“Nakakasuka na. What with lies as your staple and empty promises for dessert. President Arroyo’s SONA is replete with fake economic gains and band-aid solutions to the worsening poverty.”
Thus said Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza who, in contrast to the glitter of gowns and jewelry, donned her faded maong jeans and rubber shoes on Congress’ red carpet, walking out of the Batasan after attending the morning session.
“The situation of Filipino women and our families have been downhill since President Arroyo assumed power in 2001. And as the crisis takes a turn for the worse, subsidies and cash transfers give no hope for reform or relief,” said Maza.
According to the lawmaker self-rated hunger is now at 16.3% or 14.5M Filipinos, a far cry from the 9.8% when President Arroyo first delivered her SONA in July 2001, with those experiencing severe hunger now reaching 4.2% from 3.7%. She also noted that latest statistics reveal that 2.9M Filipinos are unemployed while 6.62M are underemployed. The NSO has likewise pegged food inflation rates at 17.4% in July 2008, which is almost 15 points higher than last year’s 2.6%.
“The worsening unemployment amid rising inflation showcases this administration’s incompetence. This has made it so much more difficult for families to cope with the crisis. This is the reality felt by every Filipino family, the reality that subsidies cannot sugarcoat,” said Maza
The Gabriela solon said “these subsidies are mere dole outs that fail to give President Arroyo and her VAT the much needed spin. VAT collections were never meant for the poor. Fact is, the Arroyo government collects more than it gives back with the VAT. Malacanang already had P1B in its pockets before it gave out P500 subsidies to lifeline users.”
Maza explained that studies conducted by Bayan, AGHAM and POWER reveal that the national government may have collected as much as P1.8 billion in VAT from Meralco’s 1.7M lifeline customers. The one-time P500 power subsidy doled out last month totaled P852 million. “If this government sincerely wanted to allay the impact of the crisis, it could very well let go of its VAT collections.”
“Hunger mitigation programs and subsidies that President Arroyo showcases in her SONA provide no solutions, not even relief. Long term policies toward genuine agrarian reform and agricultural development, job creation and a national policy for healthcare and education should be pursued. Until then, her removal from office remains the only alternative that women and our families must pursue for a better life.”
Maza, along with fellow Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan and members of the progressive partylist bloc from Bayan Muna and Anakpawis, opted to be among the thousands protesting outside the Batasan as President Arroyo delivers her 8th SONA. #