Dominguez, econ managers accountable for recession
“We are the sickest in South East Asia in terms of COVID-19 cases and we also have the weakest economy. The Duterte administration’s bungled COVID-19 response and overall failed handling of the pandemic situation have worsened the economic crisis to an irreversible state,” says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, in reaction to the country officially going into recession. “Ang resesyon ay hindi lang dahil sa COVID-19 at pandemya. Resulta na ito ng apat na taon ng malalang ekonomiya sa ilalim ng gobyernong Duterte.”
After two quarters of economic slowdown, the domestic economy has officially plunged into a technical recession. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has shrunk by -16.5% for the second quarter, the lowest level since 1981 during the Marcos dictatorship. From 5.4% in the same period last year, the growth rate dropped by an unprecedented 21.9 points. The April-June gross domestic product figure released by the Philippine Statistics Authority covers economic activities during the peak of the Enhanced Community Quarantine across the country.
“The country is facing the worst economic crisis in almost eight decades, almost comparable to an economic collapse. We can only blame Duterte and his economic managers for this dire situation. This is what Duterte-nomics did to us. This is what economic managers, led by finance secretary Sonny Dominguez, did to the local economy. Whatever wishful thinking of economic recovery and turn around from the effects of the pandemic have quickly gone down the drain,” the peasant leader said.
For the second quarter, agriculture, forestry, and fishing posted a minimal growth of 1.6 percent, industry plunged by 22.9 percent as the manufacturing and construction sectors were hit hard by nationwide lockdowns. Services contracted by 15.8 percent. The Philippines also lagged behind its ASEAN counterparts in terms of growth – Singapore (-12.6%), Indonesia (-5.3%), and Vietnam (0.4%).
Even the proposed Program for Recovery with Equity and Solidarity (PH-PROGRESO) worth ₱1.7 trillion and its components — the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE), the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA), and the much-hyped Bayanihan II with a price tag of ₱140-billion will not be enough to jumpstart the economy. “A large portion of these budget will go to Build, Build, Build projects, support to enterprises, and tax incentives to corporations. Very little to none is allotted for social amelioration and improvement of the health care system.”
“The trickle-down effects of the recession will be worse. The crisis will translate to further unemployment, and unimaginable poverty and hunger. Almost 14 million Filipinos were already forced into joblessness as a result of the economic gloom. Many more will be affected by the worsening livelihood slump in the coming months. Halos pulubi na nga ang marami nating kababayan na nanghihingi na lang ng tulong at limos sa mga lansangan at hanggang sa social media,” says Ramos.
KMP said drastic economic measures must be undertaken to genuinely uplift the economy. “The government must proceed with protectionist measures to prioritize local production and manufacturing that will reinvigorate local industries and workforce. It must also seriously veer away from liberalization and other neoliberal policies in trade and investments.” ###
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