IBON: Aquino SONA likely to be populist but public expects substance

There is always the chance that government will establish its sincerity to seek change; there are for instance simple and doable things that it can do in the economic front

The president’s upcoming state of the nation address (SONA) will likely be very populist while having to admit, even indirectly, that the government has so far little to show in terms of accomplishments.

IBON, which presented recent economic and political trends in its recent midyear briefing said that it will certainly be rich with anti-corruption and anti-Arroyo oratory and extract as much mileage as it can from recent exposés conveniently raised in the run-up to the SONA. The Aquino administration cannot but keep harping on this populist issue, which is its single biggest source of legitimacy, the group said.

One of the signs of accomplishments previously raised is the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. But this is deceitful insofar as the effect of CCTs is temporary and because the government has chosen to continue with the same neoliberal policies that caused tens of millions of Filipinos to be poor to begin with. The group added that the CCTs are easy and uncontroversial to implement but are ultimately a temporary, expensive and ineffectual way of reducing poverty.

The government’s recently released its Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 is also disappointing and merely recycles the decades-old failed policies that have resulted in exclusionary growth, record joblessness, low incomes, and growing poverty in the country. The administration has affirmed that it is incapable of crafting vital economic policies that veer away from neoliberal policies implemented by previous administrations.

However, there is always the chance that government will establish its sincerity to seek change, said IBON. There are for instance simple and doable things that it can do in the economic front, such as immediately granting a substantial wage hike to show its concern for workers, cancelling all stock distribution schemes (SDO) to signal its commitment to land reform nationwide, substantially increasing the budget for publicly-provided health and education services, moving to repeal the VAT Reform Law, among others. (end)

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