Sidebar: Anti-SONA 2012 protests in regions against privatization, rights violations
MANILA – The much awaited annual extravaganza called State of the Nation Address (SONA) starring the current Philippine President, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, supported by his cabinet, leaders of Congress and thousands of government troops and police, unfolded as predicted by various progressive groups in the parallel SONAngBayan or Peoples’ SONA held along Commonwealth Avenue.
Progressive groups warned that based on the Aquino administration’s two-year record, it will spew lies, “big lies,” in his SONA this Monday. Predicting Aquino’s speech is all sweet talk and rhetoric and short on truthfulness, the participants of Peoples’ SONA brought a two-faced 14-feet Aquino effigy for burning. “The people won’t be fooled,” said the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in a statement.
“Having two faces means being deceptive. That is what this government has excelled in the past two years,” said Crisanto de Leon, chairman of artists collective UGATLahi, which conceptualized the effigy with Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance). He explained that one of Commander-in-Chief Aquino’s faces is doing the sweet-talking while the other face is doing the selling-out and ordering the repression of Filipinos for the enrichment of a few.
“For the third time we are again bamboozled with sweet promises and rhetoric, but in the end, women, and the Filipino people would still ask: Who really benefits from all of Aquino’s claimed progress?” said Joms Salvador, deputy secretary general of GABRIELA women’s alliance.
Aquino’s democracy: red-carpet for the best-dressed, road blocks for the masa
Right from Aquino’s opening statements in his SONA, he immediately proved the accuracy of the statements of progressive groups. Aquino recalled for starters the oppression brought about by military dictatorship. He claimed that democracy has been restored. He shared that having witnessed the hardship of his family and others during martial law, he would now side with anyone who is being taken advantage of and whose rights are being robbed. Yet, outside Congress as he spoke, the police and soldiers were beating back protesters from marching nearer to Congress, as should have been their right.
PeoplesSona streetart. (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
The peoples’ SONA participants had “duly complied with the procedural requirements for their planned protest actions and timely applied for a permit to stage the same,” said Edre U. Olalia, secretary-general of National Union of Peoples’Lawyers (NUPL).
The Aquino regime thinks highly of itself but it can’t even follow the Constitution and its own Public Assembly Act, said Reyes of Bayan. Nearly a hundred protesters including three media workers had been hurt in tensions that broke out between the police and the protesters, who had tried to march through the police barricade to the Batasang Pambansa as early as six in the morning.
Aquino’s improved economy: no longer a joke but a farce
Aquino’s 90-minute speech, said to be one of the longest SONAs in recent memory, highlighted achievements that progressive groups shot down either as just a deception, a half-truth at best, or simply meaningless. Among others, “Aquino’s ‘achievements’ consisted of an S & P credit upgrade, a rise in stock market, some record gross international reserves, a loan extended to IMF – all quite meaningless to ordinary Filipinos facing high prices, low wages and landlessness,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary-general of Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance)..... MORE