• Two tales of one country

    Marlen V. Ronquillo

    Marlen V. Ronquillo

    What kind of country are we, really? The news that regularly come out about the state of the country offer confusion, not clarity. On the one hand, there are news reports of slivers of light popping out of the economic front. And an international confidence on the integrity of the political leadership that has rarely been at its current high. On the other, half of the reports suggest a country afflicted by politics of the lowest, basest kind and an underclass living in Dickensian sorrow and depravity.

    Filipinos seem to be of two kinds, living on two contrasting universes, split between the hopeful and those mired in total hopelessness.

    For starters, how can you explain this. For the first nine months of the year, the dominant telco earned P28 billion while the largest bank (controlled by one family) earned P18.2 billion. In contrast, 10.8 million families were polled, in a survey for the 3rd quarter, as having suffered from the pangs of hunger. One in two Filipinos rate himself as poor. These magnify that our most pestering problem from time immemorial, the gap between the have and the have-nots, has moved but in the direction of more inequality.

    The Napoles affair and the P10-billion plus pork barrel scam, in which the SAROs of senators and congressmen were exchanged for duffel bags of cash, revealed a depth of political corruption that is unhinged from the usual—and generally accepted—norms of corrupt practices. This mother of all corrupt congressional practices has no precedent in the sordid annals of congressional corruption. The more scheming ones even sued congressional insertions in the budget to pad their deals with Napoles. What we see as the only parallel to the Napoles scam was perhaps the martial law practice of pocketing whole chunks of foreign loans.

    When the “august” and“ honorable” have sunk this low, you can even question on whether a country with such kind of legislators is capable of redemption.

    The public rage over congressional corruption has naturally led to the inevitable—questions on the lump sums of the executive branch, which the president or his appointed surrogates can dispose to fund chosen programs. This is so far the greatest crisis the Aquino administration has ever faced and the roll-out of a propaganda offensive to reverse the soured public mood on executive prerogatives has yet to bear results.

    At no time in his three-year presidency that President Aquino has ben seriously been threatened of impeachment or ouster but now. What he faces right now is a political crisis of unknowable—and unpredictable—endgame.

    The serious challenge to the leadership and integrity of the Aquino administration has also brought out of the woodwork the disparate forces opposed to him, from the right-wing forces that lost in the RH law passage, to the forces on the Left that would always oppose a liberal democracy regardless. Place the likes of Oliver Lozano in between the two forces, and you have a coalition that is heavily worked up in the area of protesting and unsettling the established government.

    Resilient economy
    Yet, at a separate universe reside a country that is free from the economic turmoil that is roiling much of the globe. A growth rate of approximately eight per cent for the third quarter of is about to be made officia;—a growth churn that only takes place in dynamic countries such as China.

    This is not the case with the rest of the globe. Even after mighty Germany had posted decent growth and unprecedented trade surpluses, the shining star of the European economy as usual, there had been questions on the cost of that to countries on the European periphery.

    The Philippine growth rate, in contrast, has been sustained, unquestioned and verified at ground level. The multilateral institution do not have faint praises for the Philippine economy; they are pleasantly surprised by its strong fundamentals and resiliency. The praises have a caveat, a welcome one, and it is about the determination of the political leadership to stay the course of growth.

    The metrics on investors’ confidence and the surge in other rankings such as global competitiveness have complemented the reviews on the strong and resilient Philippine economy.

    The often ignored and obscure factoid about the Philippine economy, but critically important, is the sense of confidence of the central bankers. Few countries can claim what they claim —that even a tapering by the Fed of its quantitative easing program cannot trigger higher interest rates and other external shocks. As a confidence-building measure, this is the equivalent of ten Pacquiao wins via KO.

    If there is any further empirical evidence that we are a country of two tales, let us look at the two stories that have been emerged out of the OFW sector. On the one hand, a Saudization program has been dislocating Filipino workers in the premier work site—Saudi Arabia. The stories from the workers forcibly deported are of the usual horror stuff . The stories are heart-breaking, given the sacrifice the workers have done for the country and their families.

