Tag Archives: Economy

[Press Release] Despite growth, labor underscores systemic failure in rising inequality -PM

Despite growth, labor underscores systemic failure in rising inequality

Exclusive growth for exclusive group of wealthiest businessmen.

This is how Partido Manggagawa (PM) reacted to the twin reports that came out the other day. The party reiterated its position that “walang naituwid, walang naitawid,” as the economy remained systemically non-inclusive.

pmLogo1

The first report came from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), announcing the 6.4 percent growth posted by the Philippine economy during the second quarter. This growth rate, according to the government, is considered to be the best performing in Southeast Asia.

The second report is an updated list of 50 wealthiest Filipinos released by Forbes Magazine which showed their combined wealth rising by 12 percent from $68.5-B in 2013 to $74-B this year.

In a press statement Thursday, Forbes Magazine said this year’s list reflected two driving forces of the Philippine economy: construction and consumption. This jibes with the PSA findings which show consumption, propped up by the steady growth of OFW remittances, as the main driving force of the Philippine economy.

According to PM, the Philippines’ richest capitalists control the economy in an oligopolistic manner. They own the industry, the banks, real property, the highways, the biggest media networks, as well as the privatized essential services like power and water.

PM chair Renato Magtubo said, “Growth, however fast and vast it is, makes no difference if it lurks in exclusivity for the country’s 1% while the 99% remain at the corners of terminal marginality.”

Magtubo said today’s growth remains jobless and in fact, an offensive narrative amid high prices of basic goods and services.

According to PM, the country’s unemployment rate hardly changed from 7.1 percent in 2010 to 7% in April this year. The same with underemployment, from 19.6 percent to 19 percent. This unemployment figure is even worse if we compare it to the 1986 rate of 6.7 percent or the 5.2 percent in 1976.

So where did this GDP growth go? PM disclosed that the combined net worth of the richest 10 of the more than doubled since 2006. Henry Sy’s fortune alone for instance climbed by 217 percent from $4-B in 2006 to $12.7-B in 2014; Lucio Tan to $6.10-B from $2.3-B or 165 percent; and John Gokongwei to US$4.9-B from US$700 million or 600 percent.

At the other end, workers’ real wage remained at starvation level, increasing only by 41% from Php258 per day in 2006 to Php363 in 2013.

In contrast the combined wealth of the richest 50 amounting to Php3.24 trillion is equivalent to a one year income of 26 million minimum wage earners.

Unfortunately only half the country’s employed persons are wage and salaried workers. The other half live on own account or self-employed.

Magtubo said these talks about economic cha-cha, term extension, impeachment, and the early onset of 2016 elections have overshadowed the discourse on inequality which workers believed is equally important if not more fundamental than issues of good governance.

“In fact even in governance, the political side of inequality is even more pronounced with the three main branches of government ruled by multimillionaires,” added Magtubo.

The group said exposing, educating and mobilizing workers against this evil shall be its priority as the party believes that this is where the past and present trapo rulers perpetually fail. ###

PRESS RELEASE
Partido Manggagawa
29 August 2014
Contact: Renato Magtubo
Chairperson
09178532905

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[Statement] Pnoy’s Midterm SONA: Highlighting Same Road to the Present Crisis -Kilusan

Pnoy’s Midterm SONA: Highlighting Same Road to the Present Crisis by Kilusan

Photo from Von FB

Photo from Von’s FB

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On Monday, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is expected to deliver the remainder of his road map for the second leg of his six-year term. Surely, he will give himself and his economic managers’ pats on the back for ensuring high economic growth, a bright green light for foreign investment.

But even as investors and big business applaud the rosy economic figures, Pnoy’s Social Contract with the Filipino people (according to his Philippine Development Plan): transparent, accountable and participatory governance; poverty reduction and empowerment of the poor and vulnerable; rapid inclusive and sustainable economic growth; just and lasting peace and the rule of law; and integrity of the environment and climate change adaptation and mitigation, has not quite reached its mark.

Indeed, Pnoy has proven who are his real bosses and its not us common folk.

Scarce Jobs and Contractualization

The quality of employment is unstable both in terms of wages and tenure. Job generation has been a sore spot for the Aquino administration. Almost four out of ten employed Filipinos (36.3 % or 13.772 Million out of 37.940 Million employed) are self-employed who are neither contractual nor regular, earning below the daily minimum even as they work more than 16 hours a day.

Meanwhile, six out of ten employed Filipinos (22,829,000 wage and salary workers) can be characterized as:, 2,123,000 or 9.3% are household workers receiving below the minimum wage and working more than 8 hours a day); 17,493,000 or 76.63% are employed in private establishments whose status is mostly contractual; and, 3,056,000 or 13.4% government employees that also include contractual employees.

20.9% (7.9M) are considered underemployed. These, along with the increasing number of contractual employees are clear signs that the means of livelihood of the majority of Filipinos are unstable and in fact, can be considered precarious.

This means that aside from the fact that jobs generated are not widespread and are mostly in the service industry, contractualization as a policy has been firmly entrenched in practice. For instance, the number of regular workers are shrinking relative to the ballooning ranks of contractuals.

As in the case of PLDT-Digitel share-swap integration, former employees of Digitel are redundated and are offered contractual positions at Digitel subsidiaries to do the same work, in the same work location for less pay and no security of tenure. Digitel employees bucked the redundancy and have been on strike since April 10.

If these workers were to lose this fight, even armed with a favourable Supreme Court decision, it will be another case guaranteed to further undermine organized labor in the country.

Poor, Hungry and In Danger of Demolition

According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the country’s latest poverty data, released in April, shows almost no improvement in the last six years. About 10 percent of Filipinos still live in extreme poverty, unable to meet their most basic food needs. This is the same figure as in 2006 and 2009, the previous years when poverty data was gathered.”

The board also estimated that 22.3 percent of families were living in poverty in the first four months of 2012, compared with 22.9 percent in 2009 and 23.4 percent in 2006.

Therefore, government estimates that there are more than nine million extremely poor Filipino households are not able to earn the 5,460 pesos, or $135, needed each month to eat.

Other reports confirm the government’s findings that poverty has persisted. In a survey by the independent Manila polling group Social Weather Stations, the number of Filipino families reporting that they periodically go hungry has increased in recent months. The survey found that 19.2 percent of survey respondents, about 3.9 million families, reported going hungry. This is up from 16.3 percent in December 2012, when a similar survey was done.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has slipped on the U.N. Human Development Index, ranking 114th of 187 countries in 2012 in categories like health, education and infant mortality. The country had a ranking of 105 in 2007.
The government has earmarked 50 billion pesos as Shelter Fund for the informal settler families in Danger zones in the National Capital Region and people’s organizations went through the exhaustive process of preparing and submitting people’s proposals as clear near city/ in city relocation alternatives to the offsite relocation favored by existing housing agencies. This intervention will surely be wiped out as emboldened local government units set to wipe out these informal settler communities independent of the DILG/ DPWH timetable with a token 18,000 subsidy to sweeten the forced eviction.

