Minority lawmakers belie economic growth in ‘Kontra Sona’
MANILA, Philippines – Two opposition lawmakers on Monday delivered their own versions of the country’s “State of the Nation Address” (Sona) as they belied President Benigno Aquino III’s claims of inclusive economic growth.
In his “Kontra Sona” speech on Monday, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said the economic growth is “narrow” as it only reflected the burgeoning wealth of a few amid worsening poverty.
“This rapid growth is narrow, shallow, artificial and in the end it is unsustainable. Worse, the growth is exclusionary,” Colmenares said, referring to the total income of top corporations and businessmen.
“The economic growth is better reflected in growing corporate profits and the personal wealth of a few,” Colmenares said.
He added that the gross domestic product (GDP) growth is also shallow because it is not based on national industries but on growing debt, speculative capital and overseas remittances.
“Apat na taon nang bukambibig ni Aquino ang inclusive growth. Apat na taon nang nagsisinungaling si Aquino. Walang nagaganap na inclusive growth. Dayuhan at bilyunaryo lamang ang nakikinabang,” Colmenares said.
Colmenares also cited the anti-poor policies of government in privatizing basic services and the failure to implement a genuine agrarian reform program.
The militant lawmaker also mentioned the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that supposedly sold the country’s sovereignty to the United States.
For his part, House minority floor leader Ronaldo Zamora said poverty remains widespread as it barely changed from a year ago.
In his “Kontra Sona,” Zamora said the latest poverty incidence is pegged at 19.1 percent in the first half of 2013, or a “miniscule improvement” from the 21 percent in 2006.
“In eight years, we have reduced poverty by only a little more than one percent,” Zamora said.
The San Juan City representative added that unemployment rate also remains high affecting more than 12 million workers. He also cited rising prices of basic goods.
Zamora mentioned the “miserable” growth of the agriculture sector at one percent in the last year even when 70 percent of the poor earns a living out of agriculture.
The lawmaker cited the need for employment in the industries and manufacturing sector.
“We cannot wait for foreign investors to bring in new jobs,” Zamora, whose family owns a prominent mining firm, said.
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