Published: March 5, 2013
“Pres. Noynoy Aquino is concentrating wealth in the hands of a few elites.”
This was national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s reaction to news reports that 11 Filipinos are included in Forbes magazine’s 2013 global billionaires’ list and that 40 of the richest families in the country accounted for 76 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2011.
The labor center said Aquino’s claim that the country is belied by the situation of 25 million Filipinos, a quarter of the country’s population, who lived on $1 or less a day in 2009.
“Aquino is ruthless in implementing previous governments’ Cheap Labor Policy and is most aggressive in privatizing government assets through his Public-Private Partnership program. Top bureaucrats in government still amass wealth through legal and illegal means,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“Aquino’s main economic policies enforce an upward distribution of wealth. The country’s workers and poor are being sucked dry and made even poorer by Aquino’s policies that further enrich the country’s elite,” he added.
KMU said the government’s Cheap Labor Policy include the pressing down of workers’ wages, promotion of contractual employment, and repression of workers’ rights.
The Aquino government refused to implement a significant wage hike despite the growing disparity between the minimum wage and the cost of living and has implemented the Two-Tiered Wage System, which cuts workers’ wages by introducing a floor wage that is lower than existing minimum wages.
It has also legalized contractual employment through Department Order No. 18-A Series of 2011.
Steps are underway for the privatization of the country’s public hospitals, the MRT and LRT train systems, and country’s water districts, and other government properties such as government television station RPN 9.
KMU said privatization in the oil and power sectors has resulted in higher costs for consumers and the creation of monopolies.
“The growth that the Aquino government brags about continues to be exposed as a hoax designed to try to fool the people. Not only is it not resulting in a better employment situation for Filipinos, it also means the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few elites,” Labog said.
“Growing inequality and poverty amidst the global economic crisis have fueled huge protests and militant rebellions in many countries. They continue to fuel bigger and bolder protests and the insurgency in the country,” he added.