MANILA, August 10, 2013—As the Aquino administration ventures to the second half of its six-year term, representatives of various sectoral groups convened in an academic forum on Friday to scrutinize the performance of the government in promoting “inclusive” growth across all sectors of the society.
Kilusang 99% (K99), a movement convened by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (CBCP-NASSA), gathered representatives from different societal sectors to assess how the government has fared in curtailing the issue of poverty and jobless growth in the country.
Dubbed as “Talakayang Bayan: Tinig ng 99% – “Kaginhawahan: Nararamdaman ko ba ito?”, the academic forum held at the Adamson University featured a critique of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
PDP is the developmental plan adopted by the government upon the election of President Aquino to the nation’s highest post.
Sectoral representatives were also given the chance to express their side on how the reported economic growth has affected—whether positively or negatively—their day-to-day living.
Groups covered by K99 include representatives from the following sectors: indigenous people, women, farmers, urban poor, environmental advocates, youth, and labor, among many others.
Need for deeper discourse
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, CBCP-NASSA chairman and lead convenor of K99, said that amid the reported economic growth of the country, millions of Filipinos are still marred by poverty as the widening gap between the rich and poor remains unaddressed.
He noted that through the forum, the K99 movement hopes to escalate the problems faced by various societal sectors to the government and mass media to develop a deeper discourse on the vital issues that continuously hound marginalized and voiceless Filipinos all over the country.
“In this forum, we aim to identify the issues faced by our brothers and sisters. From there, we are hoping to unite these groups so they may act as one for the fulfillment of a common goal,” he said in the vernacular.
“K99 is a movement composed of representatives from various groups. Each may have their own goal to fulfill, but we are all moving toward one common direction—genuine growth that benefits all Filipino individuals,” Pabillo added.
Scrutinizing ‘inclusive growth’
FDC President Ric Reyes gave a critique on the PDP, further noting that this development agenda promotes “serious inadequacy” on the part of poor Filipinos.
He urged the government to focus more on human development as it is a vital factor that contributes to societal progress.
“The most important in improving the economy—whether economic or social—is the human factor. Human development is not only about what a person can contribute to the society as a whole, but it is also about his personal capabilities as an individual,” Reyes said.
Stressing the problem on the widening gap between the rich and the poor, PM spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza said that economic growth is not really the problem at stake as far as the Philippine economy is concerned.
He added that with the current economic approach adopted by the country, poor Filipinos will be more deeply marred by poverty in contrast with how rich individuals grow richer.
“As time passes by, the degree of inequality worsens. Growth is present but the problem of inequality remains unaddressed,” he said.
In his talk on the development perspective of “Inclusive Growth,” member of the NAPC-NGO Sectoral Council Paul Paraguya said that the government must focus more on addressing poverty than relentlessly pushing for economic growth that only benefits the rich and the few.
“It is time to shift the perspective from growth to poverty. We have to stress the importance of eradicating poverty because if you do something for its curtailment, you extend help to a big number of Filipinos who are still suffering from this phenomenon,” he said.
“Besides, these Filipinos need more help than the affluent ones. If we will continue to focus on growth, millions of Filipinos will not be saved from poverty and will just be left behind,” he added.
The K99 movement signifies the majority of Filipinos (99 percent) who suffer from various kinds of exploitation, in contrast with the minority (1 percent) who enjoys the comfort of living an affluent lifestyle. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)