Marcos Jr admin fails to respect, protect, and fulfill social and economic rights

December 9, 2023

by IBON Foundation

Social and economic rights are human rights and closely interlinked with civil, political and cultural rights. These are supposed to be protected by various international treaties of which the Philippines is a signatory and domestic laws like the 1987 constitution.  

The Marcos Jr administration is trying to project to the world stage that it is different from the previous administration and is intent on upholding human rights. The Marcos Jr government however fundamentally fails to respect, protect and fulfil social and economic rights by its insistence on the same anti-people market-driven policies of its predecessors. Too much of state resources and attention is focused on ensuring profits of narrow corporate interests instead of directly uplifting the situation of millions of struggling Filipinos and developing the national economy. Some indicators of this persistent failure are listed below:

Right to work

  • Poverty wages. Nominal wage hikes have not kept up with inflation and the real wage in the National Capital Region (NCR), which already has the highest wages in the country, has for instance continued to erode by 4% since the start of the Marcos administration. As it is, the minimum wage is just 43% of the family living wage in NCR and even as low as just 14% in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as of November 2023. [1]
  • Worsening informality in employment. Some 20 million or 41.4% of total employment as of October 2023 is in irregular low-paying informal work including large numbers in unpaid family work (3.1 million) and self-employment (13.3 million); many are also in merely part-time work (14.6 million). [2]
  • Jobless growth. Despite the reported 5.9% economic growth in the third quarter of 2023, employment fell by 825,000 to 46.8 million from 47.6 million in the same period the year. [3]
  • Neglecting workers’ rights. The Philippines is among the 10 worst countries in the world for working people in 2023 – its seventh consecutive year – with a rating of 5 or “no guarantee of rights” [4]

Right to adequate standard of living

  • Growing poverty. The number of self-rated poor families increased by 2.3 million from 12.2 million in June 2022 to 13.2 million in September 2023, which is half (48%) of total Philippine families. This is aside from another 7.4 million borderline poor families which means that some 20.6 million or 75% of Filipino families are poor or borderline poor. [5]
  • Low savings. The number of households without savings remains high at 18.2 million or over 67% of all households in the third quarter of 2023. [6]

Right to food

  • Food insecurity. Around 50.9 million Filipinos or 45% of the total population are moderately or severely food insecure. [7]
  • Expensive food. The price of the country’s staple food, rice, has soared by almost 19% since July 2022 to Php52 per kilo for well-milled rice and to Php47 per kilo for regular milled as of November 2023 [8]

Right to health

  • Cutting budgets for poor patients. The health department’s social protection program for indigent patients in public hospitals and facilities is cut by 32%, from Php32.6 billion approved in 2023 to Php22.3 billion proposed for 2024 [9]
  • Unaffordable health. Household out-of-pocket payments remain the largest source (44.7%) of health expenses, while social health insurance through PhilHealth only contributes about 13.6% of total health expenditure [10]

Right to education

  • Learning poverty. Nine out of 10 Filipino students aged 10 (90%) are unable to read and understand age-appropriate text [11]
  • Inadequate education budget. The Department of Education only got a Php36.8 billion increase to Php758.6 billion in the 2024 proposed national budget, which is only 39% of the Php94.5 billion increase it got in 2022-2023 [12]
  • Enrolment hardly recovering.  Primary education enrolment barely increased by 199,325 in the school year 2021-2022, hardly making a dent in the 685,356 drop between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 [13]

Right to social security

  • Less aid or ayuda. The funding for emergency assistance programs were cut by Php7 billion to Php90.5 billion in 2023, and was further reduced by a huge 31% to just Php63.3 billion in the proposed 2024 national budget.[14]

Environmental destruction

  • Projects drive environmental harm and human rights abuses. The current administration is allowing the proliferation of projects that are environmentally harmful, does not deliver on promised development like jobs and livelihoods, and worsens human rights abuses. Among these destructive projects are the government’s push for 187 big coastal reclamation projects and big corporate mining through the approval of 35 exploration permits in its first months in power. [15] [16]

[1] IBON computations based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority and National Wages and Productivity Commission

[2] Philippine Statistics Authority Labor Force Survey

[3] Philippine Statistics Authority Labor Force Survey and National Accounts of the Philippines

[4] International Trade Union Confederation 2023 Global Rights Index <>

[5] IBON computations based on Social Weather Stations (SWS) data

[6] IBON computations based on Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data

[7] 2020-2022; Food and Agriculture Organization

[8] Philippine Statistics Authority

[9] Department of Budget and Management

[10] Philippine National Health Accounts, 2022

[11] World Bank Philippine Learning Poverty Brief, June 2022. <>

[12] Department of Budget and Management

[13] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) United Institute for Statistics (UIS) <>

[14] Department of Budget and Management

[15] Cabico, Gaea Katreena. “Fishers raise concern over 187 reclamation projects in Philippine waters.” The Philippine Star. October 3, 2022. Accessed at <>

[16] Cariaso, Bella. “DENR vows revitalization of mining industry.” The Manila Times. October 29, 2022. Accessed at <>