A report of Philippine thinktank IBON Foundation in June 2021 showed that 15 million Filipino families, comprising 62.1% of the country’s total, went hungry in 2020. The report said that 12.4 million families were surviving on just PhP132 (US$2.61) or less per person per day, a far cry from the minimum PhP1,026 (US$20.30) per day needed for a family of five.
The IBON report, “Duterterioration of the Economy,” revealed that the economic situation of the Philippines and the Filipino people are deteriorating on multiple fronts, even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.
Agricultural production’s share in the country’s GDP fell from 10.1% in 2017 to 9.2% in 2019. IBON said that 1.4 million agricultural jobs have been lost between 2017 and 2019. Already meager growth in the manufacturing sector has been falling from 8% in 2017, 5.1% in 2018 to just 3.8% in 2019.
The Duterte years have seen record levels of joblessness. Job generation has been on a downslide to just 477,000 annually in 2016 – 2019, compared to previous periods of 815,000 annually in 2010-2014 and 541,000 annually in 2011-2015. From January 2020 to March 2021 alone, there were 5.4 million unemployed. Full time work fell by 550,000 and low paying part-time work increased by 3.2 million.
Prices of basic commodities are skyrocketting. The 4.5% inflation rate in April 2018 was already the highest in 7 years, but the 9.7% food inflation in September 2019 has been the highest in 11 years.
In the meantime, government funds are allocated for the anti-communist programs to the neglect essential public services and the Covid-19 pandemic response. The share of public health in the national budget fell from 4.9% in 2019 to 4.5% in 2020. In 2021, agriculture production and agrarian reform only had a 3.2% share in the national budget.
IBON said that the situation is made worse by the government’s “inept Covid-19 response.” Snail-paced vaccination, vaccine supply anomalies, government policies riddled with corruption, favoring Duterte’s cohorts in the government, the military and police, while neglecting the people, said the IBON report.
Taking note of the worsening crisis, the Communist Party of the Philippines on 13 August said, “The Filipino people are like tinder waiting to be kindled to become a mighty flame that will end their hardships under the oppressive and failed regime.
“The people’s heightening desperation – for food, aid and vaccine – must be drawn and transformed into a force of resistance... The people must be led to the path of collective action and not segregation; to the path of struggle and not supplication,” the CPP said.