GLORIA’S CLOUD 9 IN HER NINTH SONA (Movement for the Advancement of Student Power’s Position Statement)

Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Our president is all-dressed in her exquisite terno designed by a famed couturier. She is embellished with fine jewelries fit for a queen, powerful enough to signify authority and grace notwithstanding the filth and the squalidness her “Strong Republic” brought about. And again, for the ninth time, Arroyo administration will utter a limitless number of quixotic things in her wish list—free education, housing for all, economic growth, million jobs, health assistance and fair social services.

It was in 2001 when Gloria had her very first State of the Nation Address (SONA). Three children form an urban poor community were used as a case study that will manifest the worst case scenario of schooling her predecessor faced in its administration. She started the promise to design a program that will prepare the youth for an industry-relevant education.

As the years of her regime sally forth to fade, it becomes conspicuous that the education sector is still on its deteriorating state. Textbooks are inadequate and incapacitated with factual and grammatical errors. An average classroom houses 60-70 schoolchildren with teachers falling short in number to nourish their intellectual yearning. State colleges and universities were cut of budget, resulting to tuition fee hikes and substandard teaching in some publicly funded institutions.

The government targeted the creation of 10 million jobs by the first half of 2010. Imaginative and improbable to the ears, the public still suffers a lot from employment and economic predicaments.

Unemployment rate was aggravated by the existing economic crisis. But the present administration cannot act on mechanisms to at least pacify the situation. She initiated job fairs all over the country to romance unemployed individuals, only to find out that only 4,000 will be hired out of 20,000 job seekers. On the other hand, call center and business process outsourcing companies are proliferating like mushrooms in the metropolis and some areas in the countryside. Well-publicized as the new champion of employment, this industry does not really address the problem on job creation inasmuch as call center agents stay only for two months to a year.

The health sector laments due to the rising cost of medicines and the exodus of highly-trained nurses and doctors abroad for greener pastures. More Filipinos die without being seen by a physician. Public hospitals lack in patient beds, resulting to more pregnant women deliver their babies in folding beds outside decent delivery rooms. Life-threatening diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, pulmonary disease, diabetes, and kidney ailments continue to shorten the life expectancy of Filipinos due to poor healing facilities and the failed implementation of the Republic Act 9052 or the Cheaper and Quality Medicine act of 2008. Drugs are 500%-600% more expensive in the country than in other Asian nations. Patients are dying for the simple fact that they cannot buy the remedy prescribed by their doctors.

Gloria’s administration did not succeed in bringing peace in Mindanao. Extrajudicial killings become unfaltering and commonplace among activists and journalists. Instead of focusing on peace problems, the President together with her allies devised an instigated Constituent Assembly (ConAss) to amend the 1987 Constitution and extend her term and the agony of the people. Administration representatives rammed through House Resolution 1109 for them to convene the Congress into a ConAss.

Only Arroyo and her whims of political grandeur felt the make-believe progress her administration had. Her terno gown signifies the peace and fraternity among Christians and Muslims. Her expensive jewelries symbolize economic growth and the fulfillment of basic social services in education and health. The myriad number of applause coming from the political whores simply signifies the people’s yen to extend her term and bring continuous progress in the country. Her State of the Nation Address is her own version of a real State of the Nation Address of student leaders in the streets.

MASP, alongside other organizations hopes and will strongly fight and position that this deception by GMA should end as soon as possible. Eight SONAs have already addressed but the real state of the nation was never claimed by the president. The reality that we are not practicing authentic democracy was never addressed. The reality that more and more Filipinos are oppressed by this unjust system was never tackled. The reality that there was really no progress brought by this administration was always denied. The reality that the elite oppressively rule the system was never expressed by any SONA of GMA.

GMA administration, together with the lower chamber’s efforts and attempt to extend the president’s term clearly conveys their message for us Filipinos—they are prolonging and they will continue to prolong the pain of the agonizing people. They’ll stay in power, they’ll stay in Cloud Nine having all of the luxuries while the Filipino people is striving for decent life. In response to their message for us, MASP says “End GMA! End ConAss! End Crisis! End Elite Rule!”###

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