STILL another group’s research findings have verified the reality that everyone in our country knows, sees and feels–some feeling it in their empty, grumbling stomachs: The claim of the Aquino administration that it has begun to achieve inclusive growth is yet another lie.
Growth and the wealth now in some pockets because of that growth have not trickled down to the majority of Filipinos. Growth has only provided a steady stream of profit for the rich, said the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), a research and training institution for women.
The group said in a report that contrary to government claims, poverty incidence in the country remains high at 24.2 percent, while the richest 50 Filipinos enjoy 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Government figures show GDP grew 7.2 percent in 2013.
“It is more of a blind spot rather than a bright spot,” said Cham Perez, CWR’s research coordinator, referring to the statement by President Benigno Aquino 3rd that the Philippines is “Asia’s bright spot” because of the country’s emerging economy.
The President made the remark as he welcomed delegates to the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia on Wednesday. The forum ended on Friday.
That Filipino women have been consistently in the World Economic Forum’s top 10 Global Gender Gap report since 2006 and rank fifth in 2013 does not mean they enjoy better conditions, Perez said.
The Gender Gap Report considers four fundamental categories in rating the countries namely, economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.
“Although these categories are taken into consideration, the report only measures outcome variables and gender equality rather than the internal bases of making women empowered,” Perez explained.
“If we examine closely the impact of the country’s economy, availability of education, access to healthcare, and political participation, the results would be different,” she added.
The study refutes the government’s claim of high economic growth as it has not trickled down to benefit women. The CWR study shows that more than 5.3 million women are unemployed, underemployed or unpaid family workers. More than 2.7 million work as seasonal or casual workers and on a short-term basis, receive wages below the minimum rate.
“Such condition is the effect of the Aquino government’s adherence to the neoliberal framework of development that favors the local and foreign business over people’s interests,” she said.
Social Watch Philippines
To achieve faster trickle down and make sure that government funds are used for the public good, perhaps something must be done by activist groups to fight an ill in Philippine governance that Social Watch Philippines has been criticizing.
As long ago as 2011, Prof. Leonor Magtolis Briones, key convenor of Social Watch Philippines and a Manila Times columnist, remarked that “Real people power over public funds in the Philippines is still very limited.” She said this for her main message in her last official lecture as professor of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance.
Three years ago, she said “The new administration still needs to prove that it is a democratic government by institutionalizing citizens’ participation in all phases of the public finance cycle,” in her public lecture titled “Pera ng Taumbayan, Para Sa Taumbayan.”
“People should be directly involved in the determining fiscal policy, revenue, expenditures, borrowings and accountability; and not simply play the role of providing information to the public,” she explained.
Alas, those words spoken by Prof. Briones have obviously not been heard by the Aquino administration. Or they were heard but this administration just doesn’t give a damn.