Already one year into office, research group IBON said that Ferdinand Marcos Jr has failed to pursue reforms that have true development at heart. This despite carefully consolidated reform proposals delivered by over a hundred people’s organizations and institutions at the start of the newly seated government’s term last year. IBON said that instead the Marcos administration is set on perpetrating pro-big-business and pro-foreign policies that are weakening the economy and worsening the situation of the majority of Filipinos.
At the 2023 People’s Summit media forum, IBON Research Head Rosario Guzman said, “Marcos Jr is clearly not a reform president. His administration is not interested in pursuing real development. This shows in how millions of Filipinos are still suffering and struggling to meet their basic needs. And how this government keeps prioritizing programs and policies that serve local big business, foreign, and the Marcos family’s interests.”
Guzman said the Marcos Jr government’s first approved budget led the country into austerity even while the nation was still reeling from the economic impact of the harsh pandemic lockdowns followed by the onslaught of high inflation. The 2023 budget was a mere 4.9% increase from the previous year’s budget, the smallest annual increase in more than a decade, showing government’s non-interest to embark on substantial economic recovery. Austerity pertains to social services and protection being defunded, while more burdensome taxes were slapped on the poor majority of Filipinos. This is to pay for ballooning debt otherwise used to fund big-business and oligarch trade and infrastructure.
Guzman underscored that instead of the promised comprehensive, all-inclusive plan for economic transformation that took too long to unveil, Marcos Jr’s economic managers paraded the obsolescent and discordant Philippine Development Plan. This blueprint however remains within the frame of relying on big-business and foreign investments, importation and clipping government’s role and control in the name of economic progress. The perpetuation of neoliberal policies started by the Marcos Sr administration that led to years of economic decline have only further boosted the wealth of the super-rich on one hand, and worsened inequality and accelerated the slackening of agriculture and manufacturing on the other hand, Guzman said.
These have all led to the deteriorating conditions of the people and the country, said Guzman. What Marcos Jr advocated foremost, however, she said, was the self-serving and corruption- and pork- prone Maharlika Investment Fund. This, instead of people-centered proposals such as those enshrined in the summit’s People’s Agenda including a wage hike, expanded social protection, and domestic industry development.
The People’s Summit of 2023 assessed the first-year performance of the Marcos Jr administration based on its response to the People’s Fighting Demands forwarded by people’s organizations and institutions in July 2022. The agenda is comprised of doables in the areas of the economy, social services, good governance, human rights and peace, freedom of expression and of the press, and national sovereignty.