action, if it does finally push through. The Senate is sorely missing the contributions of Sen. Trillanes who has continued to perform despite incarceration; participating or sponsoring over a hundred Senate resolutions and legislations the past year.
In Sen. Trillanes’ latest blog entry, for instance, he discussed energy generation from garbage incinerators, which is an advocacy of mine too. In 1991, I built one neighborhood incinerator with a wet scrubber pollution control mechanism in Quezon City , and it worked very well. Only environmental nincompoops and energy saboteurs like Meralco’s Bantay Kalikasan spew the lie that incinerators are bad, even when Japan already has 2,500 of them. This is but one necessary component in our country’s quest for energy independence -- part of the economic liberation this nation should realize in the midst of the global economic crisis.
While the political fight continues to expand, we must also be aware that the economic struggles of this country will be escalating.
Partly due to self-preservation, Gloria Arroyo and Congress are now forced to heed some of this column’s warnings and prescriptions. One newspaper headline, for instance, reports Congress readiness to reduce the rVAT from 12 to 10 percent, which, of course, I would like to push even further by calling for a debt default -- the same kind that Ecuador has just officially implemented.
Thanks to the West’s financial collapse, all have now seen the perfidy of international bankers and the double-standard of ratings agencies that pontificate on corruption and credit-worthiness. We should be fighting back now and reject all onerous and unjust debts. For sure, Gloria Arroyo and her “tongresista” are incapable of doing this, which is why we need the change even today.
Pump-priming by infrastructure spending is what every government is doing these days, from Obama to Hu Jintao. Gloria is allocating P100 billion for this, but the question is where to put it. If Gloria will be given her way, she’ll spend it all on grass cutters until Election Day. That’s certainly what her Neda chief Ralph Recto would do as well. After all, he has proven himself stupid by his sponsorship of rVAT during election year (for which he was handsomely rewarded as his own staff admits he got loads of money from oil and power companies for removing the “no pass-on” provision).
Fortunately for us, Gloria, by necessity, has assigned the task of studying where this allocation should go to one professional economist, Romulo Neri, who’s also anti-oligarchy. This proves that despite having called her “evil,” it is actually Neri who has Gloria by the balls; not the other way around.
Neri could thus seize the day by focusing on three areas that offer the greatest economic impact from the P100-billion fund: a crash program for geothermal energy projects; coconut integrated processing centers the Philippine Cooperative of VCO and Allied Products proposes to maximize the 350 million hectares and three million coconut farmers’ coconut resources for skim milk, flour, sugar, pharma- and nutri-ceuticals; and the “System of Rice Intensification” (SRI) from Cornell Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development, taught by Filipino scientist Engr. Obet Verzola, that increases rice farm yields by 50 to 100 percent without chemical fertilizers.
Neri must also work with medium and small scale business associations to include import-substitution industries among the sectors to be supported.
The anti-Gloria forces should talk, then unify and consolidate for another push toward victory while working with all sectors to help the national economy triumph over the global financial and economic collapse.
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