Contrary to Arroyo’s grandiose vision of the country becoming a First World country by 2010, the situation of Filipinos is actually sinking deeper into Third World status, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.
IBON research head Sonny Africa said that the local economy is not developing but rather deteriorating in a way that hits the poorest majority the most. “The country is experiencing historic joblessness, widespread poverty and deepening inequality,” he said.
The official reported unemployment rate has stood at over 11% since 2001 in the only period of such sustained high unemployment in the country’s history. In 2006 this translated to 11.6 million Filipinos either jobless or if employed, still seeking more work.
If jobs are created at all, Africa said, these are low-quality. Of the net one million increase in jobs recorded in the April 2007 Labor Force Survey, over two-thirds are in unpaid family work and in domestic household help. Meanwhile, employment in manufacturing continues to erode as it lost 105,000 jobs from the year before.
Poverty is also becoming increasingly widespread, he added. Some 65 million Filipinos or 80% of the population daily attempt to survive on the equivalent of P96 or less a day. Income inequalities have also not lessened despite government claims of continuous economic growth. Using the latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey, the income of the richest 10% of families is 21 times that of the poorest ten percent. The net worth of the country’s 10 richest individuals and families in 2006 was equivalent to the combined income of the country’s poorest 9.8 million households composed of some 49 million Filipinos.
Notwithstanding government hype of growth and development, the country will continue its economic decline in the remaining years of the Arroyo presidency, Africa said. It may even once again tip into financial turmoil especially if there are adverse developments in the global economy.