FVR calls for landmark reforms

Corrective measures for nation’s problems urged FVR lists 8 problems needing landmark reforms

By ROY C. SINFUEGO – Former President Fidel V. Ramos yesterday said that the problems of the nation, if they remain unattended or are poorly managed, constitute ticking time-bombs that could explode and damage the country.

However, these socioeconomic-political time-bombs can still be defused by landmark reforms, Ramos said as he urged President Arroyo to present long-term corrective measures in her State-of-the- Nation Address (SoNA) on Monday, instead of “a collection of wish lists, gift lists, and hit lists.”

“SANA instead of SoNA,” he remarked.

The former President said that considering the depressed condition in the country today and the lowered people’s morale, uncoordinated, quickie, and populist projects will not work and will be just a waste of time, resources, and goodwill.

“Unless the long-term, multi-dimensional issues and global factors race are squarely addressed now and corrective measures faithfully undertaken without delay, PGMA’s legacy, on balance, will continue to be one of a decline, not progress,” he said.

“There is no need to belabor wished-for conditions like food on every table or a balanced budget by 2009, because these will not happen in the short-term, primarily due to global economic downtrends.”

The former President said the people are still waiting for a big corrupt fish getting hit or caught and smugglers and tax evaders still go scot-free.

In his press statement, Ramos, listed eight ticking time-bombs which he describe as the most devastating:

1. Mass poverty due to overpopulation, rising prices, and the deepening rich-poor gap.

2. Environmental degradation, less potable water, reduced natural resources, and land use conflicts.

3. Reputation for official corruption and bureaucratic red tape leading to higher costs.

4. Non-credible electoral processes, and abuse by tradpols and turncoats.

5. Disputatious and flip-flopping decision-making culture.

6. A divided society with vestiges of feudal paternalism predominating.

7. Lack of durable peace in Mindanao and other places.

8. Unlevel playing field favoring monopolists, dynasties, and oligarchs.

Citing United Nations Human Development Reports for the years 2000, 2005, and 2007, the former President said the Philippines fell 13 places from No. 77 to No. 90, while Vietnam rose from No. 108 to No. 105.

“The 10-million new jobs in ten years will not happen because foreign investment are flowing to Vietnam — US$ 20 billion in 2007, compared to the Philippines’ US$ 1.5 billion in the same year. Job openings are overseas, not in the country,” Ramos said.

Also yesterday, Sen. Loren Legarda said the administration has only itself to blame if many Filipinos are expressing lack of enthusiasm or belief in the State of the Nation Address to be delivered by President Arroyo tomorrrow, Monday.

“The people can see the real state of the nation. And it’s a sorry state that we are in. No amount of spin can change the fact that many Filipinos are growing hungry, and that the prices of commodities are hitting all-time highs,” she said.

President Arroyo must own up to government’s lack of action on the country’s pressing problems like poverty, health concerns, and the deteriorating quality of education, she said.

“There’s the saying that ‘you can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time,’ The President must be candid in admitting where we really are right now – scraping rock-bottom.”

Also, the indigenous Filipinos under the banner of Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas delivered their own SoNA in a forum entitled “SoNA ng Pambansang Minorya at the Cathedral Hall of St. Mary and St.John.

Present in the forum were representatives of indigenous people (IP) from Mindanao and the Cordillera Region, Mangyans from Mindoro, and Aetas from Centarl Luzon. It was also attended by students, academicians, and other advocates of indigenous people’s rights.

Himpad Mangumalas, an indigenous Higaonon and spokesperson of the Kalipunan, said there has been no substantial progress in the situation of the indigenous peoples. since Mrs. Arroyo become the president of the country.

“The government’s sponsoring of foreign-funded aggressive development projects in various indigenous people’s communities remains a constant source of insecurity to the life of national minorities,” he said.

“At present, 16 out of 24 priority mining projects of the government cover indigenous people’s ancestral lands. Using various government agencies and anti-indigenous people laws, the Arroyo government now facilitates the easy and fast processing of applications for transnational mining companies.”

Mangumalas lamented that since 2001, a total of 130 extrajudicial killings have been committed against the indigenous people; 36 of these are victims of massacres and eight are prominent indigenous peoples’ leaders, he said.

“Some IP leaders were killed not only because of their affiliation with the progressive movement, but because they were fighting for our land.That’s how lethal our land has become and that’s how precious it is for us today. And we are willing to die for it because land is our life” Mangumalas declared.

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