by Katleah Ulrike
As the title indicates, this writeup is concerned much with the status of the nation, especially in socio-economic side and its problems involved in it. And despite difficulties involving insufficient historical, statistical, and other related documents as well as lack of personal experience and praxis, we will not conceal the so-called danger involved in addressing such a vast topic regarding this.
But then, As a starter, in order to determine prospects for socio-economic development, as well as a support for future plans in regards to government-related affairs in economics, it is absolutely essential to attempt to grasp linkages, interdependence of development process that affect social life, especially the mases, and in relation to that, we will endavour to examine some characteristics which seem to be “most critical” to analyze with, again to the fact that the writer/researcher tries its best to deal with the socio- economic affairs of this society.
This work involves the criticism of statements, with sufficient facts to support the statement given, revisits to studies related to issues, as well as assessments in regards to the system and its socio-economic and cultural status-a means to set forth solution that is, long term and suitable to the present conditions as to evaluate some problems involved in it, allowing enough basis for eventual change.
The status of the nation, was and is, in a state of being stunted as well as experiencing much of its degeneration all despite the “reforms” being taken, as if like vitamins in order to make the system running. But then, instead of further change, it rather worsens the domestic situation-having a society backward and slowly advancing, as well as experiencing much degeneration all due to the system’s efforts in keeping the order of things, that entirely consists of remnants of the past that catered much to vested interests (oligarchs, plutocrats), all from economics, politics, culture and military affairs while the masses are greatly affected by the mess that they met such reforms and countermeasures with doubt and criticism.
True, to the extent that the country had an absolute, limited approach to self-development all despite the government's task, or rather say their propaganda vented to the people. Both past's and present's "development" are emphasised much on remittances, trade liberalization, import dependency, and last 2010 elections, of election spending in order to keep the economy afloat and going; and yet it end up benefited by the few instead of the many, all despite the doleouts, infrastructures, countermeasures that seemingly a propaganda motif to appease the people. Self-development indeed is an arduous task to be taken upon, yet to the current system it is worthless-due to their acceptance of globalization as its policy, liberalization, privatization of assets, and other schemes that to theirs as developmental work.
And speaking of schemes, it somehow tried both its best and worst, just to improve the economy and alleviate people from poverty. The roads, bridges, programs resulted from Public-Private partnerships seemed to be "enough" to improve the way of life as the system think of, but then it end up worthless so to speak, since despite these so-called monumental contributions, oppressive and corrupt foundations prevail, and contributes much in the further deterioration of the society.
As according to the writeup "On the question of Semifeudalism" by Jose Maria Sison and Julieta de Lima, it said:
"The Philippine economy has been called many times-'Free Enterprise','Market',' Mixed',' Developing', 'Dependent-Capitalist' and so on. But none of these is more precise than 'Semifeudal' in denoting the level of development of the productive forces and the relations of production, particularly the shift from the feudal economy of the 19th century under Spanish colonialism to the semifeudal economy of the 20th century under U.S. imperialism. Bourgeois economists adopt their own terminology to stress private ownership of the means of production, the commodity system or the primacy of the market and the demise of development under Capitalism."
Speaking of Semifeudalism,this kind of system prevailing in the Philippines is considered much a hindrance to genuine social and economic development, the Latifundia system of the Landlords gained much prominence, notoriety in the society to the fact that they had enough or more reasons to dominate the society economically, politically, and culturally from being elected officials to acquiring bigger stocks, shares and even the post of chief executive officer, yet still despite using Democratic means and Capitalist ideas, they kept the old order intact-when it comes to property, especially those of land, that comprises the Peasant question.
The Lopezes, Cojuangcos, Ayalas are considered enough to be examples of a Landlord-CEO, a Semifeudalist in a "Capitalist" garb who speaks of development yet retaining the Feudal tradition, why? The Lopezes' ABS-CBN boasts of modern equipment, new shows, talents, and has a lot of viewers, gaining profits from it; yet on the other side, they practise a system used back then by the ecomenderos to ensure cheap and docile labor, to the detriment and inadvantage of its workers-as evident from the workers being laid off instead of making them as regulars, especially those who workerd for 20 years as part of the staff, yet the Lopezes gained 2.27 billion in 2010 from 1.7 billion in 2009. Isn't it obvious that these profiteers, Landlord-CEOs done such obvious problems all for the sake fo cheap labor? Lucky enough that the Court of Appeals had upheld the right of television “talents” to receive the same compensation and benefits as regular network employees. Overturning earlier decisions of the labor court. But then does it mean it eased out the earlier situation? There are some labor problems likely to be unearthed there, as cheap labor through contractualization, profiteering became policy of the said station. Or rather say trying hard to modernize Feudalism in the Philippines using Capitalist concepts as support? What kind of development for the nation these Oligarchs did they achieve? Is it for the people, or for the system?
