Philippine’s Billion Dollar Lady
There is something to worry about the status of the country today. Worry not, others say, because the economy is now taking an aggressive stride. Economy… Well, what is economy but just a composition of mind-numbing – and sometimes hush-hush – figures and statistics, and a cacophony of economic furore and political combustion. What is economy but a potential robbery.
But again there lies a problem as to how some people in the government, including those self-claimed economists, define and interpret economy, and how they relate it to our national experience. That’s why I assert without even blinking an eye that economy (at least in these parts) is just a hodgepodge of, well, numbers and figures (whether these numerical inputs and figures are reliable is another one big problem.) As what Banjamin Desraeli said, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
There’s always blatant deconstruction whenever obscurantists in the government assert that the country’s economic life is doing well. The misguided and illogical penchant of the Arroyo administration’s economic personnel and spokespersons for equating the economic indicators with the country’s overall status (whether political or social) is so obvious. Under the current regime, those clinging tenaciously to power have to resort to obscurantism to confuse the people and becloud the truth.
Worry not, since RP stocks go on record-breaking run, setting a composite index high of 3,719. Since I consider myself “ignorant” in this field, I base this data on the opinion of Management Association of the Philippines’s Baltazar Endriga, also a former President of the University of the East.
In his column published in the PDI, Endriga said “the peso-dollar rate breaches the 46 to 1 mark to close at 45.90 to 1. The GDP hit a record growth rate of 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2007 while the BOP and current account surpluses posted record highs with record growth in export and OFW remittances.” He asserted that these good economic indicators presumably translate into “a vibrant economy that is globally competitive, with falling poverty rates, higher employment opportunities, higher revenue collections.” Reality, however, seems to indicate otherwise, he further said.
The continued rally of peso against dollar, which elated the Arroyo administration, did not look pleasant to investors. But despite the rise of peso against dollar, I sense a troubling premonition, considering that this so-called ‘development’ is mainly attributable to OFW remittances, which rose to over $8 billion in the first seven months. Which means that the country’s economic backbone is just artificial, one made of economic silicon that only provides fleeting glory. Which means that without our modern-day heroes’ hard-earned penny, this country would remain at the mercy of the US dollar.
So let’s dismiss this prevailing political assumption, reduce it to nothing but mere fallacy – a distorted farcical illusion of those in power.
One doesn’t have to be an economic genius to understand our financial status. Sometimes we have to bear in mind that facts are the enemy of truth. This is because the former can be convoluted with non-facts, they can be distorted yet they still appear to be set of facts, while the latter refers to the absolute fact, which we call the truth, for it remains to be true wherever you are and whatever or however you do.
They also attribute the peso rise to the efficient (?) tax collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), although this did not guarantee the continued stay of its former boss Mario Buñag, who claimed to have been made a “scapegoat” by some executives of government financial institutions for their “unrealistic, failed and bungled policies.”
But guess where did a portion of Juan de la Cruz’s taxes go. Recent reports said it landed in the deep pockets of some lucky congressmen and local chief executives who sojourned politically ill President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the Malacañang Palace. Most congressmen, as usual, denied the rumor, which was later on confirmed by no less than newly elected Gov. of Pampanga Ed Panlilio who can’t just lie. The President should now sack the palace boy who gave that fat envelop filled with P1,000 bill to the former Catholic priest.
So are we collecting people’s money for bribes, payoffs, purported early Christmas bonus, and the like? Is it the job of the government to compel its people –even at the point of a gun – to remit their hard-earned money, which will later on be lost to graft and corruption?
So it turns out that the money collected by way of “strict and efficient revenue collection” (or under the compulsion of the law) will end up to the ready-made bottomless pockets of our lucky and rogue public servants.
The concept of looters and moochers was well-illustrated in the philosophical book of Ayn Rand titled “Atlas Shrugged.” I suggest that you read the book and reflect the principles embedded therein with the country’s and even the world’s prevailing system. Be patient, goodle it, dude.
By way of legal constraints, the taxpayers are obliged to remit a portion of their earnings to the central government. And our law assures that the people’s money will be spent for services, defense, and all expenses necessary for governance. To assure us of this mandate, our constitution guarantees the people’s right to public information, and this information includes questions impressed with public interest, like where did the taxes go, how were they spent, who spent/used them, etc.
