Sunday, July 03, 2005

Bishops' Dare

Posted by Avigail Olarte

IN a press conference yesterday, Bishops Julio Xavier Labayen, Antonio Tobias, and Deogracias Iñiguez called for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Together with the Kilusang Makabansang  Ekonomiya and  five other NGOs, they offered a framework that will serve as a guide until a "new and truly representative" government is in place.

Here is the full text of their statement:

The GMA government has lost moral and legal authority to lead…It is time to go!

This government has turned itself away from the people. It has lost moral and legal authority. It has cheated its way to power and violated the most basic of people's rights.  It must step down to avert the imminent bloody confrontation growing out of the people's sufferings caused and exacerbated by years of destructive policies and government exactions.

This government, like previous government, continuously adheres to a colonial economic-political model that has reduced our country to a laggard in Asia, whose natural resource base has been mostly devastated and has beggared most of our people. The growing hunger, widespread joblessness, degradation of most of our natural resource base due to plunder and extraction has put the country on a nonsustainable course that will threaten the very survival of the people. Exporting human resources for indentured servitude for the dollar has become the only program the government is left with. This government must thus step down to pave the way for meaningful change.

We dare to come forward, to mediate in the spreading unrest, in the interest of the nation and people, to avoid unnecessary and senseless bloodshed and anarchy. We call on the people to unite and struggle to put an end to this yoke that by the day is getting heavier on our backs.

Let us do away with this immoral governance at the soonest possible time and work for the establishment of new governance that would lead with the consent of the governed.

We are putting forward the succeeding policy framework to unite the people and for all of us to work for in the present decisive period until the installation of the new, transparent, effective, and truly representative of the government. With the people, we would seek the new government's commitment to this framework as we all keep watch that it acts on the following:

1. That the present armed and police forces and all security and defense elements to strictly adhere to civilian supremacy and the interest of the people and national integrity and that their actions be guided by the universal ideas of freedom and democracy. That they would actively work against any plans and actions that would violate these principles and defy and desist from all orders and actions that would inflict harm on the people.

We intend that the new government, new armed and police forces and the courts of law—that is, the state, shall guarantee and protect the people's rights of suffrage and all democratic and civil rights and observe all conventions on basic human rights. That by guaranteeing so, the people's inherent energies, long repressed by tyranny and manipulations of vested interest, shall be unleashed for nation building and progress.

2. The new government should stop debt payments and repudiate all onerous and unjust debts and lower interest payments on legitimate debts. This shall free the people from the burden of debt-payment and would cause the immediate repeal of the debt-payment related E-Vat Law and the government shall be free to redirect revenues generated from this for national development the generated upliftment of the people. Correspondingly all destructive economic policies and impositions consistent with the debilitating liberalization, deregulation and privatization policies should be repealed or reversed.

Among others, the policies that need most urgent action are:

  • Oil industry regulation to ensure prices conform to actual cost of production and refining and that the government should re-nationalize Petron to mitigate high prices due to the speculative character of the world oil industry, which is distorting the actual transaction cost of oil.  Other foreign oil companies operating in the Philippines must be required to be transparent with the actual transaction cost of their importations.
  • Electric and water utilities should be nationalized because deregulation and sham privatization has allowed private ownership of these, using as capital the sovereign guarantees of the republic.
  • The December 2004 Supreme Court ruling that allows 100% foreign participation in the mining industry and implies that the Mining Act of 1995 is constitutional must be reversed.  Thus reversed, the mining industry should revert back to Philippine control.

From this the government and the people can proceed along the principles of economic sovereignty. The new government shall pursue a long-term economic program that has, at its core, nationalist industrialization concentrating an capital goods industry and the development of a strong domestic market base through increased agricultural production and genuine agrarian reform.  Such program shall ensure jobs and livelihood opportunities for all people to enjoy the fruits of their labor and contribute to nation building.

3.  That the new government shall immediately move to arrest the growing hunger among the people towards its eradication while achieving genuine food security for the nation.

Data show that poverty and hunger incidence is more serious and prevalent in the countryside where most of the people make their living.  It is the greatest irony that where food is produced the people are hungry.  The problem of growing hunger lies on social and economic inequality.  Political will and decisive action are central in solving this problem.

The new government, upon assumption, should scrap the expanded VAT law thereby effecting automatic reduction on prices of rice and other food items and products of vital necessity to production such as fuel and electricity.  Furthermore, lowering interest rates and directing credit to the farming sector would lower cost of inputs and would dismantle the stranglehold of usurer-traders thereby increasing the income and productivity, especially of farmer-owners.  They would have therefore the means to increase the share accorded to farm laborers.

For all farmers, especially the small ones and those with least opportunity for production expenses, to be accorded government support and subsidy in the form of reduced prices of farm inputs, low-cost post-harvest facilities, lower transportation cost, and support that would allow them to regain production cost and to gain income.

All food manufacturers and processors who rely on locally grown food crops, livestock and aquatic resources should receive government support in the form of low-interest credit, reduced taxes and support in the importation of necessary materials for production in order for them to be able to increase wages of workers and encourage increased production.

All uncultivated and under-cultivated lands must be used for food crop production.  Poor people who opt to farm these must receive support from government.  Owners who volunteer their lands for this purpose shall be rewarded commensurately in the form of investment opportunities that would create jobs for the unemployed.

All rice importations must be reviewed against the real and concrete inventory of rice stocks in the country. The government shall exercise authority to prevent hoarding and rice manipulation. All unnecessary rice and other food imports should be cancelled.

That the new government, in due time, would act on a genuine agrarian reform program that is premised on social justice and genuine food security, equitable distribution of lands and land-use policy and increased production and income for the greatest majority of the people. And for all landowners whose lands become subject of reform be justly compensated and be encouraged to contribute to national construction and progress.

The richness of our territorial waters is a vast natural food base. It shall be reserved principally for the Filipino people. The government should take lead in the development of national fishing and maritime industry. Accordingly contracts and agreements concluded by present and past governments with other countries with regards our territorial waters should be reviewed. Those that have been detrimental such as the RP-Japan Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation and the RP-Taiwan Sea Lane Passage Agreement should be terminated.

4. In the interest of national and territorial integrity and in pursuit of genuine national sovereignty all bilateral and multi-lateral agreements and contracts entered into by the GMA government and all past governments, especially those that have been detrimental to the nation, and laws bequeathed by direct US colonial rule should be abrogated and scrapped.

The new government should pursue independent foreign policy. In behalf of the nation's independence and sovereignty, the new government should pursue relations with all countries already having diplomatic and trade relations with the Philippines. Country to country relations should be pursued along the principles of independence and mutuality.

We enjoin the people to unite and pursue along this above-mentioned policy framework as we do away with the immoral GMA government. As we move on for the establishment of new governance, this framework having been enriched and tested in struggle shall serve as our guide.

Mabuhay ang Sambayanang Pilipino!

Palayain and bansa at sambayanan sa hirap, gutom at pang-aaping local at dayuhan!

God bless the Philippines!

Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME)

No comments: