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At Close Range
Monday, June 25, 2012
THE gesture of the Philippines in contributing US $1-billion to the kitty of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may be expected of an alleged creditor nation as plain braggadocio and an attempt to hide its creeping poverty and sagging economy.
The lame excuse is, as a member of the global community of nations, it has an obligation to ensure economic and financial stability across the globe. This excuse was even bolstered by no less than the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas which exuberantly announced: this is a loan to the IMF and we will get our money back with interests. In effect, by extending a loan to the IMF that will earn money for the Philippines, we are also able to help other nations saddled with financial problems. Whew! Such vain and empty claims by the country's top banking overseer!
Ensure economic and financial stability of other nations? Why, we ourselves are still crawling and reeling under the weight of a weak economy and crippling poverty, twin problems we cannot seem to solve and yet, out of sheer boastfulness, we try to impress other nations by our vain attempt at hiding destitution and, sorry, nay, pathetic state.
Isn't US$1 billion dollars so gargantuan an amount that can be used instead to sustain livelihood, employment and housing programs and build more classrooms, educate, train and pay more teachers, soldiers and the hard working social workers?
Nauuna kasi ang yabang, so quipped deposed president Erap Estrada. In our case, it is always mayabang, all the time, any time.
How many of our fellow countrymen who live under bridges and are uncertain where their next meals will come from? How many of our students and pupils who conduct classes under trees and in other areas, in open fields and thereby exposed to the elements?
Plenty are the soldiers, teachers and social workers who are overworked but underpaid, yet the government has the temerity to pledge US$1 billion dollars in taxpayers' money perhaps all for show in the international stage.
If you've read the column of the incisive writer Juan L. Mercado titled “People of the Stigma” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 23, 2012) about garbage pickers, the more sensitive ones among us may get goose pimples, if not troubled nights.
Mercado quoted one scavenger named Michael as disclosing that "pagpag is cooked from scrap recovered from rubbish.
Discarded food bits are winnowed from dead cats, shards of glass, sometimes human cadaver parts".
The number of waste pickers is placed from 1.2 to 1.8 million who sift through roach-infested muck for the next meal. Most of these lowlifes huddle in makeshift huts that abut dumpsites and their exposure to rotting matter and lack of water, toilets and medical care “jack up” infectious disease rates.
Mercado furthers thus: Garbage dumps trap thousands in unseen but all too real detention camps of chronic hunger, anemia, TB or blindness from lack of vitamins.
Lack of schooling welds the escape hatches shut.
Do you now see the very poor conditions several of our countrymen endure daily, just to survive? Cannot the authorities feel the pangs of hunger and the excruciating pain of poverty our poor comrades go through? And yet, by mere show of boastfulness, they turn deaf and blind to these inhuman situations and pour a billion dollars to IMF. Such depravity, such unconscionable mentality.
There are lessons to learn from pragmatists like national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal and Malaysia's former prime minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, and these include imbibing the models of governance used by progressive nations. In Rizal's time, most European nations were developing fast, leading the hero to invoke a passage said by his alter ego, Simoun, a prominent character in his second novel, El Filibusterismo: Study nations that have indeed prospered and do what they are doing. From modest economies, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea and Hong Kong have emerged strong, steady and wealthy and there are no signs that their upward climb is waning.
In running his country, Mahathir also learned from the experience of the European nations. As written by veteran writer, Manuel F. Almario, the Filipino policy makers "should not dogmatically stick to economic theories preached by Western economists and the officials of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank."
Almario added: Those nations have progressed whose leaders have depended on their own thinking and who have studied the actual route taken by rich nations as their guide. It is no surprise that the Philippines has been mired at the bottom of the economic ladder because it has been subservient for a long time to the dictates of world financial and lending institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF! Isn't it about time we weaned ourselves from the clutches of these global dictators?
Loafers. I have frequently received info about some local government unit workers who spend (and waste) time loafing around the town hall's premises, instead of devoting precious time to dispensing public service. Others enter their time on their cards but are often seen in places different from their work stations and yet they get paid for the malfeasance.
Worse, they are all too keen on their benefits but are numb to the requirements of their work designations.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on June 25, 2012.