Sen. Bam Aquino’s Privilege Speech on Martial Law and the Price Crisis


Maraming salamat, Mr. President, Mr. majority floor leader. Mga kaibigan, mga kababayan.

Yesterday, there was talk about the opposition’s alleged plans to overthrow the government. But today, I would like to share with you our true and real plans.

As history would have it, forty-six years ago, a devious plot against our democracy was uncovered by a young senator by the name of Ninoy Aquino. He was 39 years old back then. On September 13, 1972, former Senator Ninoy Aquino stood before his colleagues and addressed the nation through a privilege speech on one Oplan Sagittarius.

He said, and I quote:

“In astronomy, Sagittarius is the 9th sign of the zodiac – denoted by the symbol of the arrow or dart.

The ancient Greeks represented this constellation as a centaur in the act of shooting an arrow…

I wonder if this plan is intended to shoot down our cherish[ed] civil liberties with the arrow or dart of a Marcos military rule.

Or could this be an arrowhead of the spearhead of a more devilish plot to transform our Republic into a garrison state?”

In his speech, former senator Ninoy Aquino went on to outline military and police resources and where they would be deployed to effectively blanket our beloved country in intimidation.

He also warned that the Marcos Administration would use the recent bombings – bombings which he alleged to be orchestrated by the government itself – as reason to declare martial law.

Martial law, they will say, is the solution to the country’s problems. They will say, it is the answer to this nation in crisis.

Ninoy Aquino stood courageous before the Senate and asserted, and I quote:

“I do not know what is going on in the mind of the President. I will never attempt to [divine] what his thinking is.

But let me say that at the height of the Huk depredations in 1950, when the armed partisans numbered more than 15,000, when the Huks were actually maneuvering in squadron and battalion strength, tying up the entire military command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines… never was martial law declared in our country.

I do not recall when martial law was ever declared since the birth of this Republic. If the President is thinking of clamping down martial law… I dare say that there must be another more devious plot.

Therefore, I should conclude that Operation Sagittarius is properly named because as the arrow and the dart, it may spearhead what we may actually find as the end of the Republic.” End quote.

Ten days after these words were spoken, former president, dictator and plunderer Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law and our beloved country came to know the consequences of absolute power and absolute impunity.

For the veneer of safer streets and the appearance of a disciplined society, the Filipino people paid in pain and in blood. And of course, as we know, Sen. Ninoy Aquino was prisoner No. 1.

In the nine (9) years under Martial Law rule: there were three thousand, two hundred and forty (3,240) victims of salvage or extra-judicial killings; thirty-four thousand (34,000) Filipinos were tortured; seventy thousand (70,000) were detained for being so-called ‘Enemies of the State’; and seventy-five thousand, seven hundred and thirty (75,730) cases of human rights violations were filed.

For the roads, bridges and buildings touted by Marcos apologists, the Filipino people incurred a debt of three hundred ninety-five billion, five hundred and nine million pesos (P395,509,000,000). Today, this is equivalent to three trillion, three hundred sixty-two billion, five hundred seventy-two million, three hundred eighty-four thousand, and six hundred pesos (P3,362,572,384,600).

Hanggang ngayon, binabayaran pa rin natin ang utang ng Marcos Regime, habang pumipila ang mga Pilipino para sa bigas na may bukbok at nalulunod po sa gastos ang napakaraming mahihirap na pamilya.

For their service to the Filipino people, the Marcos family was paid in personalized gold bars, jewelry, property around the world, invaluable art, an infamous collection of shoes and a lifetime of luxury. Ang martial law na sinabing magiging sagot sa sugat ng lipunan, pantakip lang pala sa kanilang kasakiman.

Mga kababayan, hindi sagot ang martial law noon, at lalong hindi siya sagot ngayon. Malubha pa rin ang sakit ng taumbayan, at lalong tumitindi ang kahirapan.

Umiikot ako sa iba’t ibang mga lugar ngayong taong ito. Umiikot ako sa iba’t ibang [kumustahang] bayan. Ang kinokonsulta namin, mga magsasaka, mga mangingisda, mga urban poor, mga market vendors, mga jeepney at tricycle drivers. Ano po iyong sinasabi nila?

“Sen. Bam, nalulunod na kami sa taas ng presyo ng bilihin.”

“Hindi na kami makahinga sa laki ng gastos ng aming pamilya.”

“Kahit anong kayod, hindi na kami maka-ahon.”

