Denounce enactment of Duterte’s US-imposed neoliberal laws

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The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the Duterte regime for its triple act of national treachery and gross subservience to the US imperialists with the recent successive signing of amendments to Public Service Act, amendments to the Foreign Investments Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act. These neoliberal laws further entrenches imperialist economic interests in the country and condemns the country to a state of economic dependence.

The amendment to the Public Service Act (Republic Act 11659) signed by Duterte last Monday will allow foreign capitalists to fully own and operate telecommunication, domestic shipping, railways and subways, airlines, expressways and tollways and airports paving the way for foreign capitalists to completely control the country’s critical infrastructure. Reasons of national sovereignty and security make self-respecting countries such as the US and China prohibit foreign capitalists to control these fields of investments. Based on the country’s experience under all-out privatization, this new law will lead to higher costs of transportation and communication.

The Foreign Investments Act (RA 11647), enacted by Duterte last February, reduced the amount of paid up capital to $100,000 or ₱5,000,000, and the required workforce to 15 (from 50) to fully own and operate a local enterprise. The related updated “foreign investment negative list” will now also open up more economic fields for foreign capitalists including tourism and agriculture which will pave the way for expansion of plantations and ecotourism projects which have displaced peasants from their land.

The Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RA 11595), signed by Duterte last December 2021, will now allow foreign capitalists to invest as low as ₱10 million (from ₱127 million under the original law in 2000) to set up a retail store in the Philippines, which will for certain result in undue competition to mid-sized and small Filipino retailers, and the further promotion of foreign goods instead of locally produced commodities.

The US embassy, the American Chamber of Commerce and other foreign chambers in the Philippines, together with their local agents in the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) and other local big business groups are most gratified by these laws. They have long called for these measures along with their demand for the amending the 1987 constitution that limit foreign capitalists to 60% ownership of local enterprises.

With these neoliberal amendments, foreign big capitalists are now allowed to own 100% equity of local enterprises in practically all aspects of the economy, except for the almost non-existent “defense industry.” These follow successive policies over the past decades which have given foreign capitalists more and more economic rights in the country and control of the economy.

This triple measure brings the country back to the era of the Parity Rights Amendment under the Bell Trade Act of 1946 which allowed US citizens equal rights to exploit the country’s economic resources, among other policies which tied and subsumed the country’s economy to the US.

These neoliberal measures are the latest of US-dictated agreements and economic laws over the past 75 years which paved the way for the American companies and allied imperialists to shape, dominate the country as a source of cheap raw materials (timber, minerals, sugarcane, bananas, coconut, pineapples) and permanently lock the country in its current non-industrial, backward and agrarian state.

The reactionary 1987 constitution contained “protectionist” provisions as a response to the strong demand to develop a nationalist economy following the rapid deterioration of the economy due to dictates of the IMF and World Bank during the US-Marcos dictatorship. These, however, have been brazenly trampled since the late 1980s by the successive puppet regimes through such laws and measures as the law on automatic debt appropriation, the series of IMF “debt restructuring” which resulted in spending cuts for social services, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, the ever-shortening “Negative List” of areas of investment reserved for Filipino nationals, the country’s accession into the GATT and World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO), the Oil Deregulation Law and the slew of policies for import liberalization, including the most recent law on rice import liberalization, which all have resulted in the flooding of surplus imported commodities to the detriment of local small manufacturers and agricultural producers.

By removing all protection of local and independent small capitalists, the Duterte regime’s neoliberal amendments will practically spell the extinction of the national bourgeoisie, the death of economic independence and further deterioration of the socioeconomic conditions of the people.

These neoliberal measures will further exacerbate the country’s dependence on foreign capital and foreign debt and its orientation towards export of low value-added semi-manufactures linked to the global assembly line controlled by multinational corporations. It will worsen the country’s inability to stand on its own two feet.

The advocates of these neoliberal measures make false promises that the entry of more foreign capitalists will bring jobs and give the people greater accessibility to transportation and telecommunication services. This is easily disproved by the people’s concrete experience under all-out liberalization of of such public utilities as water and electricity distribution over the past few decades, where local subsidiaries and partners of foreign companies are making huge amounts of money by making millions of consumers pay for rising costs.

These neoliberal measures are being pushed by foreign monopoly capitalists in their desperate aim to open all possible fields of investment amid the prolonged crisis of the global capitalist system where there is an oversupply and commodities, an over-accumulation of uninvestible capital and falling rates of profits. These Duterte neoliberal laws are a desperate call for profit-hungry foreign capitalists to invest in the Philippines to scrape the bottom of the semicolonial and semifeudal system.

The Filipino people must continue to raise their national democratic demands and press with their call for national industrialization and land reform as key policies to develop the economy, create jobs, lessen dependence on foreign capital, and raise the country’s capacity to manufacture basic necessities as well as new types of commodities.

The Filipino people must denounce the Duterte regime’s national treachery with the triple neoliberal measures that will further foreign monopoly capitalist economic domination and imperialist control of the economy, and continue to wage all forms of struggles and revolutionary resistance for national and social liberation.

Denounce enactment of Duterte’s US-imposed neoliberal laws