PLM Statement on SONA 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Partido Lakas ng Masa   
Saturday, 23 July 2011 17:31
IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

 

“It’s the economy, stupid” is a phrase popularized by former US President Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign against George Bush Senior to twit Bush about the problems of the US economy, which was then heading into recession. We can say the same thing today to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, for the economic mess that our country is mired in, despite a full year under his administration.

 

The economic situation is becoming bleaker than ever. Prices of gasoline and basic commodities have risen without let-up and unemployment is rampant, while those with jobs suffer low wages and lack of social benefits.

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Ø      Gasoline prices have gone up to P58 per liter today and are still rising. The price of rice has doubled in the last 12 months. To top it off, the country is expected to be hard hit by a rice crisis before the end of this year. Meanwhile, the Aquino government has refused to impose any price controls, as according to his presidential subaltern, “this may lead to hoarding and temporary shortages.”

 

Ø      The unemployment rates are hovering between 7-8% and the underemployment rates between 18-19%. In real terms, the number of people looking for work is around 10 million of the total labor force. Hardest hit by mass unemployment are young people, from 15 to 24 years of age, who constitute more than 50% of the reported unemployed.

 

The government, on the other hand, has no clear program to deal with mass unemployment.  The National Economic Protectionism Association has criticized President Aquino’s brand of economics or “Aquinomics” as a mere rehash of the failed, forty-year long, labor-intensive export orientation program.

 

Ø      While failing to curb real unemployment, those fortunate enough to find jobs suffer low wages. The Philippines has one of the lowest wage levels in the region, if one takes into account the social wage -- benefits and subsidies -- that other Asian countries provide their workers, such as in Thailand, Vietnam and China.

 

PDP ni PNoy: Neoliberalism by any other name

Despite the clear failure of the Aquino government to deal with the country’s economic problems, its spin doctors have concocted a grand scheme to project the regime as having its own Philippine Development Plan (PDP).  The PDP ni PNoy is actually no different from the neoliberal economic policies under the Medium Term Development Program of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo or that of the previous presidents.

 

Even the “key strategy”of PPP (public-private partnership), which is supposed to jumpstart economic development, is just another name for private-sector participation (PSP) or privatization – a pillar of the discredited neoliberal economic agenda.  According to the Asian Development Bank, these terms are almost interchangeable in meaning. Whatever the terms, they are all designed to carry out the neoliberal privatization of the economy.

 

Under the PPP, the public sector or the state is given a key role in the partnership to ensure ‘social obligations’. ‘sector reforms’ and ‘profitable investments’. Ensuring ‘social obligations’ means, for instance, the demolition and clearing of urban poor communities to make way for road widening projects. ‘Sector reforms’ usually means slicing up the public sector and privatizing the most profitable portions. ‘Ensuring profitable investment’ means the government guaranteeing corporate profits, such as what happened in the PPP with South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

 

‘Inclusive growth’ or ‘trickle down’

 

Another spin in the PDP ni PNoy is its over-all objective of attaining “inclusive growth.” This term is a rehash of the “trickle-down effect” of neoliberal economic parlance. Given that the ideology and even the language of neoliberal economic dogma is so utterly discredited today, it now has to be repackaged and resold, although the ideological content remains.  The international financial institutions that continue to peddle neoliberal economic policies, such as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as they are now doing in Greece, explicitly reject income or wealth redistribution as a means of reducing poverty. They argue for “inclusive growth” instead and with little or no practical evidence, but their hard-core, ideological, neoliberal economic convictions, declare that this is a more ‘viable’ and  ‘long-term’ approach to poverty reduction.

 

But PLM asks: What is wrong with income redistribution in a society where 7% of the population earn 30% of the total income, while the remaining 93% share the remaining 70% of income? How gross social inequality is, when according to a recent Forbes Magazine report Filipino billionaires and multimillionaires have peaked to a record number of 40 this year, while more than 40 million Filipinos are living on less than $2 dollars (roughly P86) a day?

 

We say enough of these lies! We do not need another rehashed version of a neoliberal economic program peddled by the government’s spin doctors as PDP ni PNoy. Nor do we need a debt-driven conditional cash-transfer program that will again be a burden to the poor during payback time. What we need is an economic program based on the redistribution of wealth so that no Filipino will live in hunger, deprivation and misery.

 

Enough is enough, tama na ang buladas sa Sona. It’s the economy, stupid!

 

Partido Lakas ng Masa

July 25, 2011

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 13:24
 

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