After all, it is not just about the Lopezes, or even the Cojuangcos and the Ayalas, these embodiments, personified beings of the Semifdeudal, Semicolonial society, there are other Landlord-CEOs and Latifundias who, using much Capitalist-cum-Populist rhetoric and numbers rising, the nation-society remained underdeveloped on its own; worse as it becoms degeneratied as they neglect much of self-development whilst allowing much of foreign aid, investm,ent that further makes the nation into total mendicancy. The Reforms, written in the paper and approved by the legislature are rather serves more of a topping doe Privatization, Commercialization, and Globalization schemes that, may intensify popular disconte3nt all despite of job employmenbts, additional profits and the like-woese since it also intensifies Oligarch's and Foreign monopolization through cartelization of interests, public utulities using development as its pretext.
However, this person even think that how come a Semifeudal, Semicolonial society got enough of these things yet they tied much to the soil? Due to the 75% of the Philippine society consists of the Peasantry, of less approach to domestic industry, and backeardness that, all despite reforms not enough to support? Well,m the influx of imports abroad, not to mention "Assembly Line" industy les these "Hi-Tech" gagetry gain popularity in the Philippines without any domestic industry capable of developing technology same as imported ones. Sorry top say but these policies forced the Philippines to remain backward, with less approach to technology, tied virtually to landlordism, to the soil, with mass ranks of unemployed, forcing the nation to content on foreign imports, aid, and "paper" development.
After all, as Sison said:
"The Semifeudal economy is a commodity system that has departed from the Feudal economy of self subsistence but it is one dominated by the Comprador big Bourgeoisie rather than by a homegrown National Bourgeoisie. The Urban-based big Bourgeoisie is in close partnership with the Rural-based Landlord class. At the same time, the whole Semifeudal economy is a Neocolonial pre-Industrial or an Agrarian adjunct of the world Capitalist system.
Whatever are the current propositions of gross output values and employment in Agriculture, Industry and Service sectors of the economy, all these are dependent on imported equipment, fuel, other raw materials and manufactured components from abroad. The latest "Hi-Tech" tools may be used in any sector but the Philippine economy until now does not produce these tools. Production for local consumption as well as for export has become more import-dependent than ever under the policy of "Trade Liberalization." Agricultural and Mineral production for export and low value-added production of semiconductors, garments and toys for re-export have consigned the Philippine economy to chronic foreign trade deficit and ever mounting foreign debt."
True to say all regardless of the infrastructure, the alleged growth and development stated (especially those of the rising rates and numbers), the Philippines remained stunted in growth. The government may have spend time bragging about much infrastructures like bridges, roads, fly-overs, everything just to say the nation is "Progressive." The introduction of "Modern-Day" industries may also be bragged too-that automobiles, television sets, telecommunications equipment, calling it "sufficient evidence" yet least to counter the 75% composed of the land-tilling peasantry while 15% came those who worked for the products I have stated; worse? The automobiles, television sets, are mere reassembled parts then genuinely manufactured ones "all craftedly made in the Philippines." And telling that the Philippines is a "Free Enterprise but developing Dependent Capitalist?" serves merely a facade, a propaganda jargon merely to hid its status as a Semifeudal, Semicolonial society.
After all, the tendencies of the old ages tried to concoct "old Feudal ideas" with "modern Capitalist concepts" to please foreign investment and local interests, yet, comparing to Cambodia, I mean Malaysia, the Philippines remained still "Behind" those two, as if itself remained in a 19th century with a 20th century facade. Cambodia back then, according to Khieu Samphan, tried much to develop yet despite the expansion of Cambodian Capitalism through "Detaching" the handicrafts industry from Agriculture. Same as the Philippines that, despite contacts with U.S., Spain, or Japan, even China or Europe remained underdeveloped domestically, but instead intensifies transnational contacts to set up "Industries" with the help of local Compradors, and calling it as "Development", yet 75% remained tied to the soil and still under the held of the Landlord gentry, and again, worse as the influx of foreign imports virtually stunted domestic industries, with its majority held bankrupt and "Ceded itself over" to foreign investment at the behest of the Government and of the ruling class.