Surely, it exhibits the fact that government lacks the political will to root out and resolve the shelter problem, and are only interested in short term or ‘tapal-tapal’ solutions.

Fast Rising Income of the Rich

Cielito Habito has stated “the growth in the aggregate wealth of our 40 richest families in 2011—which Forbes Asia reported to have risen by $13 billion in 2010-2011—was equivalent (in value) to 76.5 percent of the growth in our total GDP at the time, which official data show to have risen nominally then by P732 billion, or around $17 billion. Meanwhile, according to Forbes, the number of Filipino billionaires grew to 11 this year. Fortunes of the country’s wealthiest individuals also generally grew in less than one year from as little as $200 million to as much as $4.1 billion.” Forbes added that “the wealth of the country’s top 40 corporations accounted for 76% of the country’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP).”

4Ps, Philhealth Negated By Privatization and High Cost of Living

The first three years of Pnoy Aquino also highlighted of more than three million of marginalized and poor people improving their living condition through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) which his government bankrolls with a P40 billion budget for this year. Definitely, the program have temporarily helped increased the income of the poor families but these are easily wiped out by the repeated increases of prices of oil and commodities.

The prices of oil and oil products keep on rising effecting increases in prices of basic needs: water, electricity and other utilities and services and cost of production. But nothing has been done by the government within its mandate, not even cushioning the impact of inflation. Immediately it could have suspended or reduced EVAT as suggested by some legislators. This could have been followed with the scrapping of Oil Deregulation Law and EPIRA and checking monopoly pricing by oil and energy cartels.

Staples like rice are in danger of shortage despite assurances of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that prices of milled rice are bound to increase during the lean season, from July to August. On the other hand, the National Food Authority (NFA) assured the public that there is no rice shortage given that the Philippines has enough rice supply for the next 71 days. Such pronouncement is shaky. Conventional wisdom teaches us that a condition of rice sufficiency limits if not denies the manipulation of prices by rice traders or rice cartels.

It is also not being admitted that the 4Ps is not immune from corruption and is a convenient way for politicians to build and sustain political patronage. The conditions that have to be met by the “beneficiaries” further promote mendicancy and non-productivity. In fact, reports say that some who have availed of the 4Ps are not poor!

Last June 21, Pnoy signed RA 10606 or the National Health Insurance Act of 2013. Among others, it will prioritize the health care needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and women and children and provide health care services to indigents. Under the law, the government will also shoulder the premiums for the health insurance of the indigent and informal sectors. Since the government has started with privatization of government hospitals, the indigent patient from the poor people are left with no choice but to pay for the high cost of health services. Even with Philhealth, a World Bank data shows an “increase in out-of-pocket of patients, reaching as much as 83.5% of the bill.

Privatization

What has happened with the two water concessionaires of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Maynila and Manila Water, undoubtedly showed long term effects of privatization, one of the pillar program of neo-liberalism. Maynilad and Manila Water had allegedly passed on their income taxes to water consumers, which had reached P15.5 billion from 2008 to 2012 or P3.1 billion a year. The MWSS-Regulatory Office has allowed the two concessionaires to include in their operating expenses the cost of corporate income taxes, which they could recover from consumers through monthly water bills. This is on top of the system loss or cost of water pilfered that is also passed on to consumers.

The expose surrounding the MWSS has further highlighted the anti-people character of a Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) project.

Anti-corruption drive

After a noticeable delay, Pnoy finally ordered a “full, fair, and impartial” investigation on the P10 billion scam involving the pork barrel of five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives. The people have long demanded the abolition of the pork barrel because it “reeks of corruption.” He has to placate the rising anger of the people.

His sincerity on weeding out corruption is suspect. He had continued with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the subtle term for the most hated pork barrel. Furthermore, he has not even brought to closure the various corruption cases against GMA and her subalterns. The stand of Pnoy is tantamount of abetting corruption in the country. His intention is not to do away with corruption altogether, only to check excessive corruption. Pnoy’s government has to draw savings and earnings from its anti-corruption drive and improve revenue collection as not to default its debt payments.

Human Rights

Pnoy has a three year dismal record in promoting and upholding human rights. While not as worse as the previous GMA regime, it remains inconsistent with the pronouncements by PNoy, and echoed by the AFP and PNP of “respecting human rights”.

According to Peter Koeppinger, resident representative of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, “the 2013 Impunity Index done by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked the Philippines third worst in terms of unsolved murders of journalists, next only to Iraq and Somalia. In the 2013 Press Freedom Index done by Reporters Without Borders, the Philippines ranked 147th out of 179 countries.

More than that, the killings, enforced disappearances and arrests and detention of activists and journalists in different lines of advocacy from political to environmental causes– continue. This is a continuing insult and injustice because not one among those accused of perpetrating the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) and enforced disappearances from 2001-2010 is yet brought to justice. The most notorious of them, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan is scot free even as he is charged in the case of two missing students from UP. And of course GMA, who honored Palparan as a “defender of democracy”, is free and a congresswoman again!

The promised closure of cases involving GMA, her family and their accomplices in government, police and military is far from being realized. The process which has been blocked in the past regime remains impeded still. And among the big impediments is the indecisiveness and sluggishness of the PNoy presidency. For instance, the cases of human rights violations, election fraud and the other cases of betrayal of public trust are grave historical injustices to the Filipino people.

Peace and order

The police institution that repeatedly claimed to be protectors of the people are currently mired in serious scandal to another. Rub-outs are regularly becoming a fixture in their bust operations against syndicates and criminal gangs, especially when its high officials are reportedly to be coddling such syndicate and criminal gangs. Its parasitic character has remained through the years.

The workings of the police establishment has continued to make the lives of the ordinary people more miserable – from innocent individuals, petty criminals and eyewitnesses.

Peace talks

A peace agreement for the battle-weary part of Mindanao is on the horizon after both the panel of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have just signed the wealth sharing annex of the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). Both have agreed on a 50-50 sharing on fossil fuels (petroleum, natural, and coal) and uranium. Since both the national government and the new Bangsamoro political entity are operating within the neo-colony semi-feudal set-up, the new agreement will further open the natural resources of Mindanao for plunder, creating again a favorable climate for investment. Foreign capital has long before set its direction for the lands who residents are predominantly Muslims. US, for instance, already knew about the natural gas in Liguasan marsh as early as 1950s.

