Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It’s unfortunate but we need others to secure our future?

The full quote reads: “Perhaps, what’s most unfortunate is that the Philippines needs either the US or China to secure its future.” [Balancing security with economics, The Business Mirror Editorial1st May 2014]

“DESPITE the country’s robust economic growth, unemployment is expected to worsen even beyond the term of President Benigno Aquino 3rd due to “global spillovers,” the International Labor Organization (ILO) said. In a recently released executive summary, ILO said the 7.3 percent unemployment rate in the Philippines for 2013 was the highest among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-countries and other nations in the Pacific region.” [PH unemployment to worsen, warns ILO, The Manila Times, Joel M. Sy Egco and Jing Villamente, 1st May 2014] 

But is Juan de la Cruz forward-looking to respond to his many challenges and even more, to take responsibility for his misdeeds? “The deep sense of shame can be found in other societies.” [Shame, Sketches, Ana Marie Pamintuan, The Philippine Star, 2nd May 2014.] “All natural disasters here are dismissed as acts of God, with no one taking responsibility for failing to mitigate the impact, such as by preventing illegal logging . . . In any disaster, the immediate response is to pass the buck, to deny responsibility. Remember what happened in the Rizal Park hostage mess . . . Crooks in government, even when presented with incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing, will never admit it all the way to their grave, and will be sorry only that they got caught . . . Shame? Not in this society. Some of the individuals accused of plunder (plus an ex-convict) and other high crimes even hobnobbed with US President Barack Obama at a pricey Malacañang dinner paid for by Pinoy taxpayers. In our society, thieves and those responsible for public misery never say sorry or quit. They aspire for high office, and they often win.”

What a pity? “Our country was once known as ‘a small container with great things.’” [Eddie IlardePhilippine Daily Inquirer, 2nd May 2014] “History tells us that long before the arrival of the ‘white colonizers,’ the inhabitants, though unaware of the worldly knowledge of peoples of the West, have had their own culture and possessed simple and admirable traits. They enjoyed the respect and trust of the neighboring states spanning the Majapahit and Sri Vijaya empires.”

“Today the past lingers only in misty memory, the nimbus darkened by ill wind. Along the way we have metamorphosed into notoriety and disrepute; with the exemplary and admirable character of our forebears—endowed with physical and spiritual strength—all but dissipated into oblivion. We can look for scapegoats and self-serving reasons for the adversities that have befallen us: bad foreign influences, our Christianization by Spain and democratization by America centuries before, inappropriate education, modern trends, even the Internet, etc. But let us ponder the validity of these excuses while believing our own lies. The hard-to-admit truth is, many of our people today—pick any of [these] reasons—are ill-mannered, materialistic, uncouth, selfish, greedy, and have become weaklings; they have permitted themselves to be exploited by wretched government leaders who have taken over a rotten political system. And yet with false pride we love to proclaim ‘our virtues’ and our make-believe commendations. Through the years we have grown accustomed to fooling ourselves!”

Are we not fooling ourselves again – and can pull it off this time? “The private sector and the government should work together to strengthen the country’s competitiveness in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) next year . . .” [Gov’t, business urged to work as one for ASEAN 2015, Manila Bulletin, 2nd May 2014] “[B]oth public and private sectors should work together in taking full advantage of the foreseen integration and to capitalize on it in pursuit of inclusive growth. The ball is in our court, so to speak. And we need to level up our game, intensify our strategic initiatives, and adopt a unified approach.”

Of course, there is always positive news: I can’t help but reminisce about my brief stint in DOF. It was in 2000 when the international reserves of $14.9 billion were way below the international debt of $52.0 billion, with credit rating not in our wildest dreams. Today, it’s a big difference and the Philippines rating is in an investment grade status with the BSP’s “Say” Tetangco and DOF’s Cesar Purisima - the WORLD’S BEST CENTRAL BANKER AND FINANCE MINISTER, respectively. The Philippines is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The current exchange rate is at Ps 44 level, international reserves of $80 billion is more than the international debt of $58 billion level and tax collection effort is at 13.5%.” [The DOF, then and now, Flor G. Tarriela, Manila Bulletin, 1st May 2014]

Meanwhile, “Leody de Guzman, BMP national president, chided the President for asking organized labor during a dialogue in Malacañang to give the government more time in looking at workers’ concerns . . . ‘Sorry, Mister President. The workers and the poor have no more time for your lame excuses. Time is a luxury that we do not have. Four years of indifference to our immediate and urgent demands are enough.’” [PH unemployment to worsen, warns ILO, The Manila Times, Joel M. Sy Egco and Jing Villamente, 1st May 2014]

Why the two dimensions of PHL’s reality? Is the simple answer because we have the elite class and there is everybody else? But who cares when a few have more than secured their future while PHL needs the US – or is it China? 

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