The regime would not veer away from the economic policies that Arroyo has implemented in the past. These are the very same policies that made the Filipino people vulnerable to the world economic crisis and to price manipulations and speculative attacks by corporations wanting to pass on the burden of the crisis to the people.
By BENJIE OLIVEROS
MANILA — Gauging from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ninth State of the Nation Address, it is going to be business as usual. She would not veer away from the economic policies that she has implemented in the past. These are the very same policies that made the Filipino people vulnerable to the world economic crisis and to price manipulations and speculative attacks by corporations wanting to pass on the burden of the crisis to the people.
Arroyo boasted of a tame inflation rate, but in other countries, prices are actually decreasing because of recession. The local pump price of gasoline is around P36, just around P10 to P15 less than its peak in 2007. However, world oil prices, currently around $68 per barrel, is less than half its peak of P147 per barrel in 2007. Medicines cost a fraction of what it costs here in India and Pakistan.
President Arroyo boasted about reducing poverty and unemployment, but the number of poor Filipinos actually increased by 2.1 million from 2000 to 2006 and the country has experienced the longest period of sustained high unemployment under her administration. Add to this the number of underemployed, which increased by 1.9 million.
She also bragged about her administration’s accomplishments in providing education for all and housing for the poor. However, compared to the three preceding post-martial law administrations, the Arroyo government allotted the lowest percentage of the national budget to education at 15.1 percent, health 1.8 percent, and housing 0.4 percent. The Arroyo government spends a mere P6 per Filipino per day on education, P1 on health, and 12 centavos on housing, according to Ibon Foundation’s computations. Moreover, the number of out-of-school youth and children actually increased by 2.45 million under the Arroyo administration.
The Arroyo government claimed accomplishments in agrarian reform and providing rice to the Filipino people. However, the 119,301 hectares of land it distributed annually is the lowest since the CARP was implemented in 1988. And yet, this does not include the number of lands that reverted back to landlords because of land-use conversion and court decisions. Rice imports increased by 280 percent and its price increased by 68 percent under her administration.
President Arroyo hit at critics of her government’s moves to amend the 1987 Constitution, indicating her determination to push for these. Worse, contrary to Press Secretary Cerge Remonde’s claims before the SONA, Arroyo never categorically stated that she would not seek an extension of her stay in government nor did she say that she would never declare martial law.
There was also no mention about addressing the impunity in corruption and human rights violations prevailing in the country.
In sum, it is business as usual for the Arroyo government. The same is true for the progressive people’s movement. The issues remain the same and so would the struggles and campaigns. (Bulatlat.com)