The Philippines remains backward and underdeveloped with severe inequality 31 years after the so-called EDSA revolution, research group IBON said. The Duterte administration’s new Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 will not change this, said the group, in continuing the failed neoliberal policies of the Marcos regime and all subsequent administrations.
EDSA 1986 was a repudiation of the Marcos dictatorship including economic crisis and gross inequality from neoliberal economic policies then pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The people mobilized in their millions to end not just the dictatorship but also economic crisis and gross inequality. This was clearly expressed in the 1987 Constitution, IBON noted, where nationalist economic provisions articulated the people’s aspirations for social justice and for a sovereign and independent economy.
According to IBON, these are among the promises of EDSA not met in the succeeding 31 years. There has not been any change and, instead, the economy has continued to deteriorate and worsen as a mere appendage of global capitalist powers exploiting our cheap labor, raw materials, and markets.
Domestic agriculture and Filipino industry are in terminal decline. From 1986 to 2016, the share of agriculture and manufacturing in Philippine gross domestic product (GDP ) has shrunk from 24.8% to 22. 8% and 17.1% to 8.4 percent, respectively. A few have prospered while the majority remain in severe poverty. At present, IBON estimates 2 of 3 Filipinos surviving on only Php125 or less per day, while official poverty statistics indicate 21.9 million living on a very low poverty threshold of Php60 per day.
The Duterte administration’s new Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 unfortunately continues the failed neoliberal policies started by Marcos in the late 1970s and followed by all the administration’s that came after it. In final controvertion of the promises of EDSA, it also seeks to remove the important nationalist provisions of the 1987 Constitution. The economy and the people will suffer the worst for this even as domestic elites and foreign monopoly capitalist powers continue to prosper, IBON said.
The PDP 2017-2022 of the government’s neoliberal economic managers adopts the same market-oriented framework of the policies that have failed to develop the Philippine economy. Like past administrations, it gives premium to luring in foreign direct investments, spending on infrastructure, strengthening public-private partnerships (PPP) that channel public funds to private gain, and implementing a fiscal program that relieves the rich while taxing the poor more. On the other hand it is silent on measures for real national development such as free land distribution and Filipino industrialization, decent jobs and wages, and free or affordable social services, said IBON.
The nationalist economic aspirations from EDSA are still relevant and if anything have been affirmed over the last 31 years, said the group. The government’s unchanged neoliberal policies will only widen the gap between rich and poor and keep the economy as a mere provider of cheap labor and raw materials for the global economy and a captive market. These neoliberal economic policies need to be reversed for the Filipino people to achieve their aspirations for development, IBON concluded.