Sunday, October 16, 2016

Clueless or in denial?

Either way, the Duterte administration is starting off on the wrong foot. And to those who want us to move to a federal system, imagine if an Ampatuan and a Duterte will be amongst the regional leaderships, how much more fragmented PHL would become?

But do we Pinoys see President Duterte as a demigod?

“The most grievous thing about the daily killings in our midst is not just the body count. It is also the fact that, when the public becomes desensitized, there will be no serious demand and no real effort to investigate these crimes. That is when an entire society begins its descent to barbarism.” [When cops turn into masked killers, Randy DavidPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 16th Oct 2016]

“It should also be pointed out that, while the ICC is always the last resort, the Court can also take preventive measures. If it is convinced that in fact three million people are about to be slaughtered in the Philippines, no doubt it will act. No doubt.

“Will no one in this government be brave enough to tell the President that this is coming? There are many good lawyers, seasoned diplomats and wise senior officials in the Duterte government. My hope is that they give the right counsel to the President and that he will listen to them. The sad thing here is that it does not require rocket science to know how to avoid this.

“The truth is that this is not about the facts on the ground mainly: it’s about his language and that of his officials. All of them are constantly implicating themselves; what President Duterte and his officials actually thinks or intends is immaterial. It’s their objective words and its link to the situation on the ground that matters. I have scanned the international legal expert opinion on this and while there is academic debate about the appropriateness and timing of a case against Duterte, the condemnation for the Duterte’s words and the killings is universal. I doubt whether the Philippines can find good international law experts who will side with the President and his officials when the case is filed.

“The fact that the ICC prosecutor herself has stated that she is considering launching an investigation tells us that the words and actions of President Duterte have now crossed over to the more formal stage.” [Can Duterte avoid international criminal prosecution (?), Tony La Vina, Manila Standard, 15th Oct 2016]

And what is the track record of President Duterte? That Davao is among the 10 richest cities in the Philippines? Is that the best measure we want for the Philippines – as an economy, as a nation and as a people? This is the 21st century where even the United States is not at the top of the competitiveness rankings – despite its advances in innovation and technology, and being the largest economy on the planet.

Why the wrong foot? A president cannot delegate – even when the cabinet says he is fully engaged – the economy to the economic managers while he acts the tyrant. With due respect to NEDA and its “Ambisyon Natin 2040.” As well to the Anti-Poverty Summit convened by Vice President Leni Robrero.

Are we clueless about growth and development or in denial? The world has left us behind. And here we are clinging to our ways – aka “Pinoy abilidad”? How many economic blueprints have we had over the last several decades? And how many anti-poverty programs?

What is the NEDA-articulated long-term vision? “Our peoples shall live long and healthy lives, be smart and innovative, and shall live in a high-trust society.”

How many have died via EJKs? How much zarzuela is going on in Congress? If the PNoy administration was vindictive, how about the Duterte administration? What else is new? As we would call it, “weather-weather.” Whoever is in power has the franchise to abuse this nation and its people. Not surprising given what Rizal saw in Juan de la Cruz over a century ago? It’s simply a vicious circle that perpetuates tyranny!

A vision comes from the top, not from NEDA. Because it is the leadership that must lead the nation and its people. And it must be founded on the common good and bought in by the people. But what we seemed to have bought in is tyranny? That will preserve our oligarchic economy – given the big boys represented in senior roles in the Duterte administration are party to our patronage system?

With due respect to our chattering classes, why can’t we embrace the simple platform shared with us by Lee and Mahathir, for example? Which they likewise shared with Deng, who followed suit? That the rapid economy development – which drastically reduced poverty – in their respective countries can be traced to their purposeful efforts to leverage Western investment and technology! But that would mean, when applied to PHL, elbowing out our elite class? And it goes against our definition of patriotism? Has sheer parochialism and insularity become our core value notwithstanding its outcome – PHL remains the regional laggard and comes with the poverty we wail about?

