On March 8, 2016, International Women’s Day, two hundred (200) strong women, coming from different sectoral groups of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) stage their protest to denounce PNoy government’s mismanaged and unfit economic policies. Women call for Care Economy and perform the "Women’s ‘Economic’ Fitness Calisthenics” also to bring forth the challenge to electoral candidates in making our economy fit.
Women as economic managers of Filipino households, decry the multiple burdens they will continue to bear, with Pres. PNoy leaving them a staggering P6.4 Trillion debts (of which P4.16-Trillion alone was borrowed during his term). Women denounce its continued adherence to the flawed fiscal policy that is based on the Marcosian law of automatically paying debts. Consequently, religiously paying the foreign debt according to the harsh terms of the creditor, currently taking up an average of 27.21 percent of annual public revenues automatically earmarked for interest payments, while principal amortization has eaten up an average of 67.61 percent of new borrowings, restraining spending for economic and social services, and leaving little space for funding pro-poor initiatives.
Under PNoy’s term, an average of 48.2 percent of government borrowings from 2011 to 2015 automatically went to amortizing existing debts, while an annual average of 15.6 percent of the national budget were allocated first to interest payments before appropriations for its economic and social programs, projects and activities.
The PNoy government, following conscientiously the neoliberal paradigm, with Central Bank and its Department of Finance seeing inflation as the dragon to be slain, is biased against an active and flexible fiscal policy that would put the focus on job creation, and structural reforms that would raise the incomes of the poor and make them a source of demand to spur economic growth. Also guided by the idea that it is foreign corporations and the rich that are the source of wealth, the PNoy government is stuck with tax, investment, and incomes policies that favor these groups while shifting the burden of providing revenue to the middle class and the poor, including women via VAT and excise taxes.
Mae Buenaventura, FDC Vice President explains, “The taxes collected from the Philippine economy ends up not being re-channeled back as social or economic services, but goes out of the Philippines as payments for the government’s debts. This unresolved debt problem has resulted in the government’s failure to meet its obligations to the people, or social debt as a percentage of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The women are most impacted on the financial and economic hemorrhage the Filipino people is experiencing due to massive debt service requirements.
The President’s social debt in the sector of education and health alone amounts to P7 trillion, with average education spending to GDP at 2.7% from 2006-2012 and 3.66% health spending to GDP (with 1.39% in 2013) as reported in the Philippine Official Gazette. The country continue to fall short from the UNESCO standard of 6% of GNP provision for adequate education for all with only , and the World Health Organizations standards requiring government budget allocations equivalent to 5% of gross domestic product to provide adequate health programs.
Because of misprioritized spending and regressive revenue generation, women’s essential needs have been compromised, leaving them with uneccesary burdens from the meager allocation resulting to the fiscal policy of the PNoy government. Women as nurturers and caregivers, have to take on the multiple tasks for the health, well-being and development of their families, providing for food on the table, ensuring roof over their heads and education for their children.
Women need not die from giving birth as CEDAW and the Magna Carta of Women was passed over the last decade assuring women’s health from birth until death. But the country continue to have higher maternal mortality ratio, for every 100,000 live births in the Philippines, 114 mothers die during pregnancy (WHO, 2015). Mothers continue to struggle with sending their children to school as their efforts are not matched by ample government service.
Women continue to burden their family’s security with regards to their shelter needs, as government’s backlog on housing continue to rise, currently estimated at 5.5 million and projected at 15 million by 2030 (according to the HUDCC report 2015). Around 22.8 million people live in slums in the Philippines (United Nations Commission on Human Rights and Homeless International), of which 1.2 million are children (70,000 of them in Metro Manila) who peddle goods or beg in the streets to live.
The alternative for an economically fit Philippines? Women fight for Care Economy, with an economy and economic life that ensures the provisioning for human life in all its fullness, integrity and dignity. These include not only those involved in what is called production and market economy; but also and more importantly, an economy that includes reproductive and care work . These take place not only in the public domain but also within the context of the family and household, not only within the market but also in the non-market sphere made possible primarily through the unrecognized and un(der)valued labor of women.
The FDC Women believes that economy and economic life is not about just ensuring human survival nor the allocation of scarce resources. The economy should be aimed at providing the material requisites to ensure human life with integrity and dignity and in all its fullness — physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, psychological, social, cultural life.