Mga kababayan, may krisis muli ang ating lipunan – ito po ang kataasan ng presyo ng bigas at kataasan ng presyo ng bilihin. Mga kaibigan, nababalot muli sa takot ang mamamayan – may isang senador na ang kinulong at isa naman pong pinapatihimik. Mayroon na pong pinapatay na mga pari, , mga mayor at vice mayor, at pati mga kabataang Pilipino. Gayun pa man, hindi pa rin martial law ang sagot dito, at mas lalong hindi ang isang diktadura.

Kawalan ng epektibong plano, kawalan ng political will, at kawalan ng puso ng mga lingkod bayan at puso para sa mahihirap ang mga sanhi ng krisis natin ngayon. At solusyon, aksyon, at malasakit mula sa gobyerno ang lunas na hinahanap ng taumbayan.

Last May 23 of this year, I gave a privilege speech outlining solutions to the rising prices. Many of us were here. It would like to note that back then, inflation back in April was at 4.5% – already beyond the 2-4% target range set by the government. Last August, alarmingly, inflation hit 6.4%. We have not seen inflation this high in almost 10 years.

In that privilege speech last May, I mentioned 3 things government can do to provide Filipino families with some relief from soaring prices:

First, the government should ensure that the unconditional cash transfer program under the TRAIN Law is fully implemented. Doon po lahat tayo nagkakaisa.

Sumasaklolo na ang ating mga kababayan – ang mga jeepney at tricycle drivers, mga magsasaka’t mangingisda, mga tindera sa palengke – hirap na hirap na ang mga Pilipino at hindi pa rin naibibigay ng lubos ang pinangakong tulong mula sa gobyerno.

To this day, there are gaps in the implementation of the cash transfer program and other social mitigating measures under TRAIN, such as the pantawid pasada program, na ngayon pa lang ni-ro-rollout in September of 2018, and of course nowhere to be found is the 10% discount on NFA rice.

My second suggestion back then was to address the rice issue by solving the management problem by the NFA. I think many of us here have called for the resignation of NFA administrator Jason Aquino.

Noong nag-speech ako ng Mayo, naaalarma na ang tao sa presyong 42 pesos per kilo para sa bigas. Ngayon, sa sobrang lala ng krisis, umabot po three weeks ago ng 70 pesos per kilo ang bigas sa Zamboanga at pinipilit po na pakainin ang mahihirap nating kababayan ang bigas na may bukbok. Thankfully, in Zamboanga, prices have stabilized, it’s still around P50 plus, mataas pa rin po kumpara sa presyo ng bigas last year.

Sa laki ng kasalanan ng NFA Administrator sa taumbayan, sana naman po makahanap tayo ng mahusay na pinuno dito.

My third suggestion back in May was to suspend and roll-back the excise tax on fuel from the TRAIN Law by passing Senate Bill Number 1798 or the Bawas Presyo Bill. I will admit, dear countrymen, that speech was actually a glimpse into the opposition’s playbook.

In the past few days, there has been talk about the opposition planning, colluding, talking about things that they want to do. Ngunit hindi po pagpapabagsak ng gobyerno ang pinaplano namin. Ang pinaplano namin ang pag-angat ng mga kababayan nating nasa laylayan ng lipunan.

Ang tunay na plano ng oposisyon ay magsama-sama, gawin ang lahat ng aming kayang gawin, ibigay ang lahat na kaya naming ibigay para hindi na po malunod sa gastos at hindi mamatay sa hirap at gutom ang ating mga kababayan. Ang plano ng oposisyon, magkaisa. Hindi lang po oposisyon, pati administrasyon, magkaisa at magtrabaho para solusyunan ang krisis sa taas ng presyo ng bigas at taas-presyo ng bilihin bago pumatak ang Enero.

Mula sa privilege speech ko noong Mayo hanggang sa press conference na kasama si Vice President Robredo noong Lunes, inilahad namin ang Oplan Ginhawa na inasahan naming magiging lunas sa hirap na hinaharap ng ating mga kababayan. Tatlong solusyon, tatlong aksyon po:

Una, na mabigyan ng sapat na proteksyon at benepisyo ang ating kababayang nangangailangan. Pagbutihin ang pagpapatupad ng mga cash transfer program at iba pang social protection initiatives.

We challenge the administration to quickly facilitate the release of all these cash transfers at the soonest possible to all of the 10 million Filipino families. And we propose, at the proper time here in the Senate, to increase the 200 pesos to 400 pesos, given the alarming spike in inflation. The government must push for the complete and effective implementation of the Pantawid Pasada Program, the 10% discount on rice for the poorest Filipino families and the rest of the social mitigating measures in the TRAIN Law. We also propose to include tricycle drivers in the Pantawid Pasada program. Hindi ko rin maintindihan kung bakit nawala ang tricycle drivers noong ginagawa ang batas sa Pantawid Pasada Program.

