The Deceit of Good Economics and Good Governance
Many things which were arguably more meaningful remained unchanged. Despite supposed economic good news and a degree of political stability the majority of Filipinos still faced record joblessness, stagnant earnings, rising prices and growing poverty.
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The year 2012 ended with the Philippines seemingly moving forward on many counts. There was rapid economic growth, record highs in the stock market and gross international reserves (GIR), looming investment grade credit ratings, higher foreign investment and increasing corporate profits. The political scene was also relatively steady especially compared to the decade of turbulence during the previous Arroyo administration. In particular the traditional political opposition was restrained and as yet unwilling to test the administration’s perceived core of public support. There were also apparent advances in some controversial pieces of legislation and, notably, even in the Moro armed conflict in Mindanao.
Yet many things which were arguably more meaningful remained unchanged. Despite supposed economic good news and a degree of political stability the majority of Filipinos still faced record joblessness, stagnant earnings, rising prices and growing poverty. Domestic manufacturing and agriculture continued their long-term decline. Corruption did not measurably decrease and old disagreeable political ways continued such as in the run-up to the 2013 mid-term election and even on the part of the administration. State-sponsored human rights violations go on as does the militarist approach to the conflict with Maoist rebels. If anything, there has been a marked regression in foreign policy with the Philippines increasingly subordinated to the United States (US) agenda in the region.
The administration and its supporters have played up the onset of ‘good governance’ in the country and supposed economic progress. However the two-and-a-half years so far of profits without prosperity, persistence of undemocratic politics, and dearth of fundamental pro-people reforms has affirmed the country’s duality: a Philippines for the rich and another for the poor. There is still no development and economic gains are shallow or merely financial and speculative. There has also not yet been anything approaching the major changes needed to improve the country’s political system.
The signs instead are of an elite-dominated ruling system that is consolidating after the weakening of its political institutions by another successful ouster movement in 2001 and by nearly constant destabilization over the succeeding decade. Alarmingly for the status quo, these created opportunities for progressive and even revolutionary forces in the country to steadily advance. But the conditions for dissatisfaction and dissent remain and any intensification in 2013, whether in the real economy or the political landscape, would easily disrupt the current fragile stability.