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.

Why?

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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Aquino has not much to show for P2-B intelligence fund

The Paocc was allocated P324 million in confidential/intelligence funds in 2011, P566 million in 2012 and P588 million for this year. The 2011 budget described this allocation as for “Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Proper, including P300 million for Confidential and Intelligence expenses to be released upon approval of the President.”

Obviously to downplay the jump in Paocc’s funds the succeeding year, the 2012 Appropriations Act described the funds allotted for it as for “National Security Monitoring, including requirements for the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime and Transnational Crime Campaign, as well as P500 million for confidential and intelligence funds to be released upon approval of the President.” (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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