As an example, Ibon cited the required indicator on “regulatory quality” which entails further shrinking the capacity of government to intervene in the economy in the greater social interest. This, according to Ibon, is a rehash of the old 1980s ‘minimalist state’ approach that the recent global financial crisis has exposed as grossly inadequate in terms of national development.
Aquino’s general economic plan extolling privatization, or “public-private partnerships” as he called it in his first SONA, is “clearly in line with the demands of the US government to allow heightened US investments in the country as among the requirements for inclusion in the MCC,” noted Terry Ridon of LFS.
He feared that the Aquino government would view this new grant as an incentive to further open the economy for US interests and capital without regard to the public’s concern over plunder of natural resources and national patrimony.
Aquino had said that in his US trip he would “try to make the country even more attractive” to foreign investors. Previous governments ahead of him have also done this, said the KMU, “yet we have always ended up with the same results: chronic unemployment, low wages, contractual work, and violations of trade-union rights.”
The reason lies in the policy thrusts being promoted by US and affirmed by the Aquino government in the Philippines based on its “mendicant attitude towards the US,” said the KMU.
The MCC is about “promoting the US’s preferred version of neoliberal free market democracies– democratic in form but severely undemocratic in their outcomes,” explained Ibon. But as shown in the last decade where so-called rapid economic growth in the country was accompanied by rising poverty, Ibon said “these policies have excluded the majority of Filipinos from the benefits of growth.”
Despite the nice ring to it of some indicators in the MCC, it appears that it would all redound to the profit of US firms operating in the Philippines, rather than to the locals.
“Even the indicators on anti-corruption, rule of law and government effectiveness are more concerned about creating a stable and consistent business environment for US firms to operate and profit than on improving the people’s welfare,” noted Ibon in a statement. They added that the indicators too on political rights and civil liberties appear little considered, given the real state of human rights in the country.”
Meanwhile, experience has proven that the supposed poverty alleviation projects (US120-million for the Kalahi CIDSS), according to Ibon, only momentarily disguise poverty causes and divert from the need for basic structural economic reforms.
The persistent problem of landlessness has no hope of being resolved even under the nice-sounding development indicators of the MCC, as it tacitly endorses the failed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which enshrines ‘just compensation’ rather than ‘free distribution of land to the tiller’ as the cornerstone of agrarian reform, according to Ibon.
A change in the country’s plight lies in the Philippines, not abroad, the KMU said. They proposed to “junk” instead the long-standing neoliberal policies that favor foreign and big local corporations.
“Foreign investments and foreign aids have been tried-and-tested failures in terms of improving peoples’ lives. They gave us nothing but worse crises while siphoning off our resources,” said Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK). She urged that “instead of upholding the patronage of US and big foreign businesses, it is high time for President Aquino to finally get down to the business of effecting meaningful changes for his own people, for instance pushing for national industrialization, genuine land reform and comprehensive social services.” (Bulatlat.com)