May 12, 2016 11:18 AM
MANILA, Philippines — An independent research group said initial pronouncements by presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte “strongly indicates continuity with the neoliberal economic policies that have kept Filipinos poor and the economy underdeveloped.”
IBON said the names so far floated for inclusion in Duterte’s economic team, and his preference, as announced by his spokesman the day after Monday’s elections, for a “major rewriting” of the Constitution, including the easing of restrictions on foreign ownership, “are signs that Dutertenomics is taking shape as a conventional elitist economic agenda.”
Duterte’s “initial choices for his economic team,” among these Albay Governor Joey Salceda, businessman Carlos Dominguez III and economist Ernesto Pernia, “shows him treading the same Aquino administration path of elitist economics,” the research group said.
“No one among those mentioned so far as being considered for the important cabinet positions of economic planning, finance, or transportation represent any kind of break from past failed neoliberal economic policies,” it added.
It noted that the Davao mayor “campaigned with an unfilled and ambiguous economic platform” and described his “broad plan for the economy” as “mainly about improving the law and order situation to create positive conditions for business while providing some minor social interventions such as cash dole-outs and farmer support.”
IBON said Duterte’s intentions for Charter change “surrenders sovereignty and compromises long-term national development” to the “long-standing demand by foreign investors and domestic big business to expand their opportunities for profit-making in the country.”
While acknowledging he is in favor of easing restrictions on foreign ownership, Duterte has said he opposed extending this to land and natural resources.
IBON said while Duterte’s “unorthodox manner gives the impression that there will be major changes under his administration,” pursuing the “orthodox neoliberalism of the past will mean no improvement in the conditions of tens of millions of poor Filipinos clamoring for change in the next six years.”
The incoming president, it said, should declare “a policy that directly and immediately benefits millions of poor Filipinos rather than a handful of wealthy elites would have been more welcome in signaling real change,” among these, “free land distribution, meaningful wage hikes, and fulfilment of their right to education, health and housing.”