By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – From bloodbath to bloodbath, pork barrel, coverup, criminal negligence, government violation of the Constitution, human rights, and even of its own signed peace agreements, Aquino’s leadership is now viewed as a danger and scourge to Filipinos. On Thursday (March 5) a diverse composition of organizations and personalities launched the Noynoy Out Now (NOW!) national movement, vowing to lead a series of nationally coordinated protest actions starting March 8, Women’s Day. They are demanding Pres. Aquino’s immediate resignation.
To replace his leadership, NOW! proposes an “extra-Constitutional way,” which, they said, is correct legally, morally and politically.
Rather than the usual transfer of the reins to the vice-president, they propose to initiate “real democratic change.” They want Aquino to resign ASAP and give way instead to a “people’s council for national unity, reforms and peace.” They presented it as two intertwined solutions to problems of injustice and poverty today, to veiled threats including legal doubts on people power, and to naysayers who want to force Filipinos to bear with Aquino until next year.
Against the Malacañang’s statements noting people’s hesitation at joining Oust Noynoy now movements, Mico Pagalangan of Youh Act Now said, “If we do nothing now, that is a statement in itself.”
He urged the youth and the Filipino people not to be swayed into staying silent over Aquino’s fatal flaws as leader just because Aquino has only 15 months left in his term.
“Don’t be wary of what will come after ousting him. Be wary of what will happen if he stays in power,” said Pagalangan.
In the new movement’s manifesto titled “Aquino resign! Establish the People’s Council for National Unity, Reform and Peace,” NOW! Leaders said an interim “people’s council” could ensure truth and accountability in the Mamasapano probe and put in place key electoral reforms and anti-corruption measures prior to the holding of elections for a permanent government.
In a press conference in Quezon City, they asked the public to join this national movement to effect change, the end-goal of which they differentiate from the “change” after the first two people power uprisings. Teddy Casiño explained that post Edsa “change” had benefited mostly the installed political factions of the same elite who just maintained the same political system skewed to elite interests, at the expense of ordinary working people. The latest of these leaders to capitalize and benefit from people’s aspirations for change is President Aquino, but he has bitterly disappointed his supposed boss, as the justifications for ousting him listed by the Noynoy Out Now! leaders said this Thursday.
“We cannot afford another Mamasapano blunder, another PDAF-DAP scheme, another MRT mishap, another disastrous response to natural calamities, a Zamboanga siege or Luneta hostage crisis. We cannot sit by while poverty and joblessness worsens despite glowing growth rates, criminality engulfs our communities, and our public assets and national patrimony are being sold down the river,” said the manifesto of the Noynoy Out Now! movement.
The list of why President Aquino has to vacate Malacañang is getting longer the more he stays in power, said the leaders and personalities in Noynoy Out Now (NOW!) who came from groups of Church people, professionals such as doctors, lawyers and teachers, retired militarymen, whistleblowers, students and professors, seasoned activists and progressive partylist lawmakers, women and sectoral leaders such as from farmers and fisherfolk, urban poor, workers, drivers and small operators.
They are people-power-tested (or battle-tested) and mobilizable, as Teddy Casiño, former Bayan Muna Representative and now a spokesman for Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, one of the members of NOW!, put it during the press conference. He describes the groups pushing for Noynoy Out Now! as groups who do not just call out for change but who are also ready and proven at bringing warm bodies for this struggle for justice.
Aquino as living symbol that something is wrong
Catholic Archbishop Oscar Cruz enumerated many indicators of problems pointing to Aquino’s failed leadership. He cited for example the increased incidences of prostitution, gambling and casinos, taxation, confusing prices of gas and oil, continuing malfunction of railways, and, particularly in the Napoles debacle where Aquino himself escorted Janet Lim-Napoles to the arresting police officers, all these particularly the Napoles debacle are the “very living symbol that something is wrong.”
Aquino’s presidency showcases “a proven pattern of his being habitually remorseless, recidivist, and violator of the law,” said lawyer Edre Olalia, president of NUPL.
“Our president has lost the moral authority to lead this country,” Bishop Art Asi of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines declared at Thursday’s press conference.
“Having Aquino as president is a big disaster for Filipinos,” said National Artist Bien Lumbera who also slammed Aquino for having shown utter disregard and disrespect of Philippine culture.
“No matter how patient Filipinos are, they cannot bear anymore with a presidency like Aquino’s who turned every day into a disaster for women and children,” Joms Salvador, leader of Gabriela, largest association of women in the country, said at Thrusday’s press launch of NOW!
Salvador decried how, under Aquino, more women became victims of violence, and that the country’s social services fell down to its most rotten status.
“We don’t want to add to statistics of victims of disaster, violence and negligence,” Salvador said, hence the participation of Gabriela in Noynoy Out Now!
Bucking Aquino coverup
Since the start of 2015 and left and right price hikes, the Aquino administration has consistently belittled criticisms and protests against the hikes – saying they make up only a few groups. In Oust Noynoy campaign, their tact sounded the same. But, contrary to claims that only a few Filipinos want Aquino to resign, psychiatrist Roonie Lesaca of RX Resign said more people nowadays are in fact recognizing already President Aquino’s bungling leadership.
Lawyer Jose Malvar of Citizen Crime Watch also disputed the idea that only a few people are trying to unseat Aquino. He cited the overkill deployment of police to block the Edsa anniversary protesters from entering the people power shrine.
Martin Diño of VACC said at the launch of Noynoy Out Now! that today, the issue appears to be more about who has a thicker face (pakapalan ng mukha). He described what is happening in various investigations of Mamasapano as just “brasuhan” (one-upmanship), and not about accountability.
For Dr. Jojo Carabeo of Health Alliance for Democracy, the Aquino presidency is like a malignant tumor that has to be taken out for the country to start to get healthy and well.
“There is no other action but make him go down,” the doctor said. The health groups condemn the Aquino presidency for privatizing health services and instituting budget cuts, all of which result directly to people’s suffering.
From the start, the working people in this country has derived no comfort or relief from poverty from this administration, said Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno.
“The workers demanded emergency relief but Aquino took no action; instead he brought the wages down,” said Labog. He added that every day Aquino hangs on to his post in Malacañang, he continues to prolong the people’s suffering from high prices, all-out war, and low wages.
“The country’s professionals are easily moved to signing petitions asking Aquino to resign,” Malou Turalde of POWER Quezon City, a group of professionals, said at the NOW! Press launch. “Our professionals are frustrated, discontented and angry at the incompetence, ineptitude and subservience of Aquino presidency,” Turalde said. The group she represents are part of Noynoy Out Now! Movement.
Batting for a New People Power
The Noynoy Out Now! movement’s manifesto recognizes and appeals to the public that a new type of people power will have to be required to do away with the Aquino presidency and replace it with a temporary council for genuine good governance.
“The people’s efforts to force the removal of the Aquino regime and replace it with a transitory People’s Council will necessarily be through the route of people power, or more precisely, the Power of the People,” NOW! manifesto reads. The movement calls on the armed forces, police and local authorities to respect and support “the people’s exercise of their sovereign will,” a power which, they said, is clearly enshrined in the Philippine Constitution.
Why replace Aquino now? The Noynoy Out Now! movement warns that to wait for 2016 elections is to let Aquino get away with his crimes and coverup – because with him still in Malacañang, NOW! leaders said, the message is that leaders like Aquino can trample on our law, and continue to use the government machinery in 2016 elections where “political dynasties, money and a flawed automated electoral system will decide the Filipino’s fate” as a people, again.