P-Noy recently came back from a trip to Vietnam, and reported that he had signed bilateral agreements on trade relations with the some ASEAN members. He announced that he got positive response to his invitation for investments.
Let us recall that Vietnam was devastated by war, in the past from the 1960’s to the middle of the 1970’s. Now, it is progressive, with higher economic growth index than the Philippines. In fact, the Philippines import rice from Vietnam. The economic growth in Vietnam happened while the Philippines got mired in divisive politics, corruption both in the private and public sector, flight of economic capital, and utter lack of focus on the economic goals for the common good.
Back in the 1960’s, the Philippines was in the upper five economies in Asia, basking on the so-called free market system. Bolstered by its post-war economic ties, mainly with the United States. The reparations from Japan and reconstruction funding from the World Bank, were flowing into government coffers, along with a strong sense of nationhood, surviving, thriving, after emerging victorious in the Second World War. Believe it or not, the exchange rate was one (1) dollar is to two (2) pesos. Our economy was that strong. This was the time when the Philippines stood tall economically among its ASEAN neighbors, and became one of its founding members.
Today ASEAN economies are thriving amidst the global financial crisis. Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Republic of South Korea are very progressive economies, with their governments adopting authoritarian policies in keeping peace and order and building infrastructure projects. China which is communist, has emerged as a the second strongest economy in the world, with the market oriented reforms introduced by Deng Xiao Peng in the 1980’s. Deng recognized the practicability of the profit motive and the spirit of enterprise, with government support in the form of infrastructure, opening bilateral trade relations to other countries and investing abroad with loans granted to countries in Africa, among others.
In contrast, the Philippines adopted authoritarian policies during the Martial Law years, 1972-1986, which was not actually dismantled, in the subsequent years. The net result is the decline in economic growth, capital flight, the rise of the privileged oligarchy, and an increase in the number of Filipinos living below the poverty line. The election of P-Noy into office, is an affirmation of the aspirations of the Filipino people for a better, more responsive, morally upright government, in order to reverse the slide towards economic stagnation/decline.
The Philippines was a thriving economically progressive democratic country in the 1960’s before Martial Law, there is no reason why it cannot compete and achieve its goals for development. P-Noy has just rolled out his Medium Term Development goals until 2016.
Pope John Paul II in his speech in Bacolod City on February 20, 1981, said:
“Injustice reigns when within the same society some groups hold most of the wealth and power while large strata of the population cannot decently provide for the livelihood of their families even through back breaking labor in the factories and in the fields. Injustice reigns when the laws of economic growth and even greater profit determine social relations, living in poverty and destitution those who have only the work of their hands to offer. Being aware of such situations, the Church will not hesitate to take up the cause of the poor and to become the voice of those who are not listened to when they speak up, not to demand charity but to ask for justice.”
Justice will only be achieved if majority of the people have sources of livelihood to adequately provide for their families.