This was how labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno described World Bank president Robert Zoellick’s call on the government to provide safety nets for the poor amidst the intensifying global economic crisis, saying poverty and hunger in the country will only worsen if the government heeds his call.
Zoellick, who is in the country, praised the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program and is set to meet with Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding infrastructure-building, job generation, and disaster preparedness.
“There is indeed a need to give immediate relief to the poor amidst worsening poverty and hunger. But this must be done outside of the World Bank’s dictates on the country, which have only caused poverty and suffering among our people,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“The World Bank’s interest, as always, is how to extract greater debt payments from the people while making the country ever more open to big corporations’ exploitation and plunder. It is only using flowery words to foul up the lives and livelihood of the Filipino people in favor of big foreign banks and corporations,” he added.
Conditional Cash Transfer
KMU slammed the government’s CCT program, saying it is a clear example of what Zoellick means when he speaks of “safety nets for the poor.”
“This program, which provides little assistance to the poor, has been used as an excuse by the Aquino government to cut subsidies for education, healthcare and other social services, and to refuse a significant wage hike for workers. The overall picture is still one of increasing poverty and hunger,” Labog said.
“Worse, the CCT is funded by foreign borrowing, serves as a cover for corruption by government officials, and increases the country’s already-enormous debt burden. Its main objective, we believe, is not to provide genuine relief to the poor but to try to quell the growing discontent among the people,” he added.
The labor center also condemned the agenda of the scheduled meeting between Zoellick and Pres. Aquino, saying the meeting will boost the government’s Public-Private Partnership program.
“Zoellick and Aquino’s meeting will be held amidst widespread discontent over and protests against the government’s previous privatization schemes. Hikes in MRT-LRT fares, in electricity rates, and in toll fees are the results of the government’s privatization programs that are opposed by the people,” Labog said.
“The World Bank president could not hide his excitement over his meeting with the president, as it will sure result in a bigger foreign debt for the Philippines and greater profit opportunities for big foreign corporations through the PPP. We vow to hold protests against his meeting with the president and his dictates on the government,” he added. Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU Chairperson