Pacific Scoop

Challenge for new Philippines president to address poverty, military unrest, corruption, violent crimes

Poverty in the Philippines is one of the primary challenges Noynoy Aquino will face while president. (Photographs by Corazone Miller.)

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Corazon Miller.

President elect of the Philippines, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino has won the election battle, but the true fight is still to be fought as he takes his place as head of the country, say political commentators.

He is set to inherit a country rife with poverty, military unrest, corruption, violent crimes, Muslim insurgencies and political strife, say many of those who have been following the plight of the Filipino people.

Earlier this month, Aquino won 41.1 per cent of the votes, according to Pulse Asia’s official online results, with his closest rival former president Joseph Estrada coming in with 29.2 per cent of votes.

He pledged throughout his campaign he was going to put a stop to corruption within the government and as a result also stop poverty.

“If there is no corruption, there is no poverty,” was his election slogan.

The Philippines over the years has fallen into a deep ditch of poverty, says Minnie Anne Mata-Calub, programme secretary for faith, witness and service at the National Council of Churches of the Philippines.

Makeshift housing in the Philippines hampers peoples ability to reach their potential. (Photo by Corazone Miller.)

Eighty per cent of the population are living in poverty, she says, this is causing some to fight back through violence.

They see no other way than to fight against those elite few in control of the regional power, she says.

“People ask why there are armed groups [like the National People’s Army].

“The answer is they are trying to push for a democratic Philippines,” says Mata-Calub.

“It is those elite few [in government] that have created an uneven distribution of wealth, leaving the common people to fend for themselves.”

Despite the rich agricultural resource of the Philippines the people are struggling, she says.

“There are more urban poor than there were forty years ago; the life of the people is not improving.”

Widespread poverty has been the legacy of Philippines internal political and sectarian struggles. (Photo by Corazone Miller.)

To get the Philippines out of its current state of poverty and to “achieve our vision of an ideal world”, Mata-Calub says there is a need for a “political will” to overhaul the current system.

Dennis Maga, national coordinator for Migrante Aotearoa, a New Zealand based migrant Filipino organisation, says the question for this new government is whether they will “serve the people or preserve their own assets”.

He says Aquino will need to address the labour export problem, as well as the many human rights violations that have run rampant under the previous government.

It is early days yet to know if Aquino will achieve what he promises, says Maga, but there is still hope.

Aquino is to take his oath as president on June 30.

New Philippines president-elect keeps Aquino legacy alive

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Corazon Miller.

Nonoy Aquino has “some big shoes to fill” as he walks in the shadows of his parents legacy, says the national coordinator of Migrante Aotearoa, a New Zealand based Filipino migrant association.

Aquino’s parents were key players in the history of Filipino politics.

His father was former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, who was assassinated in 1983 as a result of his strong opposition to Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.

His mother was former president Maria Corazon “Cory” Aquino who led the 1986 “People Power” revolt and restored democracy to the small South East Asian nation.

Paul Wolfowitz, in the Wall Street Journal, says the Aquinos were instigators of the peaceful movement towards a democratic Philippines in the 1980s.

Earlier this month, Aquino rode the wave of his parents popularity to climb to power above his closest rival; former president Joseph Estrada.

Dennis Maga of Migrante Aotearoa says many people think Aquino will be like his parents and will change the Philippines for the better.

Aquino has promised the people he will go against the corrupt practices of past governments and create a new honest government that will change the life of the people.

However Maga says despite Aquino’s best intentions, he is not his parents. He has yet to prove if he will lead the people out of poverty.

There is a long hard road ahead of Aquino and Maga says “We don’t know if a popular president will be able to fix [the country].”

Corazon Miller is a postgraduate journalism student at AUT University and writing for Pacific Scoop.