August 5, 2014

 The 6% growth in the region’s economy in 2013 with a Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of some Php 227.92 billion is nothing but a reflection of the fake and superficial national economic growth of 7.2% GDP in 2013 hyped by national government.

 Like the 7.2% GDP created in 2013, the 6% RGDP is empty progress as this did not essentially translate to improved economic conditions for the Cordillera people. It did not create sustainable livelihoods or strengthen the agricultural sector, but only focused on the industry (construction, electricity, gas and water supply) and service sectors (real estate, renting and business activities, business process outsourcing).

 Most of these investments are found in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority for upgrading utilities and services; Baguio Economic Processing Zone; and business process outsourcing at John Hay Ecozone. The National Statistics Coordinating Board also noted that the economic growth is attributed to the re-opening of Philex Mining Corporation; rehabilitation and construction of national and tourism roads, farm to market roads and public infrastructures; and the presence of some malls in the city. Clearly, these investments cater to the needs of capitalists and not the people of the Cordillera.

 Furthermore, those who are employed in this industry are often contractual, overworked and receiving less benefits. We also question the 95.2% employment rate in the Cordillera in 2013 when there was 4.5 million unemployed and 7.3 million unemployed also in the same year, according to IBON estimates. This is also the highest rate of unemployment in Philippine records, and the highest rate of unemployment in Asia, presently. On the other hand, agriculture, the backbone of Cordillera economy, grew only by 1.5%.

 Even if there was truly a growth in the region’s economy, the cost of basic commodities keeps soaring, making a kilo of rice, meat, cooking oil, sugar, vegetables and even garlic too much for the impoverished Filipino to afford.

 NEDA and the NSCB are hyping up that the third attempt at autonomy, which CPA deems bogus and empty, will hasten development in the region. These pronouncements are worrisome. It is a delusional approach to the real problems of poverty, unemployment, and lack of services.

 Bogus Autonomy is not the answer to the problems of the Cordillera people. It will only open up the region to greater plunder and exploitation, environmental destruction and violation of indigenous peoples’ rights, and provide more room avenue for despotic politicians to further corruption and warlordism. ***