Groups protest vs housing woes, mining-A A +A
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
CLOSE to 2,000 members of multi-sectoral organizations marched through Cagayan de Oro’s streets and converged at the Kiosko Kagawasan in Divisoria to deliver their own version of President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Manila Monday afternoon.
Rhodora Bolusan, chairperson of the Collective Survivors of Sendong (CSS) - Carmen Chapter and Gabriela Northern Mindanao, said the protest was their way of calling Aquino to address the needs of the people.
Bolusan said they have seen no improvements in their lives, especially the survivors of Tropical Storm “Sendong” seven months after the tragedy.
“We were left unattended by the government, especially the survivors who went back to their community and left the evacuation centers,” she said.
According to Bolusan, out of the 10,000 housing units promised by the local government, only 1,000 were actually given.
“There are still many of us who need the government’s assistance and hope to be included in its livelihood programs,” Bolusan told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.
In Cagayan de Oro, a total of 8,559 shelter units are needed for the typhoon victims.
However, total number of units to be constructed yet is 5,357 of which only 1,696 were completed while 1,080 are undergoing construction.
A total of 2,577 have not yet started its construction.
Aside from the housing woes, the group also criticized Aquino’s approval of Executive Order (EO) 79, which they said only strengthens the Philippine Mining Act that is more favorable to the mining companies.
Antonio Pasco Jr., deputy secretary general of Bayan-Northern Mindanao, said EO 79 only worsens the ecological condition of the country.
“Instead of providing alternatives for precautionary measures to prevent further damage of the ecology, he (Aquino) even opens opportunities to foreign miners,” Pasco said.
According to Pasco, Aquino has no clear-cut programs for the protection of the environment.
“It only shows that PNoy’s administration is not for the people,” Pasco added.
Councilor President Elipe, committee chair on environment, added he is not contented of Aquino’s administration in relation to environment programs, citing that he has not yet fulfilled some of his reform agenda, specifically on mining.
But Misamis Oriental vice Governor Norris Babiera viewed this otherwise, as he even thanked Aquino for issuing the EO.
“It manifests a relevant balancing act of the president to protect our environment and rationalizing roles of local governments on mining ordinances, enhancing also revenue increase for both local and national coffers and limiting small-scale mining to declared ‘Minahang Bayan’ only,” Babiera said.
In his Sona, Aquino reiterated his support for the passage of the highly divisive Reproductive Health Bill and the controversial "sin tax" bill.
"Sikapin nating wag muling magka-backlog dahil sa dami ng estudyante. Sa tingin ko, Responsible Parenthood ang sagot dito," he said, which earned the longest and loudest applause among members of Congress and guests present in the joint session of Congress.
House Bill 4244, to be known as "An Act providing for a comprehensive policy on responsible parenthood, reproductive health (RH), and population and development, and for other purposes," is pending both in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Aquino said the sin taxes, or taxes in liquors and cigarettes, play a big role in the realization of these solutions.
"Sa pagtugon natin sa mga ito, malaki ang maiaambag ng Sin Tax Bill. Maipasa na sana ang Sin Tax Bill sa lalong madaling panahon. Mababawasan ang bisyo, madadagdagan ang pondo para sa kalusugan," he said.
Aquino also mentioned in his Sona the anomalous deals in the past administration citing Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) coffee scam, secondhand helicopter issue, and fat bonuses of state-owned companies.
In his speech, Aquino said it is his duty to correct the wrongdoings committed in the previous administration.
"Kung may makita akong mali sa sistema, tungkulin kong itama ito," he said.
The overpriced coffee issue was first revealed by the President in his Sona last year.
The anti-graft body also filed graft charge against former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo over the anomalous purchase of the Philippine National Police of two secondhand helicopters for a brand new price in 2009.
The two choppers were allegedly bought for the campaign of Arroyo’s wife during the 2004 presidential election.
In his speech, Aquino also cited economic achievements such the all-time Philippine Stock Exchange index and the positive ratings outlook.
He also mentioned the 6.4 GDP growth, which he said way surpassed the government's expectation.
The President also boasted the government's improvement in education saying that 4.57 million students who could not go to school before because of poverty would now be able to study.
He also cited the 43.61 percent increase in 2013 budget for state universities and colleges.
However, city Councilor Jose Abbu hit Aquino, saying that there’s not much changes in the country as he gave the president a “three” rating.
Abbu said Aquino is still grudging over the previous administrations and is not doing well in his assignment of alleviating poverty in the country.
“Instead of focusing more on improving our country, he was so engrossed in nailing the previous administration,” he said.
Councilor Ramon Tabor also gave Aquino a low score citing that circumstances are now causing fear for nominating Justice Secretary Laila De Lima as Chief Justice.
“I think PNoy wants to control the country that’s why he is moving against the previous administration,” Tabor said.
However, he lauded Aquino for the improvement in the economy in his two years of service as president.
Councilor Juan Sia gave Aquino a rate of seven as he still hopes him to become the best president by providing more jobs to everyone.
Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya also gave Aquino a high rate, citing that from the start of his administration, the president responded well to those affected by typhoon Sendong in Northern Mindanao. (With reports from Kathrina Alvarez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 24, 2012.