Sunday, October 12, 2008



By Erick San Juan

There is no more doubt that the global financial meltdown still being experienced worldwide was triggered by the series of pressures believed to be exerted by the carpetbaggers among investment and banking manipulators and owners of the world’s oil rigs, thereby inflicting so much damage upon the international stock and futures market, which sent even the price of food and the cost of living skyrocketing here and there.

Because of that, world leaders have, in fact, indulged into some kind of innovative approaches – some are practical and yet others are crazy - in a bid to ward off the fangs of hunger and deprivation which could drive governments into irrelevance that started to lurk upon them.

In the Philippines , where its financial managers keep on bragging about the strong economic fundamentals they have been nurturing since the financial crisis that hit Asia in 1997, political leaders have been advocating ideas that only tend to impress upon the various pressure groups of their so-called pro-poor footings.

Unmindful of the sensitivities of the country’s tax paying minority, the Arroyo government has embarked on a scheme to plaster the global communities with a fa├žade of a diminutive, struggling and yet compassionate Southeast Asian state, which has surpassed the status of an impoverish nation, by granting a token cost of living subsidy to its destitute.

But in order to downplay the panic being generated by the sharp plunge of the world’s economy, which sends jitters down the spine of domestic economic managers, the Arroyo government has started peeling the bells on the danger that Filipino expatriates working to provide subsistence to the kin back home might be sent home en masse soon. Side-by-side with the assurances that the country’s economic fundamentals are sturdy and designed to weather financial storms of the current magnitude, government is trying to show that it is preparing for the looming harsh reality threats, by exerting efforts at new job creation.

To paint a picture of relative economic and political stability, the government almost suddenly propagandized what could be the result of an oil-drilling operations in the Galoc oil rigs of Palawan, which it says has capable of spewing daily, some 20,000 barrels of crude, or the equivalent of about 5% of the Philippines’ average consumption. At a meeting of businessmen the other day, President Arroyo placed emphasis on her estimate that from 41% the Philippines ’ independence from oil imports would soon increase to 58%.

Moreover, she bragged about achieving some significant marks in food self-sufficiency, through increased yield and thus having stabilized the supply and price of rice and food.

However, government remains silent on up to what the extent, in any, did the government financial institutions (GFIs) invest abroad and as to what extent could those investments beneficially or adversely affect the domestic economy. This situation makes us wonder no end why this part of our lives remains very mythical up until now.

Just how resilient the Philippines ’ economy, is up to which side of the fence one stands. For one, Ms. Arroyo brags about having created a total of 7 million jobs in seven years. But how many of the Filipinos agree with her on that claim? While it may be untrue for the propaganda machines to propagate a hoax that sine Ms. Arroyo took the Presidency in 2001, many Filipinos have been allegedly dying of hunger and malnutrition, the number of job-seekers cuing before recruitment places and for issuance of passports at the Department of Foreign Affairs are increasing as the days wear on.

With the free falling world market price of fossil fuel, most Filipinos seem very critical over the apparent foot dragging by the Arroyo government, which they say is not doing enough to ensure that pump prices are what it should really be. Many are wondering why the domestic average cost of regular unleaded gasoline is allowed to stay at the level of about P44/liter, while the same commodity has fallen to only an average of US$ 2.88 in many cities of the United States .

Many scholars have time and again said that the umbilical cord that binds us with the Unites States is the reason why pain is all over the body of the Philippines each time the Yankees sneeze. They maintain that we could be better off where the Philippines is placed in a situation like Burma and Laos are in – a bit hard up, but otherwise, self sufficient and self-reliant. Keeping the Philippines ’ pride and prestige intact, no one at any time could dare bully us. In short, our economic managers should better be told to just quit thinking silly and focus their attention to improving our lot. Time magazine quoted Ramon Navaratnam,former Malaysian financial official and he said that we cannot escape the contagion.The damaging effect will show soon enough. (Time Oct.13,08) God forbid!

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