    Yet, the rising and surging overall remittances from the country’s OFWs are an oasis in a desert of dropping remittances , most especially the traditional powerhouses such as Mexico and China. On the one hand, there is the brutal and inhuman treatment of our OFWs. On the other, there is this resolve to send money home and prop up the economy, unfailingly and without question .

    The worst of conditions and the best of times. That what we are as a country—always with two agonizingly contrasting stories to tell.


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    1. Mr. M. u are mostly right in ur column this morning about 2 tales or 2 side happening at the same time in this god forsaken country. May I comment that however much we have adopted the written political system of the US, we have not learned or adopt their courage to protest against unfairness of their government. When the kano said they will conduct a million people march one million really march with abundant placards. I wonder what kind of march will the kano do if they found that their President, Legislators, Supreme Court are so corrupt robbing them of billion dollars.

    2. You are all treated like fools in this country. People of power & influence take full advantage of every situation. I was speaking to a bank manager friend of mine just this morning & i asked him what interest rate would i get if i had a mortgauge here in your bank, i said about 8% he said about 9%. I said do you know in england i could get a fixed rate for 2 years of 1.99% reverting to 4% if i didnt take another fixed rate. Then i asked how much interest would i get if i deposited money in your bank & he said lss than 1% & i said yes & could probably get 1.5 to 2% if i put money in a uk bank account. So we charge less interest when you borrow off us & we pay you more interest when you save with us. Your country does just the opposite plus if you leave your account dormant without adding or withdrawing they charge you for that, not in the uk. Thats is just on basic finances where you start with the rest of this country i just dont know.

    3. what kind of country are we really? ha ha.. we are like a lost tribe. first, we have no national language we use taglish, both in education and in official business, second our country name the Philippines is a colonial name derived from king Phillip of Spain so we still as if the subjects and slave of King Phillip of Spain. We have a dysfunctional government with a culture of corruption deep rooted in us and every government agency that you can think of. We have the worst airport in the world, and lastly we are not able to govern ourselves. thats why we are still the sick man of Asia.and a banana republic. we vote celebrities, comedians, sportsmen into office, etc, etc. etc.

      • Drilon and Enrile are not comedians, actors or celebrities; they are just trapos. Abad is also the same trapo, some congressmen involved in the PDAP/DAP scam are also trapos and thieves. Pinoy is surrounded by trapos and thieves.

    4. Voice from the Wilderness on

      In the recent SWS survey, 54% of the respondents felt that they are poor. This figure is more than half of the population of the country even if the statistical figure is computed in a minus plus 3 margin of error. So it becomes clear that all those glowing reports coming from the government on macro-economic indicators about an increase in GDP, bull run in stock market index and stable peso dollar exchange rate are non factor unless the state of poverty of majority of the Filipinos are alleviated by good and effective governance and sound economic policies coming from this present inconsequential Regime led by an inept president.

    5. Gloria M. Kuizon on

      This is about your Marlen Ronquillo’s column today (Sunday Nov 10). I don’t agree with some of his socialist views. But I share his lament about our country always having two tales about every event and situation, One inhumane, sad and despair-provoking. Another quite good and inspiring, thank God, and hope-nourishing.

      By the way, I’ve begun this comment with a statement about what I am commenting about because your Readers’ Comment item that you sometimes publish just mindlessly prints the comments without reference to which news item or column you published on which date.

      I also wish to complain that some of your readers, like me, have commented on positive and excellent articles and columns but you never publish them. I sent you a comment in praise of Juan Gatbonton’s articles and many of your readers also did but you have decided to ignore us.

      You just want to publish comments agreeing with your anti-Aquino-government columnists. I am not a fan of President Aquino myself. Yet I and many others like to read excellent proposals by high-minded analysts like Mr. Gatbonton. Readers like me have even shared his articles with our friends in Faceboook and Twitter. But your editors seem determined to downplay such good articles.

      Gloria M. Kuizon
      Novaliches, Quezon City