AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People vehemently decries the total sellout of our national assets and vital industries with the passage of the Republic Act (RA) No. 11659, otherwise known as the Public Service Act. The law grants a hundred percent (100%) foreign control and ownership of vital industries of the country that are considered public utilities including telecommunications, railways, expressways, airports, and shipping industries. This law promises to enable foreign investment in order to achieve economic recovery. AGHAM perceives this as a signal to the incessant erosion of our economic and industrial capacities and will only deepen our dependence on an import-driven economy.
Twenty seven years after our accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), trade and investment liberalization did not result in a long-term and sustainable economic recovery. These can be gleaned in the performance of our vital industries including manufacturing. During the 1980s to 1990s, there was no significant growth in the manufacturing industry. This is the time when tariffs imposed on imports have been remarkably lowered from 70% to 5% under the Trade Reform Program as defined in the 1987 Omnibus Investment Code. This is also the case in the 1990s to 2000 with a slow pace of growth rate from 2.5% to 3.5%.
The sector of agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing were also in deplorable state. Their contribution to the economy has been dwindling from 21% in 1980 to 19% in 2000. It continuously declined in the succeeding years from 14% in the early 2000s to 8% from 2016-2018. This data only shows that trade and investment liberalization did not redound to economic recovery, rather, it regressed the country into backward technology and a stunted economy.
The Philippines has the capacity to spur our own economic growth because we have all the requirements towards the path of industrialization. We have productive agricultural areas that are about 41.72 % of the total area of the country as of 2018 (World Bank 2022), much higher than Vietnam which is only 39.25 % in the same year. But Vietnam is one of the top rice exporting countries while the Philippines remains a rice net importer.
The country is also endowed with mineral resources, and according to the 2014 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the estimated metallic and non-metallic mineral reserves that we have are around 7 billion metric tons and 50 billion metric tons, respectively. Copper, an important component in electrical wiring and industrial machinery, is the topmost metallic mineral resource followed by nickel. Non-metallic minerals abundant in the Philippine soil are limestone, marble and chromite.
In terms of energy resources, we have an expansive resource potential attributed to the 16 sedimentary basins that is more than 700,000 sq. kms. In addition to the 4,777 million barrels of oil equivalent of oil and gas reserves.
We have human resources with a great number of skilled forces in production. In 2018, the economically active population was around 43.5 million Filipinos out of the 71.3 million Filipinos aged 15 years and older. This number translates to 61% contribution to the labor force. This astounding rate of labor productivity is due to our high literacy rate of about 96.6%. Our workforce is doing well in Europe and North America. If given an opportunity in the country, they could contribute well in nation building.
Hence, we call on the government to prioritize the development of our own resources, allowing farmers to enhance our agricultural land through genuine agrarian reform, and providing a thriving environment for the establishment of Filipino-owned national industries. Instead of peddling it to foreign companies to develop them that would serve their profit-driven interests, we must reverse the liberalization of our domestic industries. This is also a challenge to the new government to cease in following the dictates of the international financial institutions to liberalize our own industries that would not benefit the country and the Filipino citizen.#
Duterte signs law amending Public Service Act by Azer Parrocha dated March 21, 2022, Philippine News Agency. https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1170293
Quimba, Francis Mark, Barral, M.A., Rosellon M.A., Calizo Jr. S. Impact of FTA on Philippine Industries: Analysis of Network Effects dated December 2020. Philippine Institute for Development Studies
Chapter 3 Conventional Fuels, Department of Energy. https://www.doe.gov.ph/sites/default/files/pdf/ announcements/3_Conventional%20Fuels_19%20Aug%202020.pdf
Labor trends in the Philippines dated July 13, 2018. ASEAN Briefing