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Why EDSA changed little of the country (Second of Two parts)

As published in the Manila Times, February 27, 2013

As I explained in this column Monday, the EDSA Revolution was hardly a rocket booster for our economic growth. Using one important economic indicator, gross domestic product per capita, which roughly represents a nation’s prosperity, ours in 1972 was larger than China, Thailand or Indonesia. By 2011, these countries had overtaken us by this economic indicator.


One obvious answer is that the 1987 Constitution, which People Power President Corazon Aquino ordered rushed to replace that Marcos created in 1973, had two provisions which have been dead-weights to our country’’ growth. The first continued a crucial economic policy since our independence, purportedly to protect our national bourgeoisie, who however were actually monopolists: Restrictions on foreign ownership on certain industries and on land. Certain revisions such as a 25-year lease, renewable for another 25, full foreign ownership of condominium units, and liberal interpretation of common and preferred shares just have not made our country attractive to foreign investments. The spectacular growth of Malaysia and Thailand in the 1980s, and Indonesia’s surge in the 1990s have proven without any doubt the crucial role of foreign capital in a developing country’s growth.

Even nearly xenophobic China with its decades of “anti-imperialist” slogans has been the one of the biggest recipients of foreign capital in recent years, which partly explains its spectacular growth rates. The chart above clearly shows how our foreign investments into our neighbors have surged since 1987, while our level of foreign capital inflow have hardly changed. In 2012, Cambodia and Myanmar in fact have had more foreign capital inflows than ours.

The second provision in the Cory constitution restored the pre-martial law political system, which has been and will be the biggest baggage for our country: the presidential system, which Aquino and her allies most probably opted for as a reaction to Marcos’ move towards a parliamentary system (remember the Batasang Pambansa?).

We are one of the few countries, which maintain a system in which the people directly choose the President, who is both head of state and government. Our system hasn’t been “debugged” in the way that of the US has been, with such refinements and checks as the system of electoral colleges, primaries a strong party system, and one-on-debates among presidential contenders. (more…)

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Economics of Martial Law and People Power

Never forget!

Did Filipinos one day in 1986 suddenly become enlightened to demand the toppling of a dictatorship?  Maybe so, but we forget that there were gut issues that broke out in 1983, which prodded Philippine oligarchs that had supported Marcos for more than a decade, to decide to junk him.  

I wrote the following piece last year in my column at the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Economics of Martial Law and People Power

Thursday, 04 October 2012 08:08
By Rigoberto Tiglao
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Every year in September, in a ritualistic way the tale is told: A Dark Lord imposed his will on a hapless people, but then a messiah sacrificed his life to embolden Filipinos to topple the regime in 1986.

That’s a fairy tale, its old, overused storyline that of a Lord-of-the-Rings kind of entertainment, enough for medieval men, and for small minds today to explain the past. But reality is always, and in all ways, complex.  (more…)

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PH left out in China’s global investment surge

FINE time for President Aquino to put our territorial disputes with China—which started fifty years ago and whose resolution will take probably a hundred years—at the forefront of our diplomatic relations with the newest economic superpower.

Great timing for our country to be the noisiest among five claimants, condemning China as the region’s bully, and practically calling the global bully—the US—to go to our neighborhood and beat up that troublemaker. The four other protagonist against China’s claims (Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei)—as well as Cambodia and Myanmar must be cheering us on to antagonize China—while laughing at us behind our backs. (more…)

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Cambodia, Myanmar overtake PH in FDI flows


President Aquino’s claims that foreign investors have been queuing up to invest in the country enticed by his daang matuwid governance just don’t seem to match reality. Last year, for the first time ever two of the more backward ASEAN countries, Cambodia and Myanmar, overtook our nation in terms of foreign direct investment inflows (FDI).

According to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investments’ latest “Global Investment Trends Monitor,” FDI inflows in 2012 into Cambodia totaled $1.8 billion, a 104 percent increase from last year. Myanmar (Burma) on the other hand had $1.9 billion for 2012, a 90 percent increase from last year. (The figure for Singapore is way too big to include in chart, in 2012 at $54.4 billion.) (more…)

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Why many Filipinos are poor (2)

TO RECALL the first part of this topic, the World Bank’s latest report on the country, titled “The Philippines: Fostering More Inclusive Growth,” started its analysis of poverty in our country by asking: “Who are the poor, what are the characteristics of the poorest Filipinos?” The World Bank’s answer: first, the typical poor Filipino belongs to a large family of five members; second, he lives in a rural area.

My past two columns dealt with the first part of the answer: Our unbridled population growth has become one of the major factors causing poverty. We focus now on the second characteristic of the poor: Seventy-one percent of poor Filipinos live in rural areas. Poverty is mainly a rural phenomenon.


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