Wrong focus

The Department of Education (DepEd) has announced Monday that they are set to tap 12,300 out of school youths (OSYs) and train them to produce health soaps for Central Luzon’s 1.3 million public school students.

“We are counting on some 12,300 OSYs to produce herb-based health soaps which we intend to distribute to schoolchildren suffering from various skin ailments in Tarlac and Pampanga,” Edcation Secretary Jesli Lapus said.

Lapus furthered that the “cash-in-soap” program was in line with Gloria Arroyo’s Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP)  in the face of the worsening global economic crisis. At the same time, Lapus says that while the program would provide alternative livelihood to the idle youths, it will also addresses the problem of head lice and skin diseases among public school children.

The education chief lauded the program because of its “multiplier effect” on Central Luzon’s local economy because of the jobs and additional income (P4,000 for making 2,000 soaps in a 20 day period)  it will generate; but he seems to be missing the point that the DepEd should be working doubly hard to provide these idle youths education and not soap making skills.

Lapus should leave jobs generation to the Labor Department and focus on addressing the issue of why we have thousands of OSYs in the first place.

The Philippine Government has once again revealed its misplaced and elitist mindset when it comes to the OSY issue. After their idea of employing the army of idle youths to collect garbage and sweep city streets, now they want them to make soap.

They belong in school for petesake.

The Government's Project OYSTER (Out-of-School Youth Towards Economic Recovery)

The Government's Project OYSTER (Out-of-School Youth Towards Economic Recovery)


Yesterday, the Filipino people commemorated the 110th anniversary of the Philippine-American War. More than a million Filipinos laid down their lives more than a century ago in defense of our motherland against rising imperialist power – America.

Now, 110 years since, we are again faced with the prospect of yet another stage of unbridled imperialist plunder and militarization via the Arroyo regime’s charter change.

The following is a statement from our militant compatriots in the United States that details why the Filipino people, including those overseas, should exert all efforts to expose and oppose Arroyo’s cha-cha.



On this 110th anniversary of the Philippine-American War, the first US war of aggression for conquest overseas, Filipinos under the banner of BAYAN USA remain vigilant and defiant over US government maneuvers, in conjunction with the US puppet administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to dominate and control Philippine economic and political affairs. In fact, moves for US government intervention in the Philippines are intensifying more than ever under the Arroyo administration. Two of the most recent forms of intervention are related to the US-Arroyo clique’s drive for Charter Change, or Cha-Cha– this week’s passing of House Resolution 737 by Philippine House Speaker Prospero Nograles and the Obama administration’s renewed commitment to the Balikatan exercises, this time in Bicol, for 2009.

Cha-Cha = Economic Liberalization

The recent passage of HR 737 as railroaded by Arroyo mouthpiece Prospero Nograles this week significantly indicates the first inclusion of the Arroyo clique’s ardent campaign to alter the 1987 Philippine Constitution. This not only indicates that the Cha-Cha campaign is alive and kicking, but is poised for the offensive. Nograles, who was put in position after the Arroyo-maneuvered ouster of former House Speaker Jose De Venecia, filed House Resolution 737 this week. HR 737 specifically calls for the amendment of Sections 2 and 3 of Article 12 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution “to allow the acquisition by foreign corporations and associations and the transfer or conveyance thereto, of alienable public and private lands.”

The resolution was approved by the House by a vote of 11-4. It’s next stop will be the Philippine Senate. In these times of devastating economic crisis, further economic liberalization of the Philippine economy is the last thing the Filipino people need. The economic provisions proposed in Nograles’ resolution will ensure more landlessness for Filipino farmers, deepening poverty, and expand joblessness in the Philippines. Despite claims from the Arroyo clique that economic liberalization will bring in foreign investments and employment opportunities, the reality indicates quite the contrary. Studies have already shown that existent policies of economic liberalization, under the auspices of neoliberal globalization, are at the root cause of global economic crisis that is burdening the already-suffering Filipino people. More liberalization will only compound the Filipino people’s burdens even more.

Cha-Cha = More US Military Intervention

It is a given that US economic interests overseas are always protected by intensified US military presence and aggression. The Obama administration’s continued commitment to the invasive Balikatan exercises, this time in Bicol, is disappointing, because it will expand US military presence in the country. It is equally disappointing that the status quo of a regular US military aid package to the Philippines remains in tact, despite unanimous documentary evidence from international monitoring bodies that these US tax dollars are being funneled towards the Philippine military’s perpetration of extra-judicial killings and abductions of Filipino civilians, under the tutelage of US military advisers deployed to the Philippines. Since the Phil-Am War of 1899, US military presence has never left the Philippines.

US military presence will surely expand and increase if Arroyo’s Cha-Cha passes in the Philippine Congress. Section 25 Article XVIII in the Philippine Constitution clearly prohibits the presence of foreign military troops and facilities on Philippine soil, yet the US government has managed to keep a military stronghold in the Philippines and mock Philippine national sovereignty, even after the closing of Subic Naval and Clark Air Force Base in 1991. It has done so through a series of US-Philippine military agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). These agreements have managed to ensure the continuing human rights violations committed by US troops ranging from sexual terrorism against Filipino women and children to direct combat of Philippine soil. Engagement in direct combat by foreign troops on Philippine soil is officially outlawed by the Philippine Constitution, and is one of the provisions the Arroyo administration is intent on changing as part of the Cha-Cha.

A Call for Patriotism

BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations across the United States, representing patriotic Filipinos forced to leave due to unsurvivable poverty in the Philippines, believes the struggle of the Philippine-American War of 1899 is not over, as current US government maneuvers in the Philippines are still in contrast to the collective interests of the Filipino people for genuine national sovereignty. It vehemently condemns the malicious and anti-patriotic character of the Arroyo administration for betraying the national interests of the Filipino people. Not only will Cha-Cha strip Filipinos of the right to determine the fate of their country and its natural resources, it will pave the way for the official resurrection of Martial Rule and return of fascist dictatorship to the Philippines. Cha-Cha continues the mission of the US government during the Phil-Am War in securing US government control over the Philippines. It is for this reason that our resistance as Filipinos must also step up.

On this day of memory of the Phil-Am War, let us pledge to heighten our patriotism and love of country by denouncing Cha-Cha and calling on the Philippine Senate to reject HR 737 and stop the Cha-Cha train dead on its tracks. Let us continue our demand to have all US troops withdrawn from the Philippines as well as all forms of US economic aid to the Philippines.

Let us also continue to call for the impeachment, resignation, and/or ouster of the number one traitor of the Filipino people– Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.