As Filipinos generally see the world through the lens of their renowned national self-absorption (“Oh no! How many OFWs will be impacted by the events in Israel!”), it is probably best that recent events in the Middle East be processed through the lens of what all that means for the Philippines. This is easy. The biggest item in the National “Debate” is none other than “the plight of the poor”. What else, right? How to buy the next week’s kilo of rice is hands down top of mind for most Filipinos.
Why is it an easy analysis? Easy. Because everything Filipinos depend on to sustain their Fiesta lifestyle is imported. And guess what: to ship food across the oceans to Philippine ports requires lots of fuel — which means any perceived risk to the sea lanes over which food and fuel is shipped will result in perceivable upward pressure on the prices of Filipinos’ national staple. Expect that all-too-familiar ululation of the usual “activist” clowns — Sahod Itaas, Presyo Ibaba! (“Higher Wages, Lower Prices!”).
On that inconvenient truth known as the Law of Supply-and-Demand all we are likely to get is a bit of head scratching followed by a shrug. What’s that???
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Compounding all that will be the hordes of OFWs that will need to be repatriated from all the emerging war zones. This means more Filipino warm bodies will be competing for the same stocks of food in the islands. And without the dollahs being remitted by these “national heroes”, the poor’s plight can only get plightier. The only silver lining in all this is that less OFWs remitting to their families could have a damping effect on domestic demand which — maybe — could be a bit anti-inflationary.
Rappler “reports” that;
There are around 27,000 to 30,000 Filipinos in Israel, most of whom are caregivers situated further north from Gaza, which has been a hotspot of recent attacks, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Then again, OFWs have been known to prefer to take their chances in deadly war zones over being repatriated back to the Motherland. Kinda says something about how great a mother the Philippines is, doesn’t it? Nonetheless, the state needs to be seen to be caring for its citizens which means the imperative for assistance to be extended to Filipino expats in these areas needs to be given lip service with President Bongbong Marcos obliging by reportedly “ordering” the “Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to establish a hotline for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families who may need assistance in the wake of the intensified conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.” Our heroes in Zion feel safer already!
Some credit is due us East and Southeast Asians, right? Since the the dawn of the late former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III’s administration thirteen years ago, the South China Sea had been regarded as the global flashpoint to watch. As is evident today, the region is in the midst of a massive military buildup. And yet, despite all that, an uneasy peace amongst the region’s claimants to the goodies lying underneath the SCS held fast. Over that same period, war has erupted in eastern Europe and, now, in the Middle East.
As the Filipino saying goes, why worry? Malayo yan sa bituka (“that’s a long way from the belly”).
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.