Patriots Call for New Governance That Will Uphold People’s Agenda

Community News & Features Jul 16, 2005 at 4:45 pm

As calls mount for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation, PATRIOTS enjoins all Filipinos to unite for meaningful alternatives to her government. We join the people’s clamor for GMA to step down for she has totally lost the moral and legal authority to effectively govern. In a post-GMA situation either through constitutional succession or transition council, we demand meaningful socio-economic and political reforms that will positively change the quality of life of our people. We definitely say NO to military junta just as we say NO to federalism, NO to parliamentary form of government, NO to Charter Change and all other designs that will not substantially change the present state where elite interests rule while the poor are left economically dispossessed and politically disempowered. The Gloriagate, jueteng gate and other corruption scandals of the Arroyos certainly aggravated the discontentment and disillusionment of our people considering the state of the nation under GMA:

• While the people wallow in poverty, public funds were stolen through widespread graft and corruption;

• Prices of commodities and transport fares run roughshod on the interests of consumers. Taxes were raised, the VAT was further expanded. Electricity and water rates as well as oil prices rose yet again for the umpteenth time. Unemployment and underemployment prevails;

• Workers receive very meager salaries way below the standards to live decently. Majority of our people lack basic services like health, housing and education. Massive landlessness and land monopoly of the elite remain as the cry of farmers for genuine agrarian reform continues to fall on deaf ears;

• Militarism and terror reign with the government’s full support to the US war of terror. Human rights violations are rampant and there is a record-high killing of journalists and activists including priests, pastors and lawyers;

• With the government’s promotion of large-scale mining, the people and environment suffer disasters as the country’s resources are plundered by big foreign and local business;

• Our people are in a state of diaspora as thousands leave the country everyday to look for a better life.

The people must unite to stop this state of affairs. While we join the Bishops’ call for prayers, history has taught us that People Power is necessary to topple tyrants and make an unwanted leader to step down. We therefore enjoin Filipinos to make history on the side of truth, justice and meaningful change by strengthening the calls for immediate resignation of GMA.

Alternatives to GMA

If GMA steps down, Vice President Noli de Castro will most probably succeed her as provided by the constitution. It is the moral duty of de Castro to heed the long-running demands of the people for urgent reforms if he does not wish to face massive social discontent and uprising as well. Considering the state of the nation, it is imperative that the new government after GMA must be ready to implement meaningful reforms that will benefit majority of poor Filipinos.

GMA’s defenders warn the public against resorting to any “unconstitutional” means of unseating the ruling regime. They equate “unconstitutional” to anarchy, chaos and violence as though the current turmoil has not been caused both by constitutional and blatantly unconstitutional anomalies perpetrated by those in power. In fact, the EDSA1 and two uprisings were extra-constitutional undertakings. Cory Aquino declared her new government a “revolutionary” one and decreed an interim “Freedom Constitution.” On the other hand, GMA insisted that her ascendance to the presidency was due to constitutional succession after the extra-constitutional ouster of Estrada.

Some people who prepared to accept GMA’s call for forgiveness without justice fear that de Castro is not a competent successor and that the situation will be more uncertain if GMA resigns. On the other hand, the idea of a “transition council” after GMA’s ouster is seriously considered as a more viable alternative other than the constitutional process. This transition government must necessarily be composed mainly of representatives of those groups that had worked the hardest for the ouster of the current regime.
Concretely, the transition council will consist of representatives of the basic sectors of workers and peasants, the opposition, church, academe, professionals and retired military and police officers who uphold civilian supremacy and enjoy the confidence of the active military and police forces. This process will pave the way for the creation of a new form of government e.g. through a constitutional convention, and the election of a new administration that would be more representative of and accountable to the people and thus more responsive to the people’s interests.

The People’s Agenda

After GMA, we reiterate that the People’s Agenda must be the basis for a program of government including:

1. Social Justice and Economic Reforms

a) Ensure immediate economic relief by implementing a rollback in the prices of basic commodities such as rice, power (suspend PPA), water and oil. Immediately review pertinent laws and regulations affecting the prices of basic commodities such as EPIRA, water privatization, EVAT, etc. Enact laws that ensure just wages and job security for workers as opposed to low wages and labor contractualization.
Prioritize genuine land reform for farmers and give the highest priority in government programs, policies and budget for the benefit of our long neglected farmers and workers. Stop privatization and ensure that vital industries are placed in the capable hands of Filipino entrepreneurs instead of multi-national corporations.

b) Reallocate current and succeeding budgets to significantly increase health, education, housing, and other social services, based on internationally accepted benchmarks such as 5% of GNP for health (WHO), 6% of GNP for education (UNESCO). Freeze tuition fee hikes, review the overall policy to support the whole education system, and ensure access to quality education for all.

c) Immediately initiate rational debt management program, starting with a debt and fiscal policy review that includes the cancellation of the onerous debts, repeal of Presidential Decree 1177 on automatic debt payment allocation and renegotiation of outstanding debts.

2. Righteousness, Transparency and Accountability

Establish an independent anti-corruption task force as a watchdog/oversight body composed mainly of civil society representatives. Enact genuine anti-corruption laws to ensure swift prosecution of all corruption cases such as the PIATCO deal involving GMA, coco levy involving Danding Cojuangco, AMARI ITAL THAI AMARI case involving former President Ramos, the Jose Velarde and Jose Pidal issues etc.

3. Justice and Peace

a) Uphold justice, peace and human rights as the government’s foremost policy of governance. Respect the right to self-determination of the Bangsa-Moro People and all indigenous peoples. Withdraw government troops in heavily militarized areas, dismantle CAFGUs, release all political prisoners, resolve pending human rights issues and indemnify victims of grave human rights abuses by the Marcos government up to the present. Guarantee the people’s rights regardless of creed, belief, and gender to effectively redress their grievances.

b) Institutionalize a policy of social reforms, justice and peace based on genuine national reconciliation and unity. Work for the de-listing of CPP-NPA in the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list to further ensure the peace negotiations, seriously implement the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and successfully conclude peace agreements with the National Democratic Front and with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

4. National Sovereignty

Uphold constitutional provisions for national sovereignty and patrimony through foreign policies based on neutrality and non-intervention. Immediately stop the US-RP Balikatan military exercises. Implement relief measures to tariff and non-tariff prescriptions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and initiate review of Philippine commitments to WTO especially those related to agriculture that aggravate the landlessness and poverty of the peasant majority.

PATRIOTS affirms that the ouster of GMA is not enough especially if such a change will only install a regime that is just as corrupt, undemocratic, and subservient to foreign and elite interests. We reiterate our rejection of proposals for federalism, Charter Change, military junta and all schemes that will benefit the old and new elite. We challenge GMA’s immediate replacement to seriously uphold the people’s aspirations by making the agenda of the poor majority, the cornerstone of good governance, national unity and lasting peace in our country.

July 9, 2005
(Patriots: A Movement for Peace, Justice and Good Governance, email: patriots_christians@yahoo.com

BULATLAT