Wednesday, January 14, 2015

“A damsel in distress”

“We don’t care. We’re not a serious people. We shirk our responsibility to the people, to government, to our communities, to ourselves. That’s who and what we are.” [The kind of people we are, Leandro DD Coronel, Manila Bulletin, 7th Jan 2015]

“What kind of people have that kind of thinking? I think it’s people who are not serious about their social responsibilities, who have no sense of community, and indeed no sense of nationhood. It’s a people that cares very little, if at all, about preserving the quality of their surroundings, the environment, even their own property. It’s a people with no sense of social responsibility . . . We Filipinos like to leave things to others – to politicians, local and national public officials, civic organizations – as we go our merry ways. It’s the ways of Juan Tamad, who prefers to wait for a fruit to drop to him rather than pick it himself . . . No wonder our politicians feel no compunction about going about their own merry ways too as they steal from the public coffers because they know most people won’t mind anyway. No wonder politicians and local warlords take advantage of us because they know no protest will issue from our lips.”

“How were the natives of these islands described 50 years after Magellan was slain in Mactan and a decade after the Spaniards returned with Miguel Lopez de Legazpi? In an undated account by Legazpi, our ancestors were called heathens ‘with no law at all,’ superstitious, with ‘wretched practices’ that could be easily eradicated by priests who preached in the local languages. Mention was made of two stubborn Moro chiefs of Cubu (Cebu) who adamantly refused conversion, adverse as they were to monogamy.” [That’s us, Gemma Cruz Araneta, Manila Bulletin, 7th Jan 2015]

“The bulk of Legazpi’s ‘relacion’ (BR vol. III) described the ‘character and conditions’ of the inhabitants of these islands. They were lawless: ‘The people do not act in concert nor obey any ruling body; each man does whatever he pleases, and takes care only of himself and of his slaves. He who owns most slaves and the strongest, can obtain anything he pleases.’ Downright unflattering, yet today, the strong still ‘enslave’ the weaker ones, despite the Constitution.”

“Consequently, Legazpi observed that relations among relatives, between parents and offsprings and siblings were not governed by laws; ‘no person favors another, unless it is for his own interest.’ Legazpi observed that when someone provided a relative or a brother shelter and sustenance in time of need, that person could be ordered around like a slave.”

“He called us thieves: ‘Privateering and robbery have a natural attraction for them.  Whenever the occasion presents itself, they rob one another, even if they be neighbors or relatives; and when they see and meet one another in the open fields at nightfall, they rob and seize one another.’ Sadly enough, in the 21st century, we still behave like that, at all levels, notwithstanding 500 years of Christianity.”

“In the 28 years since we overthrew the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, many of those who fought for democratic institutions also prioritized agrarian reform, believing that this was the central project that would bring about more equality.” [Does liberal democracy promote inequality (?), Walden Bello,, 16th Dec 2014]

“Things at first appeared to be headed in the right direction. With the ouster of Marcos in 1986, not only was a constitutional democracy set up, but a sweeping land reform law — the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, or CARP — was passed to give millions of peasants a title to their land. Redistribution would be accomplished peacefully under democratic governance, in contrast to the coercive programs in China, Vietnam, and Cuba.”

“Over the next few years, however, competitive elections were reduced to a mechanism whereby members of the elite fought one another for the privilege of ruling while consolidating their control of the political system as a class. Indeed, the vast majority of those elected to Congress came from either landlord or big capitalist families. One of the victims of this congealing of landed class power was CARP.”

“With a combination of coercion, legal obstructionism, and the conversion of land from agricultural to commercial and industrial purposes, the agrarian reform process stalled. Ultimately, less than half of the original 10 million hectares designated for redistribution was actually disbursed to peasants by 2008 — some 20 years after the beginning of the program. Indeed, with little support in terms of social services, many peasants ended up reselling their lands back to the landlords, while other beneficiaries lost their recently acquired lands to aggressive legal action.”

“It was in my book, sheer hypocrisy of the Marcos Dictatorship who painted a rosy and glamorous picture of the Philippines…but unashamedly hides the real truth about the poverty of Filipinos. That was way back in the 1970’s when the Philippine economy were still better than most of ASEAN. Forty years later, the majority of our people still wallow in abject poverty.” [Are we ashamed of the poverty of the Filipino (?), Bobit S. Avila, SHOOTING STRAIGHT, The Philippine Star, 8th Jan 2015]

“This is something that our political establishment has to answer for. After all, all of them bar none; ran for public office using the name of the poor in vain. Yet, the politicians have become extremely rich beyond their wildest dreams, while the ordinary Filipino has remained poor. Why do you think that the ordinary Filipino, if given the opportunity would leave the comforts of their home to find work in foreign countries? Four decades ago, the Filipino Diaspora started and four decades later, it hasn’t stopped!”

“From the way things look, it is too late in the hour for the Philippine government to do something to hide the poverty of the Filipino people. Let me say it here, we Filipinos shouldn’t be ashamed of our poverty. It should be our politicians who should be ashamed for causing the poverty of the Filipino people.”

Do we even care? “Meanwhile, the Philippines is facing bright economic prospects for 2015. Manila Rotary, the oldest Rotary club in Asia with a large number of prominent businessmen as members, is looking forward to listening to guest speaker BSP Governor Say Tetangco during the RCM’s regular lunch meeting today.” [CIA financial threat adviser: US facing a 25-year ‘Great Depression’, Babe G. Romualdez, SPYBITS, The Philippine Star, 8th Jan 2015]

“Say is understandably upbeat about the country’s growth prospects, with a lot of positive indicators such as the higher dollar remittances from overseas Filipino workers estimated at $24 billion – higher than the $23 billion recorded in 2013 – and that does not even include the “informal” remittance channels utilized by OFWs. These dollar remittances have been a key factor in keeping the peso strong.”

Are we talking of one and the same country? Or are we a government of the few, by the few and for the few? “[T]rouble may be lurking beneath the picture-postcard outlook for this tropical island paradise . . . The problem, as European nations are learning, is that you can’t save your way to faster economic growth. Manila’s long spate of belt-tightening neglected much-needed investment in infrastructure, inhibiting new investment and job creation . . . While GDP growth has recovered since the global financial crisis, growth in per-capita incomes has been steadily slowing since 2010 when President Benigno Aquino took office. Investment growth has been slowing since 2012.” [Thriller in Manila in Aquino’s final round, Dow Jones, Manila Bulletin, 10th Jan 2015]

“Aquino promised to step up infrastructure investment. And the sunny economic forecasts for the country this year take him at his word. But with 59 proposed public-private projects on the drawing board, contracts to begin building have only been awarded for eight. Not one has been completed . . . Manila’s vaunted current account deficit may also have been photo-shopped. While exports have been improving, the Philippines runs a persistent trade deficit . . . [T]he surplus may also be overstated by widespread under-reporting of imports, a practice better known as smuggling. Importers routinely under-invoice imports (or fail to report them at all) to evade customs duties and other taxes.”

There's no Prince Charming that will rescue us – like a damsel in distress – from ourselves? Welcome Pope Francis!

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