MANILA (Mabuhay) – Civil society groups, organizations and several personalities, including supporters of President Benigno Aquino III, on Monday launched a coalition to counter what they called were “enemies of reforms” and pursue the administration’s “tuwid na daan” advocacy beyond 2016.
They said that critics of the administration are undermining the reforms that the Aquino government had started, and that it was time that the backers of the President took an “open and pro-active stand.”
They also insisted they were not set up to push for Charter change and a term extension for Mr. Aquino.
The launch of the Koalisyon ng Mamayan Para sa Reporma (KOMPRe) was held at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, simultaneous with the gathering of activitists and sectoral groups at the Luneta Park in Manila, who are pushing for a People’s Initiative to remove the pork barrel system in the national budget.
What was originally planned as an anniversary rally to mark last year’s Million People March against pork barrel has included, this time around, issues on Charter change and term extension, as well as other issues resonating with the mostly-labor ralliers in Manila.
Among them were organizations of state workers, primarily from COURAGE, who have petitioned the Supreme Court for a temporary retraining order against the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s order taxing their bonuses, allowances and other benefits.
At the Ateneo, the Aquino backers were just as resolite: “We will continue to fight for the reforms under the Aquino administration. The Tuwid na Daan must continue beyond 2016,” according to KOMPRe in a statement.
“We must educate and organize, mobilize and empower people who stand to lose by any reversal to the reforms,” it added.
Former Civil Service Commission chief Karina Constantino-David, one of the group’s convenors, said that many of their advocacies have been attended to by the Aquino administration.
“But as the enemies of reform gather their forces to tear down all that has been accomplished, we can no longer remain quiet. …We will be labelled as government hacks, as the lackeys of PNoy. But no amount of name calling will deter us from standing up for reform,” she said in a news conference.
Asked who the enemies of reforms were, he said they were “political leaders who oppose reforms that are already here.” She also said the “enemies” were those criticizing some of Aquino’s flagship programs such as the Conditional Cash Transfer and the Grassroots Participatory Budget Process.
“If they are not anti-reforms, then what is it they’ve done to get more reforms instituted?” David said.
Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement said the formation of the coalition was the people’s way of seeing to it that the work that the Aquino administration has started will not go to waste, and would continue.
Former Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said that the group will help see to it that reforms are continued in the last two years of the administration.
“Implementation is the key in the next two years. We’re here for the long haul,” Lim added.
The group said the coalition was not established to push for Aquino’s second term or to endorse his successor, repeatedly stressing that it was not being discussed.
But David said that she believes that the President’s successor should be one who has already worked on the “tuwid na daan” advocacy and should have unquestionable integrity.
The group is made up of 165 organizations nationwide, and has been holding workshops to assess the performance of the administration and come up with proposals on what still needs to be done.
Before the launch, a workshop was held at the Ateneo to review the President’s Social Contract with the people. The organizers said they have invited Cabinet members to attend the workshop. (MNS)