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Home Balitang Migrante Philippine Economic Managers: Peddling the Philippines 

Philippine Economic Managers: Peddling the Philippines 

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Philippine Economic Managers: Peddling the Philippines 

Statement from Migrante Canada

July 17, 2023

Like thieves in the night, Philippine Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and the Philippine Department of Budget and Management crept their way up to Toronto, Canada last July 13-14th to meet with the Canadian business community as part of the delegation’s first-ever Philippine Economic Briefing. 

The economic delegation met with Canadian companies, business groups, and industry associations and discussed the measures done by the Philippine government to facilitate economic growth during the pandemic and to seek out potential investors in the Philippines, particularly with the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund. The economic delegation is shamelessly selling the Philippines when it declares that the country is now open to 100 percent foreign ownership of public services and renewable energy!

A year into the Marcos Jr-Sara Duterte administration, overseas Filipinos gave Pres. Marcos Jr a failing mark for its performance. The Philippine government has failed to create jobs at home, it has abandoned and neglected overseas Filipino migrants and their families, it has used the Anti-Terror Law to target and repress overseas migrant activists and migrant justice advocates, has exacted exorbitant fees, and has lied about government performance. The independent think tank IBON Foundation reported that among its neighbors in the ASEAN, the Philippines has the third worst poverty incidence (according to ADB), fourth worst human development index (according to the United Nations Development Program), and fourth worst GDP per capita (according to the World Bank).

In Canada, Filipino migrant workers, most especially, have been neglected and abandoned by the Philippine government through its embassy and consulates, and this has been made worse under the COVID-19 pandemic. It has failed to address the basic demands of migrant workers for better consular services, quick and better access to assistance to national funds and legal assistance funds, for protection of the rights of overseas voters instead of disenfranchisement, and more dedicated outreach services to the different cities where there are no consulates. Instead, the Philippine embassy and consulates spend their time going around to the various communities offering membership to OWWA, PhilHealth, and other insurance-like programs to guarantee protection when the need arises. 

It should be noted that Sec. Benjamin Diokno is one of the active promoters of what the Filipino people now call the Maharlika Investment Scam. This government scam will clearly siphon hard-earned funds from workers, OFWs, pensioners, and the Filipino people. The Maharlika Investment Scam will draw funds from the national government, the Landbank of the Philippines, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Central Bank and will surely deprive farmers and small businessmen of sources of funds and loans. The creators and peddlers of the Maharlika Investment Scam are out of touch with the real conditions of the Filipino people, including that of overseas Filipinos. The scam is concocted by Marcos Jr. and supported by Congress who blatantly ignore the people’s demands for just and decent living wages, access to health care and basic services, and for jobs and livelihood in the country. The Maharlika Investment scam, without any doubt, is a big source of corruption and plunder for government, industry, and investors. 

In true Marcosian fashion, the delegation opted to stay in 15 luxury suites at the expensive Fairmont Hotel in downtown Toronto where the delegation’s three-day junket could cost up to an equivalent of P3.1 million pesos. 

Philippine government press releases reported keen interest from various groups in Canada like pension funds from the “Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, OPTrust, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, and Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan”. The Canadian public, including Filipino Canadians in Ontario, will need to be vigilant about their pension plans being invested in this Philippine government scam. And given the notorious human rights record of the Marcos Jr government against its own citizens in and out of the country, Canadians must know these are not ethical investments, but rather Canadian investments that support a tyrannical government.

The Filipino community in Canada will not be deceived! The Canadian people will not be deceived!

We demand that the Philippine government seriously address the urgent needs of the marginalized sectors. The development of the Philippine economy should be based on inclusive growth, which can only be achieved through a genuine agrarian reform program and national industrialization. 

We call on our kababayan and allies in Canada to expose and oppose the selling of the Philippines! Junk the Maharlika Investment Scam! We demand the Philippine government allocate more funds toward Filipino migrant workers! 

Migrante Canada will continue to organize and mobilize our members and the Filipino communities not only to fight and protect our rights and welfare but also to fight towards a just and lasting peace in the Philippines for everyone. ###