- WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW:
- WHAT IS NATIONALISM [Filipino Nationalism]?
- Our Colonial Mentality and Its Roots
- The Miseducation of the Filipino (Formation of our Americanized Mind)
- Understanding Our Filipino Value System
- The Ambivalence of Filipino Traits and Values
- Our Filipino Kind of Religion
- Our Filipino Christianity and Our God-concept
- When Our Religion Becomes Evil
- The Purpose of Our Past, Why Study (Our) History?
- Studying and Rethinking Our Philippine History
- Jose Rizal - Reformist or Revolutionary?
- About Our Heroes: Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini and Jose Rizal
- The Philippine-American War (The First Vietnam)
- The Chinese in Philippine Society (1955-1965)
- The Chinese in the Philippines: Power & Prejudice
OUR PHILIPPINE ECONOMY: (Post-WW2 Agreements)
- President Roxas Railroaded the Approval of Bell Trade Act (Philippine Trade Act),1946 & Military Bases Agreements
- Bell Trade Act-1946 (Parity Rights)
- The Fallacy of "Philippines First"
- Agrarian Reform - Conflicts During Implementation
- 16 Years of Agrarian Reform: The Lands Are Back in the Hands of the Lords, (Part 1 of 2)
- 16 Years of Agrarian Reform: Are Filipino Peasants Better Off Now? (Part 2 of 2)
- Globalization (Neoliberalism) – The Road to Perdition in Our Homeland
- Five(5) Years of Reasons To Resist WTO's Globalization & Learn WTO's Multilateral Punishments to the Philippines
- Resisting Globalization (WTO Agreements)
- Virtues of De-Globalization
OUR PHILIPPINE MILITARY: (Post-WW2 Agreements)
- President Roxas Railroaded the Approval of Bell Trade Act (Philippine Trade Act),1946 & Military Bases Agreements
- US Military Bases & Military Assistance Agreements (1947)
- US Bilateral Immunity Agreement (BIA) aka Article 98 Agreement
- Status-Of-Forces-Agreement (SOFA): Template for Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)
THE RECTO READER (Book) is presented in several postings. Click each to open/read:
- THE RECTO READER: Nationalism,Internationalism,Ultra-Nationalism,Part 1A of 6
- THE RECTO READER: Mission of Nationalism,Part 1B of 6
- THE RECTO READER: Economic Independence,Economic Nationalism,Part 2A of 6
- THE RECTO READER: Economic Nationalism Means Industrialization,Part 2B of 6
- THE RECTO READER: Industrialization: The Alternative to Poverty,Part 2C of 6
- THE RECTO READER: The Fallacy of "Philippines First," Part 2D of 6
- THE RECTO READER: Parity Rights, Currency Dependence, Foreign Loans versus Foreign Investments, Part 2E of 6
- MORE TO FOLLOW
NOTE: Recto's cited cases, examples or issues were of his time, of course; but realities in our homeland in the present and the foreseeable future are expected to be much, much worse. Though I am tempted to update them with current issues, it's best to leave them as they are since Recto's paradigms about our much deepened national predicament still ring relevant, valid and true. In short, Recto saw the forest and never got lost in the trees. We native Filipinos have not learned from or not heeded his advice - Bert
- constant subservience and mendicancy to foreigners, the national and provincial elites (oligarchs),
- thievery and corruptness,
- knowing neglect and cannibalization/distortion of people-oriented reforms
- use of official/state terrorism against the voices of protests
- cooperation with foreigners in attempting to dismantle Filipino nationalism,
- tacit and cooperative deceit with foreigners and specifically our unelected Finance Ministers in deceitfully pontificating about the great benefits from imposing Globalization or Neoliberalism into our underdeveloped homeland, which at the end of the day has only brought the worst economic calamity to the ever increasing native poor in the last 15 years or so, etc.
