IN their wishful but deluded thinking that the inflation spike and the Trillanes brouhaha will be bringing down President Duterte soon, the Yellows can’t even pick a slogan that won’t hint at their lunacy.
Melito Salazar, a Board of Investments vice chairman during the Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos administrations, very surprisingly titled his column “The end is near.” There he claimed that the Duterte administration was now in “economic and political chaos” that marks the end of any regime.
Vicente Romano 3rd, President Noynoy Aquino’s five-month tourism undersecretary who nearly got the country to plagiarize the Poland tourism slogan (and even logo), echoed Salazar’s take: “You know the end is near when… the economy is in a free fall. Prices of commodities are hitting the roof, beyond the reach of the poor. And nobody seems in charge on how to contain the problem.”
That “the-end-is-near” line of course is an old, old line used in so many caricatures of religious nuts wearing sack cloth shouting (with placards even): “Repent, the end is near.” So, it is befitting that these Yellows should be using this cliché.
Either he is a closet Yellow cultist, or a political opportunist with a lousy sense of timing (or just dull-witted analyst), but Senator Ralph Recto in the opening prayer of the Senate session the other day — for chrissake, in a prayer! — also portrayed the country as already in economic collapse, saying that “food is scarce, their prices high” and that “inflation is robbing our people of the full value of their wages.”
Inflation is indeed high at 6.4 percent year on year in August. That means prices went up 6.4 percent from August 2017 to August 2018, not as some Yellows are stupidly claiming, that prices went up from July 2018 to August 2018. That means your P100 in August last year can buy only P94 worth of goods in August 2018.
There were unique factors that pushed up the rate in August. Mainly three: the uptick in global oil prices which — in our very market-oriented oil industry — had to be reflected in higher prices for fuel (and therefore transport); the fact that June to August is the lean season in agricultural production, with harvests, especially for rice, still to come in two months’ time; and production and distribution disruptions due to typhoons. The National Food Authority in its programming apparently didn’t take into account the Duterte administration’s clampdown on rice smuggling, which was rampant during the past administration, which explains the low inflation rates at that time. (See my column last week “Clampdown on smuggling destabilized rice prices, supply.”)
Take it from a business and economic journalist these past many years. The 6.4 percent August inflation is a spike, and will go away. More importantly, the country has been through worse bouts of inflation in the past 40 years, and our institutions, mainly the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, whose main job precisely involves this, have learned to contain inflation, quickly and easily.
In 2008, the worst global recession after the 1929 Great Depression hit the planet, translating into a 12.4 percent inflation rate in September that year. By the end of the year though, this was contained — to the credit of President Gloria Arroyo’s P330-billion Economic Resiliency Plan —so that the whole-year rate was at 8.3 percent, with the momentum price deflation continuing into the next three years.
There were similar such spikes in 2001, 1994, 1998, and 1971 — the latter even a perfect storm of sorts as there was both an economic crisis (triggered by OPEC’s oil embargo) and a political crisis (Plaza Miranda bombing, a violent national election, mass unrest. Would you believe, the inflation rate in 1971 was 21 percent and in 1974, 41 percent, yet Marcos continued to consolidate his one-man rule throughout that decade?
The worst surge of inflation was in 1984 when it hit 63 percent in September that year. This was another politico-economic storm. The worldwide debt crisis broke out in 1981, we defaulted on our loans in 1983 that imports nearly ground to a halt, and then there was political volatility after Ninoy Aquino’s assassination in 1983.
Guess what, the Marcos government still managed to bring the rate down to 12 percent in September 1985 and 6 percent at the end of 1985. Amid the January snap elections, the daily anti-Marcos demonstrations, rumors of a coup, the inflation rate was just 4 percent in January 1986, right before the February 1986 revolt. (Which belies the notion that an economic crisis triggered EDSA.)
Guys, we’re not Venezuela, which is situated in a continent that for some reason has been so prone to hyper-inflation since before World War 2. The 1983 and 2008 global debt crises have so strengthened our financial and monetary system that this very easily responds to moves to contain inflation.
It’s a characteristic mark of the Yellows to have very limited phraseology (or erudition) that they use only tired clichés as this recent “The end is near,” “Never Again” (the Jewish cry against the Holocaust), and of course “Daang Matuwid“(“Straight Path,” a reference to Islam).
In her exertions to claim that the military will go to the aid of Trillanes, a Rappler writer who’s in a time warp in the 1980s, thinking that she is still covering Gringo Honasan and his dashing comrades in the Cory regime (and not the megalomaniac Trillanes) titled her piece, “Don’t mess with the military.” She’s forgotten that that cliché had evolved into a comedic line, after the box-office comedy movie, “Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” where Adam Sandler played the hilarious anti-hero.
So appropriate to use that line. Trillanes is more hilarious now than Sandler.