As things stand now, it is undisputedly clear for whose interests that such peace talk is pursued vigorously in the first place. It remains to be seen whether another war is forthcoming. The history of Mindanao is such that after each comprehensive peace agreement, another armed entity will emerge.

Surrender of national sovereignty

The PNoy presidency has confirmed once again that the Philippines is not sovereign. It is a US neo-colony and the Philippine government is a stooge of this declining but very aggressive superpower. It acceded when the US said it wanted more military access to the Philippines. Particularly, it offered its territory when the US said it has to put radars to monitor ships in the South China. It opened the country to more military exercises and to the entry of more aircraft and vessels. Lately, it has offered basing access rights to the US and other allies like Japan.

Charter change

The clamor for charter change is resurrected again, using different focuses. One is to limit the charter change only to economic provisions of the constitution. A contrary position also suggests that “consistency in government policies would attract foreign investors more effectively than altering the economic provisions of the constitution. The other focus is on the political reforms.

Yet the last three years has exposed the resolve and capacity of P-Noy’s government to even suspend the operation of the law (constitutional provision on the ban of US bases) just to kowtow to the design of its imperial master. He has mastered in circumventing the law. He can go again against the wishes and interests of the ordinary people and become very un-democratic, if his real master demands it.

With or without charter change, Pnoy’s direction is a sellout of our national patrimony and sovereignty.

Conclusion

The masses of the Filipino people have suffered long and hard. They have been longing for liberation from the social ills. They elected a government that promised to be the alternative but has gradually faltered in uplifting the lives of the ordinary. The much vaunted P-Noy pronouncement that the Filipino people are his boss has repeatedly fallen flat.

Should they be failed again, the people would not cease from justly taking upon themselves the pursuit of liberation.

July 22, 2013
PRESS STATEMENT

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[From the web] A feminist reading of 2012 Sona -RAPPLER.com

A feminist reading of 2012 Sona
by Josephine Acosta-Pasricha, RAPPLER.com
July 28, 2012

I may be wrong or I am incredulously right. Of President Benigno Aquino‘s State of the Nation Addresses, the third is both pro-woman and anti-woman.

Sona III may have high marks of achievement on three areas.

First, transparency, accountability and good governance; savings, due diligence, clear consistent rules, and a fair playing field. The vision of “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap”, and the Process of “Daang Matuwid” are diligently observed, at least in the highest levels of government. Those who do not follow are warned and punished, even impeached. Those who do their jobs efficiently and contribute to the achievements of their departments will be given performance ratings. Their yearly bonuses can also go as high as P35,000, besides across-the-board Christmas bonus. Old age and disability pensioners will also receive higher monthly pensions of P5,000 for their basic needs of water, power, food.

Second, the idea of “Bayanihan”, the Filipino translation of “convergence” or the coming together of people to collaborate, network and help each other. Thus, “It is great to be a Filipino”. Within this context, GDP grew by 6.4%, the highest growth in South East Asia; second only to China in the whole of Asia! While Good Governance is defined in terms of agriculture, food production, prices that do not fluctuate, stable wages resulting in a stronger, resilient and dynamic economy that is a defense against global uncertainty.

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

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[Press Release] Growth is inequitable under privatization and deregulation policy –KAMP

Growth is inequitable under privatization and deregulation policy –KAMP

President Aquino may have good numbers to show in his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) but activists are putting up a major challenge on those figures: prove that the country’s economic growth is equitable.

The Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) which joined Nagkaisa!, Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and the Philippine Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) in the “Martsa para sa Alternatibong Ekonomiya”, said growth can only be meaningful if it gives people the chance to live a life of dignity.

The present reality, the group said, show otherwise. Despite more than a decade of growth, millions of Filipino remained poor while prices of goods and services are getting more inaccessible:

 there is a property boom, but urban poor families are being uprooted out of the cities
 despite the 6% growth half of the labor force are self-employed and unpaid workers while more than a third work as contractuals
 there is also a boom in private led medical tourism but poor Filipinos suffer deteriorating public health services
 private power and water utilities enjoy super profits while the people suffer one of the highest electricity and water rates in the world

“How can this growth become equitable when the most part of it went to the private sector, when the combined income of the top 40 Filipino billionaires is more than the combined income of the bottom 30% of the population?” lamented KAMP lead convenor Ana Maria Nemenzo.

Nemenzo said growth will always remain inequitable as long as privatization and deregulation remain the governing policy of the Aquino administration. She cited a study made by the PIDS which showed that 3 trillion of our Gross Domestic Product went to corporate
income while only 2.4 trillion went to family income.

Furthermore, the combined net worth of the top 40 billionaires (which receive numerous incentives from the government) amounted to PhP2 trillion, almost equivalent to the proposed 2013 national budget, while select poor families receive Php1,400 a month only from the palliative Pantawid Pamilya program of the government.

“Kung mayorya ng ating populasyon ay hirap na hirap na nabubuhay sa sariling sikap habang ang pribadong sektor ay kumakabig ng guaranteed profit sa kanilang negosyo na nagdudulot naman ng mataas na presyo ng mga bilihin at serbisyo, hindi talaga magiging patas ang kaunlaran na
ito,” added Nemenzo.

KAMP is calling for the de-privatization of essential services such as power and water. It is also demanding for decisive and immediate government intervention to ensure guaranteed employment and decent work for all, universal quality healthcare, and an on-site\in-city decent housing program for the poor. (30)

PRESS RELEASE
23 July 2012
Contact: Wilson Fortaleza
09053732185

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[Statement] But why through the IMF? -FDC

BUT WHY THROUGH THE IMF?

On the Philippine pledge to give US$1 billion more this year to the IMF to “help distressed economies” like those in the Eurozone

By Ricardo B. Reyes
President, Freedom from Debt Coalition

June 5, 2012

News from the G-20 Meeting at Lagos, Mexico last June 18-19 carried an announcement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) through IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde that the Philippines is among the twenty countries which pledged to increase the IMF fund to assist economies going bankrupt and stabilize the world monetary system which continues to shake under the impact of the global financial and economic crisis.

The Philippine pledge amounts to US$1 billion. The announcement was immediately confirmed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. and President Aquino’s Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda. This is on top of earlier Philippine contributions which amounted to SDR 163.8 million or about US$251.5 million as of December 31, 2011. [1]

These Philippine commitments have become part of the Financial Transaction Plan (FTP) of the IMF. The FTP is the IMF’s mechanism to finance its lending and repayment transactions through a transfer of foreign exchange from members with strong reserves to members which need to borrow. According to the BSP, the Philippines has contributed to the FTP since 2010. It will be recalled that the BSP prepaid all Philippine outstanding debts from the IMF in 2006, enabling it to make an early exit from the Post-Program Monitoring Arrangement and stop availing IMF loans.

