Entering his third year in office, President Benigno Aquino can no longer point to his favorite scapegoat, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and continue to blame her for the country’s woes.
Mr. Aquino himself should account for his administration’s lapses and shortcomings when he delivers his third State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, according to Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, an umbrella organization of militant groups.
Blaming Arroyo for the problems is a tired, old refrain, he said.
“He can’t blame the previous administration now. He has to take responsibility for the crisis in the country,” Reyes said in a press briefing.
He said he expected the President to paint a rosy picture, but it was the people that would deliver the real state of the nation.
“The real Sona will not be heard in the Batasang Pambansa, the real Sona will be heard in the streets,” he said.
For Bayan, the President has continued to fail to turn his promises into reality.
Reyes said Mr. Aquino’s sound bites and glowing words could not mask the bleak realities of unemployment, poverty, underdevelopment and massive overseas migration that many Filipinos had to resort to.
“For all its PR gimmicks and rhetoric, the last two years of the Aquino administration has been all about unfulfilled promises and the worsening condition of the people,” he said.
Other militant groups said that aside from taking responsibility for the country’s problems, they wanted to hear the President categorically declare that he would not support Charter change, after the leaders of Congress recently raised again the possibility of making amendments to the Constitution.
At the same press briefing, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) objected to Charter change, daring Mr. Aquino to strike down the proposal in front of members of Congress during next week’s Sona.
KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores said the proposal to amend economic provisions of the Constitution would put Philippine lands in the hands of foreign agribusiness and mining firms.
Karapatan, for its part, wants the President to admit that he has been remiss in protecting the human rights of Filipinos and that he has failed in his promise to
arrest the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings and other abuses like retired military officer Jovito Palparan who was implicated in the abduction of two University of the Philippines student activists.
“We want him to stop trying to deceive us,” said Karapatan’s Cristina Palabay.
She said the administration should stop making claims that contrast starkly with reality, citing Karapatan records that list 99 extrajudicial killings in the first two years of the Aquino administration, as well as 10 cases of enforced disappearance.