By Frances Josephine Espeso
In time with the Philippines’ victory over China for West Philippine Sea sovereign rights, IBON Executive Director Jose Enrique Africa said it is important to uphold Philippine sovereignty without depending on China or the US.
“Bully ang China, pero bully rin ang US,” Africa said Thursday during IBON Foundation’s 2016 Midyear Birdtalk held in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman College of Education.
During the talk, Africa said the conflict is really between China and the US.
He said discussions between former President Benigno Aquino III and US President Barack Obama on the territorial dispute added to the aggravation of the situation between the two Asian countries.
“Mula ba talaga sa simula eh gusto nang makipag-giyera ng China or na-provoke lang siya kay Obama at Aquino?” Africa said.
Africa also suggested that the new administration use its own diplomatic resources together with the Philippines’ public support and its relations with other countries.
He also emphasized the need to stand with other developing countries in opposing exploitation, domination and neocolonialism.
Besides discussing the possible next moves of the new administration on the West Philippine Sea issue, IBON also tackled the prospects of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and the legacy of his predecessor, Aquino.
On the first part of the two-day forum, IBON Executive Editor Rosario Bella Guzman presented relevant statistics on poverty, economic growth, unemployment rates, and net worth of top business moguls during Aquino’s presidency.
Emphasizing the discrepancy between the last administration’s reported economic achievements and the continuing low living standards of many Filipinos, Guzman pointed to neoliberalism, elitist economics and governance as favoring the business sector over the working class.
“You’re institutionalizing state support for corporate profit,” Guzman said, remarking on the Aquino regime.
Included in the legacy Guzman pointed out were corruption and cronyism, criminal negligence, US subservience, attack on the Left and human rights violations.
On the other hand, Africa noted the rising number of extrajudicial killings and vigilantism at the beginning of the term of President Duterte.
As of 12:00 noon of July 14, two weeks after Duterte’s inauguration on June 30, 195 killings have been documented by Inquirer.net.
Aside from pointing out the effects of Duterte’s war on crime, Africa also expressed optimism on the new president’s pronouncements on social services such as free education, health care, irrigation and the release of the coco levy fund, among others.
He also stated that so far, Duterte’s actions have already been different from all previous presidents, especially with his decisions to conduct peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and to open Cabinet positions to members from the Left.
According to Africa, this, along with the support for a greater mass movement, is a factor that outlives any administration.
The IBON Foundation is a non-profit organization aimed towards research, education, and information-development, providing analyses and assessments of social, economic, and political issues within and beyond the Philippines. #