By continuing to participate in the FTP and even increasing Philippine contributions to it, the BSP aims to enroll the Philippines to IMF’s New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) facility, a credit arrangement meant to forestall or cope with national or regional crisis situations which could impair the international monetary system. Normally, quota subscriptions from member countries are the IMF’s main source of financing but in the wake of repeated national debt crises which triggered regional or more widespread financial contagion, the IMF set up the NAB as its main backstop or supplementary financing to quota resources in 1997, following the Mexican financial crisis. At present, thirty-eight (38) member countries and institutions are part of the IMF’s NAB.

BSP’s Tetangco justified the US$1 billion plus pledge to the IMF, saying that the Philippines can now join international efforts to control the global financial crisis and stabilize the world monetary system because of its strong gross foreign exchange position. The amount, he claims, will not have significant impact on the country’s reserves. Moreover, all claims under NAB can be encashed fully and immediately in case of a balance of payments problems and will be treated as reserve assets, says Tetangco. The Aquino administration, through Mr. Lacierda, for its part, defended the BSP move, to quote: “We have been a recipient of IMF assistance for the past 40 years. Now that we have been considered a creditor nation, we feel it is our obligation to assist those nations who require funding from IMF.”

Before going to our main issue here which is the IMF, let us first disabuse Messrs. Tetangco and Lacierda of the thought that they can mislead many of us to believing that the Philippines has now turned from a debtor country to a creditor country.

The Philippines is very much in debt. Consolidated public sector debt (debts of the national and local governments and government-owned and –controlled corporations and government financing institutions) [2] stood at P7.6 trillion as of end-2011. National Government debt is P5.07 trillion as of April this year. Of this amount, foreign debt is P2.06 trillion while domestic debt is P3.02 trillion. Of course, the Philippine debt profile has changed as to source of loans. Now, around 60 percent of foreign loans and nearly 99 percent of domestic loans incurred by the national government are sourced from the financial markets through various types of financial instruments, such as Treasury bills and bonds. Loans from international financial institutions and bilateral sources have diminished. From this debt picture we can see why the Arroyo administration and the BSP could afford to exit from the IMF in 2006, aside from other factors which strengthen the Philippine foreign reserves like the increasing remittances from overseas Filipinos and the surge of capital flows in the direction of Southeast and East Asia.

To assist other countries and peoples in need is at the heart of global human solidarity and sound international relations. Helping thy neighbors, our kapwa, is also a deep-seated Filipino trait. The big question, however, to us in the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) is: BUT WHY GO THROUGH THE IMF? CONSIDERING THE IMF’S TRACK-RECORD, CAN IT REALLY HELP THE BANKRUPT ECONOMIES AND DISTRESSED PEOPLES OF THE EUROZONE GET OUT OF THE FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC RUT THEY ARE IN?

We raise this question because of the bitter experiences of the Philippines in the hands of the IMF and its partner, the World Bank. For more than four decades, successive Philippine governments and elite classes have allowed themselves, for reasons of colonial mentality, United States’ pressures and selfish gain, to accept IMF’s prescriptions to chart the economic development of our country.

These IMF prescriptions, which later became impositions, took our economy down the road of a debt-driven development. The objectives and policy conditionalities of IMF loans were directed towards producing more for export markets abroad than satisfying the basic needs of our people and developing both homegrown industrial and agricultural strength and a robust domestic market. When a deep economic crisis struck in the early 80s, the IMF aggressively pushed the Philippines to adopt its structural adjustment program (SAP) which sought to remove the developmental role of the State in the economy and give the upper hand to markets and the private sector. Policies to liberalize the economy, privatize state enterprises and deregulate vital industries like oil and power were relentless pursued. Land reform was pushed aside to promote big agribusiness and real estate. Wages and job security were sacrificed through labor flexibility schemers to attract private investors. Government subsidies to basic social services and agriculture were radically cut or removed. A full-blown neo-liberal program was put into motion especially after the Philippines joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The effects on our national economy and the welfare of our people have been devastating. Industry and agriculture have registered very sluggish growth with many industries disappearing. From a former rice exporter, the Philippines has become one of the world’s top rice importers. Unemployment and underemployment have risen under a regime of jobless growth. A large underclass of contractual and informal labor has become the majority of the working class and has given rise to huge colonies of poverty and homelessness in the cities. Poverty continues to rise in the rural areas where landlessness and lack of jobs persist, and where indigenous peoples reside. Around 22 percent of the country’s labor force – the educated, skilled and enterprising, are now abroad in search of jobs and a better future.

IMF crisis interventions in other countries have been similar to the Philippine experience. The formula is to inject liquidity to troubled economies to meet their debt payments to private creditors, maintain capital account convertibility and prevent default while carrying out monetary and fiscal tightening to restore confidence. The latter becomes a procyclical policy – magnifying financial and economic fluctuations – because belt-tightening is required during a downturn thus adding to economic contractions. Debt restructuring are tied to structural adjustment programs and sustainability assessments. Sustainability is measured in terms of how much debt and debt servicing a country can absorb without regard to its effect on employment and poverty.

IMF programs have also been easily influenced by the national interests of its major shareholders like the United States, Japan and Europe as clearly shown in the South Korean crisis of 1997. Ceilings on foreign ownership of industrial assets were raised and wages were cut by half and labor flexibility schemes like contractualization were intensified. In many other cases, creditor banks and investors from these countries were not made to share part of the consequences of the risk they took in lending a troubled country. The entire burden was shifted to the debtor country, to its government, which was compelled to assume the liabilities of private investors which can no longer pay their debt.

Moreover, countries with severe balance of payments and sovereign debt difficulties are not allowed by the IMF to resort to debt standstills and exchange and capital controls which are important to arrest capital hemorrhage.

The Eurozone experience is the most recent example. The recent agreement between the Greek government on the one hand and the so-called Troika – the European Central Bank (ECB), the IMF and the European Commission (EC) prescribed the reduction of public employment by 150,000 workers by 2015, cutting of the minimum wage by 20 percent (and by 32 percent for those under age 25) and the weakening of collective bargaining – all in exchange for a 130 Billion Euro package!

The Philippines should join the growing international demand to abolish the IMF instead of prolonging its life and even expanding its exploitative operations by putting in US$1 billion plus worth of foreign exchange at its disposal. -END-
1 SDRs (Special Drawing Rights) are supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the IMF which can be used as a claim to member countries’ foreign exchange reserves in only four currencies, namely US dollars, euros, pound sterling and Japanese yen. SDRs were created in 1969 to supplement shortages of gold and US dollar as preferred foreign exchange reserve assets.

