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August 1, 2008

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Lies and treachery. That is how Innabuyog puts the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of GMA. As she faces greater criticism from militant organizations and forces which oppose her administration, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo went on to rub more salt to the wounds of hunger and poverty of indigenous women in the Philippines when she delivered her 8th SONA last July 28, 2008.

It was not only a brazen act of lying. It was an act of treachery declaring unachieved programs and promising something which is far from impossible to be achieved considering that the government of GMA is not responding to the essential conditions of the Filipino women and people.

In her SONA in July 2001, she mentioned that only 9.8% Filipinos self-rate themselves as hungry. The latest survey puts 16.3% or 14.5 million Filipinos self-rate themselves as hungry and 4.2% are experiencing severe hunger. Latest statistics according to GWP Representative Liza Maza also tells that unemployment rate has now reached 2.9 million Filipinos while 6.62 are unemployed. The government's National Statistics Office pegged food inflation rates at 17..4% in July 2008 which is almost 15% higher than last year's 2.6%.

Yet in her last SONA, GMA defended the Value Added Tax (VAT) which progressive organizations like GABRIELA and pro-people legislators are demanding to be scrapped. It is a lame assertion for GMA to say that removing the VAT will emperil further the country's economy. Innabuyog is however convinced that VAT only strangles the poor women and their families being an additional 12% cost to basic commodities, services and utilities. Economic indicators tell of the majority of Filipinos already unable to buy their family's food requirements.

GMA's Anti-poverty Program is essentially definitely a failure as already shown by economic indicators. That is on one hand. On the other hand,she is ever more determined to kill the m basic source of livelihood of indigenous women, essentially offered the land and natural resources particularly mineral, forestry and agricultural resources of IPs for state and corporate plunder.

She claims to have distributed P500.00 to the poorest families in Apaya and Abra and to a number of poor provinces in the country at the breaking of the rice crisis last summer. It's not only an act of dole-out but more essentially it is another clear source of corruption. Women leaders in Abra and Apayao has negatively responded to the P500.00 dole-out, they have not even known of one who received that amount.

Showcase after showcase was how GMA attempted to convince the Filipino people in her last SONA. Her showcase on ancestral land title is actually yet to be realized. Beneficiaries obviously were politicians and producers allied with GMA. Yet BAI, a national network of indigenous women's organizations in the Philippines and Innabuyog will consistent belie the showcases of GMA of indigenous groups receiving their ancestral land or domain titles as that is not a general experience of IPs in the country. Our continuing fight for ancestral land rights and self-determination of livelihood and natural resources becomes more necessary as GMA is determined to offer the ancestral lands and resources of IPs to corporations. This situation creates more hunger and poverty for indigenous women and human rights violations when we face state repression in the process of our resistance . And that is violence against indigenous women. #

Published with financial contribution from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
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