Monday, October 12, 2009

No ‘Bliss’ under the Yellows

A political generation has been brought up under the Yellows. This generation, unaware of the “Bliss” that the country experienced during the time of Marcos, has been largely uninformed about those housing developments for the poor, set up in places like Carmona and Sapang Palay, where development costs have shot up since the Yellows took over.

This same generation also doesn’t know that President Joseph Estrada, during his time as mayor, similarly had a novel approach to the squatter problem, when he moved San Juan ’s many squatter communities to a resettlement site in Taytay that still stands today. It seems that they just can’t comprehend how this, as well as, his many other feats could account for his great popularity among the landless urban poor and how, surprisingly, his housing projects even had cabanas and swimming pools, just like in Erap City.

The Marcoses (through President Ferdinand Marcos’ development program and Imelda’s human settlement vision) offered “Bliss” as the beginning of an organized tenement housing campaign. At that time, Bliss was well within the reach of the middle class. Teachers, journalists (like Dick Pascual, the late Julius Fortuna, current GMA ambassador Bobi Tiglao), and government employees were able to obtain comfortable urban housing that rose four stories-high in mainly flood-free areas.

But as soon as the Yellow Plague enveloped the Philippines , soon-to-be-completed Bliss projects were put to a halt, with already existing units deliberately left derelict, apparently to rot and be displayed as failures of the Marcos era--one of many examples of what the “good” Cory Aquino threw out with the bath water.

Comparisons between the 21 years under the Yellows and the same during the Marcos era will then naturally provide a contrast between Marcos’ achievements and Cory and her Yellow ilk’s failures, extending to both the FVR and GMA regimes.

While Marcos built the Pan Philippine Highway and the Samar-Leyte Bridge , which span thousands of miles of roads, the only infrastructure achievement of Cory has been the Edsa-Ortigas flyover, which FVR even had to repair right after its inauguration. (Notice the rounded, steel-jacketed pillars that were mounted after serious flaws were found?)

And, as Marcos was responsible for the North and South Expressways, the former being 80 kilometers long, when Cory took over, she eventually handed them to the oligarchs, who added only six kilometers or so to Sta. Inez but raised the toll by up to 2000 percent!

Meanwhile, the Marcos national budgets from 1965 to 1985 totaled P486 billion, including his infrastructure projects, whereas Cory, in seven years, had a total national budget of P1.6 trillion, with domestic borrowings of over P400 billion (at the exchange rate then of around P21 to the dollar). That’s $19 billion to Marcos’ $27 billion over 21 years!

When we lambast Gloria Arroyo for raising the national debt sky high, we must remember that there was a precedent--Cory Aquino--who borrowed even more heavily but masked it under the cover of “domestic debt,” with no real infrastructure legacy at all. FVR, who followed Aquino, built nothing and only sold off power plants, Fort Bonifacio , reclaimed Manila Bay lands, ad nausea.

Yet, in all this time, the Yellows have never raised these issues about Cory and FVR nor have they taken responsibility for installing GMA.

Comparing unemployment rates, Ka Popo Villanueva sent us these stats:


1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983* 1984 1985

Marcos 4.1% 4.0% 5.0% 5.3% 6.0% 5.4% 6.2% 7.1%

*destabilization of Marcos began

1987 1988 1989 1990 1991

Aquino 9.1% 8.3% 8.4% 8.1% 9.0%

No wonder that even today, 23 years after Edsa I, whenever I interview young people such as our 21 year-old GNN production assistant, they would often relate their parents’ lament that times were much better under Marcos.

Well, that’s because the oligarchs back then were kept under a leash. The Lopezes’ abuse became a thing of the past when they lost in the 1970 peso devaluation, forcing them to sell-off Meralco to government, just as they suffered in the 1997 Asian Financial Crash and 2008 Subprime Collapse, but recouped their losses through political machinations.

Thus, whenever I see SUVs and cars with yellow ribbons, I can only surmise that these belong to two kinds of people: (a) one who has no understanding of the historical facts, in other words, a historical idiot; or (b) one who is partaking of the plunder of the Yellow ruling class in Big Business, government or in illegal gambling operations.

If the vehicle is old, beat up, and run-down, it must be of the first kind, the idiot who has suffered from high power, water, toll, and tax rates but doesn’t know it’s the Yellows who did him in. But if it’s spanking and gleaming, it would be owned by the latter, who’s probably an executive of one of the Big business groups, like Meralco or Manila Water, or one of the bevy of entertainers of ABS-CBN, a Couples for Christ leader, or another typical elitista.

Lastly, it was in Marcos’ time that the likes of UNDP scholar, Arch. Jun Palafox got commissioned to lay out the flood control master plan for Metro Manila and flood-prone areas of Luzon . Real estate developer giants (like the Ayalas) were barred from land-grabbing and covering up esteros to expand their property bounds. Nevertheless, all these programs were deliberately delayed, undercut, sabotaged and buried in the 21 years of the Yellow Plague.

So, next time you see a vehicle with the yellow ribbon fluttering inanely in the wind or pass by the Centers of Mammon with all the yellow ribbons tied to lamp posts, remember the bliss that we could have had all these years had the economic and infrastructure development plans of a generation ago not been allowed by the Yellow Reign to be sabotaged by the oligarchs.