2 These figures do not yet include loans of government financing institutions.

Freedom from Debt Coalition
11 Matimpiin St., Brgy. Pinyahan, Quezon City 1100, NCR, Philippines
Phone: (+63.2) 921.1985 │ Telefax: (+63.2) 924.6399
Website: http://www.fdc.ph │ Email: mail@fdc.ph

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[People] The “Sin Tax” Bill: Promoting the Nation’s Health and Plugging Lucio Tan’s Loophole for Legal Tax Evasion by Walden Bello

The “Sin Tax” Bill: Promoting the Nation’s Health and Plugging Lucio Tan’s Loophole for Legal Tax Evasion

By Walden Bello*

The Philippines has scandalously low taxes on two commodities that have been proven killers of individuals, destroyers of families, and threats to national economic security: cigarettes and spirits.

Smokers’ Nirvana

The current multi-tiered tax system has made cigarettes so much cheaper in the Philippines than in other countries. A pack of the most popular foreign-brand cigarettes costs on the average P27.72 in the Philippines, compared to P365.2 in Singapore, P146.08 in Malaysia, P104.84 in Thailand, and P64.68 in Indonesia.

The reason cigarettes are so cheap in the Philippines is that excise taxes on them have not been indexed to inflation and the classification of the different brands remains what it was in 1996. For instance, Fortune and Champion, two brands, continue to be classified as “low price” and taxed at P2.72 per pack, whereas they should now be classified as “premium” and taxed at P28.30 per pack. Likewise, Hope and Winston are classified as “medium” and taxed at P7.56 per pack instead of being reclassified as premium and taxed at P28.30 per pack.

The biggest beneficiary of the current, unreformed system is the merged conglomerate of Lucio Tan’s Fortune Tobacco and the transnational firm Philip Morris, which has controlled some 95 per cent of market over the last 15 years. This conglomerate represents the worst of all possible worlds for health advocates, proponents of equitable tax reform, and groups seeking corporate accountability: a transnational alliance headed by a notorious tax evader engaged in the production of a deadly commodity that is being squeezed out in other parts of the world by rising global health consciousness. In essence, the current excise tax system governing tobacco and alcohol constitutes a mechanism for legal tax evasion by Lucio Tan and his transnational partners.

The Costs of the Unreformed System

The failure to reform the excise tax has allowed the tobacco monopoly to keep prices artificially low while reaping billions of pesos in profit at the expense of national health. The smoking prevalence rate for the Philippines is 28.3—meaning nearly 30 per cent of the population smokes. Comparable rates are 13.6 for Singapore, 20.7 for Thailand, and 21.5 for Malaysia. The Philippines now ranks 9th in the work in terms of the adult male smoking population and 16th in the adult female smoking population. From 2003 to 2007, there was a staggering 40% increase in the youth smoking prevalence to 27.3%.

Tobacco is a killer, but it kills off proportionally more of the poor than the rich.

300,000 people now die yearly from smoking-related diseases, and the majority of them come from the poor. This is not surprising since four out of ten of the poorest 20 per cent of Filipino adults are current smokers, compared to one out of four of the richest 20 per cent who smoke regularly.

Liquor has also been kept artificially cheap by low excise taxes and outdated classification. 50% of road accidents is due to drunk driving deaths. Alcohol consumption is estimated to cause from 20% to 50% of liver cirrhosis, epilepsy, poisonings, violence and several types of cancer. 2.5 million people die annually from harmful alcohol use; this comes to 4 per cent of all deaths.

Components of the Sin Tax Bill

The long overdue revision of the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products HB 5727—the so-called “Sin Tax Bill”–will be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives in the next few days, with its proponents seeking approval of the bill on final reading by the time the body adjourns its second session of the 15th Congress ends on June 6. The bill will increase tax rates on tobacco and alcohol products, adopt a simplified tax system for these products, index the taxes to inflation, and remove the freeze on price classifications.

Under the bill, for instance, the tax on cigarettes packed by machine will rise from P2.72 to P12 per pack. This will create a massive disincentive to smoking, especially among the youth who are at an age when they are most vulnerable to seduction by the tobacco industry but still lack the means to support this habit.

According to the Action for Economic Reform (AER) and other advocates, the bill, if passed, will generate P33 billion in new revenue annually. Part of the income stream will finance the expansion of the Universal Health Care Program (UHC), so that it can provide better health care services, especially for poor Filipinos. The added funds will contribute significantly towards alleviating the smoking-related disease burden that was estimated at P177.2 billion in 2011.

Disinformation by the Tobacco Lobby

In its effort to prevent the so-called “Sin Tax” bill from becoming law, the tobacco industry has spread a lot of misinformation about the effects of the bill on workers and tobacco farmers. But, according to AER, there are relatively few workers left in tobacco manufacturing, which is becoming more and more capital intensive in production technology. As for tobacco farmers—many of them in the so-called “Solid North” of the country—the prices they have been getting for their product have been dropping owing to the monopoly control of the industry, leading many of them to shift to more profitable crops than tobacco. To ease their transition to other crops, farmers will get earmarked funds equivalent to 15 per cent of the incremental revenues from tobacco taxes that will be devoted to safety nets and alternative livelihood projects.

The winners are many should the Sin Tax Bill pass: the nation’s health, the economy, youth, the poor, the future. The losers are a handful of dubious characters: Lucio Tan and his transnational corporate buddies. The choice confronting our legislators is clear.

*Inq.net columnist Walden Bello represents the party Akbayan in the House of Representatives.

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[In the news] DTI suspends investment promotions for mining in absence of clear government policy -InterAksyon.com

DTI suspends investment promotions for mining in absence of clear government policy
by Darwin G. Amojelar, InterAksyon.com
May 11, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has stopped courting new investors in mining in the absence of a clear government policy.

“We cannot aggressively promote it now because there is an absence of clear cut policies. We cannot invite new players, they will be disappointed if we invite to come here and wala naman tayong mabigay na permit,” Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio said.

He said the government has stopped issuing mining permits for new investors, allowing only existing players to ramp up their operations.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

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[From the web] Negros farmers demand land distribution | Sun.Star

Negros farmers demand land distribution | Sun.Star.

By Merlinda A. Pedrosa
May 4, 2012

ABOUT 300 hundred farmers joined a protest rally Thursday at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) office in Bacolod City to break up sugar estates and distribute the land to the tillers.

Task Force Mapalad-Negros president Alberto Jayme said they want to show that the government has not proceeded to make good on its promise to distribute land to agrarian beneficiaries quickly.

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He said, since July 2001, the DAR has not made a dent on its commitment to distribute 1.093-million hectares of agricultural land to the farmers.

He added that 94 percent of these lands are privately owned and more than 33 percent of these are large landholding or properties.

