WHY bite the hand that feeds?
Party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna sees this as the reason why the Akbayan party-list group made a sudden turnaround on its stand—from being a harsh critic of the controversial P21.9-billion conditional cash-transfer (CCT) program that is included in the House-approved P1.645-trillion 2011 budget to one of its most ardent proponents.
Casiño recalled that one of Akbayan’s leaders in the House, Rep. Walden Bello, in a scathing privileged speech in September, blasted the CCT as “a dole- out program that is being presented as a development program to end poverty.”
“He said the program’s budget was being increased with no evidence it has brought people out of poverty either here or abroad, except some dubious statements of the World Bank to the effect that it has worked in Brazil, a claim that many Brazilian nongovernment organizations, including the influential Landless Workers’ Movement [MST] say is false,” said Casiño in his analysis of the CCT, and what he described as “opportunism of Akbayan.”
In the speech, Casiño said Bello pointed out that CCTs formed part of the “power play by a foreign agency that has had a dismal record of intervention in our country’s economic trajectory must not be allowed by the Aquino administration.”
But a few weeks later, Casiño said Bello was singing a different tune.
“He not only reversed himself but even authored House Resolution 594 supporting the CCT, calling it ‘one innovative practice to achieve social protection and inclusion for the poor’ and ‘a viable and effective tool to reach the poorest of the poor provided that it is properly enforced.’”
Casiño said Bello further ate his words when he extolled the self-serving findings of the World Bank on CCTs and even quoting a WB press release and reinterpreting Brazil’s MST as saying that “CCTs are necessary.”
“What makes Bello’s turnaround pathetic is its total sellout. Even as he postures as a critic of neoliberalism and free-market globalization, his flip-flop exposes him as an apologist of an administration that promotes the very thing he loathes,” said Casiño.
Why the turnaround?
CASIÑO said Akbayan’s leaders and operators “are well entrenched in the Aquino administration and share in the spoils of the 2010 elections.”
He cited Akbayan chairman Joel Rocamora, who was recently appointed chairman of the National Antipoverty Commission, while party president Ronald Llamas was appointed member of the board of directors of the Development Bank of the Philippines.
Etta Rosales now heads the Commission on Human Rights, Mario Aguja sits on the board of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), while Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel is assured of at least a Cabinet-rank position next year.
Rosales, Aguja and Baraquel used to be Akbayan representatives.
“In the guise of public-private partnerships and civil-society participation in governance, Akbayan’s social democratic nongovernment organization network is set to play a major role in the implementation of government projects and programs, among them the CCT. Curiously, the [House] appropriations committee’s decision to grant Akbayan’s lobby to realign the P4-billion ‘Tulay sa Pangulo’ program to cater to their constituents was made on the day that Akbayan’s representatives authored HR 594,” said Casiño.
“The issue goes beyond the CCTs. Taking the cue from its bosses in the Liberal Party, Akbayan voted to approve the 2011 General Appropriations Act despite its huge debt-service budget, its additional pork barrel, its vague and abuse-prone lump-sum allocations, the glaring cuts in health, tertiary education, agriculture and agrarian reform and other antipeople provisions,” he added.
The militant legislator said Akbayan, in an effort to “hide its opportunism,” has gone on a counter-offensive and has attacked the progressive Bayan Muna and other critics of the CCT, “lumping us with former President Gloria Arroyo under the tag ‘unholy alliance’ and ‘Coalition Against the Poor.’” –Fernan Marasigan / Reporter, Businessmirror