Today, in celebrating the International Women’s Day, the women fight for Care Economy and demands an end to the UNHEALTHY way of managing the Philippine economy. To exercise women’s rights, the Filipino women are enjoined:
SIPA UTANG! BIGWAS SA BUWIS! TIGIL TAAS NG KURYENTE’T TUBIG. BADYET ITAAS SA SERBISYO! Kababaihan, Isulong ang Mapangalagang Economiya Ipaglaban, Kalayaan sa Kahirapan at Karahasan!
Bistado na ng mga kababaihan ang Gobyernong Aquino!
Hindi na mapagkakaila ang tahasang paggamit nito sa kababaihan bilang “panapal” sa loob ng kanyang programang pang-ekonomiya. Itinuring ang kababaihan bilang pang-ekonomikong kasangkapan (o economic asset) sa isang neoliberal na adyendang nagsisilbi sa interes lamang ng mga higanteng negosyo at elitistang paghahari. Ito ay isang kalakaran na nagpatibay sa pribatisasyon, deregulasyon at liberalisasyon na lalo pang nagpabigat sa pasanin ng kababaihan. Higit nitong nilubog ang mga kababaihan sa kahirapan at pinalala pa ng husto ang dati nang bulnerableng kalagayan nito.
Ang kababaihan ay pagod na sa mga kasinungalingan ng gobyernong ito! Nabuking na nito ang huwad na mga patakarang pangkababaihan na nakabalangkas sa mapanlinlang na “Tuwid ng Daan”!
Ilusyon ang kanyang pagbibigay ng pang-ekonomikong kapangyarihan para sa kababaihan.
Sa kanyang ibinanderang “Gender-Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women” ay nagbigay ng ilusyon sa pagkakaroon ng pang-ekonomikong kapangyarihan para sa mga kababaihan (o women’s economic empowerment). Ang makitid na paraan ng “micro-enterprise development” ang naging tugon ng gobyerno sa lumalalang kalagayan ng kahirapan ng mga kababaihan. Hindi nito direktang tinugunan ang lumalaking populasyon ng mga naghihirap na kababaihan sa mga komunidad. Sa loob ng apat na taon ay umikot lamang ito sa kakarampot na bilang na 14,000 women entrepreneurs na nakinabang sa buong bansa. Nagmistula itong isang maskarang tinapal para itago ang patakaran ng walang katiyakan sa trabaho at kawalan ng oportunidad sa pag-ahon ng mga kababaihan mula sa tumitinding kahirapan.
Sa taong 2013, umabot sa higit kumulang isang milyong kababaihan ang nadagdag sa tala ng mga walang trabaho (PSA, 2014). At sa kakarampot namang pinalad magkatrabaho ay hinayaang magtiis sa tila limos lang na Php 99.00 dagdag-pasahod. Ang bulnerableng kalagayan ng kababaihan sa gitna ng kahirapan ay kitang-kita sa lumalaking konsentrasyon nito sa informal sector, kahit na sinasabing nagrerehistro ng 6.2% na paglago ng ekonomiya noong 2014, at nasa 5.2% (ngayong April 2015).
Ginamit na kasangkapan ang bulnerableng kalagayan ng kababaihan!
Patuloy ang pag-igting ng diskriminasyon sa kababaihan dahil sa papalaking agwat ng inekwalidad ng mayayaman at mahihirap. Ang kababaihan ay kabilang sa pinakamahirap, 25.6 percent noong 2012 (PSA, 2014), at nasa panglima sa hilera ng pinakamahirap na sektor kasama ang mangingisda, magsasaka, kabataan, self-employed at unpaid family workers. Maging sa kalagitnaan ng kalagayang ito ay lalo pang pinagsasamantalahan ang kababaihan at itinuring na malaking mapagkukunan ng garantisadong kita ng mga higanteng negosyo tulad ng sa kuryente at tubig.
Ang bilyun-bilyong pisong ginasta sa “Programang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino “(4Ps) o Conditional Cash Transfer (na may kabuuang budget na Php 50 bilyon ngayong 2015 para sa 5 milyong benepisyaryo) ang kalakhang Php 1,200 na “cash grant” na nakukuha ng bawat benepisyaryo ay napupunta lamang pabalik sa pagbabayad ng patuloy na tumataas na gastos at bayarin tulad ng kuryente at tubig, pati na sa pagkain. Dumagdag pa sa kanilang pasanin ang mga gawaing pagtupad ng mga kondisyon bilang benepisyaryo, dahil sa tradisyunal na papel ng kababaihan bilang tagapangalaga ng pamilya. Ang mas malala, dahilan din ito ng mga insidente ng pambubugbog, kung hindi naintrega sa lalaking asawa ang nakuhang “cash grant”. Hindi rin kaila sa lahat na ang pondong ito ay mula sa utang ng gobyerno na may halagang $400 milyon (galing sa ADB) at $405 milyon (galing sa WB). Ang mga mamayang Pilipino at maging mga kababaihan din ang inaasahang patuloy na magpapasan ng pagbabayad sa utang na ito hangang taong 2035.
