Ibon Birdtalk

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Birdtalk
MIDYEAR 2012:

Economic and Political Briefing

Exclusionary Economics, Elite Politics

July 12-13, 2012 Balay Internasyonal, UP Diliman, Quezon City

IBON Foundation 114 Timog Avenue Quezon City 1103 Philippines Tel. Nos: +63 2 927-7060 to 62 Fax: +63 2 929-2496 www.ibon.org 2

IBON Economic and Political Briefing



12-13 July 2012

O

n the second year of the presidency of Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III, his administration continues to unravel as brandishing more of the same elite governance defined and motivated by the narrow agenda and interests of the few. This was evident in the impeachment of Corona which was sold to the public as part of his “daang matuwid” agenda but soon enough was perceived as an effort to control the entire bureaucracy for selfserving political and economic reasons. As is the nature of traditional politics, the Aquino presidency has played along the agenda of the US, the long-time patron of the country’s elite, in exchange for its continued patronage and support. By serving as the agent of increased US military presence in the region, Aquino has stoked the tension with China over disputed territories, in the process risking regional stability and further undermining national sovereignty. As is the nature of traditional politics, the Aquino presidency has promoted an economic regime that excludes the poor while creating the most favorable environment for big business through public-private partnership (PPP) or the intensified corporate takeover of various economic sectors and activities— from utilities and social services to the exploitation of natural resources. Its claim of inclusive growth is being belied by increasing poverty and social restiveness that even massive doses of conditional cash transfer (CCT) dole outs could not pacify. Meanwhile, the human rights of those who dissent against the enduring social injustice and lack of real reforms continue to be abused with impunity by alleged state forces. Thus while still enjoying relative popularity, the Aquino regime is finding it increasingly difficult to continue selling an image of a presidency that is transformative and reformist. And after two years in office, the people are starting to question whether or not Aquino has the capacity and interest to institute genuine reforms in the country’s economic and political system that will serve the welfare of the majority.

IBON Economic and Political Briefing



12-13 July 2012

3

Is inclusive growth happening?

T

he government claims to seek inclusive growth in its development plan. In the last few months it has played up rapid economic growth, positive outlooks or upgrades from credit rating agencies, and the country supposedly attaining “creditor nation” status with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Yet while these may boost investor confidence they do not indicate that growth is inclusive or that conditions have improved on the ground. On the contrary, growth has been far from inclusive and the people have become more marginalized. There has been relatively high growth but poor job creation, large infrastructure projects amid increasing demolitions of communities, increased land grabbing in the middle of landlessness, and record-high corporate profits even as the toiling people make do with poverty wages. Amid claims of sound economic fundamentals, fundamental problems of backwardness and underdevelopment remain. The poor development performance of the economy disproves claims to sound economic management ushering in development and inclusive growth. The Aquino presidency is not yet in its midterm but the democratic image it seeks to project and its claims to adhere to the “straight path” are already much diminished.

Shallow and Unsustainable Growth
Official government statistics report 2012 first quarter growth that was the fastest in a year-and-a-half. This has made economic officials confident to say that full-year growth will be...
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