It’s Time to Act on the Crisis

The Arroyo government’s economic program of deregulation, liberalization, and privatization has already made the Filipino people more vulnerable to the world economic crisis and yet it is not doing anything about it because it is denying the fact that the crisis would strike the country hard. More accurately, the Arroyo government has not made any effort or program to confront the crisis or at the minimum, to mitigate its impact on the Filipino people because it is trying to deceive the people into believing that all is well with the economy. It is doing so for political reasons.



Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, the president’s husband, has been linked to anomalies involving the Arroyo government again. This time he is being linked to Eduardo de Luna, president of E.C. de Luna Construction Corp., one of three construction firms that were blacklisted by the World Bank for “corrupt and fraudulent practices” but were still able to secure government contracts. Every time the Arroyos are being linked to corruption scandals, Malacañang has two standard replies: produce the evidence and that all of these are politicking, often adding that these issues would not distract the government from focusing on the economy and that the opposition, through its politicking, is trying to reverse the gains achieved in the economy.

In 2002 and 2003 the standard reply was that the Arroyo government would focus on solving the fiscal crisis instead of wasting its time replying to the opposition’s claims. From 2005-2007, the standard reply was that this politicking would have a negative impact on the economy, which has been growing at its fastest rate in decades. Now all the government says is that the opposition should produce the evidence but is silent on its claims about politicking and the economy.

The world is in a deep economic crisis with no end in sight. The US has been shedding jobs every month; big banks and financial investment firms from the US to Europe are being bailed out; Japan is sliding back to a recession after experiencing slight improvements in its economy during the past years.

The Philippines is no exception even if the Arroyo government is in a state of denial. According to figures released by the Department of Labor and Employment, a total of 23,485 Filipinos both here and abroad have lost their jobs since October 2008. The labor department fears that 200,000 local workers could lose their jobs by the middle of the year.

Yet the figures being released by the DOLE are still conservative and perhaps sanitized. The Southern Tagalog chapter of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) reported that in just two industries, namely electronics and car manufacturing, a total of 19,422 workers have been retrenched so far since October 2008. It projects that 40,000 more would lose their jobs in the region in just the two industries, electronics and car manufacturing, by the middle of the year. Based on IBON Foundation’s computation, the number of unemployed and underemployed in 2008 could reach 10.7 million, with the unemployment rate hovering around 11 percent. It projects that the unemployed and underemployed could reach 11 million by merely comparing the average number of jobs being created with the number of people joining the labor force every year.

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