Hindi Prayoridad ang Pangangailangan ng Kababaihan.
Ipinakita rin ng Gobyernong Aquino ang tahasan nitong pagpapabaya sa pangangailangan ng kababaihan. Ang alokasyon sa badyet ng mahahalagang pampublikong serbisyo. Tulad ng edukasyon, hindi pa rin umabot sa 6% ng GDP ang dapat na ilaan alinsunod sa UNESCO, at kalusugan na hindi rin umabot pa 5% alinsunod sa World Health Organization Standards, mga batayan sa pandaigdigang panuntunan.
Ang bulnerableng kalagayan ng kababaihan ay nagsisilbing “panapal” ng programa ng gobyerno na may tahasang layuning gawing daan at koneksyon ng mga malalaking negosyo sa kanyang komunidad. Ngunit dahil sa kanyang positibong katangiang mapamaraan o pagiging madiskarte, nananatili siyang salalayan ng gobyerno para sa micro-financing projects nito. Nagsilbing daan ng mga malalaking dayuhang korporasyon, MNCs at TNCs para sa kanilang mahigpit na pakikipag-ugnayan sa komunidad para matanggal ang mga hadlang sa direktang access nito sa mga sa rekurso (lupa, tubig, minahan, raw materials, etc.) ng komunidad.
Tulay din ang kababaihan para sa kagyat na merkado ng sektor ng pampinansya (financial sector) bilang taga-pangutang para sa pagtatayo ng maliliit na negosyo, lumalawak na papel niya bilang mamimili o konsyumer ng mga lumalaking pamilihan ng mga produkto nito.
Ginawang “panapal” ang kababaihan sa isang sistemang tuluyang nagbabaon sa kanya sa utang dahil sa pagpapabilis ng pribatisasyon ng mga esenysal na serbisyo, nagpalaki pa ng yaman ng kapitalista at pinabigat na pasanin ng kababaihan. Sa halip na inahon ito sa lumalalang kahirapan ay ginawa pa itong kasangkapan sa dagliang pantawid sa kanyang “Tuwid na Daan”.
Isang malaking pagyurak sa karapatan at dignidad ng mga kababaihan ang patuloy na paggamit sa kanya bilang “panapal” sa huwad na “Tuwid na Daan”.
Ipaglaban ang Karapatan ng Kababaihan para Kamtan ang Katarungang Pang-Ekonomiya!
Wakasan ang Elitistang Paghahari! Itakwil ang Neoliberal na Polisiya!
Itaguyod ang mga patakarang magbabago sa kalagayan at kahirapan ng Kababaihan!
Itaguyod ang Gobyernong Maka-Mamamayan at Maka-Kababaihan!
A Year and a Half After Supertyphoon Yolanda: Survivors Still Decry Injustices in Government’s Efforts on its Promised “Build Back Better” Program!
A year and a half after Yolanda swept the Visayan Region, rehabilitation and recovery for the affected 171 municipalities and cities in Regions 4A, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Residents of the 12,222 barangays (in 44 provinces, from 591 municipalities and 57 cities) continue in struggling for survival as recovery and rehabilitation efforts remain slow and rigged with irregularities. The cries of the survivors over the neglect and outright marginalisation, prioritising private-sector in its rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts continue to hound President Aquino to this day.
Just months after the year of commemorating the climate change devastation, no less than Sec. Panfilo Lacson resigned from OPARR, with a soared frustration of the PNoy administration in the direction of the Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation efforts. Dissolving OPARR and instead delegated the reins to Sec. Balisacan of the National Development Authority (NEDA) , to continue its private-sector led rehabilitation efforts, President Aquino dismissed the people’s demand for a people-centered Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan (CRRP) , wherein the NEDA convened Salubungan, with a public-private partnership model under the government’s Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAPP) . ASAPP aims to tap the skills and resources of the poor in enabling private enterprises to expand their production capacities and markets.
Meanwhile, stories of land-grabbing, displacements, rising hunger and human rights violations continued humming over the affected communities as they contend with the scarcity of meaningful governmental response - a more devastating disaster that dwarfs the fury unleashed by Yolanda.
