It’s that time of the year again for spectacular, spectacular and razzle-dazzle. This once a year event we call the State of the Nation Address (SONA) showcases the president’s prowess in performance-accounting prestidigitation and her skill in serving sleight-of-hand statistics. The first act is a president who can pat herself on the back, followed by sycophants gunning for the Guinness record for longest-running applause for a one-liner. With the SONA becoming more of a performance and an occasion for glitter and jazz, there’s very little room left for appraising how the country is truly faring economically and politically.
In this month’s SONA issue, Focus on the Philippines takes you back stage and unveils the truth behind the tricks. For those who missed it, this issue includes the full transcript of Gloria Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address. More importantly, here, Joy Chavez spells out how the SONA economic report should be read, as she looks at GMA’s clever use of statistics to present the government’s alter-reality. Aya Fabros uncovers the jobs situation in the country and justifies why in some situations, contrary to what GMA said in her speech, it’s ok to cuss in public. Julie Delos Reyes unpacks the deal regarding rising remittance and deployment at a time of crisis, while Mary Ann Manahan probes the administration’s ‘Miles for Progress” Campaign and provides an accounting of the president’s carbon footprint. Herbert Docena also writes about GMA’s forthcoming trip to the US, using GMA’s “state visit” as an opening to propose “A New Foreign Policy for a New World Order.” This issue also includes Walden Bello’s commentary on the coinciding crises of charter change and an unfolding economy.
Inflate, Confuse, Oversimplify: Or how to read GMA’s economic achievements reported in her last SONA By Jenina Joy Chavez
Back to the Eighties?: Cross of Charter Change and Unfolding Economy By Walden Bello
Believing in Bullcrud and Imaginary Improvements: GMA and the Irrepressible Need to ‘Say Bad Words in Public’ By Aya Fabros
Why are OFW Remittances and Deployment Still on the Rise? By Julie Delos Reyes
GMA’s Travels and her “Miles for Progress” Ad Campaign By Mary Ann Manahan
A New Foreign Policy for a New World Order By Herbert Docena
SOCIOECON MONITOR: ON TRADE by Mary Lou Malig
Free Enterprise with Social Conscience: Truth and Consequence By Joseph Purugganan
Gloria Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address Transcript (July 27, 2009)
This issue, Focus on the Philippines zooms in on key developments in Congress, specifically Cha-cha and CARPER, which Rep. Walden Bello calls “two of the most controversial pieces of legislation this decade.” On Charter Change and Congress, FOP June includes ‘Politics failed our Constitution’, the Focus on the Global South Philippines position on this recent move in the House and Charter Change, which also identifies progressive provisions in the constitution that should be preserved. In ‘Burn that House down and rise from the ashes,’ Aya Fabros writes about her reflections on the House and puts forward some propositions on where to take things in relation to Congress, in the short and long term.
The issue also covers reflections, analysis and commentary on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER). Our new Congress rep, Walden Bello gives his own take on CARPER, in ‘CARPER: Latest episode in the battle for agrarian reform,’ as he explains his vote and relates some of his own experience in the House; while Mary Ann Manahan, Focus on the Global South Commons and Agrarian Reform lead person, presents her own analysis from the point of view of an advocate in the frontlines.
Finally, reflecting on both the personal and the political, Progressive Lawyer Arlene Bag-ao, counsel of the Sumilao farmers and close friend of slain peasant leader Rene Penas, also shares with us a very moving piece on Ka Rene and their shared struggle to achieve agrarian justice.
1. Politics failed our constitution/ FOCUS ON THE GLOBAL SOUTH-PHILIPPINES PROGRAMME
a. A Constitution Worth Defending (Matrix)
2. Burn that House down and rise from the ashes/ AYA FABROS
3. CARPER: Latest episode in the battle for agrarian reform/ WALDEN BELLO
4. CARPER and the Continuing Struggle for Land/ Mary Ann Manahan
5. Rene Penas: Agrarian Reform Advocate, Peasant Leader, Paralegal/ ARLENE BAG-AO
6. FOCUS MONITOR: Viva Voce and the Ignoble Roll: List of Representatives who voted for HB 1109
7. FOCUS STATEMENT ON KA RENE
a. HR 1109
b. PCIJ Matrix
This May, FOCUS ON THE PHILIPPINES brings together commentary on the party list and the upcoming elections. Here, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Mon Casiple and Men Sta. Ana discuss the significance and the implications of the Supreme Court decision, which paves the way for 32 more party list representatives in Congress—including FOCUS senior analyst and Akbayan rep Walden Bello, whose first privilege speech, tackling the crisis, is also contained in this issue. This new twist in Congress underscores the character and contradiction of the kind of ‘democracy’ we have in the Philippines. According to our analysts, the good news is that we can somehow expect substance and some intelligent discussion in the House, with more platform-based groups gaining entry through the PL system. The bad news is, with the likes of Presidential First Sister-in-Law Marilou Arroyo and General Palparan sneaking in, the party-list continues to serve as a backdoor for trapo groups, political dynasties and ‘fly-by-night’ organizations, adding notoriety to an already discredited institution; all this presenting a preview of next year’s catch not just in the party list but in the over-all national elections and a case to push for changes in the law.
