One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

My colleague John Baybay posted a thought-provoking article to GR Business Online a couple days ago (“Fair Process and the Myth of Inclusive Growth”, available at www.grbusinessonline.com). The article makes the broad point that what is lacking in the present Administration’s approach to the economy – and which has as a result turned President Benigno S Aquino 3’s mantra of “inclusive growth” into a hollow, meaningless catchphrase – is an understanding and respect for “fair process”.

John cites the current crisis in Sabah as a glaring example: Right or wrong, the men facing off against Malaysian forces are Filipino citizens. The State has a duty to exert its full efforts to ensure they are protected by working to peacefully defuse the current situation and ensuring they are subsequently treated in a humane and just manner according to fair and transparent processes. How the State is to accomplish all that is a complex challenge for which there is no easy answer; what is certainly not the answer, however, is to declare those men of Sulu “hard-headed” and “fighting a hopeless cause,” particularly when there is extensive evidence in the very laws the President has sworn to uphold that suggests the cause may not be hopeless at all.

Read the rest of the article here.

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About BenK

I write a column for The Manila Times on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Most of the energy sector and the heads of several government agencies probably wish I didn't.

3 Comments on “One Step Forward and Two Steps Back”

  1. Sorry to say this but the President is somehow talking like an imbecile especially when he said “fighting a hopeless cause”.

  2. No dynasties, no poverty.

    The wealth gap in the philippines is now officialy the worst in asia, and one of the worst in the world, in essence meaning any growth is benefitting only a very small percentage ( less than 0.5 percent – especially when it is paper profit and little is being used for investment), whilst in the country as a whole, unemployment rises, poverty remains over 30%, and even those with jobs are worse off due to inflation, increased commodity and electricity prices, and higher tax deductions on static wages/salaries.

    In reality things have got worse for 95% of filipinos over the past 3 years, and the banner headlines of stock exchange records and gdp growth mean very little in reality, and in conjunction with the unemployment and poverty figures would only confirm and underline the fact that any benefit is exclusive, with no inclusive growth and no systemic economic reforms, simply the status quo under a different brand name.

    A small stock exchange dominated by monopoly businesses and small trading volumes will naturally benefit in the current global bull market – the athens/greek stock exchange has gone up 20%+ in the past year. Tell that to the greeks and it would add insult to their misery.
    They have democracy and demonstrate, we have subservience and suffer. Neither are the best examples of economic or political leadership, but some countries just do not learn or progress. The status quo is the most important priority for aquino and the oligarchs, hidden under the rhetoric of change, reform, equality etc

    Beyond the spin and propaganda there are real people struggling to survive, even those who are ‘lucky’ enough to have a job and are working hard, such as the barman at my 5 star hotel earning 12,000 pesos/month but only 9,000 after deductions, and the waitress in the same hotel earning 8,000 pesos/month ( 6,000 after deductions). That is next to subsistence level after travel, food etc. ( p-noy stayed here recently – do you think he even knew what people experience and never even asked – the cocoon of privilege)

    Even corruption has increased despite that ostensibly being the big ticket item for the current administration which clearly had no intention of instituting political, economic, or social reforms. The only difference from the past is that current cabinet members are greedier than their predecessors – that’s inflation for you! Ask any foreign businessman or importer – and if there is any growth it is entirely connected to illegal businesses as it has become more widespread – mining, logging, imports, jueteng. – which is why tax revenues have not increased proportionately in line with stated growth, and a blind eye is turned by bir to certain people/companies, especially if senators/congressmen involved.

    Protectionist economic policies allied with political isolationist philosophy will always keep the country at the bottom of the 3rd world league table, irrespective of what makati spin dictors and greenbelt shoppers say/think.
    They do not represent the country, simply their own self-interest and blinkered vision.

  3. I read today in “The Malaysian Insider”, very intersting..for Filipinos with the narrow minded to think.

    http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/in-sulu-sultans-invasion-smoke-and-mirrors/

    In Sulu ‘Sultan’s’ invasion, smoke and mirrors

    The Lahat Datu invasion episode is no more than a pretentious display of authority by the pretender Sulu “Sultan” Jamalul Kiram III and those in cahoots with him.

    The ridiculous action taken by Jamalul and his loyal militants is an act in futility.
    What more when Malacanang Palace itself has made it clear that the Sulu Sultanate is now defunct with the last recognised sultan being Sultan Jamalul Ikram II (1884-1936).

    A group of 234 militants led by Jamalul’s brother the so called Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram landed in Kampung Tanduo on February 9, ostensibly to renew the so called sultanate’s claim over Sabah.
    After weeks of negotiating a peaceful departure of the armed invaders, Malaysia had no choice but boot them out.

    And after many of his free-booting mercenaries died fighting, Jamalul in a face saving attempt stated that they would never surrender in Lahat Datu and would fight until their last men.

    The “Sulu Sultan’s” condescending attitude was further compounded by the polemics of the Sultan’s brother “Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram II” and pride of Jamalul’s daughter “princes” Jacel Kiram.
    Certain local leaders (opposition) and the Sulu Sultanate’s sympathizers in Sabah also provided certain recognition to Jamalul.
    Even before the events started unraveling, an opposition leader in Sabah had admitted of meeting the “Sultan of Sulu”.

    However, he did not dwell into what transpired in the meeting and had clarified that the one he met was not Jamalul behind the current woes.
    This is not surprising as no less than six parties are claiming the throne of the Sulu Sultanate that is no longer recognized.
    The local leader is said to be highly vocal over Sabah’s rights and autonomy.
    However, since the incident, he has not been heard in the open.

    Jamalul remained defiant right from the start, even when the Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino’s warned him that “you will not succeed” (in claiming Sabah).
    He has been obstinate despite the facts 62 of his men have been killed along with 10 Malaysian security personnel.

    Jamalul and his followers have no regards to history and the fact that Sabahan’s have decided Sabah (formerly known as North Borneo) as one of the states under the Malaysian Federation.
    The stand taken by the Philippine government during the formation of the Federation of Malaysia is well reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer daily that reproduced the original article quoting Senator Lorenzo Sumulong that appeared on the Manila Times dated March 25, 1963.

    Sumulong in his privileged speech on Sabah (filed by President Diosdado Macapagal on 22 June, 1962), said; “What is the gain of involving ourselves in North Borneo (now Sabah), if after all, even if we recover it, we are committed to the idea of letting the North Borneans determine what their eventual fate would be?”“… the better course to follow is for our government to inform the United Nations (UN) in due time, i.e., when the Federation of Malaysia Plan is submitted for consideration in the UN, that we are voluntarily relinquishing whatever claims of sovereignty we may have to any portion of North Borneo in order to accelerate the changing of its status from a non-self-governing territory to that of a self-governing or independent state and that we favour holding a plebiscite under UN auspices to give the people of North Borneo the opportunity to freely express their will and wishes…”
    Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and International) Prof Dr Shariff AK Omang said the invasion could have been avoided if the group concerned understood the plebiscite conducted by the Cobbold Commission.
    No matter what, the incident like mentioned by prime minister has served as a wakeup call for Malaysia to enhance its future planning and strategies in mitigating threats to the nation’s sovereignty.
    Subsequent to the intrusion, UMS has established the Sabah Strategic Studies Centre as a platform to provide views, advice and information relating to future issues relating to safety, economy, social, history, education, politics and domestic issues.
    “Now we are faced with a security threat, maybe in the future we may face threats
    to our economy and so forth,” he said.

    However, all this and the historical facts are not good enough to convince Jamalul and his followers that their struggle is in vain.

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