By Sonny Africa
IBON Features— There is a moment of optimism in the country due to relatively ‘credible’ election results, an incoming ‘legitimate’ government, and a supposedly anti-corruption Aquino administration. The hopefulness may persist for a while unless reports of automated election irregularities and of traditional political maneuvering reach crisis proportions.
But the prospects for change depend on the real problems being identified and the right set of tools being used to solve or manage them. More than an anti-corruption drive or ‘successful’ elections and a peaceful transition from the Arroyo administration, these are the real test of political and economic democracy in the country.
The incoming administration faces long-standing challenges that have kept the Philippines poor and underdeveloped. These are even aggravated by persistent instability in the world economy due to a global economic crisis that is still unfolding.
If the populist tag line, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” is used as framework in achieving genuine reform in the country, then it is deficient. The drive against corruption is only a small part of the comprehensive and concrete platform of governance needed that decisively breaks from the failed approaches of the past.
The country’s problems are so many and varied that it makes the insistent anti-corruption rhetoric– as if these were the main cause of the country’s problems – actually dangerous.
Corruption is admittedly pervasive, long-standing and has always reached to the highest levels of government. It is also true that this drains public resources and in so many ways undermines sound economic management and stifles productive activity. But without understating the damage caused by corruption, it is important to see the deeper and greater damage from ‘free market’ policies of globalization.
Despite lamentations about corruption and even of ‘political instability’, globalization policies have still been successfully implemented over the past decades: removing , taking away investment controls, privatization of public utilities and social services, deregulation of the economy, and continued debt payments. All together these have eroded local manufacturing and agriculture, caused record joblessness and rising poverty, and forced millions of Filipinos abroad.
Indeed the corruption mantra is being used as a smokescreen to hide the failure of globalization policies. Since the 1990s when evidence of failure of neo-liberal reforms started to pile up and the legitimacy of the International Monetary Fund and was being challenged, neo-liberal proponents concocted and sold the Post-Washington Consensus idea—that it was bad governance, and not ‘free market’ policies, that must be blamed for the worsening poverty and crisis in that implemented neo-liberal reforms.
The economic decline is blamed on corruption rather on how ‘free market’ policies have removed state support for local producers and prematurely exposed them to foreign competition. Deteriorating public health and education services are blamed on corruption rather than on privatization amid uninterrupted debt servicing. Poor governance is blamed on corruption rather than on undemocratic elite domination of political processes and economic policy-making. Corruption has become a convenient scapegoat to cover up the serious ills of neoliberal policy-making.
Worsening unemployment due to globalization means many hundreds of billions in pesos in lost potential output every year from idle manpower, aside from the human misery that joblessness causes. Privatization and austerity measures mean a hundred billion less pesos spent annually on health, education and housing.
Meanwhile unceasing debt service sees interest and principal payments steadily approaching a trillion pesos a year. The amount skimmed off public funds by corrupt officials is considerable – with some estimates placing this at up to US$2 billion a year– but nonetheless still pales in contrast to the social losses due to globalization.
The role of liberalization, privatization and deregulation policies in actually feeding large-scale and systemic corruption in the country is also important. The ‘free market’-driven surge of foreign capital and goods in the country has created rich opportunities for commissions, bribes and smuggling by politicians and bureaucrats even as vital mechanisms of public control, scrutiny and transparency have been dismantled or made inutile.
Overemphasizing corruption as the root of social and economic backwardness diverts from the basic reforms that the country needs as well as disguises the continued implementation of policies that the country can do without. Transparency and accountability in policy-making and implementation are desirable, but the lack of meaningful policies for national development– and the pervasiveness of those benefiting mainly narrow elite interests– has much farther-reaching adverse effects on people’s welfare.
The overarching development objective is to improve the economic and political well-being of the majority of Filipinos. The central economic challenge is to address distortions in the economy that keep Filipino working people from fully benefiting from their labor and the country’s natural resources, and that inhibit the nation’s economic potential.
For too long, the approach has been to rely on creating a globalized open economic policy environment desired by foreign and domestic investors. While they are only a small minority of the economically active population, it is argued that the success of their enterprises will create jobs, increase incomes and support economic progress.
