Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin
Critics of President Duterte were not impressed by the 6.9-percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter, arguing that the wealth did not trickle down to the poorest of the poor.
“A rise in economic output does not mean it translates to having a positive impact on the overall socioeconomic welfare of society,” said Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, a member of the opposition bloc in the House of Representatives.
“While it will have a boost to the market, [the] government has not addressed inequality, unemployment, lack of livelihoods and rising inflation that hits the poor most,” Villarin said in a message to reporters.
His ally, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., shared the sentiment, noting that poverty and unemployment remained high despite the growing economy.
“What kind of growth are we talking about? Poverty and unemployment figures are still high and getting worse. Inflation remains high as the peso continues to devalue,” Baguilat said in a separate message.
Social reform promises
“So unless [the] government starts to fulfill its social reform promises, [which it has not], then the reported economic growth is just a bunch of figures that has really no impact on the lives of the Filipinos,” he said.
Baguilat conceded, however, that in terms of conventional economic indicators such as the GDP, the Philippine economy had been quite resilient for the past several years.
“The slight jump in the last quarter is probably due to the government’s infrastructure projects under the 2017 [General Appropriations Act], which would be in full implementation at this time,” he said.
Villarin said economic growth was only a single indicator and did not show the true picture of a nation’s development.
“Growth without democracy and respect for human rights is unsustainable. When we curtail political dissent and destroy democratic institutions, such economic growth will fail in the long run,” he said.
“With creeping authoritarian rule, this growth will fall together with this regime that promotes mass murder,” Villarin said.
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