The weak reduction of Social Services into a propaganda motif of the ruling class showcases the system's less efforts in promoting absolute welfare in favor of the profiteering "efforts." Education for instance, became a lucrative enterprise due to the rise of Educator Compradors such as Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, etc. Eventually reducing Education from an absolute right enshrined in the Constitution, guaranteed by the State, and a vanguard of Professionalism to a mere "Corporate Social Responsibility" of the ruling class, driven enough by mere efforts for profiteering and the like. The rise of the Educator Compradors lies the tendency to stunt Education's accessibility to the people, thus limited to a moneyed gentry, while the rest end up merely to serve into the "Labor Force", or worse-to the ranks of the Lumpenproletariat.
Well, this problem somewhat became "Perennial" due to the policies the system do so. Regardless of the reform policies being undertaken so to speak yet useless due to the system's emphasis on profiteering, wrecking and other antipeople acts. Arroyo's Medium Term Philippine Development Plans of 2001-2004 and 2004-2010 failed to solve the crisis of poverty despite the alleged result hath spoken of. In Northen Samar for example, poverty incidence rose from 33.9% last 2003 to 52.2% in 2006, while in Sorsogon, it also increased from 33.7% last 2003 to 43.5% last 2006; it shows that despite "development" taken under the MTPDP from 2004-2010 (and perhaps the Millenium Development Goals) how come it failed? For sure they would speak of lawless groups sabotaging it, but still-the system failed to do so in solving the situation, and speaking of rebel groups like the Communist Party and the New People's Army, within its zones had programs radically different from the MTPDP, and tried enough to resolve the question, not to mention guns and battles but agrarian self-sufficiency and self-development without the enemy's effort like the MTPDP. The agrarian revolution, barefoot doctors, numeracy-literacy programs, tried enough to solve the question before the MTPDP of their counterpart. But it would be greater enough as the Revolution intensifies both the armed struggle and concrete social development, justice taken by the "Rebels."
And speaking of underdevelopment, of increasing poverty incidence, as well as the MTPDP of the National Government, its efforts, from Education, Employment, Welfare and other similar acts failed to achieve its objective: From 30% last 2003 it became 37.9 last 2006. While on families it increased from 24.4% last 2003 to 26.9 last 2006. It is not merely a question of indiscipline or rebellion that caused this kind of problem. And now it may suffer badly enough due to the so-called "Public-Private Partnerships" that obviously a scheme for Privatization, thus reducing access to Social Welfare, Education, and others that possibly be given up by the Government and end up by Profiteers trying to monopolize these services in the name of "Laissez Faire."
The continuation of Arroyo's "Doleouts", known as Cash Transfer Programs, further creates mendicancy amongst the poor instead of Social Services the Government ought to be taken seriously. Is the Doleout system a part of Socioeconomic developmental process for the poor? Like the KALAHI-CIDSS and those included in the MTPDP? Or just a mere "Charity" work guised as a Welfare act taken by the state, using taxes instead of personal accounts?
Like the past ages the Filipino encountered, the desperate measures, paper reforms and faux progressive practises fail to solve as the system remains "Semifeudal" and "Semicolonial". The National Economic Development Authority didn't undertake such long-term measures along with the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Works and Highways, even Department of Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to promote Industrialization and advancing Agrarian Reform same as the continuous creation of professionals supposedly geared for the purpose of Domestic work; and instead, focusing on mere band-aid solutions that further deteriorates self-reliance and development whilst increasing profits for the State and vested interests. Oversease Filipino Workers, Seasonal Employments, Self-Employed Business Entities tried yet failed to develop the Philippine economy seriously, all despite the remittances, the filling of companies with good personnel, still-failed to produce suffiency. Or speaking of OFWs, this society is engaging in a modern-day slave trade!
And secondly, does all remittances, salaries, income produced by these "Employed" fit enough for their families all year around? Does it inculcate self-sufficiency or further deteriorate domestic growth in favor of the system's unfair economic practises? Indeed, it inculcate development, but the fact lies that most of it end up for paying debts, pockets, and for mere programs served as a topping for deteriorating status of the State. The system may had ordered people to engage in businesses, yet failed to create an industry to support these people and a genuine Agrarian Reform Program to inculcate genuine self-sufficiency. Like 19th century Cambodia, or early 20th century South America, failed to expand all due to the dominancy of the Elite, especially the Comprador Bourgeoisie, the Landlord class and of course, the Imperialists such as the United States.
