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MANILA, Philippines – Likening the Philippine economy to an abused partner, Ibon Foundation executive director Sonny Africa thinks that it’s time for the country to end its relationship with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
“Kasi sinaktan mo ’ko. Winasak mo pa yung loob ko….At kung tutuloy-tuloy pa tayo for another 20 years, ‘wag na,” Africa said, referring to the “undermined domestic economy” since the country hosted APEC in 1996.
(You hurt me. You crushed my spirit. If we continue the relationship for the next 20 years, don’t bother.)
Hosted by the Philippines, this year’s summit wrapped up on Thursday, November 19, with leaders of 21 member economies committing to build inclusive economies and sustainable and resilient communities, among others. (READ: FULL TEXT: 2015 APEC Leaders’ Declaration)
But Africa believes APEC promises will be broken yet again, citing the domestic economy’s experience with the elite group. (READ: APEC: Special lanes for whom?)
‘Let me grow’
Since the last APEC summit in the Philippines 19 years ago, agriculture’s share in the economy decreased from 21.1% of the gross domestic product in 1996 to 10% in 2014. At least 1.4 million agricultural jobs were lost during the same period.
Meanwhile, at least 72,777 manufacturing firms closed between 1996 and 2012, including those that produced garments, textiles and footwear, food and beverage, furniture and fixtures, metal, and machinery.
The massive loss of jobs in the country, Africa said, explains why the number of Filipinos who are forced to find work abroad every day has nearly tripled from 1,809 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) leaving the country every day in 1997, to 5,021 daily in 2014.
“Mahal, hindi nakatulong yung relasyon natin over the last two and a half decades. Anong nangyari? Walang kapantay ang bilang ng walang trabaho sa Pilipinas. Walang kapantay ang mahihirap sa aming bansa. Bumagsak ang aming manufacturing. Bumagsak na ang agriculture.”
(My love, our relationship over the last two and a half decades didn’t help. What happened? The number of jobless in the Philippines, the number of poor in our country are unparalleled. Our agriculture, manufacturing plummeted.)
“Mag-ayusan tayo (Let’s settle this),” Africa said. “Let me be. Let me grow. Don’t choke me. Don’t suffocate me.”
Watch the interview and join the conversation. – Rappler.com