Back To The Same Old Issues

by Benjie Oliveros

After the brief but tumultuous electoral exercise, the Filipino people would be facing the same issues again. This is not to say that we should forget about what happened during the May 2013 elections.

The Commission on Elections, through its chairman the hot-tempered Sixto Brillantes Jr., still has a lot of explaining to do. Brillantes could not simply brush aside the issues being raised: the lack of source code review and the disregard for other safety features, the lack of transparency in the canvassing, the shortcuts made by the Comelec resulting in the vulnerability to manipulation of the results of the automated election system, the conking out of PCOS machines that the Comelec already bought, the mysteriously corrupted CF cards, the glaring questions about the delays in the transmission, with the Comelec admitting that 30 percent of PCOS machines were not able to transmit the results, the much-debated 60-30-10 pattern in the results, the improbable “high voter turnout” in some provinces and low votes of candidates and parties in their own bailiwicks, and its response to the calls for a full manual audit of the results.

We could still add the massive vote buying and other traditional forms of election cheating. What about the continued reign of guns, goons, gold in Philippine elections and politics? Well, for as long as political dynasties rule, and this is not confronted head on by the government, just like impunity, it is here to stay.

These questions and issues could not be left hanging. These have an impact not only on the future conduct of the 2016 national elections. It has also raised a lot of questions on the credibility of the results of the May 2013 elections.

The conduct and the results of the May 2013 elections show that the more the Aquino government claims that a lot has changed, the more events reveal that nothing much has changed.

How could we believe that there is good governance when the recent electoral exercise has been tainted by questions on the credibility of the results, allegations of vote manipulation, and the failures of the current automated election system? How are we to believe that corruption has been stamped out when there was massive vote buying and the rule of political dynasties has even been strengthened? If some old political dynasties were toppled, they were merely replaced by new ones.

As for the broader people’s issues, progressive groups and the Filipino people could expect more struggles ahead, especially since the Aquino government has consolidated its hold on power– with its control over both the Senate and Lower House – and has showed no signs of changing the direction of its social and economic programs and policies.

Already, progressive youth groups have to respond to the approval of increases in tuition of private elementary and high schools, as well as colleges and universities. Progressive teachers’ organizations have been warning about the full implementation of the K+12 program amid the unresolved shortages in classrooms, teachers, and learning materials. Urban poor groups have begun their protest actions against threats of demolition of communities along waterways with no suitable relocation sites. Health workers and patients have been continuing their campaign against the privatization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center and 25 other government hospitals.

Other big issues lie ahead. The US has announced that it would “follow through” with its pivot in Asia, meaning we could expect more joint military exercises, more ‘visits’ of US warships, destroyers, and submarines, and more deployment of US troops, with the consequent violations of our sovereignty and rights.

The Aquino government’s boast of a strong economy is about to burst. Last April, I wrote about the realities of the Philippine economy that the Aquino government has been glossing over.

In the analysis, I quoted a World Bank report, which was cited by Inquirer.net, which read “Continued demand-boosting measures may now be counterproductive. Countercyclical demand policies have helped sustain growth, but they may now risk stoking inflationary pressures and amplifying the credit and asset price risks that are emerging in the context of strong capital inflows into the region.”

Today, interaksyon.com, in a news story BUBBLE ALERT | Philippine economic, stock market gains unsustainable, British accountants say, quoted the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), which warned that “The Philippines looks to be doing exceptionally well as the government spends heavily on infrastructure and confidence about governance and business prospects abounds…However, “capacity constraints are likely to catch up with the success story, leading to higher inflation, tighter monetary policy and a fall in growth to about 4.5 percent in 2015.”

The ICAEW further clarified that the stock market gains in the country, and elsewhere in Asia for that matter, is the result of “stagnation in industrialized countries.” It explained that the rise in stock prices was brought about by speculative portfolio investments that found its way into the country because of expectations of higher yield. So it is not really about the economy and locally-listed companies doing well to merit an increase in stock prices.

Already, South Korea is feeling the effects of a bursting of the bubble in the real estate sector. An interaksyon.com news story reported about South Korean construction companies forcing its workers to buy its unsold apartment units. We could expect the same thing, in the near future. Condominiums have been rising up everywhere and sales persons in supermarkets and malls are becoming more aggressive in trying to convince people to buy units.

When the crisis reveals itself more blatantly, we could expect more hardships and struggles. The Aquino government knows no other way in running the economy but to follow the neoliberal dictates of the IMF-WB. Thus, we also have no choice but to intensify the campaigns and struggles for real change. (Bulatlat.com)

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