Jersey City, NJ – “Mga boss, sa totoo lang, sa mga hinarap nating hamon, pwede naman nagbigay na lang tayo ng band-aid solution pero alam natin sa Pilipinas, galit ang tao sa epal. Sa bawat pagkakataon hinahanap natin ang tunay na sanhi ng mga problema at naglalatag ng malinaw at pang-matagalang stratehiya upang malutas ito,”
President Aquino said in his final State of the Nation Address, Monday that summed up how Aquino, in the last five years, believes he brought about long term change and progress in the Philippines.
But even before Aquino’s SONA, a group of activists in Jersey City, New Jersey held their own “People’s State of the Nation Address.”
Anakbayan NJ’s Laura Emily Endaya Austria said, “For the past five years can you say anything has changed for the better? No! Not only that, you could argue it’s been for the worse.”
“As we saw last week at the International People’s tribunal held in Washington DC, the people’s verdict has ran clear and true – President Aquino is guilty and must be held accountable for his crimes against the people,” said Natalie Agosto of New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP).
“The wages of Filipino workers that are continuously one of the lowest in Asia and this is the biggest failure that I think the Aquino government have, so ang final grade ko sa kanya ay F,” Anakbayan NJ’s Yves Nibungco said, “He has significantly failed in improving the lives of the Filipino people.”
But as these anti-Aquino activists engage with the Filipino community in Jersey City, everyday Filipinos believe otherwise.
“You hear the bad side and the good side, so you don’t know if the bad side is true but I know that he is a good person and he is worthy to be a President,” said Jersey City resident Estrella Javate.
Elmo Canillas said, “We have improved tourism, the economy and business stability, somewhat, we are number two in Asia in terms of growth.”
“He might not be perfect but I think so far he’s the most like trusted President,” said Maribeth Macalintal of Menifee, California.
But for some kababayans, having a clean record is not enough. Yolanda Cruz says she believes Aquino could have done more.
“Ang kulang lang ay mga trabaho, dahil maraming kawawang Pilipino na kahit paanong gawin nilang pagpapakamatay sa trabaho, talagang hirap sila,” she said, “So ang kailangan na maging Presidente talaga yung magagawan niyang tulungan ang mamayang Pilipino.”
And as the Philippines prepare for the 2016 presidential elections – kababayans here say Filipino voters have to seriously choose the right Aquino successor wisely.
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