Farmers, fishers say �Bagong Pilipinas� offers no solutions to their problems
Fishermen arrive to unload their catch for the day at a fish port in Paranaque, Metro Manila on July 12, 2023.

AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa
MANILA, Philippines — Peasant groups denounced Sunday the so-called “Bagong Pilipinas” (New Philippines) movement of the Marcos Jr. administration, saying this fails to address the root causes of their struggles and offers no real solutions to the country’s problems.

The government will hold a rally this afternoon at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila to launch the “Bagong Pilipinas” branding, which started in 2023.

The Philippine Information Agency called the event a “historic gathering” that “aims to ignite hope and inspire participation in building a better Philippines through collective action.”

But for Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), the administration’s rebranding will not improve the lives of marginalized sectors like fisherfolk “as long as the same burdensome economic policies remain in place.”

“The Filipinos need concrete steps to address the economic crises such as inflation and the loss of lives and livelihood due to environmental destruction, not a superficial rebranding,” PAMALAKAYA said.

According to the group, fishers remain the poorest in the Philippines, primarily due to the government’s failure to adequately support fisheries production through subsidies and protection of marine and aquatic resources.

Similarly, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that “Bagong Pilipinas”—which is reminiscent of the Bagong Lipunan (New Society) vision of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.—“cannot cover up” the country’s long-standing problems.

In declaring Martial Law, the elder Marcos made promises, including eradicating poverty, hunger, corruption, and violence to achieve his vision of a new society.

“From Marcos Sr. to Marcos Jr., poverty, unemployment, hunger, and severe corruption have been persistent issues. From then until now, the situation of the masses has worsened,” KMP said in Filipino.

“The New Philippines does not provide real and effective solutions to the country’s problems,” it added.

Charter change fears

KMP also expressed concern that today’s event, which is expected to draw a large crowd, will be used to gather support for initiatives to amend the Constitution.

The Presidential Communications Office, however, said Saturday that the Malacañang-led event will not be a platform to campaign for charter change.

A signature campaign pushing for charter change via people’s initiative is ongoing. The petition being circulated for people’s initiative aims to amend the Constitution to allow Congress to vote on amendments or revisions jointly, giving the lower chamber an advantage as they outnumber the 24-member Senate.

The president and his family are expected to attend the event, which will offer some services such as provision of payouts for beneficiaries of government assistance and civil registration services.

The gathering will also feature performances from various artists.

In July 2023, Marcos ordered national government agencies to adopt his administration’s governance slogan in their programs and projects.

The order said the “Bagong Pilipinas” branding “calls for deep and fundamental transformations in all sectors of society and government, and fosters the State’s commitment towards the attainment of comprehensive policy reforms and full economic recovery.”