Promoting the Interests of the Few;
Trampling on the Rights of the Majority
In the wake of super typhoon Yolandas’ devastations and the urgent and long term need of millions of affected people to recover and be rehabilitated, observing Human Rights day should focus on critiquing what the government has done and is doing in the interest of the many who are more vulnerable to disasters.
The Kilusan sa Pambansang Demokrasya (Kilusan) believes that it is a grave insult on the rights of the Filipino people to have a government that is irresponsible and not responsive to the needs and interests of the overwhelming majority of the people.
After the super typhoon has made millions more of the people several times more vulnerable to impacts of disasters, the government has not even considered suspending laws that promote and safeguard the interests of very few monopoly capitalists only and have proved to be detrimental to the majority.
Even as electric power services have not been restored in the typhoon-ravaged areas, the government allowed MERALCO to increase charges on its electricity consumers/users, which are undoubtedly mostly residential. The commercial consumers on the other hand can simply increase the prices of their goods or costs of their services thus passing on to consumers the burden of paying high electricity costs.
Power rate hikes and continued oil price hikes, including staggering increases in the price of LPG, are disastrous to the people several times over than the immediate impacts of calamities. The government has placed the whole country under a state of calamity but this is to no avail. The price controls imposed in storm-ravaged areas are rendered useless by existing laws especially—Oil deregulation, EPIRA and the EVAT.
By promoting privatization and deregulation laws and policies, the government is abdicating its sworn duty of serving and protecting public interests. At the present stage of pursuing privatization of hospitals and other social services through the PPP scheme, the government has concretely abandoned its duty to the people.
The Philippines lies within a typhoon belt and the Pacific Ring of Fire but the present and past governments have not drawn any long-term, comprehensive disaster preparedness and response plan. Annual government expenditures are not really aligned with the concrete problems and needs of the people for decently earning jobs and livelihoods; for a national land use policy that prioritizes lands for food production, industries and residential areas; for properly guided housing assistance instead of merely giving housing loans; for proper community planning; for health and medical services; and for correct and timely information and systematic and pre-planned evacuation not solely dependent on using public school buildings.
The Philippines has a number of environmentally protective laws but these are not being implemented. They are always compromised in the interest, especially, of foreign capitalists as in the Mining Act, Water Code, Clean Air Act, etc. Evidently, the many mining permits, the reclamation of foreshore areas and tourism obliterate the inland and mangrove forests.
It is ironical that even as the two chambers of Congress passed the supplemental budget to augment the recovery and rehabilitation fund for the victims and survivors of Yolanda’s wrath, this government of political patrons has besmirched record in budget use. New cases of pork barrel scam, SARO scam and misuse of other public funds have just been recently un-earthed.
The PNoy government could perhaps have passing grade for anti-forced disappearance law, compensation for Matial Law victims and the still unimplemented reproductive health law. But this grade will be entombed in the landslide of laws that amount to the whole sale surrender of people’s rights to a few private monopoly interests.
December 10, 2013
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