In any case, a lot of attention is geared toward 2010, for various reasons. May signals the run up to the next elections, eagerly awaited by many-- if only because it marks the final stretch, the beginning of the end, the last year of Gloria Arroyo and her cronies-- among them FOP editor Aya Fabros, who cranks it up in Welcome to Verwirrung. There’s also a growing number of emerging groups and movements banking on the possibility of reform arising from the ‘excruciating slow, incremental’ processes of electoral and institutional change. While there are sections that do not see any gains arising from the routine exercise of elections under a democracy held hostage by elites, there’s still this reverberating call for greater vigilance, with Cha-cha schemes, parliamentary plots and other similar attempts threatening to prolong our agony and accelerated deterioration under GMA. Here, as we ask ‘Can Alternative Reform Candidates Win in 2010?’ we are also reminded: ‘Gloria Forever: She Will If She Can.”
As we find ourselves confronting twists and turns in the political scene, as we enter this blitzkrieg of TV ads, tarpaulins and televised politicovelas, as we start counting down from 365 to 1, we’re compelled to take note: this is not a good time to just sit and wait things out.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride ahead. Make sure you’re not stuck in the back seat.
Perspective: WELCOME TO VERWIRRUNG/ Aya Fabros
Focus Monitor: THE PARTY LIST SYSTEM: A QUICK INTRODUCTION/ Jenina Joy Chavez
Development Brief: PRIVILEGE SPEECH ON THE CRISIS, 28 APRIL 2009/ Walden Bello
Political Round up: RULING ON THE PARTY LIST/ Miriam Coronel-Ferrer
Political Round up: “NEW” PARTY LIST POLITICS/ Mon Casiple
Political Round up: IN DEFENSE OF PALPARAN/ Men Sta. Ana
Political Round up: GLORIA FOREVER: SHE WILL IF SHE CAN/ Joel Rocamora
Political Round up: CAN ALTERNATIVE REFORM CANDIDATES WIN IN 2010?/ Harvey Keh
This April, Focus on the Philippines covers water and energy issues as we mark Earth month, with statements and analysis from the Peoples’ Water Forum as well as papers regarding the proposed nuclear option and revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). The issue also includes a special section on the G20 and posts data from the National Statistical Coordination Board regarding the poor and climate change.
This issue also takes us to Istanbul, London and China. Here, Mary Ann Manahan talks about the Paradox of Asia’s Water. Walden Bello, newly sworn in Philippine Congress representative, unpacks the G-20; while Julie Delos Reyes presents her insights on China amidst the crisis.
In the Philippines, the energy debate is taking a dangerous turn as government officials seriously consider nuclear energy as a “sustainable, steady, quality, affordable source of power” followed by a bill to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. The BNPP bill has provoked intense opposition from social movements, church groups and other progressive organizations. In this issue, the Network Opposed to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (NOtoBNPP), a network of progressive organizations, social movements, academics, progressive legislators, human rights advocates, ecologists, media people, church workers, consumers movements & activists against the rehabilitation and operation of the BNPP, shares four articles which lay down at least seven reasons why they’re against the revival of the BNPP. (notobnpp.wordpress.com)
- The Paradox of Asia’s Water: Scarcity Amidst Abundance by Mary Ann Manahan
- Peoples’ Water forum Declaration 2009 .
- Water Rights Activists Blast Istanbul WWF as Corporate Trade Show to Promote Privatization
- Seven (7) Reasons Against the Revival of BNPP by NOtoBNPP
- Let the ‘Monster of Morong’ Sleep by Loretta Ann Rosales
- Mark Cojuangco failed to prove his case by Roberto Verzola
- Climate change, safety and nuke power politics by Lea Guerrero
Socioecon Monitor: Climate Change and the Poor
Development Brief: Changing Course: China Amid the Global Recession by Julie De los Reyes
FOCUS ON THE G20
- U-20: Will the Global Economy Resurface? By Walden Bello
- G20 ‘Trillion’ Dollar Magic Trick Reforms Remain House of Cards by Bretton Woods Projects
- Put People First: Jobs not Bombs, Money for need not Greed
Materials on the BNPP provided by the Network Opposed to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (NOtoBNPP). These articles were originally published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. NOtoBNPP is a network of progressive organizations, social movements, academics, progressive legislators, human rights advocates, ecologists, media people, church workers, consumers movements & activists against the rehabilitation and operation of the BNPP. (notobnpp.wordpress.com)
FOP marks women’s month with this March issue. This includes a report on women workers in Export Processing Zones (EPZA) badly hit by the crisis, socio-economic monitor on gender statistics on women’s labor and employment, analysis and statements from the Women’s March against Poverty and Globalization (WELGA ng Kababaihan), Alliance of Progressive Labor-Women and Partido ng Manggagawa and a section on the ASEAN PEOPLES FORUM held last month. This women's issue also includes a statement from the Task Force Subic Rape.
1. DISPATCH FROM THE EPZA: Tale of Two Women
2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC MONITOR: WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT
3. Partido Manggagawa STATEMENT
4. Alliance for Progressive Labor WOMEN STATEMENT
5. WELGA NG KABABAIHAN LABAN SA KAHIRAPAN AT GLOBALISASYON
6. Task Force Subic Rape Statement
7. ASEAN PEOPLES FORUM IN FOCUS
a. PRESS STATEMENT FROM THE WOMEN’S CAUCUS
b. APF STATEMENT
c. TO ENGAGE OR DISENGAGE
d. ASEAN’S CIVIL SOCIETY RESPONDS TO SEC-GEN’S COMMENTS
e. ALTERNATIVE REGIONALISMS WORKSHOP SUMMARY
PHOTOS FROM welgawomen.multiply.com and apf2008.org
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