IBON: Duterte govt’s accusations baseless, aim to hide truth about economy

The Duterte government’s accusations against IBON are baseless and aim to stifle economic analysis that is inconsistent with its preferred narrative of growth and development.

For over forty years, IBON has sought to explain socioeconomic and political issues to the public as our contribution to Philippine democracy and the cause of genuine progress and development. We have always been transparent about our bias for the majority of Filipinos who are persistently marginalized and about our opposition to unjust and inequitable economic structures. We have likewise always been open about our belief in the capacity of people to change society and in the importance of organized movements to bring about a better future for all.

We see the attacks on IBON as part of a larger campaign by government and military officials to project a false image of the country. It seems that ‘truth’ for the Duterte administration is not what is true but only what makes it look good. The Duterte administration cannot handle the truth and goes to great lengths to insist on its narrative.

The government’s recently concluded European roadshow to the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) agencies, Belgian government and others is a case in point. The government flew a delegation halfway around the world to spread malicious misinformation about IBON and other organizations.

The delegation made a number of absurd accusations. IBON and other groups were accused of channeling funding to so-called “Communist-terrorists”. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary for New Media and External Affairs Lorraine Badoy accused us of “[pulling] statistics out of thin air”. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Brigadier General Antonio Parlade said that we submit “fabricated reports” to the EU and UN. Alluding to our analysis, Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat Undersecretary Severo Catura said that their mission sought to “preserve the integrity of information”.

We categorically deny that our funding has gone anywhere than to our programs for research, advocacy and education. We challenge the government to prove that we have been doing anything illegal. We denounce maliciously being denied due process.

We categorically state that our analysis is always based on evidence and facts at hand. Indeed, many of our statistics come from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and we are certain they will affirm our responsible use of data even if our interpretations may differ from the government’s.

In their press conference yesterday, Brig. Gen. Parlade gave particular attention to our analysis of the Duterte administration presiding over the worst job generation in the post-Marcos period. Contrary to its misinformed analysis and falsely invoking even the PSA, the data is quite clear on that point. If anything, the recently released January 2019 labor force survey figures even show the situation getting worse.

Our adherence to facts is in contrast with the government’s cavalier attitude to the truth. We are not funding terrorism. We are not now receiving any funding from the European Union (EU) or Belgian government. The government cannot even get its story straight – we are not even mentioned in the so-called report on atrocities against Lumad the delegation gave to the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN.

IBON has been under increasing attack since last year. Our offices have been subjected to surveillance and our staff have been accosted. It is easy to dismiss Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s claim in January 2019 that IBON’s analysis of weak job creation under the Duterte administration was “mathematically impossible”. The facts will bear out our assertion.

However, we decry the government’s sustained public vilification of IBON – during its European roadshow in mid-February, through press statements by the AFP and National Security Council (NSC) in the last week of February, and in its press conference in Malacañang yesterday.

We initially gave the government the benefit of the doubt and immediately wrote the AFP and NSC seeking clarification about their statements reported in media. When we met representatives of the NSC, they perplexingly said that they were not prepared to explain fully and asked us to write the president in his capacity as chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. In any case, we have already filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

IBON is extremely grateful for the support and confidence given by so many in all our decades of existence. Our faith in the people’s ability to discern truth from fiction is solid. ###




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