Rising unemployment shows Duterte administration’s failed economic policies

While the imposition of stricter lockdowns during the previous quarter is seen as the immediate cause, the government's neglect of local industries and its dependence on foreign businesses is the primary reason for the rising unemployment and precarious working conditions. Photo courtesy of MayDay Multimedia.
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The increase in unemployment rate in the recent Labor Force Survey (LFS) shows the Duterte administration’s neoliberal agenda and failed economic policies further worsened the labor situation amid the pandemic, according to a labor NGO. 

The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said that while the imposition of stricter lockdowns during the previous quarter is seen as the immediate cause, the government’s neglect of local industries and its dependence on foreign businesses is the primary reason for the rising unemployment and precarious working conditions.

The LFS released by the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) for April 2021 shows the unemployment rate rose to 8.7% from 7.1% last March. That translates to 4.14 million unemployed Filipinos. Underemployment rose to 17.2% or 7.45 million from 16.2% last March. 

“Rising unemployment persists because of the administration’s continued adherence to neoliberal policies and reliance on foreign direct investments,” said Rochele Porras, Executive Director of EILER.

In 2018, MSMEs employed an estimated 5.714 million which is 13.6% of total employment. Due to the impact of the pandemic, many small businesses have closed. MSMEs bare the brunt of these crises with the government giving little to no support, while foreign businesses enjoy tax cuts and secure big government infrastructure projects because of neoliberal policies such as CREATE Law and the Build, Build, Build program.

“The Duterte administration continues to apply the same failed strategy of the past administrations: favor the foreign investments and multinational corporations over local industries and generation of decent, regular jobs with living wages,” added Porras.

EILER urges the government to heed the people’s call for aid amid the pandemic and to provide a comprehensive economic response that would build national industries and ensure quality employment.

“The administration continues its militaristic approach in dealing with the health situation instead of strengthening our national health system and providing adequate ayuda to displaced workers,” said Porras. #

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