The likely hype and promises in the president’s upcoming state of the nation address (SONA) should be seen in the context of economic realities, according to research group IBON. Pres. Aquino’s performance has been notably poor in four important economic fronts: prices, jobs, wages, and land.
1. The prices of food, fuel, transport, water and power have continued to rise. Inflation is accelerating and stood at 5.2% in June 2011 from just 3.7% in July 2010, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO) using 2006 as its base year.
2. The number of Filipinos jobless or otherwise not earning enough from their jobs and seeking additional work increased by 645,000 to reach 11.6 million in April 2011 from the year before. There is a large increase in the number of Filipinos jobless or in poor quality work because the small drop in the number of unemployed was more than offset by the huge 829,000 increase in the number of underemployed.
3. The Aquino administration is giving even less to workers than the previous Arroyo government, with just a Php22 wage hike for NCR in May 2011. According to IBON, the previous administration was able to give higher Php25 wage hikes in June 2005 and July 2006. The real wage, or taking inflation into account, also reached higher during the previous administration and was worth Php258 in February 2008 (in 2000 prices) compared to the Php245 under Aquino in June 2011. The mandated minimum wage of Php426 is also Php572 less
than or just 43% of the family living wage of Php998 for a family of six in NCR.
4. The Aquino administration is the second worst performer in terms of land distribution in the post-Marcos era of five administrations. It has so far only distributed an average of 19,901 hectares of land per month, in its first nine months, compared to the monthly averages of 38,229 hectares under the Ramos administration, 28,711 hectares under Cory Aquino and 26,032 hectares under Estrada. The current administration’s performance is only slightly better than the monthly average of 17,311 hectares under Arroyo. This is a very poor performance for a program that should have had much greater momentum by now, although unsurprising for being under a presidency from a landed clan, the research group noted.
As it is, the biggest accomplishment of the Aquino government has been to sustain the hype that progress is possible under its watch — but even this manufactured post-Arroyo sense of hope is diminishing with growing disenchantment among the public and even among erstwhile allies of the administration, said IBON.