Monday, March 10, 2014


“In his daily homily Pope Francis spoke of the harm done when Christians don’t practice what they preach, noting that this incoherence leads others away from the Church and often brings scandal . . . When there is no Christian coherency (lack of unity of life), and you live with this incoherence, you’re giving scandal. And the Christians that are not coherent are giving scandal, the Pope said in his Feb. 27 Mass.” [Manila Times, Where was God when Abad or Enrile or Drilon okayed PDAF disbursements (?), Rene Q. Bas, Publisher-Editor, 2nd Mar 2014]

Do we have any chance at coherence? It‘s noteworthy that there are efforts to do just that: “Regionally tailored industry roadmaps must be dovetailed with the national industrial blueprint to strengthen the viability of local businesses and industries in light of the impending economic integration of the ASEAN economies by 2015.” [Reg’l industry roadmaps integration urged, Manila Bulletin, Bernie Magkilat, 28th Feb 2014]

Will Juan de la Cruz heed the call? “Miriam flays colleagues for sitting on key bills,” Manila Times, Neil A. Alcober, 2nd Mar 2014. And from Babe Romualdez: “After all our big talk about attracting investors, many of them are hesitant to touch the country with a 10-foot pole as far as investments in mining are concerned because of the uncertainty and instability that clouds the industry. For one, the government imposed a moratorium on any new mining contracts (including renewals and expansions) in 2012, coupled with the continuing delay in the issuance of a new and definitive mining policy.” [‘Mining’ our own business, BABE’S EYE VIEW, The Philippine Star, 2nd Mar 2014]

How much should we pursue FDIs? “The declared motive is to open the country to greater amounts of foreign direct investments (FDI), which would supposedly be forthcoming once we lift the ownership provisions. This would create employment and end poverty. Sounds good?” [Solita Collas-Monsod, What's the motive for Cha-cha, Get Real, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1st March 2014] “This argument was brought up also in the previous attempts, and was answered. Let’s start with the empirical findings that historically, FDI played only a minor role in the growth of most high-performing Asian economies. Between 1967 and 1986, Taiwan, Korea, China and Japan’s FDI were less than 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Investment (GDI). Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore weren’t much better off: FDI greater than 5 percent. More recently, except for China and Singapore, FDI in East and Southeast Asia comprise less than 10 percent of GDI.”

On the other hand, ‘Restrictions hamper FDI growth,’ Business Mirror, Catherine N. Pillas, 2nd Mar 2014. “Because of these restrictions, Dr. Rogier van den Brink, World Bank lead economist for the Philippines, said the Philippines is only capturing 6 percent of the Southeast Asian FDI inflows from 1995 to 2012 . . . FDI for the Philippines are expected to be 24 percent higher than the estimated $2.1 billion by the end of 2013, or at $2.6 billion.”

Coherence, oh coherence . . . “[T]he association appealed for more government support for the industry, which continues to be the country’s biggest exporter with a more than 40 percent share of all merchandise exports. SEIPI officials in earlier interviews said there were four constraints to the semiconductor and electronics industry’s recovery: expensive low-quality power, poor infrastructure, high cost of labor, and removal of government subsidies.” [SEIPI think tank to identify new revenue sources, growth market, The Philippine Star, 2nd Mar 2014]

“Electricity consumers pay for ‘cost of incompetence’ (First of two parts),” Manila Bulletin, Myrna Velasco, 28th Feb 2014. “There’s hell of a price to pay for incompetence – and the electricity consumers are being held as strategic pawns.”

“The unpleasant truth is that: the EPIRA had been on constant assault . . . All of those exercises turned futile though and even the oversight Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) had not mustered enough appetite and conviction to look at those alleged abuses in the law’s implementation. Had they done their jobs that soon, the troubles of the industry could not have reached the proportions it is currently enmeshed with.” [Policy flux: Is amending EPIRA the only way? (Part two), Manila Bulletin, Myrna Velasco, 1st Mar 2014.]

“The business community is sounding exasperated . . . Industry leaders highlighted the need for President Aquino to step-up decision-making and the implementation of reforms needed to make economic growth inclusive . . . The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines estimated that, to achieve results, the country must focus on faster development of the seven “big [industry] winners” and move twice as fast.” [Editorial, Reforms = jobs, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 4th Mar 2014]

“[B]uilding the institutions needed to sustain democracy is slow work indeed . . . Although democracy . . . may be a “universal aspiration” . . . it is a culturally rooted practice . . . [D]emocracy makes simple things “overly complicated and frivolous” and allows “certain sweet-talking politicians” to mislead the people . . .” [The Economist, What’s gone wrong with democracy, 1st Mar 2014.]

“Buffett speaks: Highlights from his annual letter,” 1st Mar 2014, Associated Press. “[Y]ou must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don't swing for the fences. When promised quick profits, respond with a quick 'no'. . . Buffett acknowledged making mistakes in the past. Buffett said some of Berkshire's businesses deliver very poor returns. I was not misled: I simply was wrong in my evaluation of the economic dynamics of the company or the industry in which it operated . . . Citizens and public officials typically underappreciated the gigantic financial tapeworm that was born when promises were made that conflicted with a willingness to fund them.”

To step up to our biases (and mistakes?) and keep things simple, does Juan de la Cruz need to learn critical thinking? “Critical Thinking” just means absorbing important information and using that to form a decision . . .” [Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker, 6th Feb 2014] “[T]his is similar to something like theSocratic method . . . Regardless of how you approach it, the end goal is to learn to think critically and analyze everything . . . It's important to always ask yourself why something is important and how it connects to things to you already know . . . When we talk about critical thinking it's impossible not to talk about the fact that we're pretty bad at recognizing biases in our own thinking. We're all biased about information whether we realize it or not, and part of critical thinking is cultivating the possibility to see outside those biases.”

And, of course, we need the right leadership. We keep saying that Singapore and Malaysia, because of Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir, aren’t true democracies – and, of course, China is not? Didn’t Marcos upend democracy in the guise of a new society except that he failed miserably? Wrote Ramon J. Farolan, Lee Kuan Yew on Philippines, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26th Sept 2011: “The difference lies in the culture of the Filipino people. It is a soft, forgiving culture. Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over twenty years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics . . . Some Filipinos write and speak with passion. If they could get their elite to share their sentiments and act, what could they not have achieved?”

“But if democracy is to remain as successful in the 21st century as it was in the 20th, it must be both assiduously nurtured when it is young—and carefully maintained when it is mature.” [The Economist, What’s gone wrong with democracy, 1st Mar 2014]

The ball is in our court. The sooner we accept reality and deal with it the better for Juan de la Cruz?

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