May 26, 2016

MANILA, Philippines – The shameless trumpeting by the Aquino administration of an economic growth that benefits only the rich and propertied segment of society is an outrage, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), the group said in a news release on Thursday.

Reacting to the Aquino administration’s recent claims of leaving a legacy of a strong economy, FDC President Ed Tadem said, “Economic growth as measured by the gross domestic product has indeed grown under Aquino but this pales in comparison to continuing high poverty levels, joblessness and rising income inequality, the P6.4 trillion public debt to be inherited by the next administration and the billions of pesos wasted in payments for fraudulent, wasteful and questionable loans.”

Tadem cited the Social Weather Stations’ report that 50 percent of Filipinos (11.2 million families) rated themselves as poor as of December 2015 while the joblessness average for 2015 was 21.9 percent. He also said that within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines, as of 2013, registered the second highest income inequality ratio based on the Gini coefficient index.

“The 50 richest Filipinos’ net worth of US$74 billion in 2014 was a staggering 26 percent of the country’s GDP. Three families alone, Sy, Ayala, and Aboitiz, share a combined wealth equivalent to 12 percent of the Philippine economy,” Tadem said.

The FDC President also scored the Aquino administration’s failure to arrest the growth of the government’s social debt, which is defined as the State’s unfulfilled obligations to its citizens which can be approximated from its commitments as stated in the Constitution and laws, the socio-economic targets set by all previous development programs and plans, and standards set by the United Nations and international covenants of which the Philippines is a signatory.

Budgetary allocation for education still falls below the 6 percent GNP minimum investment recommended by the Fifth International Conference on Adult Education organized by UNESCO and affirmed by the Belem Framework for Action (CONFINTEA VI) signed by the Philippines. Using this as a measurement, FDC’s computation of Aquino’s social debt in the education sector alone is already P2.5 trillion.

He further explained that the government’s growing social debt is largely due to the prioritization of debt servicing for loans including those that did not benefit the people. Since Marcos’ time, when automatic appropriations for debt servicing became a law, debt payments have taken the first cut in the national budget before appropriations are made for vital social services.

“The Aquino administration’s pompous claims of its economic achievements do not appease the hungry stomachs of those whose lives were neglected by economic activities that only catered to the interest of a few. There is nothing to brag about an economic growth that leaves most people behind,” Tadem said.

For FDC, the economic life of a society should ensure provisioning for human life in all its fullness, integrity and dignity.#

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