Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Workers remember Edsa in one word: ‘Sayang’

25 February 2014

The 1986 People Power uprising created great opportunities for the country to move forward and to fulfil the great Filipino dream of enjoying a better quality of life.  Yet for the labor group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), the past 28 years can truthfully be described as ‘sayang’ or wasted opportunities bungled by post Edsa rulers. 

In a statement PM enumerated some of the major achievements of Edsa, which, if haven’t been wasted, could have transformed the life of the working people adequately better. 

These include the dismantling of the Marcos dictatorship and replacing it with a relatively more liberal order; the institutionalization of anti-corruption measures; the ratification of a new Constitution that embodied a strong national patrimony and social justice provisions; and; the regular holding of national and local elections thereafter.

“But behind Edsa’s democratic façade were undisputable facts about its failed outcomes,” said PM Chair Renato Magtubo.

The group stated further that while every Filipino especially those who braved the streets against the dictatorship must be recognized for making Edsa 1 and also Edsa 2 possible, it is worth evoking as well that there really is a visible failure in making life better for the masses under the rule of post-Edsa regimes. 

Notwithstanding the unaddressed problem of corruption, PM cites as a more biting example the failure of the two Aquinos (Cory and PNoy) to capitalize on their immense mandate and popularity to move the country away from the ‘business-as-usual’ development path imposed by foreign and local capital.

“So when PNoy asked his cabinet men and women on why the unemployment rate remained high despite the remarkable growth in GDP over the past several years, it only showed how pathetic the second Aquino can be to remain puzzled over the issue of jobless growth which is a problem that has been there since the time of his mother,” said Magtubo.

The average unemployment rate in 1986 was 6.7 percent. In December 2013 it stood at 7.3 percent based on government’s official survey to as high as 27.5 percent based on the survey by Social Weather Station (SWS).

The group also drew some pessimistic parallelism on the two Aquinos, particularly on the power issue.  PM explained that Cory Aquino left the Presidency with a crippling power crisis.  PNoy might finish his term in 2016 leaving the same problems of high power rates and thinning power supply.

And with the elite class apparently exercising full control of government and businesses, the group considers the PNoy government very far from being inclusive. 

In conclusion, PM pointed out that the major failures of Edsa led to the perpetuation of elite rule, inequality, and chronic poverty in the country. They include:

§  The intensification rather than the weakening of political dynasties due to lack of political reforms and the pervasiveness of corruption;
§  The dogged subservience to neoliberal policies such as privatization, deregulation and liberalization which prevented the country’s march towards industrialization and inclusive growth;
§  The corporate capture of almost all branches of government.

The group, however, won’t declare people power as “sayang”.  It maintained that all is not lost of Edsa, specifically on the necessity and wisdom of resistance and collective action taking this form.

“Workers will never give up the union spirit of collective action.  With the whole system faithfully serving the interest of the 1%, we have no choice but to keep the people power option our ultimate recourse to effect change that is truly meaningful,” concluded Magtubo.

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