Marcos Jr’s State of the Nation Address is a glimpse to a bleak future for the country- total economic liberalization, total sell-out of our resources to foreign investors, and an impending total disregard for human rights. We expect his administration to be nothing but a horror story in the making.
His passionate commitment to make the country “an investment destination” is deeply alarming, foremost in our concern for the rights of indigenous peoples. This basically means reinforcing the neoliberal framework of our economy. For instance, the further opening of our natural resources to foreign investments will disenfranchise indigenous peoples and surrender our ancestral territories to foreign control and unhampered development aggression. In the Cordillera alone, 96 energy projects had already been awarded by the Department of energy while mining applications are currently being revived and rushed by mining firms. The past Duterte administration had already paved the way for slicker entry of foreign investors by lifting the ban on mining applications and open-pit mining.
This brings profound harm to our environment and a huge contribution to cumulative environmental damage. While he mentioned environmental protection equating to life preservation, his vision contradicts this idea as his grand plan for energy production is a potential human rights and livelihood disaster. Bereft of any critical analysis of the concrete situation regarding the various implementation of energy projects in the country, he is further subjecting our natural resources to plunder.
As the status quo reflects, communities affected by development aggression projects are victims of various human rights violations, land grabbing, state attacks and harassment. The victims are often the indigenous peoples whose ancestral domains host an abundance of natural resources. That said, the absence of human rights and peace as a pressing issue of the people implies that the attacks will continue. There is even no call to hold Duterte’s bloody administration accountable for its crimes to humanity, no intention to abolish the NTF-ELCAC despite its record of human rights violations and corruption.
Moreover, Marcos Jr promised that we can expect economic growth under his leadership, but this growth only means unjust taxation. There were plans for additional taxes, plus a blatant support for the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprise (CREATE) law (lowering of corporate income tax) coupled with other economic liberalization policies. The economic growth that he intends to uphold is basically an economic growth for the few.
In terms of alleviating the worsening poverty, he touted bold plans for the agricultural sector but failed to mention the reversal of the Rice Tariffication Law that greatly impacts our farmers. Since the implementation of RTL, the price of rice has dropped significantly, only to briefly recover when importation temporarily stopped during the COVID-19 lockdowns. But the resumption of imports again pulled the prices down and it is estimated now that rice imports by the Philippines will breach the 3 million metric ton mark by 2024. Additionally, this loose regulation of imports affects our vegetable farmers who are losing over smuggled vegetables from China. With liberalization as the centerpiece of his plans, how will our farmers genuinely rise from their sorry state?
Overall, Marcos Jr intends to continue his father’s and Duterte’s legacy of crisis. He expressed the same enthusiasm for infrastructure projects like the Build, Build, Build program, perhaps an ode to his family’s record of “edifice complex”. As a tax evader himself, it is not surprising that he has no plans to end corrupt governance nor hold those who were found guilty of corruption accountable. And, as a liar himself, it is also not surprising that he avoided the issue of historical distortion. Only the rich and corrupt that benefit from a nation barely recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic will call the state of the nation “sound.”
We therefore see and expect more poverty, tyranny, fake news and lies in the next years to come. ###
Cordillera Peoples Alliance