“We continue to be worst off now, than when Yolanda hit us! A year and a half after, we struggle being forced to contend with un-livable housing, unsustainable livelihood programs, diminishing public services, while local and national government bicker against each other preparing for elections instead of our recovery, as large amounts of money are misused” says Genelyn Barzo, Sec. General of the Eastern Visayas Chapter of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, and a Yolanda survivor herself (from Tacloban, Leyte).
The PNoy government’s post-Yolanda rehabilitation course supposedly purporting the “build back better, faster” principle, is in effect “building slower with survivors’ lives becoming worse”. Its Rehabilitation Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) and RAY 2 that pegged P360.9 B investment requirement for critical immediate actions, short-term interventions and medium-term needs within 2013 to 2017, only as of date released a budget of P2 billion for the repairs and rehabilitation of government-owned facilities that include city and municipal halls, civic centers and public markets. About 56 percent of the 144 projects in Region 8 have been completed under RAY 1, according to Sec, Mar Roxas of DILG, while the remaining 44 percent are in various stages of development. Promising at least 25 ‘big ticket’ projects with changes in design are due for completion in September this year, local governments of affected areas, likewise are not happy with these very slow, but much needed budget releases. The National Government is in fact just recently preparing to release another P2 billion for the rehabilitation projects for barangays under RAY 2, (government has allotted P973.51 million for various rehabilitation projects in Region 8 alone).
Being consistently slow, even as survivors’ lives are at stake, PNoy had set his signature on the CRRPs only on October 31, 2014 with the total of Php 169 Billion budget. Also another reason for Sec. Lacson’s frustration when he brought this to the President way back in August 2014, and only now but not even with substantial funding are being downloaded, that directly helped the poor survivors. Plagued with irregularities in the budget allocation and service delivery, local governments are witnesses to the political pressure the national government is forcing, as election season has become the context for these budget releases.
But more importantly, the RAY’s proposition to “encourage and facilitate the active involvement of the private sector” that continue expanding public-private partnership arrangements for major investment programs in rehabilitation, government continue to perpetuate its privatization approach, detaching itself from its obligation to its citizens, and putting the burden on the private sector.
“There’s the rub. Much of the investment will be ushered in by the corporate sector with the Government sidestepping in favor of big business. This explains for example why Nickel Asia Corporation, a big mining firm, is spearheading the rehabilitation efforts in Guiuan, Eastern Samar – an area rich in nickel and magnetite. In Salcedo, some civil society organizations are being used to pursue the interest of the corporations. All this dirty energy production, including mining and coal fired power plants, that has been proven to aggravate Climate Change, adds to heaping more disasters” says Sammy Gamboa, Sec. General of the Freedom from Debt Coalition. Even local governments are directly asking loans from the World Bank, to fund rehabilitation, in the case of the LGU in Cebu City, based on reports of survivor activists, Aaron Pedrosa of SANLAKAS.
“Sadly, the ‘disaster capitalism’ that was witnessed in other climate devasted countries is already being witnessed in the Philippines. Poor coastal communities that have lost everything are facing evictions to make way for tourism, shopping malls and industrial fishing,” reiterates Sammy Gamboa. “It is not only the utter lack of disaster preparedness by the government when the Tyhpoon hit or when another typhoon of similar magnitude strikes but its (government’s) willingness to lend itself accomplice, if not principal, to a business track by corporations that capitalizes on the vulnerability of millions, of building back businesses with better return of investment prospects. Like Yolanda, the rehabilitation and reconstruction program of the government continue to prey on the people.
But the survivors’ say “No more to this incompetence and lack of genuine adherence to justice and human rights. “We are not beggars asking for short change. We are your citizens and demanding our basic rights to food, shelter, education and social services, most wanting because we are survivors of a tragedy that no one expected. But don’t give us another tragedy, by not including us in decision making of OUR reconstruction and recovery programs!” adds Genelyn Brazos.
“We demand for the government to fulfill its obligation in promoting and ensuring the welfare of its people, thus spearheading a people-centered, rights-based rehabilitation process. People not corporations should be underlying inspiration in rebuilding the communities and local economies!”, Sammy Gamboa reiterates. He also adds, “Stop getting loans, in our (Yolanda Survivor’s) name, instead fast track the people-centered recovery and rehabilitation, no more excuses for the PNoy administration. It is an outright violation of the citizen’s rights to rebuild their lives with dignity.”
Freedom from Debt Coalition
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Philippines is a nationwide multi-sectoral, non-sectarian and pluralist coalition conducting policy advocacy work and campaigns to realize a common framework and agenda for economic development.