Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Threats against Philippine economic recovery and growth

There are three threats to Philippine economic recovery and growth. First, the immaturity and backwardness of the Philippine political system. There is no continuity in terms of State policies. The implementation of policies depends on the whims and caprices of the sitting Power. This explains why, when a Policy opposed by a majority of the People is implemented, the next available option is an action leading to destabilization. Some sectors hold the idea that change can only happen if the present administration is abolished and replaced by one more sympathetic to their Cause.

Presently, there is no institution of governance in the Philippine State that has a stable policy platform. Every institution is built like a fiefdom, where the whims of the appointed or elected Head is the ultimate policy. Even in the Supreme Court, the legal decisions which define the laws of the land and jurisprudence, are now blurred and are threatened by newer views and opinions which were previously expressed, but now, attaining ascendancy due largely by political influence, not by Law.

Translate that to several other agencies of government below the Executive Office, and you will find that every agency has its own interpretation of the Law, due again, largely by the dictates of the appointed Power. There is no symmetry, no clear and dominant View, only opinions based either on political or business interests. Hence, transactions with these agencies remain personal, not professional. Those who are socially up there in the strata enjoy more privileges than those below. Credit that to the weak leadership being exercised by the Chief Power.

This holds true in Congress where we see transactional politics at its worst form. Instead of the dominant view that Legislators are accountable to their constituencies to work hard and dispense laws that benefit all, the more ascendant view is that legislators work for their own interests and for their stay in power. Hence, there is no clear continuity in terms of policies, no clear direction as to where the country is headed and no validation of majority views if these conform with existing needs or not.

The second threat to the Philippines is the continuing corruption in several government agencies, something which should have been addressed by this administration, but because of the involvement of close associates of the President, being largely ignored and glossed over. Smuggling is still a big issue. Red Tape has lessened but continues to affect investor and business perception.

The last threat to the Philippines is the continuing dissolution of the Opposition. The continued fragmentation of civil society is dangerous. What follows after fragmentation is the strengthening of the State and eventual exercise of its Powers to further violate civil liberties. This is most evident with the passage of the Cybercrime  law and the State's continuing opposition to the passage of the Freedom of Information bill.

In sum, yes, the Philippine State is slowly liberalizing itself economically, and continues to reap excellent results. However, the lack of improvement in the political sphere and the continuing fragmentation of a credible Oppositive force threatens the very growth of this country into Asia's powerhouse.

Yes, the goal is to transform the Philippines into an Open Democratic society. What we have achieved so far is the liberalization of the economy, not the institution of measures which would further democratize our institutions. The expectation is while the economy opens itself up, other institutions or levers of power also benefits from this by modernizing which is not being seen.

The contrary is being achieved---while we attain economic maturity, our other institutions within the State superstructure continue to lag behind and worse, either decaying or being killed by efforts of the State to further widen its Powers and further strengthen its hold over the citizenry.

While we, or some sectors claim to have achieved tremendous economic gains, the State is slowly building its strength and is slowly making measures for its preservation by culling civil liberties.