Socioeconomic reforms from Duterte offer of cabinet positions to progressives?

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Research group IBON said that incoming president Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of government posts to the Philippine Left creates the possibility of implementing non-neoliberal socioeconomic policies. While these will not yet be comprehensive reforms, they could still cause meaningful initial cracks in the country’s pro-elite and neoliberal economic policies.

Presumptive president Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte announced that he is offering the mainstream Philippine Left at least four cabinet positions. These are in the departments of agrarian reform, labour and employment, environment and natural resources, and social welfare and development. The Left has yet to formally respond.

According to IBON, the participation of progressives in the next administration may make it possible to at least moderate some of the worse aspects of neoliberal globalization. For instance, workers’ rights can be upheld better, welfare interventions for the poorest including disaster victims can be improved, and measures to genuinely protect and rehabilitate the environment can be begun.

IBON added that if the incoming president really gives his full political support, there may even be the start of a real redistributive agrarian reform program that addresses the peasantry’s long-standing landlessness and poverty. The group noted the incoming president’s openness but noted that, given elite interests, these remain to be seen.

The group added that having four progressive cabinet members also creates a high profile opportunity to expose neoliberal economic policies and to articulate the Left’s proposals to address current poverty and underdevelopment. This is likely to contribute to generating ever wider public support for more radical and people-centered reforms in the country, IBON said.

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