SOMEWHERE IN NORTHERN MINDANAO (MindaNews/25 July)– “President Benigno C. Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) ran for about one hour and 28 minutes. Of the three SONAs he delivered, this one is the longest. But this one, too, has the shortest words for land reform and national industrialization.”
This was how Jorge Madlos, National Democratic Front-Mindanao spokesperson, described the SONA of Aquino in an interview with MindaNews at his guerilla base on Monday.
Madlos, also known by his nom de guerre Ka Oris, also added that the President is “very generous in establishing the buko juice (industry).”
The rebel leader was referring to the coconut water industry, which according to Aquino, was once treated as a waste product but is now being utilized by the farmers.
The President boasted that from 483,862 liters exported in 2009, it grew to 1.8 million in 2010 and ballooned to a staggering 17 million liters last year.
While they were monitoring the SONA using a projector screen attached to an improvised TV tuner and a laptop, Madlos quickly reacted after the President said something about the land reform program of the government.
“We are improving the system, so that we can more swiftly and more efficiently realize agrarian reform. The government is doing everything in its power to ensure that our farmers can claim as their own the land they have tilled and nurtured with their sweat,” Aquino said.
“There are those, however, who wish to obstruct us. I say to them: We will obey the law. The law says, the nation says, and I say: Before I step down, all the land covered by CARP will have been distributed,” he added.
“Mao ra to (Was that it)?” asked Madlos.
Later in the interview, he stressed that the majority in the Philippine society are peasants without lands. “Having no land, no economic activities, their poverty is addressed through 4Ps.”
4Ps is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the “poorest of the poor” households to improve their health, nutrition and education.
Madlos described it as a “dole out” program of the government, adding that it cannot alleviate poverty in the country.
“You cannot alleviate poverty in the Philippines without addressing the very foundation of the economy, which is giving land to the landless, giving work to the workers through national industrialization,” he explained.
Madlos said the 4Ps program is teaching Filipinos “to be like beggars” and is an opportunity for corrupt government officials to pocket the money for use in the elections next year.”
The rebel leader stressed further that the President failed to say in his SONA about the need to establish a national industry.
“Failing to establish our own industry means producing a lot of unemployed workers,” said Madlos, adding that a lot of extra labors are wasted because government economic planners preferred a production- and import-oriented economy.
In a separate statement emailed to the media, Madlos futher said that the “program is an admission on the part of the Aquino regime that it is unable to solve unemployment and poverty because it cannot provide land to the landless nor establish national industries to offer quality jobs to workers.”
Clearly, he said that government’s economic growth depend so much from the outside instead of developing it from inside the country.(Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)