April 19, 2011
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s Holy Week Reflections for
“Behold the cross of the Filipino people and end their calvary ...”
The patriotic alliance of progressive forces Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in
Southern Mindanao Region (Bayan-SMR) joins the entire Christendom in the
observance of Lent.
The conditions faced by Filipino people are akin to Christ’s sufferings on
Runaway inflation, incessant oil price hikes, joblessness and lack of
economic opportunities have nailed our people leaving them bereft in
helpless agony. The yoke is passed from generation, and borne by majority
of the Filipinos, the working class, the peasantry, the urban poor, the
exploited professionals, youths and students, the national minorities, the
More of our countrymen are driven to find work abroad. They enter all
sorts of jobs where they are most vulnerable. They are supposed to be
contributing to the country’s productivity but they are out and away from
home and their families because their country could not provide jobs and
Injustices abound. The disparity between the rich and the poor remained.
The 20 richest earn the combined income of 52 million families in a year
of work, while top corporations’ profits increase by many hundredfold.
Wages are oppressive while social services are left at the exploit of
private hands. Budget for education, health and housing are very low
compared to military spending and debt payment. The economy is falling. We
have been ever dependent on export of cheap labor and raw materials, as
all these benefit a few who get richer.
Filipino workers are overworked and underpaid without due benefits. Their
tenure is largely unprotected and while they struggle to form unions so
they can collectively bargain for their rights, they are instead met with
The peasants slave themselves to work in lands they do not usually own and
yet are ironically, most vulnerable to hunger. They find that the money
they make could not keep pace with the steady increases in the price of
goods and basic commodities. They can hardly buy their own tools and farm
inputs that have been overpriced. As always, they live in danger of being
driven out from their lands, by landlords, if not, by the large mining
companies and plantations that lay claims on the land they till.
The urban poor lack employment, and if they are lucky, they work in jobs
whose incomes are wanting and irregular. They squeeze themselves along the
city’s sewers and slums. The toll of incessant oil price increases fall
heavily on them, and they are mostly hungry, and homeless and in perpetual
danger of cruel eviction.
The women are in oppressed economic conditions and have yet to break free
from discrimination of their gender wrought by society’s male-dominated
outlook. They suffer much from the crisis being the ones at the center of
running the household. They have health needs specific to their gender
that remain neglected by the government. They are not free and safe.
Our professionals are poorly paid and hit most by corruption and neglect
in the bureaucracy while our youths and students, largely uncared for, are
not given better chances of developing into becoming productive citizens.
Many of them could not go to school because education is unaffordable.
Poverty has pushed most of them to misery instead of growing healthy,
productive and supposedly become the country’s reliable productive human
The widening and deepening crisis manifested in the way people’s suffering
have worsened behooves reflection, especially on the part of the President
upon whom the greater responsibility to govern the nation’s life greatly
We are asking Pnoy to heed the people’s call for meaningful change, and
not to take the path of short-term, temporary solution that only waste
We are tired of an economy tied to imperialist domination. We bear the
burden of a country subjected to the role as providers of cheap raw
materials and cheap labor to the economies of superpowers. We are tired of
the fact that our people are overworked and exploited, that land and
capital are in the monopoly of a few who benefit from the existing social
order, and that government is run by them who comprised the few who own
much of the wealth.
We urge Pnoy at this time of reflection to start lifting the cross of its
people borne by reconsidering changes: the choice to carve the path of the
country to national industrialization where government controls and
develops our economy to serve the needs its own people rather than the
dictates of the outside; the choice to uphold national sovereignty instead
of supporting foreign control; the choice to ally yourself with the poor
who voted for you instead of the ruling class and exacting accountability
on them who committed crimes against the nation; the choice to uphold your
people’s rights instead of intensifying repression of their political and
To decisively end the Filipinos’ calvary is your good chance of
BAYAN SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION (BAYAN-SMR)
Mobile Number: 09106671009
April 20, 2011
Bayan to Aquino: “Stop playing Pontius Pilate in the
oil price increases!”
