Independence assertion a first 100 days highlight
On the eve of the Duterte administration’s 100th day, research group IBON said that the government should not just be open to United States (US) withdrawal of its assistance to the Philippines. The Philippines can unilaterally end so-called programs which interfere in the country’s economic policy-making. This includes the US’s so-called Partnership for Growth (PFG) which is pushing to change the 1987 Constitution to fit with American foreign policy interests at the expense of sovereign Philippine development, IBON said.
The Aquino administration joined the US’s PFG in 2011. IBON pointed out that the program, costing US$739 million (Php33 billion), is the most comprehensive US intervention in economic policy-making today. The PFG is designing Philippine trade and investment, intellectual property rights, fiscal and other policies to make these compliant with the requirements of the US’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It is even targeting the legal and courts system, the group added.
IBON said that unilaterally withdrawing from the PFG will send an unequivocal signal that the country is adopting an independent foreign economic policy.
The PFG is due to end this year but other US aid programs will continue with its focus areas in 2017 and beyond. IBON warned that the US government will keep shaping the country’s economic policy and institutional environment to become more open and profitable to US investors and corporations.
This free market policy regime whose terms are one-sidedly beneficial to foreign capital prevents sustainable Filipino economic development, IBON said. Unsupported and unprotected Filipino industries cannot compete with cheap imports or powerful transnational corporations. This keeps the country a low-valued added economy whose labour and natural resources are exploited by foreign investors, the group explained.
IBON said that economic sovereignty is vital for protecting the country’s economic and development interests. To this day, even advanced capitalist powers such as the US still protect their economy against foreign competition when their economic interests are threatened. Ending the US-directed PFG would be a significant concrete measure showing that the Philippines is neither a mendicant country nor foolishly adopting economic policies dictated on it by self-serving foreign powers.