“While there are sunny prospects, the 10-point agenda of neoliberal policies hangs over like a dark cloud,” said research group IBON’s executive director Sonny Africa yesterday at its political and economic briefing.
In its 2016 Midyear Birdtalk held at the University of the Philippines, IBON welcomed the Duterte administration’s opening of opportunities for pro-people measures to be pushed under its term. The group however also expressed concern that the government’s 10-pt economic agenda still invokes the neoliberal framework and may extend the same socioeconomic woes experienced under the past administration.
IBON reviewed the Aquino administration’s legacy which it described to be that of elite politics and economics. According to the group, Aquino continued and even advanced the same old neoliberal policies of past administrations, such as public private partnerships (PPPs) and enhanced trade and investment liberalization. Hyped rapid economic growth was exclusive, shallow, and slowing down. It did not contribute to long-term national development, resulted in worsening inequality, jobs situation and poverty, and further violated the country’s sovereignty, IBON said.
The group also discussed some of the new administration’s pro-people pronouncements, which provide possibilities for measures that could directly benefit the people. The Duterte government stated that it would end contractualization, stop demolitions, provide free public education, give free healthcare to the poor, give free irrigation, and release the coco levy fund to farmers, among others. Duterte also appointed progressives to the agrarian reform, social welfare, labor and poverty departments, and has shown openness to pursue peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
However, the group also said that the administration’s 10-point economic agenda does not repudiate and plans to continue neoliberal policies and free trade agreements that have kept the nation backward. This includes pursuing and fast-tracking PPPs, and opening up the country’s natural resources, labor and markets to greater foreign exploitation through Charter change and lifting foreign restrictions. The agenda also does not indicate plans to reverse decades of privatizing education, health, housing and other social services, and fails to outline a production sector-based domestic jobs creation thrust, IBON noted.
In conclusion, the group emphasized the need for various people’s mobilizations to push for and advance national development and economic sovereignty. While supporting the Duterte administration’s pro-people pronouncements and initiatives, the mass movement can remain vigilant and continue to assert its demands for genuine social, economic and political change, said IBON.