DAVAO CITY – “Stop playing Pontius Pilate in the oil price increases! The
people have suffered enough!” This was Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern
Mindanao Region (Bayan-SMR)’s lenten message to President Benigno Aquino
III in the wake of another round of oil price increase.
Pump price of gasoline in Davao City last January was at P49. Now, it is
closed to P59, or an increase by P10 in the last four months after it
spiked anew, for the 13th time, yesterday.The mark up for diesel pump
prices yesterday was 25 cents, and for gasoline, 60 cents.
Energy officials have put the blame on the changes of prices of oil in the
global market amid talks of a possible shortage. “But, we all know, and
even the President knows, that these are mere speculations. His act of
condoning these increases is a betrayal to the Filipino people, betrayal
to his messianic promise of bringing change in the lives of the Filipino
people,” Franchie Buhayan, secretary general of Bayan-SMR said.
Buhayan cited that there is also no reason to believe that the unrest in
Libya, as energy officials of the Aquino administration would like
Filipinos to believe, will impair the Philippine’s oil supply since Libya
accounts only 2% of the Philippines’ oil requirements.
She said, even Saudi Arabia, where much of the country’s oil is sourced,
has assured enough supply of oil. Even the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) have declared adequate spare capacity and
Speculations, Buhayan pointed out, are what these big oil companies in the
country, like Petron, Shell and Chevron, feed on to amass big profits, a
thing they were able to easily do since the Oil Deregulation Law was
passed in 1996.
“Such speculations always precede overpricing schemes by these companies
which gobble up millions of additional revenues every day, such as the
P124.49 million that Petron, which controls 38% of the supply of oil in
the Philippine market, gets as additional profits in a day; Shell, which
holds 28% of the market share at an additional P91.41 million per day, and
Chevron, which controls 12%, an additional P40.66 million each day,” she
On top of these overpricing schemes, Buhayan said the government also
exacts 12% on the prices of petroleum products that consumers pay through
Value Added Tax (VAT). VAT on petroleum products bleeds P44 million from
Filipinos every day.
Buhayan said Aquino has choices to stop these oil companies from bleeding
more Filipinos. One is by scrapping the 12% VAT; by invoking the Price
Control Act, or junking of the Oil Deregulation Law. “But apparently,
President Aquino chose to side with these profit-driven beasts,” Buhayan
Adding fury to the fire, she added, is Aquino’s responses to the people’s
growing clamor against continuing price hikes and calls for substantial
On the day oil prices increased the 12th time last April 12, Aquino warned
drivers of being punished if they conduct protests.
Buhayan said at the rate the prices are increasing, a public utility
jeepney (PUJ) driver which requires an average of 15-20 liters a day will
need P150-P200 more to cope with the increase.
“This means that the fuel subsidy for every PUJ and tricycle driver
announced by President Aquino on the day of the transport strike end of
March which amounts only to P1,050 will last for only a week,” she said
The government has announced distribution of the subsidy through the
so-called smart cards starting May 1. “But even then, there is no
assurance that PUJ and tricycle drivers will get their share of the
insignificant subsidy since beneficiaries will have to be determined yet
by the franchise owners,” she said.
“It is also suspicious why the Aquino government required smart card
holders to refuel only at Petron, Caltex or Shell pump stations. If this
is true, then, the subsidy is not really meant to help the drivers, but to
keep money coming in for the Big 3 oil cartel,” added Buhayan.###
Mobile Number: 09106671009
SILAB, peasant advocates’
cultural group, presented a cultural presentation on the recent situation
of Bagobo-C’lata in Sitio Kahusayan, Brgy. Manuel Guianga, Tugbok Dist. in
their struggle to regain and defend their ancestral lands against the land
grabbers during KALBARYO SA KABUS 2011 in the streets of Magallanes going
to Freedom Park, Davao City, April 20, 2011. (PHOTOS By: JONALD MAHINAY)