BS Aquino’s ‘good governance is good economics’ is anti-people, anti-development—Karapatan

“BS Aquino arrives in Europe to brag about his imagined economic growth and good governance before the international community. Meanwhile, he left a country and a people indignant with the unabated poverty, graft and corruption and human rights violations that mark his regime,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.    

Palabay said BS Aquino has no “bragging rights”. The recent killing of Fidela Salvador, an engineer who dedicated her skills and knowledge to help uplift lives of the people in poverty-stricken communities, shows the anti-people and anti-development mind-set of the BS Aquino government. 

“People who take into their hands the development of their communities because of government neglect and ineptness are punished by this regime. Community-initiated projects and people’s self-help activities are tagged as NPA projects and are targets of destruction; and the people behind these projects are harassed, abducted, killed,” said Palabay. 

On Sept. 5, Salvador was killed during a Northern Luzon Command-led military operation in Lacub, Abra, manned by the 41st Infantry Battalion deployed in the area.  At the time, she was on a field visit to monitor various socio-economic projects implemented by the Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CORDIS) in Lacub, Abra. 

With CORDIS, Salvador helped in the implementation of the Philippine Tropical Cyclone Emergency Response Project (PTCERP) and Philippine Tropical Cyclone Shelter and Livelihood Project, relief and livelihood projects for communities affected by super-typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.  

Similarly, Palabay cited the extrajudicial killing of activists Romeo Capalla on March 15 and his colleague Dionisio Garete on May 26. Both were involved in developing the sources of livelihood in poor peasant communities. Capalla was Executive Director of the Panay Fair Trade Center, which exports organic-certified muscovado sugar and banana chips. Garete’s organization, Kamada, is a major producer of muscovado sugar sold at the fair trade market through the PFTC. Both were victims of the paramilitary group RPA-ABB.  Early this month, The Prosecutor’s Office in Iloilo City dismissed the charges against the suspected gunman in the killing of Capalla. 

She also mentioned the case of alternative schools initiated and built by indigenous peoples and peasant organizations with the support of the Church and non-government service institutions. The people built these schools and learning because the government failed to provide for their education. 

“Yet, the government has tagged these schools as NPA schools to justify harassment of teachers and the other members of the community. Worse, the military use the schools as camps during their combat operations,” said Palabay.

As of end June 2014, Karapatan has documented more than 141,000 victims of the military’s use of schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purposes. 

“For the poor majority of the Filipino people, BS Aquino’s ‘good governance is good economics’ is a fallacy.  A corrupt bureaucracy that siphons off money away from the people’s needs is not good governance. A government that destroys what the people built because it failed to provide for them is not good governance,” Palabay concluded.