The crisis of the people’s livelihood and decline of the backward Philippine economy is exarcebating. The people are subjected to increasingly worse forms of oppression and exploitation under neoliberal policies which serve local and foreign big capitalists, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists.
Since the start of the year, prices of food and other basic necessities have climbed ceaselessly. This August, inflation hit 6.4%, the highest in almost a decade. People bear the brunt of soaring rice prices. Prices of diesel and other petroleum products also continue to increase.
Unemployment is widespread. No less than 11 million are without or lack work. In the agricultural sector, at least 723,000 jobs were reported lost in April. The gap between workers’ wages and the minimum threshold for decent living is widening.
The people are correct to indict Duterte for the relentless rise in the prices of commodities due to the burdensome TRAIN law taxes. Contrary to his promise of a “comfortable life,” Duterte has only brought hardship and poverty with his TRAIN, subsidy cuts and other policies. He has merely perpetuated the policies of previous regimes. His “Build, Build, Build” offers nothing new except to eliminate established requirements to open up ways for widespread corruption.
The crisis in the people’s livelihood worsens alongside the continuing deterioration of the economy. Since this year, there are indications that the economy is approaching the verge of a severe crisis.
There is a widening trade deficit ($19.1 billion in the first semester of the year, the highest half year deficit in history), balance of payments ($3.7 billion in the first seven months, almost three times greater than during the same period last year) and the budget deficit (P279.4 billion, 36% higher than the same period in 2017).
The regime and the reactionary technocrats scramble to cover up the roots of the economic crisis. They never tire of proclaming the economy’s “strong fundamentals,” when in fact, it is bankrupt to the core. It is becoming more decrepit amid the international capitalist crisis and the drive of the monopoly capitalists to accumulate profits through worsening forms of exploitation.
The local economy is backward and cannot stand on its own. The foreign big capitalists dominate local production centered around so-called “economic zones.” These are import-dependent and export-oriented. These do not raise local production capacity and do not address local needs. Foreign investors are not levied taxes on their profits and consumption of goods and services. Workers’ basic rights are suppressed to subject them to the worst forms of exploitation. The value created by workers do not contribute to local economic growth but is instead factored into the international assembly line of big multinational corporations.
Foreign big capitalists siphon off local resources. Large swathes of land are taken from or denied the peasants and minority peoples, and are plundered for its the mineral resources and used as plantations for export crops. Hundreds of thousands of hectares are denied use for production of food for local processing and consumption. Local agricultural production is backward. It starkly lacks irrigation facilities and machineries for cultivation, planting, harvesting and milling. State subsidy for agriculture is almost nil.
The crisis of livelihood is a deep wound which the entire people suffer. The regime’s pallliatives such as cash subsidies are worthless. The people’s resistance will surely rise in the coming months.