Read full article @ http://www.sunstar.com.ph/bacolod/local-news/2012/05/04/negros-farmers-demand-land-distribution-219690

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[In the news] PNoy rating dips because of poverty, hunger – labor group -thepoc.net

PNoy rating dips because of poverty, hunger – labor group
Angeli Sabillo,thepoc.net
29 April 2012

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)scored President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday, implying that the recent dip in his satisfactory ratings was because of his failure to ease hunger and poverty in the country.

In the Social Weather Station’s survey conducted last March 10 to 13, revealed that the Aquino administration’s net satisfaction dropped from “very good” (+56) in December 2011 to “good” (+46).

KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said it is the “failure to give the public some form of relief from the soaring prices of petroleum products as well as of basic goods and services” that resulted in the dip in satisfaction rating of the government.

“Dissatisfaction with the president on the issue of prices is closely linked with his failure to provide workers and the poor with types of relief from hunger and poverty, such a a substantial wage increase,” he added.

Read full article @ thepoc.net

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[In the news] Congress to seek Commission on Higher Education’s explanation on tuition hikes | Sun.Star

Congress to seek Commission on Higher Education’s explanation on tuition hikes | Sun.Star.

April 27, 2012

MANILA — The chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education wants the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) to explain the logic behind the recent tuition increases in private colleges and universities nationwide.

Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, the House panel’s chairman, said Congress can exercise its oversight power to determine if tuition hikes are in accordance with the law.

Oversight power is what we exercise, we do not have the power under the law to reverse their decision, but we can check if the law is being complied with,” Angara said.

Out of 2,181 private higher education institutions in the country, Ched approved an average of 10 percent or P41.52 increase in tuition for 222 private schools. The number could still rise to 256, as tuition hike applications in Metro Manila are yet to be processed.

“We hope that the Ched is closely monitoring such tuition increases and seeing to it that the procedures and guidelines set by law are adhered to,” Angara said.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

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Price hikes erode minimum wage increases in NCR – IBON News

Price hikes erode minimum wage increases in NCR – IBON News.

IBON NEWS
April 19, 2012

Despite seven wage hikes since 2002, the real value of the mandated NCR minimum wage has fallen by some 3.5% from that peak in February 2002 to be worth just Php246 as of December 2011.

For reference: Mr Sonny Africa (IBON executive director) 0928-5053550 | As labor groups file petitions for a substantial wage increase, a study by research group IBON reveals that increases in the mandated minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation in the last decade.

Taking inflation into account, the highest real mandated minimum wage since 1986 in the National Capital Region (NCR) was the Php255 reached in February 2002 (measured in 2000 prices).

Despite seven wage hikes since 2002, the real value of the mandated NCR minimum wage has fallen by some 3.5% from that peak in February 2002 to be worth just Php246 as of December 2011.

Read full article @ ibon.org

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[In the news] Gov’t to expand poverty alleviation scheme | ABS-CBN News

Gov’t to expand poverty alleviation scheme | ABS-CBN News.

Agence France-Presse
March 28, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The government plans to expand a landmark poverty alleviation scheme that provides cash aid to the country’s poorest households to benefit nearly 5 million families, an official said Tuesday.

Three million households currently benefit from the Conditional Cash Transfer program, which provides monetary assistance to families under a number of conditions including that they keep their children in school.

“We plan to continue to expand the program until all 4.8 million families in the (poorest 20 percent of the population) are covered,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

The program is seen as a key priority for President Benigno Aquino who has proposed to set aside P34.4 billion ($800 million) for the project in the government’s 2012 budget.

Read full article @ www.abs-cbnnews.com

[Press Release] P-Noy’s pro-labor pitch tagged as “Noy-ngaling” by labor party -PM

P-Noy’s pro-labor pitch tagged as “Noy-ngaling” by labor party

President Benigno Aquino II got another jab from militant groups after his speech at the Anvil Business Club last Friday about protecting workers interests. The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) slammed as a brazen lie President Benigno Aqunio III’s declaration to business leaders that the workers welfare is paramount.

“President Aquino is a Noy-ngaling. There is a huge disconnect between his words and deeds regarding workers’ interests. If PNoy is not a Noy-ngaling then how come 2,400 Philippine Airlines (PAL) employees have been sacrificed by the Office of the President and the Labor Department on the altar of contractualization,” declared Renato Magtubo, PM chair.

PM insisted that Aquino had his litmus test with the labor dispute at PAL but failed miserably. “Workers’ new found love for workers is a casual affair no different from his usual relationships. PNoy’s love for workers will not last five months like the widespread contractual contracts that afflict laborers everywhere,” Magtubo added.

Nonetheless PM challenged Aquino to order the National Wages and Productivity Commission to act on the wage petitions, and certify the bills on legislated wage and security of tenure at Congress.

For the coming Labor Day celebrations, PM and allied groups such as the Philippine Airlines Employees Association are launching a campaign for labor justice they have dubbed “Love your workers” in a jab at the “Love your PAL” advertising campaign of the national flag carrier.

“Workers demand reforms beyond the prosecution of Gloria and the impeachment of Corona. The graft ridden National Labor Relations Commission, the Department of Labor and Employment and the National Mediation and Conciliation Board must be cleansed. The policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization that have led to thousands of closures and layoffs, and collapse of industry and agriculture must be rolled back,” Magtubo explained. ###

Press Release
March 18, 2012
Partido ng Manggagawa
Contact Renato Magtubo @ 09178532905

[In the news] CDO Now Movement chooses to stay transparent, honest | Sun.Star

CDO Now Movement chooses to stay transparent, honest | Sun.Star.

By Michael Andrew W. Yu
March 13, 2012

THOUGH its recall campaign has already been terminated, Save CDO Now Movement said it still chooses to stay on the course of transparency and honesty.

Tito Mora, spokesperson of the movement, said they did not purposely file the petition with spurious signatures just to make a point.

“Save CDO Now Movement is not just about making a point. It is about pointing to the direction of our vision of a safe Cagayan de Oro. That is where we want to go to, that is where all this leads to and that is what we want to build,” Mora said.

He said they respected the pronouncement of the city’s political leaders from “politicizing” their cause.

“We rejected the temptation to shortcut the process. We paid out of our pockets and people donated, that even just one peso was so precious to us,” he added.

Last week, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) called off some petitions for recall election filed at its offices due to “lack of budget and time.”

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

[From the web] COMMENTARY: The titans clash but where is mining headed to? -MindaNews

MindaNews » COMMENTARY: The titans clash but where is mining headed to?.

By Edwin G. Espejo, Minda News
March 4, 2012

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/03 March) — Two prominent persons representing the richest families in the country let their hair down and let loose scathing remarks against each other in front of national television in a forum Friday on the future of the mining industry in the Philippines.