Nasa kamay po ng administration and pagpapatupad ng mga programang ito. Tutukan sana ng gabinete ng Presidente para mabigyan ng ginhawa ang pamilyang Pilipino.

Pangalawa, at ito’y mukhang nangyayari na. Palitan ang liderato ng NFA at resolbahin ang isyu ng murang bigas sa ating bansa. Immediately, the NFA should bring back and maintain the mandated 15-day buffer stock. Ito po, order No. 1 para maibaba ang presyo ng bigas sa merkado. Naniniwala kaming kaya itong tuparin ng NFA sa loob ng isang buwan, basta’t mayroon silang matino at mahusay na NFA Administrator. With a 15-day buffer stock, NFA can make rice available and affordable for Filipinos and hopefully, this rice crisis will be over before the Christmas holidays.

Nasa NFA at administrasyon ang sandata para talunin na ang krisis sa bigas. Kailangan lang nilang gawin ang trabaho nila.

Pangatlo, itigil na sana ang excise tax sa petrolyo. Huwag po tayo papayag na magdadagdag na naman ng dalawang piso sa diesel at gasoline ngayong Enero. Ipasa po natin ang Bawas Presyo Bill. Suspindihin po natin ang mga probisyon ng TRAIN Law na nagpapataas ng presyo ng diesel at gasolina.

Marami naman pong pumunta na dito, kahit miyembro ng Gabinete, aminado na ang pagtaas ng diesel at gasolina ang mga nagpapataas sa presyo ng bilihin. Ngayon na napakataas ng presyo ng krudo sa mundo, di na ata tama na dito pa tayo huhugot ng pera para sa gobyerno. Basta’t pagtulungan ng Kongreso – at certified urgent ng taumbayan at sana po ng Pangulo – kaya natin gawing batas ito bago mag-Pasko.

We need to bring down prices and provide relief to poor Filipino families. We urge the President to take the lead on this matter, the opposition is ready, members of the administration are also ready. Kailangan lang natin itong itulak.

Iyong NFA, magandang pangitain na umalis na si NFA administrator Jason Aquino. Sana ang ipalit, isang tao na kayang gawin ang mandato ng NFA. Sana po wala nang pumipila para sa bigas sa mga palengke at hindi po nirarasyon ang NFA rice. Iyan po, isang kaagad-agad na puwede nating gawin. Maybe within a month or two, we can do this already para ang Christmas naman po, hindi ganito kalala ang sitwasyon ng bigas sa ating bansa.

Iyong presyo, alam naman natin na iyong presyo ng krudo sa mundo ang nagtutulak ng presyo pataas. Huwag na nating dagdagan pa gamit ang excise tax mula sa TRAIN Law. Ito pong second round ngayong Enero, kung itutuloy natin iyan, saan pupulutin ang inflation rate natin sa Enero.

Kailangan na nating gawin ang makakaya natin para maibaba ang inflation, maibaba ang pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin, hindi iyong dinadagdagan pa natin.

Ito pong tatlong solusyong ito, kayang gawin. This can be done before Christmas. Ang kailangan natin, pagkaisahan. And what we’re asking here is that all of us work together, the executive, the legislative, and even if some economic managers don’t want to see some of these provisions. Puwede nating gawing ito.

I remember that when we passed the Free Tuition Act, initially the economic managers were against it. The Senate and Congress and the President took a stand. Sinabi nating itutulak natin ang libreng tuition para sa kapakanan ng ating kabataan at pamilyang Pilipino.

Again, we’re called to be independent. Hinihiling sa atin na gawin ang ating makakaya para masolusyunan ang problemang ito – at kaya natin itong gawin bago mag-Pasko.

Ang kasaysayan ang unang magpapakita na hindi martial law, hindi propaganda ang sagot sa sakit ng bayan. Ang sagot ay nasa pagkakaisa, pagkayod, pagtrabaho at pag-aksyon ng gobyerno, pag-aksiyon ng lahat ng may pakialam at may malasakit sa bayan.

 Tama na, sobra na ang pahirap sa taumbayan. Pagtulungan po natin ang Oplan Ginhawa. Pagtulungan natin ang mga puwedeng gawing solusyon na ito.

Solusyunan, aksyunan natin ang mga totoong pangangailangan ng ating kapwa Pilipino.

Maraming salamat Mr. President. Maraming salamat, Majority Floor Leader. Thank you very much.

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