Anti-Insurgency Drive Shows GMA Priority of Political Survival — Ibon

Jun. 21, 2006

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos order to release P1-billion for anti-insurgency operations only illustrates her administrations misplaced priorities of political survival over the peoples welfare, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.

Ibon research director Antonio Tujan said that Arroyos presidency faces a grave crisis of legitimacy as a result of perceived corruption and, widespread perception of Presidential-level electoral fraud in the 2004 national elections. In order to buy the continued support of the military and police for her beleaguered administration, she has to provide more funding for the defense sector, even at the expense of funding for social services, Tujan said.

For example, in the 2006 national budget, expenditures for defense were increased by P8.2 billion to P52.4 billion. In contrast, health was only given P13.7 billion and housing, P2.8 billion.

According to Tujan, Pres. Arroyo has no moral justification to increase allocations for anti-insurgency campaigns, given her administrations alarming human rights record. Based on figures from human rights group Karapatan, every week from 2004 to so far in 2006, two people were assassinated, while one disappeared.

He added that Arroyos attempt to prop up her declining credibility, as well as deflect criticism that the money will only be pocketed by corrupt military officials, Malacaang also announced the release of another P1-billion as counterpart fund to the $21 million the US government granted the country under the Millennium Challenge Fund.

Tujan challenged the Arroyo administration that if it is truly sincere in ending the insurgency in the countryside, then it must provide more funds for social services rather than for increasing military activities. He added that the all-out war policy that the additional funding signifies can only mean that anyone who expresses dissent against Arroyo may be deemed a communist and become a target of the military.

Admittedly, the P1 billion anti-insurgency fund is not much in the context of the immense deficits in social services provision. But the above figures only highlight how the Arroyo administration is determined to hang on to power at any cost, even at the expense of sacrificing the interests and welfare of Filipinos. (Ibon Foundation)

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