Benigno Aquino III and his technocrats have been relentlessly boasting about the alleged 6.6% growth in the economy in 2012. They claim this to be the result of the “righteous path” and “good governance.” Even the World Bank has chimed in, saying that the Philippines is now a “rising tiger.”
For the Filipino people, however, Aquino’s much-vaunted economic growth is bogus and hollow. His most important indicators of local economic “development” are confined to measuring the briskness of investment and lending by foreign capitalists and banks in the Philippines. This so-called development has nothing at all to do with the actual conditions of the Filipino people.
The Aquino regime’s much-vaunted “growth” in 2012 was spurred by a spurt in the construction of office and condominium buildings in anticipation of the expansion of call centers. Such “growth” had no significant contribution in the expansion of employment opportunities. In fact, even as the regime was touting “economic growth,” close to 900,000 people were added to the ranks of the unemployed in the third quarter of 2012.
Aquino has also been bragging about how the stock market has surpassed its previous peak performance. But this merely shows that foreign finance capitalists have been seeking ways of making a quick profit. As shown by developments during the Ramos regime, the rapid and massive entry of “speculative capital” can only result in rapid and massive capital flight the minute investors have even the slightest indication of losing their money.
In reality, the statistics on which Aquino bases his much-trumpeted “development” are indications that the Philippines has slid even further into backwardness and dependency on foreign investments and debt and is incapable of standing on its own two feet. There has been no resolution of the basic crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal system. The Philippine economy remains backward, agrarian and unindustrialized, with no investments in the major basic industries for the production of the economy’s fundamental needs. Thus, there is no dynamic job creation. Up to 12 million (or more than 30%) are either unemployed or underemployed.
Despite Aquino’s rosy picture of the economy, the toiling masses remain mired in widespread poverty, hunger and joblessness. It is not they, but the foreign big capitalists and their local big businessman partners who have benefited from such growth. For the masses, Aquino’s slogan of “inclusive growth” is pure hogwash. His “trickle down” theory is a lie.
The statistics do not reflect the intensity of the exploitation suffered by the toiling masses and other oppressed strata; the exploitation of millions of peasants under the dominant feudal and semifeudal system in the countryside; low wages that are being depressed even further; inhuman and unjust working conditions; massive unemployment, skyrocketing prices of food, medicines, oil and other basic needs; lack of decent housing and clean water; and deteriorating and more costly health, education and other services.
In essence, Aquino’s much-vaunted “growth” is no different from the much-touted “growth” under Gloria Arroyo’s government and all other past regimes. It is no wonder that Arroyo, Aquino’s former professor, has praised the way the economy is currently being managed. Like his mentor Arroyo and all regime followers of the IMF-World Bank, Aquino considers attracting foreign investments as a crucial objective of his economic policies. Even the “righteous path” slogan being repeated ad nauseam is geared towards enticing foreign capitalists to invest in the country.
The World Bank insists that for the Philippine economy to become a fullblown “tiger,” it must further liberalize land ownership, transportation and tourism. To do this, the constitution must be amended because it still imposes restrictions on foreign ownership of land and businesses, among others. Thus, although Malacañang claims that charter change is not among its priorities, it is slowly paving the way for dismantling the remaining provisions in the reactionary constitution that flimsily protect the national patrimony and economic sovereignty.
The Filipino people must thoroughly repudiate the use of statistics by the Aquino regime’s reactionary technocrats to cover up the real condition of Philippine society and justify further opening the Philippines to foreign investors to exploit the country’s cheap labor and natural resources. We must tirelessly pursue the struggle for patriotic and democratic economic change, for genuine land reform and national industrialization.
For the people, the real state of the economy can only be measured by ascertaining their situation in the concrete’whether they are able to enjoy their fundamental right to live under decent, human conditions.
For the people, the economy’s growth can only be measured in terms of its ability to be self-relian—not dependent on foreign debt or investment—and its ability to produce enough food and the other basic needs of the populace.
In short, for the people, there can be no genuine development without economic freedom and social justice.