THERE'S truth in the praises National Government constantly announces:
Philippines weathered the global financial crisis well--even financial institutions, like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) admits such.
Along with the admission is the observation that the Philippine economy was buffered from the crisis by the strength of remittances.
"(T)he extent of dependence on such remittances might, in a broader view, be a concern. A survey by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies found that about 39 percent of households which have members working abroad have had at least one member return due to retrenchment. We believe that the sustainability of the remittances is open to question," reads the study "Impact and Policy Responses: Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand" prepared by Centennial Asia Advisors for the ADB Regional Forum on the Impact of Global Economic and Financial Crisis held last January 14-15 in the ADB Headquarters in Manila.
Aside from a heavy reliance on remittance, the country's industries are no different from those of its neighboring emerging economies. As a result, companies in export processing zones are closing shop all because there are countries now with similar capabilities and large a pool of manpower that can host these industries at cheaper labor cost.
"A revamped and unified investment promotion agency could be tasked to develop a strategy for diversification," the study suggested.
There is not just the global economy to watch out for, in the first place. As experienced by the Philippines last year, natural disasters can just as quickly sideline important long and medium-term projects and programs for the here and now. Thus, the continued emphasis of planners and financial institutions on resilience is a country's ability to stay in the course amid stormy weathers, global crunch, or a long drought.
Before Port-Au-Prince in Haiti was leveled by the earthquake, there was really nothing there but a population going about its daily routines of living and surviving, its consumption needs fed by food imports. There has been no effort to invest in its own people and agriculture although most of its people are into agriculture. One big shake and all sources of food and water are cut off.
Granted, Haiti is among the most impoverished countries in the world, but their situation is but a compressed version of what can also happen to us; the prospects of devastation are as diverse, although being among the least developed countries, more people of Haiti will just be more devastated under any calamity. Otherwise, the earthquake that leveled Port Au Prince is just as likely to hit our islands.
The similarity may be extrapolated from the news that came after the deadly quake, where it was said, the Haiti government was warned of a big quake two years ago. When Marikina, Cainta, and a whole large chunk of Metro Manila was inundated after a six-hour rain brought by Ondoy last year, we learned that as early as the 1970s, urban planners have already warned of such flood.
Our authorities were just as deaf. Let us not allow them to remain so and let's continue to demand programs for resilience and sustainable development; to never be content with import packages and assurances that there are hundreds of warehouses full of good quality subsidized Thai and Vietnamese rice.