Manny Pangilinan, whose vast business empire has made him one of the most influential persons in the country, traded barbs with Regina Lopez, she of the old rich Lopez family who are into mass media and communication, real estate and utilities.

While the two shared the same table during the mining conference, they are as diametrically opposed to each other as the west is to the east as far as mining issues are concerned.

Lopez, whose anti-mining advocacy has rubbed off members of her own elite class, claimed the Philippines is better off developing its agriculture and tourism industries than destroying the forests and timberland in the name of mining.

Pangilinan retorted that the country cannot move out of its backward economy without harnessing its mining potential even rattling off the precious metal components of one’s indispensable mobile phone.

Pangilinan owns Smart Communications Inc., the country’s largest mobile communications provider with over 60 million subscribers (including that of its recently acquired Sun Cellular Inc.), and is also into the television industry where the Lopezes hold sway and are the acknowledge industry leader.  Pangilinan is also the president of Philex Mining, one of the country’s largest operating mining companies today.

Beyond their personal differences and rhetoric, Pangilinan and Lopez represent two contrasting and opposing camps on the mining issue in the country today.

Pangilinan took the cudgels for the mining industry, which has traditionally drawn support from the country’s chamber of commerce, also offered middle ground where both government and the industry could resolve issues on revenue sharing and strict monitoring of the environment.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

[Press Release] Mining share to GDP in past decade “very modest,” MGB stats reveal

The local mining sector has failed miserably to deliver its promise of economic progress and development in a national scale, as far as statistics by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) are concerned.

Industry figures aggregated by MGB from 2000 to 2009 reveal that, on the average, the mining industry has merely accounted for no more than 0.91 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP). “Up to 2005, mining and quarrying accounted for less than one percent—from 0.6 percent to 0.9 percent—of Philippine GDP,” notes Margarita Gomez, an economist at Revenue Watch and coordinator of Bantay-Kita-Action for Economic Reforms, in her 2010 study entitled Transparency Issues in the Philippine Mining Industry: Towards Tax Justice. “From 2005 onwards, the mining industry’s contribution increased to one percent and above. To date, its greatest input to the country’s GDP has been 1.4 percent in 2007.”

In contrast, agriculture, fishery and forestry—industries that have all been recognized as key sectors in the Philippine economy despite being constantly under the threat of mining—accounted for 16.5% of the total GDP on the second quarter of 2009 alone.

The study—which cited figures from MGB’s Mining Industry Statistics released on February 2010, November 2010 and May 2011, respectively—also added that the mining industry’s contribution to total Philippine employment has, likewise, been described as “very modest.”

“In terms of employment, the mining sector has accounted for no more than 0.3 percent of the country’s total employment from 2000 to 2004, rising to 0.4 percent from 2005 to 2007, and 0.5 percent in 2008 and 2009,” the paper reveals. “On the average, the industry’s contribution to total employment during the decade was no more than 0.376 percent.”

Environment advocates and economists referred to a mining project in Mongolia to best illustrate this point. “The Oyu Tolgoi (in Mongolia) is approximately a US $100 billion mine over 40 years. That is expected to be the third largest copper mine in the world. It has generated a total of 11,400 jobs during the construction phase, but only 3,500 jobs will be permanent eventually,” according to a coalition spearheaded by the Save Palawan Movement, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, Ateneo de Davao University, and Alyansa Tigil Mina.

“Therefore, employment may only be intensive in the initial stage, but labor absorption is likely to decline over time because more labor-saving technologies are adopted in the industry. Agriculture, on the other hand, contributes nearly two-fifths or 40% of the jobs here in the Philippines.”

Gov’t gets nothing significant, even in taxes

From 2000 to 2009, the contribution of mining excise taxes—large-scale, small scale, non-metallic operations—to total BIR excise tax collections has only been about 0.7%, according to former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman and Save Palawan Movement advocate, Atty. Christian Monsod.

“The development role of mining is always described as ‘potential’ because mining has never played a major role in our sustainable development, not even during the mining boom of the 70s and early 80s,” explains Monsod, an esteemed member of the Constitution Commission that drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution. “What’s even more disappointing is that mining excise taxes relative to total BIR collections is consequently even smaller at 0.07%.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Monsod claims, has also revealed very disturbing inconsistencies in terms of the actual figures being reported by the mining sector. “The exports figure that mining companies have apparently gathered exceeded the reported production values of minerals (Php 277 billion from 2000 to 2009),” Monsod notes. “Aside from this, there has also been a discrepancy between potential excise taxes from mining and the actual collections that the sector has actually collected (Php 7.8 billion from 2000 to 2009.)

Mining and public costs

Since mining activities are usually located in rural and mountainous areas, it obviously has a huge impact on farmlands, rivers and shorelines, where the poorest of the poor namely, the farmers, indigenous peoples and municipal fishermen, usually reside.

“The fact is that mining cannot be conducted without affecting and disturbing the land, water, and air surrounding and connected to the site, as well as the various natural resources found in them,” Monsod notes. “Mining does not only result in the extraction of minerals, but often also necessitates the use, removal, or destruction of non-mineral resources, such as freshwater, timber, and wildlife. This may also result in health problems, displacement of people, social divisiveness, even the need to provide PNP and AFP protection.

Then, there are the disasters that happen from the denudation of forests—from the dislodging of the rocks that anchor the trees, from siltation and erosion, as well as the accidents from mining structures. All these translate into public costs.

Responsible mining: a product of fiction

This glaring truth complements the recommendations aired by the Ateneo School of Government, led by Antonio La Viña, on its recent study regarding the future of mining in the Philippines.

The policy brief, an independent report based on objective and peer-reviewed documents, recommends that the government impose a blanket moratorium on mining that includes suspension of processing of submitted mining applications, and not only for cleansing of dormant or defective applications. “Based on our researches and analyses, supported by experts and stakeholders consulted in this study, the country is not yet capable of accurately measuring the real benefits and costs of mining,” the study reveals.

The moratorium, on the other hand, was also endorsed by the participants in the recently concluded nationwide conference on mining and the ecology, which staged regional forums in Davao, Iloilo, and Manila.

This simply highlights the fact that there is no such thing as responsible mining; the mere fact that mining operations are taking place in the Philippines—the seat of the world’s richest biodiversity that possesses an intricate web of ecological systems—is in itself very irresponsible.
“The government’s limitations in accounting for verifiable economic benefits versus environmental, social, cultural and economic costs are so serious that we are effectively gambling away our future. We are mindful of possible adverse economic displacement in imposing a moratorium today, which is at worst temporary,” the study adds.

#####

The Save Palawan Movement (SPM) is a non-profit, multi-sectoral volunteer organization that stands for the protection of our greatest resource—which is biodiversity. Armed with the support of more than 5.6 Filipinos and 849 organizations, SPM has been continuously fighting for the preservation of our island ecosystems, as well as poverty alleviation through community-based sustainable ecotourism and agriculture.

