Friday, November 13, 2015

Juan de la Cruz needs an epiphany

More than infrastructure, more than bold moves and more than reform, do we need a conversion like that of Saul? “[W]e have been at the ‘gates of hell’ and for so long now, it has been staring us in the face.” [Metro Manila as gates of hell, Boo Chanco, DEMAND AND SUPPLY, The Philippine Star, 26th Oct 2015]

“Manila is the world's most densely populated city with 66,140 people per square kilometer. The Metro Manila population is estimated at 12 million but the larger urban area has a population estimated at 21.3 million. The Metro Manila population swells during the daytime however, to about 15 million. This density is much higher than that of Mumbai (23,000 people/sq. km), Paris (20,150 people/sq. km), and Tokyo (10,100 people/sq. km).” []

Have we turned Metro Manila – if not the nation – into a monster that is now way over our head? Somewhere in this posting reads “several foreign firms are interested to invest in rails and toll road projects but have a hard time complying with the equity ownership prohibition in the Constitution.” Do we even know where we are? How could we then figure out where we want to be and how we shall get there?

“The Philippines: Still unrealized potential,” Business Mirror Editorial, 26th Oct 2015. “We are reminded of that saying, ‘If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?’ . . . “The total Philippine GDP was flat, showing no growth—and with population increases actually shrinking on a per capita basis—between 1996 and 2004. In 1996 the value was $82.8 billion, and in 2004 it was $83.9 billion. However, between 2005 and 2010, Philippine economic output grew by 90 percent and per-capita GDP was up 13 percent.

“Total GDP increase between 2009 and 2014 was 62 percent and per-capita GDP was up 19 percent. The data shows that the economy actually grew faster in the five years prior to 2010, but the per-capita growth has been larger since 2010. Part of the reason is that Philippine population growth has decreased from 1.9 percent in 2005 to the current 1.7 percent, and some better government policies to ‘spread the economic growth wealth.’

“But the question today is the same that it has been every day for the last 25 years: ‘Why can’t the Philippines fulfill its economic potential?’”

“‘Bold moves’ seen needed to sustain growth momentum, realize potentials,’ Krista Angela M. Montealegre, Business World, 26th Oct 2015. ‘Bold moves’ seen needed to sustain growth momentum, realize potentials. During the general membership meeting of the Makati Business Club yesterday, McKinsey & Company Managing Director Dominic Barton said investments in these four key areas must be “enabled” by vocational training, investments in infrastructure and higher level of external orientation to realize their potential.

“Mr. Barton pushed for more investments in applied learning institutes, similar to the British Columbia Institute of Technology, since the Philippines has been suffering from a growing gap in skills needed for professional, semi-professional and skilled labor jobs. ‘One of the challenges is there’s far too much focus on university as opposed to vocational education,’ Mr. Barton said.

“The Philippine economy has outperformed most of its peers in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in recent years, but this picture hides some weakness. ‘The good news is you have a demographic window, but the bad news is the productivity of that workforce is lower than what we’re seeing in other parts of the world,’ Mr. Barton said. For the country to sustain its historical economic growth pace of 5%, labor productivity must grow 58% faster, he said.”

Is that too macro for us to personally be affected? What about traffic management? “It’s unacceptable for government to simply ask for patience with the ‘temporary’ (yet seemingly endless) inconvenience while the Naia Expressway is being built—when it’s clear that a little active traffic management could improve things even now.” [A long wait at Bay 8, Cielito F. HabitoPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 27th Oct 2015]

“Instead of 5 percent, the next administration’s infrastructure expenditures should be 7 percent of GDP, we should be pushing for higher infrastructure spending,” [Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio L. Singson] stressed.” [Next administration urged to raise infra spending to 7% of GDP, Bernie Magkilat, Manila Bulletin, 26th Oct 2015]

“To encourage private sector investments in infrastructure projects in the country, Singson has urged for changes in the rules in public utilities where foreign firms are limited up to 40 percent ownership only. Singson said that several foreign firms are interested to invest in rails and toll road projects but have a hard time complying with the equity ownership prohibition in the Constitution.”

“The key to jump-starting the emergence of a new center is to bring employment generating investments there. In concrete terms, create affordable industrial venues in the Clark sub-zone in partnership with entities who had done it before in China, Singapore, Taiwan, etc.”[Chanco, op. cit.]

“Create a major tourism center on the Zambales coastline where it joins the hills of Tarlac and Pangasinan. Stop SBMA and CDC from farting around, filling up what ought to be sea and airports to be tourism and what-have-you centers. Get the Subic-Clark intermodal logistics complex going by partnering with the Singapore Port Authority and/or the Dubai entity that has successfully made Dubai into THE hub for Asia-Europe travel.

“‘I get breathless thinking of the explosive growth development that could result from an intelligent approach driven and coordinated by government.’ Obviously, we cannot accomplish all these things in one presidential term. But the work must be started. The thing is, we may just wake up one day to find out it is too late to do anything at all.”

“How come we never get the visionary leaders — with the strength of character, firmness of principles, and integrity of life — who can impose the discipline to get all the fractious elements of our society to rally around a common banner? Who can secure continuity of good policies, and the cohesion as well as mutual reinforcement between those policies? Who will break down the enormous silos we have built up, within which so many of us work and operate, with so little of that coordination that is essential for the effectiveness of whatever ‘system’ we may have?” [On our way, Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao, Manila Bulletin, 23rd Oct 2015]

We need a conversion like that of Saul?

We like to believe that we can manage this nation like hell and still be virtuous? And so we hate it when foreigners meddle yet in the history of man to meddle in another country’s affairs has had its share of virtue? We may not have a leadership that slaughtered its own people (although we’ve had leaders that had to be deposed – and a Marcos who many still hold up to high esteem) but how we’ve mismanaged this nation is such a grievous sin nonetheless – given half of our people have lost their souls from abject poverty?

While the status quo may represent our comfort zone and even our sense of patriotism, until we cease to celebrate and perpetuate hierarchy, political patronage and oligarchy – and seek the common good and not undersell ourselves and aspire for greatness inherent in the Creator's image – we shall be confined at the gates of hell? 

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