by Levy Abad
Some people ask why activists are always critical of regimes. The reason for this is that many nationalist activists are acutely aware of the Constitution, the history, and the reasons other countries progress economically. Many of us know that Japan and Korea, to cite a few, were destroyed during World War II; and that, in the case of South Korea, the country was heavily impacted in the war with the north. Despite the devastation suffered by these two countries, every day while I drive around Winnipeg, I see Japanese and South Korean cars. Even cellphones and other electronic gadgets come from these countries. The Philippines, for its part, produces and exports products like bottled tuyo (dried fish), sardines, tapa (beef jerky), and “junk” foods like Chippy and Corniks. Although there is nothing wrong in producing and exporting these products, it should not stop here. The Philippine government should aim for industrialization, which it should have done more than fifty years ago. When Japanese and Koreans travel to the Philippines, they go as investors or tourists; but when Filipinos go to these countries, it’s basically to work as Japayukis, domestic helpers, or industrial workers. Many Filipinos would laugh at China back in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, saying that it was a communist country; but now, even the United States is heavily indebted to China, which has billions of investments in Africa, Latin America, and North America including Canada. Where is the Philippines in all of these? This begs the question, “Where did we go wrong?”
The greatest lesson that I learned from being a part of these historical events is that, it is never the great personalities that make history but the people. As long as a president, no matter who she or he may be, does not implement the people’s agenda, then the people have the power to remove their leader. We have seen this time and again. When Benigno S. Aquino III became President through elections, people were happy and hopeful and were thinking that progress would happen. But having been in power for almost five years, he still follows the script of the same puppetry narrative. Up to now, even the Constitution that was ratified during the term of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, particularly the provisions on nationalist industrialization and agrarian reform found in Article 12, have not been implemented. The slogan of the present regime–“Daang Matuwid”–is just another crooked road and a plan that affirms neo-liberal policies.
In an article posted on Huffington Blog titled “Philippines ‘Mirage’ Economy: Why it’s worse than a bubble?”, Richard Javad Heydarian writes that, “three years into the Aquino leadership, however, it has little to show in terms of major infrastructural projects and cutting down of red tape and bureaucratic uncertainty. With barely three years left in his office, the [President’s] introduction of decisive measures to arrest the decline of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, are yet to kick in. The government has missed its targets on the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension and Reforms (CARPER) to the fury of millions of farmers and rural citizens, while the impending integration of the Philippines into the regional common market will most likely batter its already fragile manufacturing sector, which has been struggling with declining demand in the intraregional production chains in recent years.” That served as another proof of the failure to initiate the implementation of the policies enshrined in Article 12 of the Constitution.
Going back to the Agrarian Reform of the Corazon Aquino regime, Satur Ocampo wrote in his article “At Ground Level,” published in the Winnipeg-based community newspaper Ang Peryodiko (November 16-30, 2014): “Her government asked the Court of Appeals to rule favourably on the Cojuangcos’ appeal, which the court promptly did. In 1987, she issued Proclamation 131 and Executive Order 229, defining her agrarian reform program, which included stock distribution option as a mode of implementation, instead of land distribution. The SDO was incorporated in RA 6657 (CARP), signed in 1988.” This is a proof that Aquino’s Agrarian Reform is bogus. True to the line of thinking of the powers that be, the present regime is also engaged in attempts to change the Philippine charter’s nationalist provisions through ChaCha (Charter Change).
The regimes of Corazon Aquino up to B.S. Aquino III are characterized by betrayal of the Constitution of the Republic where the preamble states “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.”
The failure of the government to provide decent jobs led to the continuous exodus of professionals, numbering about five thousand daily (2014 statistics). Unfortunately, the country is just a paradise for foreign monopoly corporations and few rich families. If all the regimes failed to implement Nationalist Industrialization and Agrarian Reform that are enshrined in the Constitution, what more can they do to improve the welfare of the people? The Constitution, at the given stage of our people’s history, is the embodiment of the will of the people, thus it is sacred. So what happened to our so called democracy? Where did we go wrong?