Setting the stage for genuine and lasting reforms:
The people’s agenda for the Aquino administration’s first 100 days
Prepared by Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change, June 2010
The first 100 days of the incoming administration of President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will be crucial. This period will reveal and set the tone on the priorities of the new government as well as demonstrate the intent, if not ability, of Aquino to address the injustices that our people have long been suffering.
By depicting himself as the bearer of genuine change and invoking the legacy of his parents, the martyred Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory, Aquino has raised people’s expectations of his administration. Aquino built his bid for the presidency on a strong advocacy for good governance encapsulized in his political ads enticing Filipino voters to take the “daang matuwid” (righteous path) with him, in contrast to Arroyo’s plunderous and illegitimate regime. It is thus reasonable to ask for tangible steps in his first three months that could provide the Filipino people hope in the new administration
But while corruption aggravates the people’s poverty and suffering, the basic premise of Aquino’s advocacy – that corruption is the root cause of poverty (“kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”) – must be challenged. This premise glosses over the fundamental truth that poverty is bred by age-old unjust social structures strengthened through the years by anti-people economic policies, such as neoliberal reforms, allowing a few to monopolize society’s wealth.
Such situation is clearly illustrated, for instance, at the Hacienda Luisita, where Aquino refuses to recognize that the stock distribution option (SDO) has only aggravated the poverty of farmers. Poverty will not be solved without substantial reforms in these structures and policies like genuine agrarian reform that will truly distribute vast landholdings like Hacienda Luisita to farmers and farm workers.
Thus, for his first 100 days, Aquino must implement urgent economic reforms that will at least provide immediate relief for the people long battered by poverty and social injustice, while at the same time fulfilling his bold campaign promise to prosecute Mrs. Arroyo for her many misdeeds and crimes against the people.
Below are proposals that Mr. Aquino should implement in his first 100 days if he is truly sincere in making his administration the exact opposite of the current regime. They are by no means exhaustive but they are doable within a three-month timeframe. If given due attention and properly implemented, these proposals will help set the stage for deeper, more far-reaching political and economic reforms to take place.
1. Promote justice, peace, and democratic governance
• Investigate and prosecute Mrs. Arroyo for promoting and implementing, as commander-in-chief, the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) military campaign that led to more than 1,000 cases of extrajudicial killings, more than 200 cases of enforced disappearances, and other forms of human rights violations since 2001; Appropriate charges must be filed before the courts within the first 100 days;
• Investigate and prosecute Mrs. Arroyo for massive electoral fraud and for various corruption scandals during her administration involving herself, her family, and political allies; Appropriate charges must be filed against Mrs. Arroyo and others before the courts within the first 100 days;
• Order an independent probe of the May 10 elections to address doubts on the credibility of the automated polls and to convincingly resolve all questions on the legitimacy of the Aquino presidency, to exact due accountability from Comelec officials and Smartmatic, and prevent a repeat of the problems and glitches in the next elections; The results and recommendations of such independent probe must be released within the first 100 days;
• Do not appoint to any position in the executive branch and other government posts as well as in the military and police leadership anyone who has unresolved cases of graft and corruption as well as human rights violations;
• Probe military and civilian officials for their direct or indirect involvement in the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other forms of human rights abuses and political repression under the Arroyo administration’s OBL military campaign; Transmit the 1998 Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the Philippine Senate for ratification;
• Resume the stalled peace negotiations, including the talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), as well as with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to allow discussions on comprehensive and extensive social and economic reforms that the Filipino people urgently need; As a confidence-building and goodwill measure, government must immediately and unconditionally free all political prisoners, including the Morong 43, and drop the trumped up charges against them; and
• Suspend the implementation of all ongoing or planned military operations, exercises, trainings, projects, and other activities involving the US troops under the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA); Probe cases of alleged human rights abuses committed by the US troops, including the death of Gregan Cardeño, and initiate the process of rescinding the VFA as well as the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA).
2. Provide immediate economic relief for the people
• Declare the repeal of the VAT Reform Law (Republic Act 9377) as priority legislation and exhaust all means to ensure that it reaches at least third reading in either the House or the Senate within the first 100 days; In the meantime, instruct the Finance department and the Treasury to ensure that all collections from the VAT increase in 2005 shall be allocated exclusively on education, health, housing, and other services that directly benefit the poor;
• Declare the passage of a substantial legislated wage hike nationwide as priority legislation and exhaust all means to ensure that it reaches at least third reading in either the House or the Senate within the first 100 days; As for the amount of the increase, an extensive consultation must be immediately conducted with organized labor groups;
• Declare a nationwide moratorium on all pending and ongoing cases of demolition of poor communities as well as clearing operations against sidewalk vendors; Conduct at once an inclusive consultation with affected communities and their organizations to determine alternatives that are acceptable to them;
• Conduct an audit of calamity funds intended for those affected by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, and the El Niño to determine whether such assistance have indeed reached them; Correspondingly, increased financial assistance must be immediately extended to those affected, especially small farmers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the calamities; and
• Within the first 100 days, the Hacienda Luisita dispute must be resolved in favor of the farmers and farmworkers (i.e. scrapping of the SDO and the transfer of effective control over the hacienda to farmer-beneficiaries) to set as an example of government’s sincerity in implementing genuine agrarian reform; Declare a moratorium on the cancellation of certificate of land ownership awards (CLOAs) and emancipation patents (EPs) of farmer-beneficiaries under government’s land reform program; Together with peasant groups, conduct a credible audit of the extent of land reconcentration and land non-distribution.
3. Ensure that adequate resources are available to meet the people’s pressing needs
• Declare as priority legislation the repeal of automatic appropriation for debt service by amending Section 31 of PD 1177 that provides for this, and also by amending Section 26, Chapter 4, Book VI of EO 292 (Administrative Code of 1987) that reiterates in toto Section 31 of PD 117; Ensure that the bill will reach at least third reading in either the House or the Senate within the first 100 days;
• Start conducting an audit of the country’s debt and report, within the first 100 days, which are considered odious and thus must be repudiated; Negotiate with creditors for better payment terms of existing debts taking into account the country’s pressing development and social needs; and
• Begin working with allies in Congress to ensure that the 2011 national budget will allocate not less than P281 billion for education, P39 billion for health and P13 billion for housing to bring social services to their most recent respective annual peaks of education spending per school-age child (1998), health spending per capita (1997), and housing spending per capita (2000); Alternative benchmarks to ascertain the needed budgets for education, health, and housing must be explored but the amounts shall not be lower than the said recent annual peaks. #
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in July 13th 2010