Our law, in fact, is based on natural laws and is hinged on the law or principle of “common sense.” But I lament the fact that some of our public officials have already lost “common sense.” To me, “sense” is something that makes one human, for man must think and act if he is to live the life proper to man.
The worst looters are the ones who depend – similar to parasites – on others.
What then is that political glue that fastens the president to her throne? It appears that the power of the president does not in any way emanate from the will and mandate of the people, as stated in the constitution. Arroyo’s clout now mainly springs from deceit and deception, from her personal whims and caprices to tenaciously cling on to her “privileged” post.
A power based on corruption yields nothing but corruption, and wields nothing but damnation. The power or authority of the president is akin to a hot spring, which is produced only by the emergence of heated ground-water from the bosom of the earth. The executive power should also come out naturally from the warm support and trust and confidence of the people, and not from the paid sponsorship of the military and the fleeting allegiance of political crooks.
This is the reason why we now have what we call government, where the so-called public servants are dutifully sworn to “serve” and “protect” their constituents.
But now I see a government based not on the people’s will, but a government based on the will of the few. This kind of system is neither democratic nor capitalistic. What prevails these days is the one which deserves to be called dictatorship, where plutocracy rules the people and oligarchy glorifies the elite.
The main problem is that we have a president who derives power from the opportunistic few. The problem is the people can’t just see this stark reality, that we consider it just similar to economic indicators which are susceptible of manipulation and distortion.
Yes, I see a prevailing structure that aims to design our way of thinking. The people are made to believe that economy should come first before anything else. This slanted thinking suggests that it’s just OK to lose money to looters since jobs are everywhere. That’s it’s just alright to be robbed today for we can still earn money tomorrow. Never mind the robbers, what is important is the government is making sure the economy keeps moving.
How can we go on with this kind of system? How can Gloria manage our national affairs if that is what is percolating in her mind? To her, it’s just OK if former Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos offered a bribe to CHED Sec. Romulo Neri. That’s it’s just fine with her even if her hubby Mike ordered someone to “back off” from a government contract. How can a leader, or at least a person, with that kind of horrible thinking rule these parts of the world?
This reminds me of the answer of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a question during his recent speech at the Columbia University in the United States. The question was: What would you have said if you were permitted to visit the site of the September 11 tragedy? Ahmadinejad, who was a professor prior to his election as the highest official in Iran, was not allowed to set foot on the Ground Zero. “Somebody told me this is an insult,” he recounted.
But the statement that really made sense to me was this: “Thinking like that, how do you expect to manage the world and world affairs?,” he said. “Don’t you think that a lot of problems in the world come from the way you look at issues because of this kind of thinking, because of this sort of pessimistic approach toward a lot of people, because of a certain level of selfishness, self-absorption that needs to be put aside so that we can show respect to everyone, to allow an environment for friendship to grow, to allow all nations to talk with one another and move toward peace?,” he added.
How can Gloria manage this tiny dot on the globe with that kind of mindset? I cannot imagine… I hate to imagine!
I mentioned above that we have the constitutional, or at least the natural or commonsensical, rights to demand answers from our “public servants.” The ongoing Hello, Garci investigation and the stalled NBN (National Broadband Network) hearing are a question impressed with public interests themselves. Where did our money go during the 2004 and 2007 elections? How are they spending our money? Who are pulling this country down? We have the right to know the answers to these queries. But the president, through the use of her mythical executive privilege, continues to lend a deaf ear or turn a blind eye on these issues.
What did the president know, and when?
And what about those paper bags distributed by the Malacañang people to some lucky 190 congressmen and over 40 local chief executives recently? Our government officials have the duty to at least define them. Some said the amount given ranged from P200,000 to P500,000. That’s a lot of money! I thought we still have classroom shortage in the country? I thought we still have some bridges to construct and public roads to build? Perhaps these basic necessities of Juan de la Cruz had been solved by just a snap of a finger, just like the way the President snapped at Education undersecretary Fe Hidalgo during a televised press conference last year.
Let’s add this to our daily “points to ponder”: impeachment season is just another profitable perky business for our lucky legislators. It has been a well-observed phenomenon under the current regime that where there’s trouble, there’s money.
So, can we say now that our President – the Philippine President— is indeed a billion dollar lady?
How much public fund was lost to her salvation? Count! But first, let the economists do the counting…