What about “global structural injustice”? The writer just gave his annual spiel to the top managers (and his Eastern European friends) to start the budget review process. By design the gathering was held in the newest manufacturing facility (in the middle of nowhere, the nearest landmark being the port of Varna by the Black Sea 100 kilometers away) still to be fitted with state-of-the-art equipment from the West that will produce a new innovative product for the Western market. With this bunch of ex-socialists born and raised under communist rule, global structural injustice is not in their vocabulary. They’re on a mission to subdue Western competition. And it’s not surprising that when the writer asked how many of those present come from Western MNCs, they practically outnumber the rest of the group. Thirteen years ago they were an MSME. 

Back in the Philippines we see MSMEs as livelihood undertakings too feeble to stand up to Western competition? And it comes from our mindset? And so despite the Duterte swagger, we’re still a beggar – not from the US but from China/Russia? Beggars don’t find their place in the sun? Rhetoric won’t liberate us either! See above re Lee, Mahathir and Deng. It takes doing – not “daldal, satsat, sitsit”!

“The discourse on poverty is sometimes limited to the shortcomings of poor people. This hides the fact that certain global structures actually contribute to the impoverishment of peoples in the Third World . . . Independence in foreign policy does not necessarily mean putting aside the interdependent nature of global trade. What it means is that we have to begin, as a matter of priority, to look after our own interests before those of the multinational entities that we are hosting . . . If the Philippines is to advance the freedom and common good of its people, then we are in that opportune time to be able to use the President’s bold resolve and political will in liberating itself from a global structural injustice that has impoverished millions of lives.” [Freedom from structural injustice, Christopher Ryan MabolocPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 14th Oct 2016]

“In a study conducted by IHS in 2015, it was estimated that the Philippines has the potential to become a trillion-dollar market by 2029, with a GDP per capita of $6,000 by 2024, subject to continued high levels of economic growth. 

“How do we get there? For the Philippines, it has largely remained a catch-up game with other Asean countries that have long benefited and continue to do so, from clever industrial policies and business friendly reforms, which have led to exponential growth in FDI in the past years.

“[T]o reach that potential, however, business as usual is not enough. Instead, there is a need for a dynamic and proactive approach toward addressing the factors . . . which need improvement and which have so far kept the Philippines back compared to its peers in the region.

“Infrastructure development . . . The private sector is willing to be part of that process, but first it is necessary to establish more dynamic implementation of public-private partnership projects. Equally, the creation of a level playing field for foreign companies will open the way for international standards and innovation to be applied to infrastructure projects across the country.

“Global market integration . . . Trade facilitation, a proactive approach to bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and an economic policy direction that prioritizes international economic integration are key to the Philippines’s economic growth, not least due to the country’s membership of the Asean Economic Community, which the Philippines is chairing in 2017.

“Competitiveness as an FDI destination . . . Employment generation, especially among low skilled workers who are largely missing out of the country’s current economic growth, has much to gain from increased FDI in the country. How can the Philippines become more attractive to investors looking into the region? Lifting investment restrictions on foreigners, moving toward more competition in sectors saturated by few domestic players, providing competitive investment-incentive schemes and improving the ease of doing business across the country by adopting best practices applied in Philippine Economic Zone Authority zones, will all contribute to transforming the Philippines into a more attractive destination for FDI.

“A change of mind-set needs to happen in both the private sector and the government . . . There needs to be a cooperative approach, with the government making decisive moves to pass the necessary reforms and the private sector supporting the implementation of those reforms in a fair, transparent and effective way, in a mutually beneficial public-private partnership.” [Where does PHL want to be in Asean and beyond (?), Henry J. Schumacher, View From The 19th Floor, Business Mirror, 12th Oct 2016] 

No amount of recycling – of economic development plans and anti-poverty programs – can move us to Asian tiger status if we can’t see through our myopia. Are we clueless or in denial?

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

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