#SONA2021 “response” issued by @IBONFoundation sounds like a shrill girly temper tantrum

The problem with leftist-militant groups is they shoot a shotgun to hit all the targets and end up shooting themselves in the foot instead. I wonder how Sonny Africa, Executive Director of the leftist “think tank” IBON Foundation, will run the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in the unlikely event he’s appointed as its chief? A compilation of “replies and questions on President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s last [State of the Nation Address (SONA)]” posted on the foundation’s Facebook page, turned out to be nothing more than the sort of heckling reminiscent of Statler and Waldorf of The Muppet Show. Here is a snippet of the IBON “response” to the SONA which samples what is essentially the template sentence structure used throughout…

How about the jobs crisis? Worst job creation under Duterte after the post-Marcos era. 1.3 million more unemployed since pre-pandemic Jan 2020. 131k less wage and salary workers, 711k less workers in private companies.

How about the rice and hogs industry? Why does govt cling to importation instead of strengthening the local rice and hogs industry which Filipinos are quite capable in? Rice farmers, hogs raisers, and consumers have borne the brunt.

New water concessions beneficial now? OK to improvements in the revised CAs, which consumers have long fought for. But no assurances yet that there will be no new pass-on charges or govt indebtedness to water firms — new oligarchs have taken over.

MSMEs helped? DOLE estimates 1.1M displaced workers, 46% using flexible work arrangements, some closing temp’ly (52%), some permanently (55%), and 45% laying-off workers. 54% reported falling incomes. Only 36k of 900+k MSMEs got govt loans last year.

TRAIN helped 99%? It raised the tax burden on the poorest 75% of the population but lowered taxes on upper income families including Php10M/month earners.

It’s easy to complain on the sidelines. It’s an entirely different picture you see when you’re in office. For example, what’s the housing backlog have to do with infrastructure development? As to the issue of jobs, we’re a developing country hard-hit by the pandemic. Can Africa single out a country which isn’t? In terms of social services as a whole, where did the administration get the funds if not for the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN Law)?

I work as a consultant and the higher threshold on the expanded witholding tax exempts me from paying the 10% due if my income is below P250k. Is that still bad? As far as neo-liberal economic policies are concerned, he should take that up with former President Cory Aquino. That wasn’t the case under former President Ferdinand Marcos. Neither is it under this administration. You can’t just disregard the tax reform program initiated by the Department of Finance. The amendments to the Internal Revenue Code have been long overdue. The same is true with the Public Services Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization law and the amendment to the wording “unless otherwise provided for.” The economy was doing well before the pandemic. That’s a fact.

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The fiscal position of the government now is not precarious but if there is another lockdown, it will be. This is the dilemma faced by all countries now. Africa can’t single out the Philippines and dump all of the blame on Duterte. If IBON is such an excellent economic think tank, why don’t they propose innovative out-of-the-box solutions instead of continuously ranting about the problems they see?

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