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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Panes: Before we resolve 2016

IN A few more days, 2015 slides toward an oblivious end and the world says hello to 2016. The custom is - we are expected make a new set of resolutions for the year to come. But the year’s not yet over and prior to its closure, the remaining time permits a cursory review.

Looking back to 2013, the PNoy administration was rocked politically. The Daang Matuwid team compromised by concealing in a terminology called the Priority Assistance Development Fund what was formerly known as the CDF – Countrywide Development Fund. The same piggy bank from which our so-called honorable congressmen could draw funds from their designated personal allocations for their specific projects which they alone determine was simply renamed. What they should have reformed to uphold public trust was merely renamed for congressional perpetuity. The nation was almost fooled. 

Then in the same year, when typhoon Yolanda’s unimaginable devastation of Tacloban caught international attention, Mar Roxas was caught with a compromising disclosure – that the mayor was a Romualdez and the president is an Aquino. Add Korina Sanchez’s tiff with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Apparently, the vindication of having been elected as the president was not enough for Benigno Simeon Aquino. He could not be simply magnanimous in victory. In another light, could it be that the government so overwhelmed by the sight of dead bodies littered all over Tacloban that the stomach of the elite and cozy undergraduate of Wharton and former DILG secretary turned upside down and couldn’t act accordingly?

In 2015, how can we not forget that Cordilleras lost 13 of its sons in the infamous Mamasapano Massacre which claimed 44 promising PNP-SAF lives? We at the bottom of the food chain can only opine that they were lambs led to the slaughter and unconscionably left to be slaughtered in exchange for the extraction of an international terrorist? This happened while the AFP and PNP’s top brass bickered on the ground? And the spin of government was that the Commander in Chief did not have command responsibility?  

Economic growth appears to be PNoy’s saving grace. The country’s annual GDP stood at 6 percent in September 2015 from 5.8% percent in July. China despite of its falling equity markets posted 6.9 percent, Hong Kong, 2.3 percent; and Singapore, 1.9 percent. The growth while below the high of 8.9 percent in 2Q-2010 is largely due to the inflow of direct foreign investment and business outsourcing that is international companies seeking to escape high corporate tax burdens and high operational costs in their original locale of operations. What is not told and is underappreciated is that our wages are relatively low compared to vis a vis our Asian counterparts. 

At the same time, we cannot deny that the competent Philippine work force has become a source of competitive advantage - an attraction for foreign firms to invest in the Philippines. This is business talk, a conversation dominated by balance sheet figures that offer miniscule regard to the welfare of the average Filipino. Labor in the accounting standards is a mere book keeping entry. 

Now, let the succeeding figures about average monthly wages obtained from a number of websites show a ghastly statistic. A firm operating in the United States paying a monthly wage of $3,263 per laborer could save more when the same moves and operates in the Philippines. In Juan’s land, did you know that the average monthly wage is only a measly $279? The difference between paychecks is unquestionably substantial but the savings is definitely a business come-on. 

As against other countries in the Asian region, Philippine labor is truly competitive but at the cost of being clearly exploited by capital. According to the websites scoured, Singapore pays a monthly average of $2,616; Hong Kong, $1,545; Malaysia, $961 and China, $656. And the Philippines’ $279? Shouldn’t we no longer wonder why millions of competent Filipino workers sacrifice to leave their families, endure the myth of “tanim bala” and leave the Philippine shores? On one occasion, I did hear the good president of Daang Matuwid mantra proudly say that good jobs are here to find if wanted? Does he know what he is saying? An impressive six percent growth for business is good and he is entitled to bask in the praises of the corporations but fact strangely is that the Filipino laborers, proficient in English, deeply hardworking and technically proficient are among in this regime still the lowest paid in the world. What is he fed besides well grilled steaks? Shouldn’t he know the comparative facts what we know and labor to please raise the bar.

Yes, this will be about a sports write up... I promise.
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