features from SOBRIETY for the PHILIPPINES:
(Without Fear or Favor)
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
By IBON Features
In his upcoming third State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Benigno Aquino III will surely attempt to highlight how the Philippine economy has improved under his watch to show how his administration is an improvement over its predecessor.
Pres. Aquino will bring to the fore supposed economic successes such as the 6.4% first quarter growth in gross domestic product (GDP), increased budgets for social services, expanded coverage of the conditional cash transfers, and progress under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. The president may also highlight the country’s so-called creditor nation status with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The SONA may also be an occasion to boast about more Filipinos being lifted from poverty, more lands distributed to farmers, and additional living allowances for workers.
The reality behind the so-called gains must however be assessed before concluding that the Aquino administration has indeed been the much-sought change following former Pres. Arroyo’s legacy of corruption and erosion of the people’s general welfare. Nearly ten years of the Arroyo regime saw an unprecedented rise in joblessness and poverty, growing inequality, eroding domestic production and fiscal troubles all anchored on a chain of policies that catered to local and foreign business interests. Do current indicators show a reversal of trends? More importantly, have government policies done an about-face in favor of the Filipino people?
Like the Arroyo administration, the Aquino government has refused to reverse any of the neoliberal policies that have caused such damage to the economy. These policies have kept the Philippine economy underdeveloped and are designed to suit the needs of the domestic elite and foreign business rather than of the Filipino people.
The entrenchment of globalization policies that have made the Philippine economy up for grabs by local and transnational firms cannot be downplayed. The removal of trade barriers has resulted in the unabated importation of cheap goods including those which the country can produce. The Philippines now has among the lowest tariffs in Asia. Under Aquino’s term, quantitative restrictions on the importation of rice are set to be lifted in accordance with commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO). The government has also become even more liberal towards investments in agriculture, industries and services..... MORE
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