For concerns, please e-mail:
savepalawanmovement@gmail.com

[In the news] SPECIAL REPORT: Govt eyes mining sector shakeup in bid to wrest bigger share of booty -InterAksyon.com

SPECIAL REPORT: Govt eyes mining sector shakeup in bid to wrest bigger share of booty
by Orti Despuez, Special to Interaksyon.com
March 2, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — As mining companies ride on what could be the biggest boom in history, the government is trying to extract more revenues from the industry amid perceptions that the state is not getting its “fair share” from its mineral resources.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the small share that the government — including local government units (LGUs) — gets from the mining sector’s profit is the main reason for the growing anti-mining sentiment.

Under existing law, the LGUs are at the losing end, with their share of profit trimmed down to a minimum.

To maximize revenue from the mining sector, the government wants to declare more “mineral reservations.” Declaring all current mining operations, including those in advanced stages of development, as mineral reservation areas will increase government’s share from P400 million to more than P6 billion a year.

Leo Jasareno, director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), said the government’s share in the business is largely in the form of excise taxes at two percent of a mining firm’s profit.

But if an area were declared a mineral reservation, then the government would be entitled to an additional five percent royalty, resulting in a combined seven percent share for the government.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[In the news] PHL economy slows down, posts 3.4% GDP growth in Q2 – GMAnews.tv

The Philippine economic output in the second quarter of the year decelerated to a low 3.4 percent growth as the country braced for the impacts of various uncertainties in the global market, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported Wednesday.

The figure is 1.5 percentage points lower than the gross domestic product (GDP) rate recorded in the previous quarter and significantly lower than the 7.9 percent rate recorded in the same period in 2010.

Moreover, the second-quarter figure is well below the 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent forecast rate of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

GDP is the amount of goods and services produced by a country in a given period.

In a statement, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga said the slow growth in the quarter was expected due to the “tapering off of the base effect and the absence this year of growth drivers in the second quarter of 2010.”

These growth drivers include electron-related spending as well as the “stronger than expected” recovery from the global financial crisis, he specified.

Despite the slow overall output, the NSCB said the economy benefited from headline growth in the agriculture and services sector, which grew by 7.1 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively, during the quarter.

“On the demand side, the growth came mainly from consumer spending as fixed capital formation particularly Construction has not really felt the promise of the Public and Private Partnership program, while external trade has been lackluster at best,” said Romulo Virola, NSCB secretary-general, in a statement.

Read full article @ www.gmanews.tv

[Blogger] Poverty is not a simple economic question – Dekonstruktschon

Dekonztruktschon

by Rod Rivera

Source: http://rodrigo75.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/poverty-is-not-a-simple-economic-question/

While Marxist doctrines underpin poverty as an implication of economic explotation of the wealthy capitalists with a rich historical material basis of class struggles, somewhere in the recesses of my mind I was not fully convinced with such construct, even until now. If my political officers could read this, they would brand me a failure and a traitor to Marxism.

While it is true that poverty is a phenomenon resulting from conflict of power and unequal distribution of wealth, asit is measurable in economic terms, there are still other truths in it that could lead to explain why some people just remain poor. In the lives and minsets of people, poverty is a shared construct, an experience that is associated to several meanings. So, it could be redefined.

The church in our community is currently surveying the population of 19 baranggays. In the survey, economic status is not even measured by the family income, but through some conditions in their life (i.e. having children studying in private schools, having a car, renting or owning a house, number of household members working etc.). It does not ask for the family income. Ownership or possessions, capacity to provide private education have become indicators to measure poverty or being well off.

Life quality has become an indicator of one’s income, the status in life is being reconstructed by the people themselves. I could probably own properties if I wanted to and so I could qualify in that survey in the upper middle class, with the salary I get for my own. But, then the context of family living that I find myself restricts me from doing that.

Dependency for one’s convenience deprives me from utilizing my income to generate more income or possess properties. In this dependency culture within the Filipino family, the biggest earner becomes the biggest loser in the end. The only gain he gets, if his generosity is appreciated is a “thank you”. In this condition, cultural orientation of the individual members of the family are more influencial to define the economic state of the family, rather than the exploitations of capitalism.

Poverty, then, is a life-condition that people in relationships create for themselves. While one earns more, the ones deprived are conditioned to demand or expect from him. The creation of wealth works in the oppposite way: to be more profitable in anything, one should be more efficient and effective to expend the least cost with the most gain. In the condition of dependency, the one deprived or economically powerless seek to deserve more than what they actually give.

While a family, with members who have regular income can practice equal distribution of wealth among them selves for their own gain, this does not seem to be applied. Again, understanding this relationship puts the critique on capitalism away from the issue. The condition brought about by dependency and the expectations of the deprived becomes a power relationship, where the powerless excise more from the supposed to be powerful. Instead of strengtening the powerful and strengthening each other, the poles move to keep the have nots from having without actually doing something.

The result is stagnation for everyone in the family and some breaking points when the money stops flowing because one ceases to give. It can be considered, indolence, crab mentality, or slothfulness to demand from others to give more because they have. On the other side of this trail is that those who have will be labeled greedy if they do not give. These mindsets create a vicious cycle that is unproductive for both.

Equal distribution of wealth in the family should begin by assessing the need to determine the amount of money that should be kept for the daily expenses. The available resources should then be determined, with allotment for contingencies. Budget has to be allocated as to the need of everyone above the basis of one’s capacity to earn. Those who do not have the capacity must then be shouldered not by a single individual but by everyone who is in that relationship. Ultimately, to reduce dependency, the one’s with no capacity to earn for their livelihood, must be given the opportunity to raise money for their own.

Some mistaken religious notions affect to perpetuate this condition: “”love one another”;”give generously”; “to those who gained more, more shall be added”. While loving is equalled to giving, and loving should be generous and unconditional, we tend to demand more from those who have even if we do not give anything in return. Demands and expectations are added to those who have gained more through their fruitful, instead of letting them enjoy their reward.  Who then is the one poor?

The illustrations I cited here may not be true for everyone, but it takes place in a family where other families depend allot from another. It would not exist if individual members who have the capacity add to each other’s contribution and means to gain more income rather than take more to some others just because they are in capacity and they earn more. That I guess illustrates generosity, love and responsibility.

A poor man may have the worth of all the wealth in this world, when he is rich in heart and mind. A rich man is no richer than a pauper who does not give anything to make another man richer. While we look at poverty as an economic issue, there is also a need for us to look at our selves as to how we enrich others to improve their lives, this is more than giving in monetary terms.

Dekonstruktschon