WITH only two years left in his term as he now enters his fourth year in office, President Aquino could now be described as either unwilling or unable to make the country’s much-hyped economic growth inclusive.
This was declared by the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa during today’s 124th celebration of the International Labor Day, when members of the labor center, together with the Nagkaisa labor coalition, held a march-rally from España Blvd. to Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang.
“Despite the country’s 7.2 percent gross domestic product (GDP) ‘growth’ last year, second only to China’s 7.7 percent, it remains far from inclusive as the Philippines still has the highest unemployment rate in the region,” Frank Mero, SENTRO chair, said.
Last October the government’s official jobless rate was 6.5 percent or about 2.6 million Filipinos; but a survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in the same period disclosed that it actually swelled to 27.5 percent or about 12.1 million unemployed. It further increased in January to 7.5 percent or comprising 2.9 million jobless Filipinos. Underemployment is also high reaching 19.5 percent or 7.1 million people.
Josua Mata, SENTRO secretary general, observed that combining the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed will create “a huge army of 10 million workers with no or unstable income and who will likely be forced to toil in contractual jobs.”
In fact, Mata noted that “the corporate use and abuse of these precarious jobs are rampant and becoming the norm in employment – from the bursting factories in ‘special economic zones’ to the ubiquitous malls and to the mushrooming call centers,” adding that “workers here usually have low or high but uncertain wages and benefits, no security of tenure, and banned from joining unions.”
Ironically, the rich are becoming richer under the Aquino government, SENTRO said, citing a study that from 2010, when Aquino became president, to 2012 only, the wealth of the country’s superrich, particularly the top 40 families, has skyrocketed from over $20 billion to $47.4 billion or P1.9 trillion.
The study said that last year the collective riches of the “Super 40” were placed at P2.4 trillion or “more than the combined annual income of 17 million (Filipino) wage earners,” adding that GDP growth has “remained concentrated to the high income class … with the top 15 percent … getting more than 60 percent of the national income.”
This year the country has 10 US dollar billionaires with a combined wealth of $40.1 billion or a staggering P1.8 trillion, which accounts to a huge 16 percent of the country’s GDP last year.
SENTRO also quoted the then National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), which admitted last year that the country will most probably fail to attain the UN’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of decreasing to 17.2 percent of the Filipinos earning or surviving on less than a dollar a day (currently P44) by 2015 due to the still high 25.2 percent poverty rate or 23.7 million Filipinos in 2012.
“Thus, it is becoming clearer that Aquino’s reluctance to or fear of actively engaging the neoliberal economic programs of liberalization, deregulation and privatization, as well as the well-entrenched oligarchy – in which his family also belongs – will make inclusive growth impossible during his reign,” SENTRO concluded.