Tuesday, July 24, 2012


"Matagal na itong pinag-uusapan . . . This was taken up a long time ago. We have been holding public hearings at the Energy Regulatory Commission even during the 14th Congress [2007-2010]." [Inquirer, 26th Jun 2012] How would Juan de la Cruz take that? God willing, someday we would resolve this? We are the happiest people on earth; we should not let this bother us? So long as we care for our family, everything would be alright? We have a president who is committed to fighting corruption and is attracting foreign investors, we are the new "breakout nation" and will be the next Asian tiger? [As he writes these words the writer breaks into a smile having read a Salon article, 25th Jun 2012, “Antonin Scalia, ranting old man” in reference to the judge’s dissenting opinion re immigration.]

But if indeed we want to arrest our being economic laggards – the outcome of half a century of poor economic performance – we can’t just take the good with the bad! In a major undertaking (reference: Kurt Lewin) we must recognize the driving and restraining forces. And the key is to exploit the positives and fix the negatives – or the outcome will at best be sub-optimal. [The writer could hear himself speaking to the Eastern Europeans.] And given where we are, we can’t keep setting the bar low!

What is reality? ‘Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God which are God's.’ This is about Caesar, not God! This is about incompetence, not about God's mercy! [Even the pope just fired a bishop for incompetence.] This is beyond family, it is about nationhood! This is beyond one president! It will take us (if we grow at a constant 7% per year) over 30 years (or more than a generation) to raise our per capita GDP and move from an underdeveloped economy to a developed economy. Ergo: we are already the lost generation! Juan de la Cruz would not want to represent 100 million supposedly smart people tolerating the absence of something as basic as power – given its knock-on effect on the economy, the root of our underdevelopment and elevated poverty?

“The “real debate,” according to Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, over the issue of renewable energy was between existing power producers and the proponents of renewable energy, saying that the former were barring alternative energy in order to protect their interests.” And is that why supposedly competing oligarchies are now partnering – and they don’t want to be partners in crime? And as one legislator revealed, vested interests have been fighting foreign investments. Or if the good congressman is exaggerating, it still doesn’t absolve us from the blatant incompetence of Juan de la Cruz – i.e., his inability to provide something as basic as power? [Or his failure to provide the requisite ecosystem to support land reform and promote agribusiness.] Of course there is no easy answer but what is reality? Our GDP per capita is $4,100 (at PPP or purchase price parity) while Thailand is at $9,700 and Malaysia is stratospheric! Aren’t we supposed to be the smartest of the lot? We can’t just talk about how great we are we have to act it!

Indeed we’re earning brownie points (good global citizenship) by making the billion dollar pledge to the IMF. But we must remain planted on the ground – i.e., it’s no different from our legendary hospitality yet our tourism industry has been miniscule compared to our neighbors. Our goal is to attract foreign investment and, as importantly, technology and that means making PHL an attractive economy. We can't take our eye off the ball – from the restrictive economic provisions of the constitution to the continuing efforts of vested interests against foreign investments to our pathetic power situation to our inadequate if not crumbling infrastructure to our inward-looking bias, etc. Thus, while we must be proud of our advocacies it should not turn to leadership pandering, which is akin to populism that is ungovernable. Representative democracy must be purposeful. We can’t remain a rudderless ship!

We're the only Christian nation in this part of the world and proud of it. We've been endowed with nature's beauty and its resources that were the envy of the world. We’ve had an education system that our neighbors looked up to – and taught our neighbors the right way to produce rice. We’ve had industry ahead of the rest of the region except Japan. We’ve had the three branches of government, a model democracy and a dynamic press. We don't want them all thrown away – if we want those following us to see a better PHL? If it’s our culture, cultures are not static as demonstrated by the writer’s Eastern European friends – and even by our neighbors.

No comments:

Post a Comment