“Gihisgotan sa Phillippine Development Forum (PDF) kung paunsa pa palig-onon ang pagbaligya sa atoang mga nasudnong bahandi pinaagi sa Public-Private Partnership (PPP),” said Sheena Duazo, of Bayan-Southern Mindanao, one of the groups which held a rally outside the Marco Polo Hotel during the first day of the gathering.
By IRENE V. DAGUDOG
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The two-day Philippine Development Forum held here may be touted by President Benigno Aquino III himself as a gathering that “represents the very best of the ideals behind the public-private-partnership,” a policy he considers a major driver for the country’s economy, but militants see it as a venue for further sellout of the country’s resources, and a heightened opportunity for U.S. intervention.
“Gihisgotan nila kung paunsa pa palig-onon ang pagbaligya sa atoang mga nasudnong bahandi pinaagi sa Public-Private Partnership (PPP),”said Sheena Duazo, of Bayan-Southern Mindanao, one of the groups which held a rally outside the Marco Polo Hotel during the first day of the gathering.
Declaring the day as “a day of outrage against U.S. intervention” in time for the commemoration of the outbreak of Philippine-American war on February 4, 1899, the militants took it as a chance to score the Philippine President for its inaction over the intrusion of a US ship in Tubbataha Reef which damaged heavily one of the country’s most important remaining natural ecosystems.
President Aquino delivered the closing address of the forum, where he announced among other things, that the effectiveness of his administration’s efforts “have been recognized the world over,” and one of the most telling signs, he pointed out is the increased confidence of the international community in the country.
“Today, CEOs and businessmen themselves congratulate our success, express active interest in the Philippines, and more often than not, even extend a hope that we will consider their proposals,” Aquino said.
The U.S. is the Philippines largest grant donor, providing more than USD 318 Million last year, bringing the total assistance to the country to more than USD 2.4 Billion since 2001. This was based on the statement issued by the United States Delegation to the partners meeting at the forum.
But for Bayan-SMR’s Duazo, this is plain “US intervention” noting that the grant it provides the country is coated with “deceit” as it is given in exchange for extraction of our natural resources as well as exploitation of the country’s labor force.
With the recent spate of violations of the US against Philippine laws, Duazo said, President Aquino should even consider closing the country’s doors to US proposals.
The militants’ rage comes at the heel of the series of “violations” of the US government against the Philippine laws.
In January 17, the USS Guardian, a minesweeper, rammed the 1,000-square meters coral of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan, despite warnings from the park rangers that they are entering a protected site.
“(And) What did they do? They took battle positions and aimed their high-powered weapons against the poor rangers who were just doing their job,” Bai Ali Indayla, second nominee of Kabataan Partylist, said in a statement. She scored the US naval soldiers, in particular, for disrespecting local authorities.
Days ago, the USS Cheyenne, a nuclear-powered attack submarine docked at the Subic Bay in Zambales.
“It’s highly condemnable that the US government violated our Constitution which bans the entry and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and the setting up of foreign military facilities,” Indayla said.
League of Filipino Students’s Davao City Coordinator Rendell Ryan Cagula said “Kining pagsulod sa USS Guardian ginaingon nga regular Port Call lang. Pero kung atong tan-awon pinaagi sa Visiting Forces Agreement ug sa Mutual Defense Treaty, yano lang makasulod ang mga sundalong Amerikano sa atong nasud.”
Cagula also laughed at the reason that it was because of the navigation map why the US Navy entered the Tubbataha area, saying “Grabe ka taas ang iyang teknolohiya ug tan-awon nato usa kini ka War Ship nga aduna gyuy kakayahan nga momanipula ug magnavigate dira sa kadagatan.”
Cherry Orendain, leader of the progressive youth group Anakbayan, scored the continuing US intervention as she recalled last year’s dumping of toxic waste by the US also in Subic, as well as the recovered spy planes or drones which crashed off the waters in Masbate.
Bayan’s Duazo scored the Aquino government for continuing to uphold US interests in all fronts, saying “the presence of army and navy in our territory is to secure the political and economic interest of US Imperialist at the expense of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity and worst of all is at the expense of the most essential democratic rights and interest of the Filipinos.”
“The Filipino youth are ashamed of having a bootlicker president. Aquino can never be expected to uphold his patriotic duty as demanded of him by the Constitution because he owes his presidential victory to the US. Malacanang is rubber-stamped with ‘Made in the USA’,” Kabataan’s Indayla said.
She added that it’s high time to abrogate one-sided agreements with the US, including the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty.
This as she warned against the US imposing its authority on the Filipino people and the Philippine territory just like what happened during the Fil-Am war in 1899 to 1913. About one million Filipinos died during the said war.
Meanwhile, Barog Katawhan’s Davao Oriental Council Leader Grace Curso was dismayed that the US continues to emit carbon gases that damage the earth’s atmosphere.
“Sila ang hinungdan nga adunay mga kalamidad nga miabot partikular sa Compostela Valley ug Davao Oriental,” she said, adding that large-scale mining and logging concessions owned by US corporations aggravate the calamities, especially in Mindanao.
Anakbayan’s Orendain said the American government has been setting the country’s economic policies with the PPP as an example.
Orendain said the PPP only means wholesale privatization of our basic utilities, an added burden on the people.
“Nagapalisod kini sa katawhan. Iprivatize na ang 26 ka public hospital ubos sa PPP. Asa naman karun magpatambal ang Pilipino kung magkasakit?,” she said, adding that in Davao City, the remaining public hospital, which is the Southern Philippines Medical Center is up for privatization under the PPP. “Kung magkasakit ang mga kabus, kaya ba nila nga mobayad og P5,000 bilang admission fee. Di ba dili?” (Irene V. Dagudog/davaotoday.com)