There has certainly been economic growth, rising corporate profits and mounting personal wealth of a few. Yet economy-wide real joblessness has been at a record sustained high for nearly a decade and which has forced around nine million overseas to find work. Around 66 million Filipinos are poor and try to survive on P86 or much less each day—with half of the population actually struggling on just P18-54 per day.
The economy’s prospects are undermined further by problems in the sectors expected to create jobs and dynamism: local manufacturing has shrunk to as small as its share of the economy in the 1950s while agriculture is at its smallest in the country’s history. Small and medium producers across the country have been hit by waves of bankruptcies.
The approach of relying on a narrow section of big private sector interests has clearly failed. The policy priority must instead be on giving the vastly more numerous Filipino working people a greater share of the products of their labors as well as real access to land, capital and government support—likewise with any genuinely local small and medium enterprises. The excessive reliance on external sources of growth such as exports and remittances is also a failure. The focus rather must be on building domestic economic foundations to be able to gain net benefits from international trade and investment.
The immediate political challenge in turn is to arrest the worst anti-democratic and anti-nationalist tendencies of the Philippine state. The Arroyo administration and its allies controversially used the powers of government for grand-scale electoral fraud and to accumulate uncounted tens of billions of pesos in kickbacks, payoffs and ill-gotten wealth.
The military, police and courts were wielded in a crackdown on the Left and progressive groups so brutal and methodical as to draw international condemnation. The Philippines– one of the largest countries in the world (ranking 13th by population)– became ever more linked to the United States (US) geopolitical agenda including being opened up to greater military intervention.
The further damage wrought to the country’s political institutions needs to be remedied. The long process for this can only begin if there is first accountability for the high-level corruption as well as the widespread human rights violations in the course of the government’s counterinsurgency programs Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) I and II. The impunity will only end if, aside from rhetoric, there is real accountability.
The commission to investigate Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that presidential front-runner Aquino announced during the campaign period is a start even if there are fears that this would be undermined by Arroyo-leaning allies in the Ombudsman and Supreme Court.
But also important is to take advantage of international judicial bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) set up by the United Nations (UN) to try war crimes when local courts are unwilling or unable to do so.
Democratic governance in the people’s best interests has also been hampered by foreign policy being overly deferential to foreign powers, especially the US, and in contrast refusing to deal with the country’s armed groups in a principled manner. The political atmosphere for domestic development would be greatly served by an immediate assertion of national sovereignty vis-à-vis the US as well as by using the venue of peace talks to take up meaningful social, economic and political reforms that address the roots of armed conflict.
The new administration has yet to be proclaimed but it is in the best interests of the people to craft and demand, as soon as possible, concrete steps towards real change, progress, prosperity and sovereignty. The Aquino administration’s ‘reformist’ credentials will depend on how far it is able to reverse the failed policies of past administrations including of the outgoing Arroyo administration.
There are policy results immediately achievable or that can be begun in the first 100 days of the new administration that can be first steps towards real reform in the country:
1. Repeal the VAT Reform Law (RA 9377).
These are necessary initial key elements towards a progressive tax regime, rational debt servicing, greater state responsibility for essential social services, genuine , repudiation of obsolete globalization policies, repairing the damage to the country’s political institutions, giving momentum to a democratization process, and addressing the roots of armed conflict in poverty and underdevelopment.
Any new administration aiming to be ‘reformist’ has to contend with important realities: drastically weakened industry and agriculture; accumulated economic laws and policies; an entrenched bureaucracy further complicated by pressures for post-election political payback; and self-interested interlocking political and business interests (even among its own ranks).
Amid such difficulties, it becomes all the more important to immediately send a strong signal of real reform and establish substantial momentum among the real forces for change in the country.
Mr Sonny Africa is the research head of IBON Foundation, an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.
- THE FILIPINO MIND blog contains 532 published postings you can view, as of December 12, 2012.
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