In regards to crafts, Agriculture, and the system's failure to Industrialize, the Philippines, still in the clutches of American Imperialism and of its domestic allies, forced its own "Industry" geared to a foreign centre.
Like Cambodia of Khieu Samphan, the Filipino domestic industry absolutely failed to meet the demands due to foreign interference and state negligence, resulting to weak and unbalanced sector of the economy and do not constitute an inegrated, autonomous national whole.
Cosmos Bottling, Selecta Ice Cream, they end up under a large, foreign entity as most owners failed despite popularity to fulfill demands as domestic Capitalists. And instead, they end up virtually dependent on outside circumstances over in which Filipino society has some to very little control. Cosmos Bottling end up controlled by Coca Cola while Selecta Ice Cream, once a pride of Arce and Sons co. end up under control of Unilever N.V, with RFM of Raul Concepcion as its Filipino partner for the ice cream business. The dominance of foreign enterprise clearly shows how the State, despite accumulating profits, failed to support domestic industry enough; or rather failed to fulfill Recto's Economic Solution in favor of those from the IMF-WB. The Philippine industry remained rather contented on light and small-scale with less approach to heavy ones like Jacinto and Puyat steel. But due to the system's contentment on foreign investment, enterprise, aid, nearly neglects domestic enterprise, leaving it to eventual "swallow" to large corporate entities both Comprador and foreign.
The Pharmaceutical industry got a greater blow as foreign investment dominated much of it. According to IBON, A.T. Suaco & Co. Enticed to enter into a joint venture with Wyeth International with promises of USAID loans last 1959. A.T. Suaco, a Filipino-owned medicine company, was a major force in the local drug industry. In 1951, it already produced enough vitamins, antibiotics, I.V solutions domestically, yet in the end, it became controlled, and virtually integrated into Wyeth's global operations. So are the others that end up "swallowed" by bigger foreign entities or Comprador-owned institutions at the behest of the Government, if not for becoming bankrupt.
God forbid, but people would possibly think of it worse and possibly to take "worse opposive measures" to counter the system's trend of "opposing people while profiteering for the economy." The people themselves endure poverty, faux reforms, propaganda facades, oppressive actions and even countless promises the system spoke and dealt forth yet failed to achieve. That most industries are being stunted by countless foreign trade agreements that obviously unfair, yes, unfair and even failed to touch people's minds due to their oppressive measures taken. Industrialized countries like the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Korea stunted much the growth of Filipino's attempt to create stronger foundations of a self-reliant industry in order to protect their markets, yet despite creating markets and supporting system's efforts for "improving" economy it intensifies unemployment, poverty, underdevelopment and popular opposition while the system itself remained aloof to it.
Obviously, the people are indeed living in a 21st century lifestyle, but the status of the Filipino society remained like those of late 19th to the 1980s, that despite of modern day technology brought by foreign imports of gadgetry, it remained predominantly Agricultural: 75% under the Peasantry, 15% Workers to deal against 1% of moochers, thieves of the society; all in the guise of the landed gentry (Landlords, Compradors and Imperialists)?
Where's productive development then? Is it in the modern buildings in Metro Manila? Computers and Cellular Phones? This is not merely a question of numbers but of proofs to be shown to the people. For people aren't contented in remittances, doleouts, promises, faux idealism to end up as debt payments and bullets as its large chunk!? Better to look at the surrounding and for sure these people, the 99% would simply tell everyone that the system, regardless of its achievement, still failed to seriously deal in this kind of problem. The Philippines remained behind most of the South East Asian countries regardless of the Cellular Phones and Computers, Internet and Cable TV as long as the system retains age-old features such as a Semifeudal, Semicolonial image manifested by a predominantly agricultural society with less approach to industry; with its Landlordism, backwardness, Imperialist-Comprador profiteering and control of vital needs and less approach to progressive development.
IBON facts and figures, volume 20, no. 10-11 October-November 2009
The Drug Industry in the Philippines, IBON Databank, 2001
Underdevelopment in Cambodia by Khieu Samphan
Philippine Economy and Politics by Jose Maria Sison and Julieta de Lima