Struggle amid rising prices and falling standard of living

This article is available in Pilipino

The Marcos regime must be held directly responsible for the rapid fall in the standard of living of the toiling masses of the Filipino people. The quality of life of majority of the people is fast deteriorating. This follows sharp increases over the past few weeks and months in the prices of fuel products, rice, meat, vegetables and other food products, toll and transportation and other basic commodities and services.

Prices continue to rise as a direct result of the Marcos regime’s neoliberal policies. Marcos’ programs cause the destruction of productive forces and the environment, further weaken the capacity to produce food and basic commodities, aggravate the country’s over-reliance on imports, foreign loans and foreign investments, accelerate urban overpopulation and decay, and exacerbate the country’s agrarian, non-industrial and backward economy.

The Marcos regime carries out anti-people and anti-poor measures in line with policy-directions set by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other imperialist agencies, in exchange for loans. These measures serve the interests of foreign big banks and monopoly capitalists, and trample on the basic social and economic rights of the people.

Foremost among these is the policy of wage suppression to make available an army of cheap labor to be exploited by foreign capitalists in so-called economic enclaves. These also include cutbacks on public spending for education, health and other social services. To pay the country’s debts, more onerous taxes are imposed on the broad masses of consumers, while tax exemptions and other perks are granted to foreign investors. Marcos is also vigorously pursuing import liberalization, particularly of agricultural products which over the decades have bankrupted millions of people and destroyed local production. Various other measures are being pushed to allow foreign monopoly capitalists and local big bourgeois compradors to take away the sources of income of millions of people.

There is acute joblessness with at least 20 million having no jobs or working only part-time jobs. Marcos and his officials are obscuring the true magnitude of unemployment by counting people as having a job even when they are, in fact, unemployed and merely making ends meet. Millions of peasants, fisherfolk, as well as jeepney drivers and operators, small entrepreneurs and other ordinary earners, are being economically dislocated as big local and foreign capitalists take away their livelihood. Even the intensified drive of the Marcos government to search for jobs overseas is grossly insufficient to absorb the millions of jobless workers.

The Filipino people’s standard of living continues to fall, with majority living under conditions of poverty. After having cut down expenses for less essential items, and compelled to shell out more for rising costs of housing, electricity, water, health, education, transportation and communication, people are now being forced to cut down spending even on food or quality nutrition. The Marcos government and its “economic experts” are further lowering the poverty threshold to hide the fact that millions of people are being pulled down into the quagmire of hunger and economic distress.

The situation is most grievous in the rural areas where the Marcos regime promotes policies and programs that allow big landlords, big bourgeois compradors and foreign big capitalists to take away hundreds of thousands of hectares of land for plantations and mining operations, “green” energy, ecotourism and other infrastructure projects. This is further heightened under World Bank-funded programs to make land more “marketable” and “saleable.” Hundreds of thousands of peasants and rural poor families are being dispossessed of land and other means of production and sources of livelihood, resulting in widespread rural bankruptcy and poverty.

Corruption at the highest levels of the bureaucracy has become even more brazen under the Marcos regime. Through the Maharlika Investment Fund, ₱500 billion of public funds will be funneled to Marcos’ favored big bourgeois compradors, cronies and dummies. These few millionaires and billionaires indulge in luxurious lifestyles while majority of Filipinos wallow in poverty and worsening conditions. Marcos himself controls billions of pesos of unaudited “confidential” and “intelligence” funds. He goes on publicly-funded foreign junkets and uses the Malacañang Palace to host one banquet after another.

While public spending for education, health and other social services remain lacking, hundreds of billions of pesos in public funds are being wasted on maintaining a super-bloated military and police force, whose officers and men are overcompensated to secure their loyalty, receive extra-large pensions (to which they have made no contributions), and given the leeway to spend money and earn kickbacks in purchasing US surplus and old military hardware under the “AFP modernization” program.

The Filipino people must fight back to defend their social and economic rights and resist the further deterioration of their standard of living. They must demand lower prices of fuel, food and other basic commodities and services; wage and salary increases for workers and ordinary employees; removal of onerous taxes and unjust fees; lowering of land rent and prices of seeds and other farm input; elimination of usury; raising farm-gate prices; and overall protection and expansion of their livelihood and sources of income. The broad masses of workers, peasants, and other toiling people must press for these and other urgent democratic demands to prevent their social and economic standing from further sliding down.

They must expose and condemn Marcos for trying to fool them with token initiatives such as the ultra-hyped Kadiwa stores that he himself brags about, the grossly limited number of which could not even create a dent on market prices. There are also the so-called “food stamps” initiated by the World Bank and other “cash for work” schemes that at best cater only to a few tens of thousands of people, while ignoring the plight of tens of millions of people. These “poverty alleviation” programs merely obscure the deep-seated reasons behind the gross conditions of the people.

The Marcos regime is putting the Filipino people at the mercy of the profit hungry foreign monopoly capitalists, local big bourgeois comprador, big landlords, and bureaucrat capitalists. The increasingly intolerable socioeconomic conditions of the Filipino people lends urgency to the struggle to put an end to the semicolonial and semifeudal social system and its backward, agrarian, non-industrial economic system, which puts the broad masses in a state of perpetual crisis.

The Filipino people’s struggle to defend and fight for their social and economic rights are firmly linked to their struggle for national democracy, particularly its key economic components of genuine land reform and national industrialization. Land reform aims to end the centuries-long problem of landlessness and feudal exactions which have fettered the majority of the Filipino people to economic backwardness and oppression. National industrialization seeks to develop the country’s productive forces, maximize its natural and human resources, unleash the full potential to produce for the people’s needs and enable the country to stand on its own two feet.

The Filipino people’s aspiration to decisively end poverty and hunger, can be achieved only by waging revolutionary struggle to end the rule of US imperialism through its neocolonial state, and attain genuine freedom and democracy.

Struggle amid rising prices and falling standard of living