IBON Yearend Economic and Political Briefing
14 & 15 January 2010
Global crisis update
- The world economy is in a new period of lower economic activity with false or otherwise shallow recoveries.
- Another global slump and renewed economic downturn is likely in the coming years and possibly even in 2010.
Impact on the Philippines
- The Philippine economy’s “globalized” sectors have been deeply affected by the worldwide economic crisis and it has effectively been in recession since the start of 2009.
- The economy has not been “resilient” but rather developmentally inert – “free market policies of globalization since the 1980s have particularly weakened the economy, distorted its growth, made it more vulnerable to external shocks and increased joblessness.
State of people’s welfare
- The people’s welfare has worsened with rising joblessness and growing poverty aggravated by militarization and other man-made disasters following natural disturbances and militarization.
Migration and underdevelopment
- The economy’s unprecedented dependence on overseas work and remittances is a sign of the domestic economy’s backwardness and underdevelopment.
- The limits of overseas work as a lifeline for the economy are being reached with adverse affects on the welfare of individual OFWs and their families and creating greater problems for the economy as a whole.
Renewed fiscal crisis
- The descent into fiscal crisis will accelerate in 2010 with drastic implications on social services, portending greater tax burdens on the people, and leading to greater instability.
Land and livelihoods
- The deepening rural poverty and the lack of agrarian reform have spurred a national resurgence in peasant struggles for land, livelihood and social justice. Like previous land reform laws, the recently-passed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms (Carper) fails in addressing the problem of landlessness and poverty in the countryside.
- The start of 2010 sees the country in its most advanced state of political crisis since the Marcos dictatorship – comparable to the instability and factional conflicts preceding the second People Power episode that ousted President Estrada.
- With charter change untenable in the remaining months of this administration, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the ruling clique’s efforts to remain in power have shifted to using the May 2010 elections to lay political groundwork for maneuvering under the next administration
- The country s political crisis will be brought to a new and higher level if the 2010 elections are unable to achieve a minimum of credibility and especially if the ruling Arroyo clique resorts to more extreme measures.
Elections and change
- Change has become an underlying theme of the elect ions out of the ext reme dissat isfaction with the current Arroyo government but prospects for this under the next administration, however the elections play out, are limited at best.
- The elections are unique in seeing Left forces with formidable experience in parliamentary work once again seeking to expand their influence to the national level and engaging in coalition politics.
Change beyond elections
- The worsening economic and political crises have sharpened the public desire for change and given impetus to social and mass movements as well as, in the countryside, revolutionary armed groups.
- Under current economic and political circumstances any charter change even in the next administration will mean change for the worse.
Radical socioeconomic reforms, realizing democracy
- The radical socioeconomic reforms the country needs can begin upon the requisite setting of a more progressive economic policy direction for the country. Far-reaching people-oriented economic reforms necessarily mean a nationalist development agenda which also creates a stronger base with which to face the inevitable next global economic shock. On the political front, the generalized public desire for reform and change creates important opportunities for political action. The May 2010 elections are an emerging moment but beyond this is the continuing emergence of movements for social change in the country. These are particularly significant now seeing as how the formal institutions of supposed democracy are subverted and manipulated.