Kickback negotiations behind Marcos veto of Bulacan ecozone

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Malacañang announced yesterday that Marcos Jr vetoed the bill creating the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport citing how it granted unlimited tax incentives to businesses that will be established in the area and how this cost government in revenues. Marcos Jr, however, explicitly said that he does not oppose the project and that construction will push through.

Some quarters welcomed the move and praised Marcos Jr for his “fiscal responsibility.” This is naive and superficial, and an attempt to lend some gloss to the otherwise rotten Philippine realpolitik. Marcos apologists are hyping-up the move to conjure illusions and generate false hopes about the Marcos II regime, while trying to sweep under the rug the lavish spending during Marcos’ inaugural and Imelda’s 93rd birthday bash inside the Malacañang Palace.

In fact, the Marcos veto of the Ramon Ang project merely involves on-going kickback negotiations between the bureaucrat capitalist Marcos Jr and the big bourgeois comprador Ramon Ang, president of San Miguel Corporation, who made big money under Duterte. Cancelling and renegotiating contracts, especially around big ticket projects, are the norm when a new reactionary faction assumes power, in order to secure a bigger share (kickback) of the capitalist’s profits. Duterte did it and so did all the others.

As Marcos Jr made clear, he supports Ang’s Aerotropolis project, a 2,500-hectare airport project which has caused the dislocation of thousands of peasants and fisherfolk families from their land and coastal homes. Its construction has been marked by military suppression against those who resist the project. Hundreds of mangrove trees have been felled to give way to land reclamation that encroached into the Bulacan mangroves. It has caused the disruption of wildlife and marine sources of livelihood.

The construction is practically assured with former chief executive officer of SMC’s Tollway Corporation, Manuel Bonuan, now at the helm of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Of course, it is to the interest of Arroyos and Remullas (both Marcos allies) to derail Ang’s Aerotropolis. It is set to compete with Clark International Airport (in Arroyo’s Pampanga) and planned construction and operation of Sangley airport (in Remulla’s Cavite). It is still to be seen how this conflict between Marcos allies over their economic interests will all unravel.

This is all bureaucrat capitalism at work–bribery, kickbacks and arm-twisting using state power to accumulate wealth. That is the rotten reality of ruling class politics in the Philippines.

Kickback negotiations behind Marcos veto of Bulacan ecozone
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