sona-2012 philippinesThe Aquino administration calls its economic governance approach "inclusive growth" – that is, nobody will be left behind as the economy grows. This approach is adopted from the development concept of both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. These banks came up with this approach after its previous poverty alleviation strategies sank into the quicksand of Third World or South countries' poverty and debt.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition believes that without the anti-corruption drive, the economic governance approach of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III, or as some quarters call it "Aquinomics," is no different from the 10-year reign of "Arroyonomics." Just like former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President Aquino is still following the economic framework of neo-liberalism and its policies of liberalization, privatization and deregulation – the very same reasons why our agricultural and manufacturing industries could not compete with those of other countries; why electricity, water, oil and other basic necessities have skyrocketing prices; and why there are no available local regular and decent jobs for most of our people, including the 9 million OFWs.

As President Aquino prepares for his 3rd State of the Nation Address, we ask him to prove to the Filipino people that his economic governance approach of "inclusive growth" is not a fraud. To qualify this, FDC is raising five questions for the President to acknowledge, answer and articulate during his SONA:

First, what are you going to do with the large monopolies and oligopolies which own and control almost all the major branches of our industry, agriculture and services? They extract super-profits, dictate high mark-ups to consuming public, depress wages and denies entry into business and competition from other investors and entrepreneurs, mostly medium and small.

Second, how can you ensure and uphold public welfare, and citizen stakes and participation in the economy when the neo-liberal policy which you affirm calls for the complete dismantling of the state sector of the economy and stunts the growth of the social sector like cooperatives and community enterprises?

Third, how can you expect to generate economic growth with productive employment for all if the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-16 does not have an industrial plan to build industries on the basis of our home-grown skills and resources and with productive forward and backward linkages with our agriculture, fishery and other domestic production? How do you expect to promote agricultural production and the entire rural economy without a decisive push for land reform and without clear integration with industrial development? How can we have rice self-sufficiency if there is no solid commitment to land use for food security and subsidy and other infrastructural and credit support for our small farmers and rural producers?

Fourth, how can the government ever expect to catch up with its promise of providing adequate, affordable and quality education, health and housing for all, especially the working people, if it does not abandon the neo-liberal bias of abdicating more and more the planning, development, control and regulation of these vital social services to the private sector?

And fifth, how can we ever proceed with economic growth and development without integrating these both on the long- and short-run with the demands of adaptation to and mitigation of the damaging effects of environmental destruction and climate change?

We are fed up with all the "business as usual" statistics with nominal changes and populist rants signifying nothing of all the previous SONAs. We are fed up with PASIKAT that only ends up in PASAKIT for our people.


President, Freedom from Debt Coalition