Little Sisters in Philippines

Political situation in the Philippines 2012

When the Philippines achieved full Independence from the U.S.A. on July 4th 1946, a Democratic Government was put in place. The first President was Manuel Roxas. Since then, several Governments, claiming to be Democratic, have had control over the vast wealth of the Country. In the year 1972 President Marcos declared Martial Law and this was in place for 14 years until he was ousted by a revolution in 1986.
 
In February of 1986 an uprising of people in the Philippines caused the bloodless end to the Marcos regime. After this uprising referred to as EDSA which is where the confrontation with the Military took place, Cory Aquino, whose husband had been assassinated, reluctantly assumed the Presidency and tried to restore some justice to the Country; A country where 1% of the 96 million people owns 70% of the wealth. During her time of office, political opposition hindered her from doing all that she would have liked to do. 
After the death of Cory Aquino in 2010 , there was a request for her son to stand as President in the next election. He agreed to do this, his campaign being to root out the graft and corruption which is the reason par excellence for the gruelling poverty of the vast majority of Filipinos. Although he was already a Senator, about whom I had heard nothing in the past, he did not seem to be desirous of the Presidency. However he was surrounded by many who declared themselves ready to help in this task.
 
Benigno Nonoy Aquino 111 was elected President in the election of 2010 with a great majority, although his Political Party has not got a big majority in the Senate.
The task he had undertaken, was promising to deal with the tremendous problems of graft and corruption on every level of this society and providing a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the country. What a task to undertake! 
Many are sure that it is an impossible task and there is a great deal of scepticism; even the Judiciary is not above suspicion and at the time of writing there is an ongoing impeachment trial by the Senate of Chief Justice Corona.
The newspapers are full of investigations into corrupt practices and deals in the past Administrations ; misuse of Funds for the Military, Police Force etc. Slowly certain people are being held accountable for their actions; for disappearance and non-accountability of money over many years, besides many dubious business deals!
 
One of the first changes made was to banish the ‘wang wang’, a practice of those who considered themselves VIPs to have loud sirens in their cars to supersede any other vehicle on the road. Now if there is a siren heard, it is only for an emergency vehicle. It is not used even for the President!
Already I see small changes in attitudes towards the Sustenance of infrastructure; there are small improvements in the fields of Education, Health Care etc. Housing schemes are providing decent dwellings for Military and police staff. Efforts are being made to provide housing for the poor at an affordable rate in this City of Manila where many families reside in the street.
 
A recent report released by ‘The United Nations Children’s Fund’ (UNICEF) notes that 49 % of this country’s population or 45.6 million, now live in cities. A United Nations Forum in Manila estimated that out of Metro Manila’s 11.5 million residents, some 1.7 million children in 570,000 households now live in the squalor of informal settlements. In Metro Manila, only 69 % of these children’s families have access to clean water, and 89% have access to toilets. ”Children who live in the poorest urban communities experience multiple deprivations. They lack decent housing, are exposed to dangers from diseases, have limited access to clean water and are prone to neglect, abuse and exploitation”. In the same Forum it was reported that an alarming number of children were falling early into the world of crime. From 1995 t0 2000, 52,500 children in conflict with the law were arrested nationwide. This figure translates into one child per hour!
The Social Welfare Dept. of the government of President Aquino is delivering poverty reduction programs through conditional cash transfers. Money given to very needy families will ease hunger for a while and will get more children vaccinated and into school, but they will not change the deeply-rooted causes of poverty and hunger in the Philippines.
 
The outcome of the Impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona will be an important step in the success or failure of the hopes of the people for real change in this land of the Philippines. 
 
The Little Sisters in Malibay
09/05/2012
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