May 4, 2012
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today held a protest in Manila to mark the closing of the Asian Development Bank’s 45th Governors Meeting in the Philippines. The militant group said that no matter how hard it tries, the Aquino government cannot whitewash poverty just so it could reinforce the ADB’s “anti-development” policies.
The BAYAN led protest was able to breach the PNP’s first line of defense near Ermita church and were able to reach the edge of the Rajah Sulaiman Plaza just near Roxas Boulevard before being blocked by hundreds more from the PNP. The protesters were pushed outside the Plaza.
The protest came a day after the Social Weather Stations released a survey showing that self-rated poverty increased in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the last quarter of 2011. The Aquino government has drawn flak for trying to cover up poverty and alleged eyesores by putting up walls to conceal slum communities near the ADB’s conference venue.
“No amount of high walls from the Philippine government can conceal poverty. The reality is that poverty is on the rise and cosmetic changes cannot hide this. The latest survey on poverty is a rebuke of the Aquino government and the ADB. The chronic problem shows that the economic impositions of lending agencies like the ADB and World Bank are not working for the people. Even the ADB and WB-funded Conditional Cash Transfer is not making a dent on the poverty,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
The first quarter Social Weather Stations survey on self-rated poverty, coming out in time for the 45th ADB Governor’s meeting hosted by Manila, showed some 11.1 million families consider themselves poor. This is up from 9.1 million households in December last year.
Some 9.1 million families also consider themselves food-poor, a figure that is up from the 7.2 million families from the previous quarter.The surveys showed that there was a sharp increase in self-rated poverty in Mindanao. Rural poverty also seemed in to increase while urban poverty appeared to remain the same.
“The prediction of a 5-6% GDP growth does not amount to much for the poor. The projected growth, assuming it will even happen, will not likely be felt by the poor. Wages remain depressed. Land reform is a sham. Prices keep going up. Joblessness is chronic,” Reyes said.
“Even the Conditional Cash Transfer program funded through loans from the ADB and World Bank has not made a dent in poverty despite the billions of pesos already spent for the program. Poverty is up especially in the provinces,” he added.
The ADB expected continuing advances in technology, globalization and market liberalization. Bayan however said that this is a recipe for worsening poverty especially in countries like the Philippines.
“Unbridled liberalization of the economy drains domestic wealth and destroys local industries in favor of foreign investors. The regime of liberalization, privatization and deregulation being pushed by the ADB has had the most disastrous effects on the economy,” Reyes said.
“Prices have gone up, local industries are shutting down, joblessness is on the rise, domestic resources are being plundered and profits are shipped back to the more industrialized countries. Aquino has opposed a substantial wage hike. There can be no inclusive growth under such a regime. The people do not share the optimism of Aquino’s economic managers,” he added. ###