GMA, eight years hence…

26 07 2008

As Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recites her litany of superficial achievements and elusive promises on Monday, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines will certainly watch her with a critical eye.

The Past is the Present

SCAP believes that GMA has been merely placing band-aid solutions on the real problems of the society, much more she has failed, time and again to address problems that concern her very office.

The past is the present. Poverty, corruption, electoral fraud, diminishing democracy, traditional politics, betrayal of public’s trust, etc; the past is the present. What we saw eight years ago is the same thing that we are seeing here today. There is nothing new and we expect nothing new from Ms. Arroyo.

The Real State of the Youth

Ms. Arroyo will definitely embrace the youth sector once more as she delivers her eight State of the Nation address. She will be bragging about the millions of pesos that her government has placed on different scholarship programs, about the additional budget that was allotted to the sector.

Apparently, the Alliance sees these as desperate attempts to pacify the unyielding youth.

CHED stated that the standing growth rate of college enrollees in A.Y. 2004-2005 in both the Private and Public sector is a disturbing -0.8 %.

The percentages of grade school and high school dropouts have increased dramatically from 7.67 % and 8.5 % respectively in A.Y. 2000-2001 to 10.57 % and 15.81 % correspondingly in A.Y. 2005-2006. Less and less of our students make it to the finish line. Additional figures show that only 56.76 % of elementary students and 54.14 % of high school students are able to graduate from their particular courses, a great decrease from the 66.13 % and 70.62 % completion rates of grade school and high school students in A.Y. 2000-2001. [i]

As of 2004, only 27% of Filipinos aged 25-64 years old are able to attain a college diploma.[ii]

The Philippine Higher Education has also lagged behind our neighboring countries in terms of its quality. It ranked no. 62 within 2007-2008, a notch lower from that of 2006, according to the World Economic Forum.[iii]

If Ms. Arroyo is saying that her government has been spending more for the education sector than any other past administration, well, SCAP evidently believes that no government has spent enough. At least, no Philippine administration has met the international standards for education spending which is supposedly pegged at 6% of our Gross National Product as prescribed by the Delors Commission of the UNESCO.[iv]

In addition to all these, the education sector remains to be deregulated and commercialized. Educational institutions are mere idle bodies which cannot address the real problems of the sector.

The Quest for Truth, Accountability and Reform Continues…

SCAP joins the civil society and the progressive bloc in calling for truth, accountability and reform in all the democratic processes in our country.

Demanding for Truth…

If Ms. Arroyo is sincere with her war against corruption and fraud, she should begin by coming out clean and by commanding all officials who were involved in the controversial ZTE-NBN deal to speak out instead of circumventing constitutional provisions such as the “Executive Privilege” to protect political interests.

This is not the first illegitimate debt that our country has incurred. Moreover, Ms. Arroyo should recount all our country’s illegitimate debts and pressure the legislators to push for a congressional debt audit.

This, time and again, shows that while majority of our people are suffering from price hikes in all forms of commodities, some people have the knack at getting billions from government procured contracts at the expense of the greater poor.

This should rattle if not enrage the conscience of our government knowing fully well, that corruption is happening beneath Ms. Arroyo’s nose, if we even consider giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Exacting Accountability…

Ms. Arroyo, above all else, should stop blocking the impeachment process in Congress. Her administration is too immersed in scandal and controversy that coming out from an impeachment trial is the only constitutional mechanism that could vindicate her, if she’s not proven guilty that is.

This SONA, once again, will be a venue to exact accountability from Ms. Arroyo and her government.

Sustainable Reforms…

SCAP unites with all those who are pushing for the extension and reform of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Millions of farmers are at the brink of losing their lands once more while others would never have the chance of owning their own lands. The odds are great when we talk about Agrarian Reform; the elements of warlords threaten this progressive bill. SCAP therefore renews its challenge to Ms. Arroyo to urge congress to pass CARPER and to subject their (Arroyo’s) lands to the program, which she should have done years ago.

Aside from AR, SCAP also challenges the Arroyo administration to seriously engage a transparent electoral reform agenda to redeem the already degraded Commission on Elections which Ms. Arroyo herself has damaged. As the national polls near, SCAP is again wary of confronting a disenfranchised youth sector. The COMELEC, more than anything else, should be at the forefront of pursuing a conscientious voter’s education program. The government should revive the people’s trust in democratic institutions such as the COMELEC; otherwise, our country will certainly go to the dogs.

Above everything else, the government should focus on creating more equitable economic policies/solutions to resolve our country’s economic problems instead of incurring more unfair trade deals and illegitimate loans from foreign powers.

The Present is OUR Future

With our present state, SCAP sees a bleak future for the youth. It is very appalling to learn that the youth will inherit a very damaged government. It is even more alarming that we are being honed in this kind of society.

As always, SCAP demands for truth, accountability and reform.

We demand to repeal the Education Deregulation Act 0f 1982.

We demand for the immediate passage of the Students Rights’ and Welfare Bill.

We join with Youth Against Debt in calling for an Automatic Appropriations law  on Education allotting 6% of our GNP to the Education Sector instead of diverting the large bulk of our budget to debt servicing.

We join People Against illegitimate Debt in demanding for a Congressional Debt Audit.

We support all mechanisms that will exact accountability from all the wrong doers in our government, including, Ms. Arroyo.

We stand hand in hand with the farmers in pushing for the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER).

We demand for a genuine electoral reform agenda.

MAKIBAHAGI, LUMAHOK SA PEOPLE’S SONA!

 

Venue: St. Peter’s Church 10 A.M.

Date: July 28, 2008; Monday

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines Official Statement on GMA’s SONA

Media Person: 09052403585 Alvin Quintans


[i] Benjamin Diokno, Real State of the Nation, 20 July 2007 , citing DepEd

[ii] UNESCO/UISWEI(www.uis.unesco.org/publications/wei2006); OECD countries: OECD 2006 (www.oecd.org/edu/eag2006).

[iii] …this (higher education and training) pillar measures secondary and tertiary enrolment rates as well as the quality of education as assessed by the business community. The importance of vocational and continuous on-the-job training, neglected in many economies, cannot be overstated, as it ensures a constant upgrading of workers’ skills to the changing needs of the production system.

[iv] Youth Against Debt Six Will Fix Campaign

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