By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Addressed to big businesses and not for ordinary Filipinos.
This is the reaction of Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas on the first state of the nation address of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday, July 25.
Brosas said Marcos Jr. did not mention anything about easing the impacts of the economic crisis on the poor.
“Marcos Jr.’s top priorities are not in sync with what poor Filipinos need – lowering of prices of food and basic commodities, wage hike, contractualization, affordable housing, end to human rights violations and extra-judicial killings, and resumption of peace talks,” Brosas said.
Ibon Foundation Executive Director Sonny Africa also noted that Marcos Jr. was silent about his administration’s plan on (addressing) inflation, huge joblessness and worsening poverty.
“He said how much he’d spend on infrastructures (5-6% of gross domestic product) but didn’t give figures or commit anything to aid or the nice-sounding initiatives for health, education, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEd), and overseas Filipino workers. If anything, he’s even cutting 4Ps beneficiaries by over a million,” Africa said in a Facebook post.
Renato Reyes Jr. of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said that while Marcos Jr. enumerated a list of macro-economic targets, however, “it fell short of spelling out how growth targets and government projects will actually benefit the poor.”
“He mentions that food prices may continue to go up, inflation may continue to rise, but offers no real relief in the form of lower taxes and a substantial wage and salary increase. How will the poor actually benefit from these targets? How will regular jobs be actually created and how will wages increase? There is also the possibility of new taxes on digital services which may again impact the poor negatively,” Bayan said.
In his speech, Marcos Jr. said that the country’s tax system “will be adjusted to catch up with the rapid developments of the digital economy, including the imposition of value added tax on digital service providers.”
Marcos Jr. also plans to continue public-private partnerships (PPP) to expand infrastructure projects, which Brosas describes “as a modality that will suck public funds dry.”
Reyes said that on the whole, “Marcos Jr. promised continuity in the neoliberal economic policies that have plunged the country in a chronic crisis.”
“His speech reflects the orientation of his economic team and the class interests his administration represents,” Reyes said, adding that Marcos Jr.’s program “is not a program for change but a continuation of the same elite-led, pro-business economic set-up which will marginalize working people even more.”
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan’s secretary general, agreed, saying that Marcos Jr. remains “in favor of big corporations, foreign businesses and local allied politicians, as seen in planned infrastructure projects, further opening the country to foreign business through more investment, adding new agencies to the bureaucracy only to push for more labor export.”
Meanwhile, Reyes noted the non-mentioning of human rights, pursuing peace and fighting corruption. “It is a very disturbing sign,” he said.
Palabay added that Marcos Jr. skirted civil and political rights issues such as extrajudicial killings, political prisoners, press freedom, disinformation, peace talks, death penalty, failed domestic accountability mechanisms, justice for victims of human rights violations under Duterte and International Criminal Court’s investigation, among others.
“When there’s eerie silence on these issues, we surmise that there are no significant shifts in the draconian policies of the previous Duterte administration. The impact is a more threatening environment that encourages further closing of democratic spaces,” Palabay said. (RTS, RVO)